Travel Time with Jim – Boston
By Jim Graves
Boston, Massachusetts is a great American City for families to visit. It is known for its ample Revolutionary War-era history, colorful old neighborhoods, beautiful parks and fabulous restaurants. I recently visited with my wife, Carol, and two children, Claire and Shelby, ages 8 & 10. Below are some highlights of our trip.
We stayed for three terrific nights at the Residence Inn Boston Back Bay/Fenway (http://www.residenceinnbackbay.com/). This fine hotel is clean and well-maintained, up-to-date and has an excellent location. If you’re a Red Sox baseball fan, Fenway Park is just a few blocks away; it is a quick walk or ride away from many of the city’s tourist attractions. Our room had a king size bed with a sleeper sofa for the children. We had our own kitchenette with microwave and full-size refrigerator. Eat in, or there are restaurants and grocery stores nearby. If you bring some work with you on the road, there is a large desk in the room and a business center downstairs. Other amenities included a pool, a large exercise room, ample laundry facilities and an indoor/outdoor Terrace Bar with good views of the city. One of our favorite perks included with the room was a delicious hot breakfast in the lobby area downstairs.
(Photo: Jim’s daughters, Shelby and Claire with a tour guide on Boston’s Freedom Trail.)
For burgers and fries, try Tasty Burger (http://www.tastyburger.com/), which has five locations throughout Boston. We went to their location across from Fenway Park, which was busy well into the evening. In addition to burgers and fries, try their build-your-own salads, hot dogs and onion rings. They also have great shakes, or beer and wine, if you prefer. All is served with plastic and paper. The prices are very reasonable, and you have both a dine-in or to go option. The environment was laid back, and the food delicious.
If you like to eat to the sound of rock ’n roll, try the Hard Rock Café Boston (http://www.hardrock.com/cafes/boston/). Its eclectic menu includes burgers, seafood, fajitas, flatbreads, salads and desserts, as well as many specialty drinks. It’s located in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall area, close to The Freedom Trail and Boston’s historic attractions. Its walls are decorated with electric guitars and rock ’n roll memorabilia from the past 50 years, and big screen TVs play hits of stars from different eras. There’s a store connected to the restaurant if you want to purchase a Hard Rock shirt or other mementos.
The Yard House-Fenway (http://www.yardhouse.com/locations/ma/boston/boston-fenway-fenway-triangle/8336) was another solid family dining choice. They offer a wide range of appetizers, soups and salads, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, steaks, seafood and desserts; my personal favorite is the swordfish tacos and the chicken lettuce wrap appetizer. For dessert, try the Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pudding. They have a full bar with a vast array of beer options, and a kids menu for the little ones. It’s located two blocks from Fenway Park, so if you come when the Red Sox play, expect a full house!
Another delicious family-friendly restaurant is Joe’s American Bar and Grill (http://joesamerican.com/). It has locations throughout the Boston area; we went to their Newbury Street location near Prudential Center. It features a wide range of grilled meats, including burgers, pork, chicken and fish. It also has a variety of salad choices and a kids menu. They’re also known for their ribs, homemade soups and appetizers (we had the crab cakes and calamari). We started off with delicious bread and butter; we had good luck with the cookie dessert.
Boston’s North End neighborhood is known for its Italian restaurants; we went to one of the best, Antico Forno (http://www.anticofornoboston.com/), for a more formal sit down dinner. Perhaps best known for its brick-oven pizzas with a wide array of toppings, it’s hard to go wrong with anything you order here. We began with fresh bread and oil, and moved on to an excellent Caprese salad and Italian meatball. I had a well prepared grilled swordfish; other great choices include the lobster ravioli and roasted veal. Other notable dishes include the gnocchi and rice balls; any of the pastas is sure to be a hit.
They offer a full service bar—we had the Pinot Noir—and many fine desserts. Some we suggest are the cannoli, tiramisu and limoncello cake. Everything was superb. It’s family friendly with a cozy, rustic interior. Make a reservation or come early, as walk-ins at a busy time could be waiting over an hour. Parking is tight in the North End, so you might want to take an Uber.
Boston is rich in history, so no visit would be complete without walking at least a portion of the 2.5-mile The Freedom Trail (visit The Freedom Trail Foundation’s website at http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/). The trail begins at Boston Common, the nation’s oldest public park, and proceeds to significant historic sites. These include churches, cemeteries, meeting halls, Paul Revere’s house, the Old North Church, the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre and the Bunker Hill Monument. Walk it on your own, or better yet, book a tour through the Foundation’s website and a costumed historic character will take you on a 90-minute tour.
To get an outstanding panoramic view of Boston, visit the Top of the Hub Skywalk Observatory at Prudential Center (http://skywalkboston.com/). It’s located 50 floors up, and you can walk around and have a 360-degree view of the city. We arrived on a clear day and saw miles around: the Charles River, Boston Common and the North End, South Boston and Fenway Park. Included in your visit is an audio tour—one for children, another for adults—which picks out sites of significance and shares interesting details. The observatory has an interactive quiz show game, and entertaining exhibits highlighting the arrival of immigrants in the past few centuries.
There’s something in Boston for every member of the family to enjoy. Look into going on a trip there soon.
Jim Graves is a family travel writer who lives in California.