Posted by: chiarraigrrl | February 20, 2011

New York or Boston?

photo of Boston by J Stephen Conn on flickr

So, earlier today @EimearMcCormack mentioned on twitter that she was planning her first-ever trip to America this year and was trying to decide: New York or Boston? I immediately responded Boston ftw, obviously, because although there are a million sights to see in NY, my heart would go for Boston every time because it’s a city that feels more like a town, whereas NY is very definitely a city. Boston to me has a more relaxed feel to it. Of course, being the map and travel geek that I am, I can’t help myself and must make suggestions for where to visit in each city- and as an honorary Rhode Islander, suggest that time be made to stop in Li’l Rhody for a day or two…. ๐Ÿ™‚

If I had two weeks for a trip to Boston/New York, these are some of the things I’d be thinking of doing:

Faneuil Hall
photo of Faneuil Hall by Zoonabar on flickr
Boston has loads of things to see and do. Top of the list, of course, is a visit to Faneuil Hall, a beautiful building and important part of American history, it being where protest initially started against the Stamp Act in 1764, as part of the first rumblings of what would be the fight for American independence from the British empire. While there it’s definitely worth taking in the Faneuil Hall marketplace, a wonderful buzzing market full of lovely shops and places to eat.

If you have any interest whatsoever in American history, the Freedom Trail is a must. To quote from the website, The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites, every one an authentic American treasure. The Trail takes in Boston Common, America’s oldest public park; the Old State House, which was the seat of British government before the American Revolution; and Paul Revere’s house, the oldest building still standing in Boston and from where he would have departed on his famous ride to Lexington to warn the “Sons of Liberty and specifically Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British troops were on their way to arrest them.

As a maps geek, I personally think the Mapparium would be an awesome thing to visit – it’s a three-story painted-glass globe from 1935, which also gives some idea of the historical changes since that time.

There’s also the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which is a pretty incredible place to visit even if you only have a passing interest in Kennedy. Located on a ten-acre park overlooking the sea, it “portrays the life, leadership, and legacy of President Kennedy, conveys his enthusiasm for politics and public service, and illustrates the nature of the office of the President.” Well worth a visit.

There are some other fantastic museums in Boston. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts and excellent Museum of Science are all well worth a visit.

The city of Boston website also has excellent tips for shopping, sports (Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots for baseball and football, of course), parks and shows and concerts.

Top Tip: The Go Boston card (like the equivalent iAmsterdam card in Amsterdam, for instance) gets you into 71 top attractions, including some excellent-looking tours all listed here. And has some excellent descriptions of Boston’s neighbourhoods.

Finally, The Wicked Good Guide to Boston English is both entertaining and genuinely informative (some of it looked familiar, alright).

The other thing about Boston, of course, is that there are many interesting places that can be visited easily from it- Cape Cod, Salem (location of the infamous witch trials), Plymouth (landing place of the Mayflower), Lexington and Concord (site of a famous battle in the Revolution, as well as home to Thoreau and Emerson, apparently) to name a few.

Narragansett Pier
Wonderful photo of Narragansett Pier by rbglasson on flickr
And then, of course, there’s the wonderful state of Rhode Island (aka the Ocean State) right nearby. Visit Rhode Island has a wonderful site complete with suggestions of things to see and do across the state. I highly recommend Providence, with its art galleries, museums, Thayer Street etc; Newport, with its historical houses and beautiful seafront; and of course Narragansett, with its spectacular beach and lovely little shops. Another fantastic site chock-full of information is one of my very favourite sites on Teh Intarwebs, – which includes one of my favourite restaurants in Teh Entire World for breakfast or lunch (only), the Station House in West Kingston. Best johnnycakes in the entire state. And if you time it right, you can catch WaterFire in Providence, which is a wonderful evening event in the city.

Obviously there are a million things to see and do in New York City, but if it was me- and especially if planning a trip in the heat of the summer, for instance- I’d go for Boston and Rhode Island, without a moment’s hesitation. (It would, of course, also be easy to do Boston *and* New York in two weeks…)



  1. Boston ! ๐Ÿ™‚

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