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Advice for Non-Americans travelling to Boston?

chemgirl

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I'm going to Boston next month and am super excited for some time alone with DH.

I've been looking for things to do, but most of the recommendations have to do with US history. We know very little about US history so I'm worried that we won't understand the significance of what we're seeing. Its just not on our radar as rude as that sounds. Other than the Boston Tea Party, that I think I saw a cartoon about when I was 5 or so, I am totally ignorant of Boston's history.

Is Boston a good travel location for people who don't know a lot about American history? We like good restaurants and bars, nice architecture, shopping, and hiking.

Anyone have recommendations?
 

littlelanhua

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Hi chemgirl, I'm a non-American and I visited Boston last year. whilst you are correct in thinking many of the attractions relate to American history, there are plenty of other things to keep you occupied there! You mentioned you like bars and restaurants, I recommend a stroll down Newbury street, there are some lovely cafes and bars (student hang outs?) and some good shopping. I also enjoyed dinners in Little Italy and Chinatown. If it's baseball season I highly recommend catching a game at Fenway Park, I saw the Red Sox v New York Yankees and it was quite a spectacle! The architecture all over Boston is gorgeous and I highly recommend a stroll through Copely Square and over the bridge to the Harvard University campus. On the way there is the Museum of Science which I also think is worth a visit. As for hiking, others I was traveling with went out of Boston to New England (Vermont?) and they said there was some amazing countryside and hiking there, if you have the time it could be worth a look.

Hope that helps and that you have a fantastic trip!
 

Kismet

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I wouldn't worry about understanding the significance of the sites beforehand. The tour guides do tend to tell you what's significant about what you're seeing (or at least what they think is significant.) I'd try a guided tour of the Freedom Trail which is basically a walking tour of historical Boston. If you find it tedious it's really easy to just walk away from it. You can do a self guided tour but I find the guided ones more interesting.

Most of the sites in Boston deal with the American Revolution but if you go a bit farther out you can see some sites which do not. Old Sturbridge Villiage in Sturbridge MA and the mansions in Newport RI are two that spring to mind.
 

Hudson_Hawk

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Chemgirl, I didn't know you weren't from the States. Where are you from?

Ditto Kismet. You'll see sights of historical significance to us, but you don't necessarily have to KNOW the history to appreciate them. Sort of like Florence. You might visit the Medici Palace but not know the full history of the family, yet you can still enjoy and appreciate the building and the architecture. But Boston is also just a fantastically beautiful city. It's very "European" looking in some areas with classical architecture. There are lots of flowers and gardens, great food and bars and friendly people. It's also a great walking city. I believe to walk from the North End (the Italian section) to Fenway Park is under 2 miles, so it's easily walkable. And the public transportation system is great too.
 

chemgirl

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Hudson_Hawk|1305037330|2917331 said:
Chemgirl, I didn't know you weren't from the States. Where are you from?

Ditto Kismet. You'll see sights of historical significance to us, but you don't necessarily have to KNOW the history to appreciate them. Sort of like Florence. You might visit the Medici Palace but not know the full history of the family, yet you can still enjoy and appreciate the building and the architecture. But Boston is also just a fantastically beautiful city. It's very "European" looking in some areas with classical architecture. There are lots of flowers and gardens, great food and bars and friendly people. It's also a great walking city. I believe to walk from the North End (the Italian section) to Fenway Park is under 2 miles, so it's easily walkable. And the public transportation system is great too.
I'm from Canada and DH is sort of from all over the place. He holds Canadian and UK citizenship.

We're in the UK visiting his mom at the moment and I dragged him to Westminster Abby. He was super bored so I worried about Boston.

I want to thank everyone for their recommendations!
 

zoebartlett

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I don't have a lot of time to respond, but Boston is a fantastic city to learn about American history. As HH said, you don't need to know a lot about it before coming. There are so many resources here and guides are really knowledgeable and helpful. I'm sure you'll have a great time on your trip.
 

iheartscience

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My mom's from Boston so I've been there a lot, but mostly for family get togethers and weddings, so I actually haven't been to many museums or other tourist attractions. Someone posted a thread about Boston not too long ago that might be helpful. I did a search but can't find the old thread.

So for non-museum stuff (okay, mostly eating): make sure to get a lobster roll! I think the consensus in the other thread was that Neptune Oyster was the best place for a lobster roll, but I could be remembering it wrong. Okay I just found an article on the best lobster rolls in Boston and it looks like Neptune Oyster was their fave, too! http://www.gourmet.com/restaurants/2008/10/eight-great-lobster-rolls-in-boston

And if you go to the North End make sure to get a cannoli from Parziale's Bakery. We went there last time I visited and gorged ourselves on delicious cannolis and cookies!

Newbury Street has great shopping and it's also a really pretty place to visit. Charlestown is also really pretty and has some historical attractions, too.
 

Arcadian

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how long will you be here? There's really a lot to do here, you just have to know where it is!

Freedom Trail http://thefreedomtrail.org/index.html

The Duck tour (I love this myself) http://bostonducktours.com/

http://www.gardnermuseum.org/ Its really one of my favorite places to visit. I'm going again as they've just done a complete renovation.

The planetarium http://www.mos.org/events_activities/events&d=1212

Whale watch http://www.bostonharborcruises.com/boston-whale-watch/

The Charles has a great river walk on the Cambridge side. You can also rent a kayak(if you're adventurous) http://www.paddleboston.com/ Go to the link paddleboston.com

Some people like to visit Harvard. Um... well...its like any other college campus as far as I'm concerned...lol Its in Cambridge so not a big deal and can be kinda interesting to walk through.

The aquarium http://www.neaq.org/index.php Depending on when you visit, this is close enough of a walk from Fanuiel Hall.

Outside of Boston proper, there's a few places you may like (you'll need a vehicle to get there):

Minute Man Park. Best for biking it and depends on the time of year you plan on going, though better in the summer. There's a lot that can be learned here, especially if you're deep into history. They sometimes will do reenactments.
http://www.nps.gov/mima/index.htm

Salem, MA Where the witch trials happened, and House of the 7 Gables is located http://salemweb.com/guide/tosee.php

Rockport, MA - I personally LOVE rock port because of its very artsy lifestyle there. Its a small community and farther away from Boston.

Provincetown is a very open and loving community. We go out there at least once a year and spend 4-5 days. Its LGBT so an open mind is a must. the shops are really funky and cool and some many of the eateries are amazingly good. Not a cheap place so FYI. Lots of very scenic areas there, we take our bikes when we go. Also the beaches are phenomenal. We tend to see lots of seals in the summer months. They have a active nightlife in the summer too. A lot more people are there year round than used to be, but still, its a great weekend/summer type of place. If you plan on going, do it in the summer as it can get a bit chilly there as it is at the very end of the cape. High speed ferry gets you there in 90 minutes from Boston. http://www.baystatecruisecompany.com/schedule.html http://www.provincetown.com/

If you were interested in seeing Marthas Vineyard or Nantucket, You have to take a train from boston to like hyannis, then from there take the ferry (or drive to hyannis) It can be a haul.

Plum Island is in Newburyport. (and quite the haul) but so beautiful. My husband's brother used to live there so we went up pretty often. http://www.newburyportchamber.org/plum_island.shtml



-A
 

Amys Bling

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Also, Sam Adams brewery in Jamaica plain us free. You need to get there no later than 12:30 since tours are first come first serve and they do book out. Take the orange T line to stony brook and there are signs and directions when you get there. It's fun.
 

AGBF

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chemgirl-

I thought about what you posted for a little while before going on to read other people's responses. I was trying to put myself in your shoes, not knowing (at that point) where you were from (neighboring Canada, so that your country actually shared a lot of the history that the U.S. had with England at the time that Boston was famous for some of its events)!

Then as I read the comments of others I realized that my husband went to grad school in Boston although he was an Italian citizen and my great-nephew worked his way though college as a mover after being discharged from the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) although he was Israeli. Both of them absolutely fell in love with Boston! Everyone loves Boston! That's why everyone wants to go to school there! It's beautiful! It's fun! It's a city for young people!

Deb/AGBF
:read:
 

kenny

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If you speak English bring a translator.
 

AGBF

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chemgirl|1305103304|2918278 said:
We're in the UK visiting his mom at the moment and I dragged him to Westminster Abby. He was super bored so I worried about Boston.
OK. So do not do the equivalent of Westminster Abbey! Go to the Boston Commons, where one can just walk around and enjoy the outdoors. I am sure that has been mentioned above. Try out the Swan boats on the pond at the public gardens adjacent to the Commons. Beacon Street, at the top of the Commons is very pretty. Go to Harvard Yard in Cambridge and do the same thing, just look at the buildings, go into the shops around Harvard and MIT, go to the coffee shops and restaurants, and get a feel for the area. Eat at Legal Seafood. Eat at P.F. Chang's. And make sure you leave a lot of time to hang around the Faneuil Hall (pronounced Fan-yell Hall, not like the French word for "fan"), Marketplace! Eat Indian pudding there, preferably with vanilla ice cream. I am too old for it, but my niece, who has finaly turned 21, now goes up to visit my great-nephew, and he takes her to Irish pubs at hours like 1AM. I am sure there is always something going on!

Deb
:read:
 

Loves Vintage

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Walden Woods http://www.walden.org/Explore might be a good side-trip for some light hiking. It's 18 miles west of the city, so could be a nice day trip. I've never been, so curious what the locals think re: whether it's a worthy side-trip?
 

Hudson_Hawk

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kenny|1305144378|2918915 said:
If you speak English bring a translator.
uh...
 

AGBF

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Hudson_Hawk|1305294442|2920638 said:
kenny|1305144378|2918915 said:
If you speak English bring a translator.
uh...
You're right, Hudson Hawk! There shouldn't be a need for a translator in Boston! The accent is thick, but we aren't, after, talking about Maine! Kenny is exaggerating as usual. As a New Englander, although I don't have an accent myself, I can act as a simultaneous interpreter for others. The pay is terrible, but the psychological rewards are enormous.

Deb/AGBF
:read:

Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend
 

chemgirl

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Thanks for the tips!

It looks like a gorgeous city with loads to do. We'll be there for 4 days so we should be able to see a lot.

We were in Cardiff the last few days and we spent most of our time at the market and at pubs near the bay. I realize its vastly different from Boston, but the same idea with walking around the harbor area and eating seafood.

I'm sure we'll have a great time!
 

Arcadian

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kenny|1305144378|2918915 said:
If you speak English bring a translator.
Only if you're a southie or from the north shore. :tongue: :bigsmile:



-A
 

Selkie

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Arcadian|1305324029|2921120 said:
kenny|1305144378|2918915 said:
If you speak English bring a translator.
Only if you're a southie or from the north shore. :tongue: :bigsmile:



-A
You mean the Nawth Shawah?
 
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