I went to Boston with my college roommate, Veronica, for MLK weekend. This was my first time in Boston and it quickly became one of my top three favorite cities in the United States. I became obsessed with the red brick streets and fell in love with the delicious food. I was also lucky to have Veronica as my guide because it was the perfect 3-day itinerary!
We started our trip off right with brunch at Cafe G. Cafe G is the cafe at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It has floor-to-ceiling windows which added something beautiful to this charming cafe. Of course, we don’t go to a cafe for good lighting, we go for the good food! And Cafe G did not disappoint. We spent a good hour or two eating at this restaurant, chatting away. The portions may look small but we were beyond stuffed after sharing one appetizer, two entrees (Atlantic Salmon Rillettes with Rye Toast & Lemon Aioli and Duck over Gnocchi), and two desserts amongst three people. I would recommend listening to their specials because the duck was fantastic!
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
This museum is definitely unique because it’s intended to be set up like a personal art collection in someone’s house. The history of the museum also adds something special. There was a theft in 1990 and 13 pieces of artwork were stolen and the museum has left open spots where those paintings once hung to preserve the setup that Isabella Gardner had intended. My favorite part of the museum was the courtyard that you encounter upon entering. It’s such a peaceful place – if only the museum would let me just lay in the center all day!
Museum of Fine Arts
We spent about 3 hours at this museum and it was definitely not enough. There is just so much to take in! We participated in a MFA Tour to explore the Europe collection. I thought the tour was informative but it didn’t cover enough paintings within an hour. We often spent too much time discussing the historical details of a single painting. I would recommend going solo when exploring the museum, unless you’re dedicating a whole day here.
The best way to describe this restaurant is an Italian seafood place. There are two in Boston and we went to the one on Columbus Ave. because it takes reservations (always a plus at any popular spot). I highly recommend the House Special (Lobster, Mussels, & Clams in Giacomo Sauce) and Squid Ink Papardelle. Despite what Yelp says, I would recommend passing on the Butternut Squash Ravioli here. All in all, definitely 5 stars for the delicious cuisine!
Hands down, the best brunch I’ve ever had! I had the Short Rib Hash and it was amazing – even the scrambled eggs were cooked to perfection! I also ordered the cocktail Queen Bee which was a nice addition to the meal. The restaurant also had live entertainment. We had a great view of the band and it wasn’t too loud. Veronica and I were talking the whole time and we never once had to scream over the music. This is a spot you have to go to in Boston!
Boston Public Garden
I have to come back to enjoy the gardens when it’s not winter. It’s such a serene and quiet place. Next time, I want to take a ride on a Swan Boat!
Freedom Trail Tour
We began our tour at Boston Common. The tour lasted about 1.5 hours and was led by a tour guide dressed in historical costume. The tour guide was hilarious and the facts were extremely interesting. However, we spent far too much time at the cemetery and not enough time anywhere else. It’s a great introduction to the Freedom Trail and you can always circle back!
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
The tour ended at Faneuil Hall Marketplace – the perfect spot to warm up after being outside in the cold for so long! We grabbed a coffee (or in my case, hot chocolate) and wandered around taking in the aroma from the different food shops. Next time, I’ll make sure to come on an empty stomach!
Upon sitting, we all ordered the Lobster Roll. It’s their most popular dish and for good reason! I still dream about the butter soaked lobster sometimes… it’s that good! And the roll may look small, but it’s incredibly filling. I was stuffed by the end of my meal.
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations and since the place is so small, the wait can be long. We put our name in and they texted us about 1.5 hours later when our table was ready. It was fine with us because it gave us the chance to explore North End. Just make sure to plan ahead so you don’t get hangry during the wait!
Cannoli Tour in North End
Even though we were stuffed from dinner, we somehow found a way to eat cannoli. Because you can’t go to North End without trying some! We made four stops: Maria’s Pastry Shop, Bova’s Bakery, Mike’s Pastry, and Modern Pastry. Maria’s and Modern Pastry tied for my favorite – they had the best shell! The iconic Mike’s Pastry had unique options but was expectedly crowded. I tried the Florentine which was a unique shell made with toffee. Bova’s was awful – you can skip that on your own tour.
Fun Fact: Did you know that cannoli is the plural form of cannolo? It’s not cannolis!
Because we’re complete fatties (it is a vacation after all), we got gelato at Amorino on Newbury Street. You can get your gelato shaped like a rose! It’s not a Boston specialty or anything, I was just really craving gelato… even though it was snowing. What else is new?
On our last day, we decided to head across the bridge to Cambridge. We swung by Flour Bakery for breakfast because they have delicious breakfast pastries. I had the Grilled Roasted Chicken sandwich but the Sticky Bun definitely stole the show!
Even though this was a vacation, I had to check out the Google office! This office was extremely confusing and I definitely got lost… multiple times, but I still loved seeing all the unique things that make up this office – there’s even a library! My favorite was definitely the Penny Pincher (because I’m really a 5 year old at heart).
Harvard University & Harvard Square
Of course you have to check out Harvard University when you’re in Cambridge. Since I already graduated from the best public school in the world (Go Bears!), it wasn’t too exciting to be on another college campus. I did really enjoy walking around Harvard Square though! We spent quite a while shopping at cute little boutiques. We even ended up with matching rings to commemorate our trip.
We stopped by the Boston Public Library but it was closed for MLK. After taking a few pictures of the library and the Trinity Church across the street, we continued our shopping adventures on Newbury Street. Like most streets in Boston, there was red brick everywhere and I was obsessed! I definitely didn’t grow up with architecture like this in California. We walked from one end to the other and I ended up with bags from Bebe and Zara because they were having a sale. Since matching rings aren’t enough to prove our strong friendship, we also got matching cape coats from Zara!
Atlantic Fish Company
We spent such a long time in Zara that we almost missed our reservations at Atlantic Fish Company. At this point, it wasn’t even 5pm yet so the restaurant had plenty of seating when we arrived. This was definitely a high class restaurant with impeccable service. I ordered the Clam Chowder and Lobster Ravioli. I was so glad we were able to fit in one final restaurant before catching our flights. I love lobster and the ravioli did not disappoint!
Top Tourist Spots: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum & Boston Public Garden
For Next Time: Swan Boats in the Spring/Summer, day trip to Portland, ME (it’s only 2 hours away and I can cross another state off the bucket list)
Must Eat Restaurant: The Beehive & Neptune Oyster