Our Boston "Bucket List"

The kids and I are heading to Boston for a month on April 6th – Maebh’s 4th birthday!  We’re very excited to head “home” to see our family and friends.  Neither the kids nor I have been back to Boston since we left in September 2012… so we welcome the visit.  Not sure if I’m going to have the urge and desire to move back ASAP or be happy we live in North Norfolk, UK or even move along to Dublin – but I’m pretty sure I’ll want to visit Boston more frequently.

We have some one-off plans to visit with friends and there is an organized party towards the end of our stay, but I’m also coming up with our own “BUCKET LIST” of items to do while in Boston.   Having lived in Boston my entire childhood, we’ve done many of the thing already but I’d like my kids to experience them too.  In fact, Soren and Maebh have done quite a few of these things already but to experience them again at 4 & 6 will be a new adventure for them.

Boston is steeped in history and is full of “first for America”.  First public park (Boston Common 1634), first public library (1653) and first subway system (1897).

FENWAY PARK
It’s no surprise that we’re Red Sox fans, especially Nils, but we have never toured the park.  So I’m going to see if we can do that during our trip.  They offer different level of tours at different price levels, but just the basic one would be prefect for our kids.  At 4 & 6, I’m sure the hour is plenty of time to explore “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark”.

BOSTON MARATHON
Each year on Patriots Day (the third Monday in April – aka Marathon Monday), 20,000+ runners from around the world compete in the world’s oldest running marathon which started in 1897.   Last year, two horrible men set off pressure cooker bombs, which killed three and injured hundreds – most ended with amputated legs.  A horrible scene and life-changing attack which was really unreal. A friend is running again this year, so the four of us will head down and watch her pass by and cheer on all those who attempt to run the 26.6 miles!  It’s really something to see the Kenyan & Ethiopian elite runners complete the entire race in about 2.5 hours!

HARVARD UNIVERSITY & HARVARD SQUARE, CAMBRIDGE
Massachusetts has the world’s highest concentration of universities and colleges in any United States city and home to Harvard University, the world-renowned, prominent school with a picturesque grounds and buildings.  It is also a place where we frequented as a kid.  Blogett pool, home to the original Border Cafe – a favorite Mexican restaurant where I got hooked on my favorite drink – frozen margaritas with salt.  Famous from the movie Good Wil Hunting and home to the original Urban Outfitters before it become quite popular and international.  I have great memories of buying my mother $10 worth of “tea” at the tea shop in the Garage – as you can imagine, the tea was cheap and based on weight – so she got a LOT of tea!  It’s also a place where my best friend in 5th grade and I went to and walked around asking people if they knew the time. We were peeing our pants laughing, so hard and while it was nearly 30 years ago, I can still remember it!  It was a place to see “weirdos!” We’ll be sure to stop at Pink Berry for a yummy frozen yogurt.


HARVARD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY & PEABODY MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY AND ETHNOLOGY
Located just outside Harvard Square, my father took us to this museum a lot a kids… the giant Kronosaurus – a 42-foot long marine reptile was once so scary looking – plus there was hundreds of taxidermy animals, rare minerals, meteorites.  Some times we thought it was cool but other times we complained when we had to look at the famous exhibit of 3,000 Glass Flowers.  Reminds me of the boy I heard at Sheringham Park Repton Exhibit today telling his Dad that it was “rubish, rubish, rubish despite pleas from that father that it was interesting history.”  I wonder how the kids will get on here. I’ve looked into museum passes, but I just read all Massachusetts residents get in free on Sunday mornings from (9 am to noon).

FREEDOM TRAIL
One of the biggest tourist attractions is the Freedom Trail, which is a 2.5 mile brick lined route which leads you to 16 significant historical sights.  I know we will not do them all, though I know the kids would find following the red line fun.

Here is a map of the route – as you see, Boston is a very walk able city. 

As you follow the red bricks, you walk past the famous Paul Revere’s House. It is downtown Boston’s oldest building still in existence.  A little history: Paul Revere purchased it in 1770 when he was 35. And he was living in the house the night he set forth on April 18, 1775 to make his momentous ride to Lexington that would be immortalized by Longfellow’s famous poem Paul Revere’s Ride.   I’ve never been inside, but Nils and I have had breakfast next door with Mario who he nicknamed Mari -slow as he took forever to make it.

Paul Revere’s House

OLD NORTH CHURCH

Continuing on the “Freedom Trail” and staying in the “North End” (where Nils was living when I met him) which is Boston’s historical “Little Italy” you come to the Old North Church. It was here where the plan to warn the countryside of the arrival of the British army was created.  Paul Revere would tell how many lanterns to display in the Old North Church’s steeple to signal how the British troops were advancing.  (One if by land, two if by sea…)  It’s currently being used as an Episcopal Church but it’s another place which I’ve never been inside so I hope to pop in during this visit.  And when in the North End, I think a famous canoli at Mike’s Pastry is a must.


USS CONSTITUTION

Nicknamed “Old Ironsides” she is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat.  The USS Constitution is most famous for her actions during the War of 1812 against Great Britain, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships.  Today she is used as a museum and visitors can climb aboard – so we’ll definitely do this.  I remember when I was a kid and on a school visit here, I bought a small white rabbit foot key chain from the gift shop.

FANEUIL HALL MARKETPLACE
Also known as Quincy Market it’s a hot tourist spot packed with tons of tourists with Cheers sweatshirts and performers by day.  At night, the area has a huge nightlight scene for both locals (me included) – so many memories of the Hong Kong, dancing at Sissy K’s or belting out Irish tunes at the Black Rose or Purple Shamrock and our favorite the Bell & Hand – “America’s oldest tavern” which opened in 1796!   Makes me chuckle when we’re at local historical sites here in the UK which date back to 1100’s!!

DUCK TOURS
Boston was one of the first major cities to have amphibious vehicles to take tourists around town and then down the Charles River.  In July of 2012, my parents took me and Soren on a Duck Tour one and he had a great time. We had so many laughs and Soren was even able to drive it thanks to our driver, Boagie Sparks.  Maebh didn’t go as she was still quite young at just over 2 and it would be a tough trip for her.  They did, however, meet us at the Public Garden. It was then when we realized that I had on two different color flip flops – one brown and one black.  While super expensive but was really fun! So having already done it, not sure we’ll do it this time, but there is a deal on Groupon now, which I’ll re-look at, as I know Maebh would love to go on one too.  Then again, might wait and save it for a Viking Splash Tour in Dublin.

BOSTON COMMON
The starting point of the “Freedom Trail”, Boston Common is the oldest park in the country. Until 1830, cattle grazed the Common, and until 1817, public hangings took place here. British troops camped on Boston Common prior to the Revolution and left from here to face colonial resistance at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775. Celebrities, including Martin Luther King Jr., Pope John Paul II, and Gloria Steinem (advocate of the feminist revolution), have given speeches at the Common.”   The kids love the brass frogs at the Frog Pond (ice skating in the winter and splashing around in the summer). 

While often paired with the Boston Common as it’s literally a street away from it, it’s not the same with different histories and purposes and styles.  It is also America’s Oldest Botanical Garden which will hopefully be in full bloom while we are there. The Public Gardens is home to the Swan Boats – which we MUST do while there and we’ll take photos with the Duckling statues which are from the children’s book.  


After starting to write out some descriptions of places on our “bucket list” I realized it will take me hours upon hours and I’ve only done things in Boston proper, not including all the great things in the suburbs… so I’ll leave it for now and as we visit, I’ll make posts about each of our visits.

BOSTON TEA PARTY
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE 
NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM
INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART (ICA)
BOSTON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
BOSTON FIRE MUSEUM
CASTLE ISLAND
ARNOLD ARBORETUM
BOSTON MUSEUM OF FINE ART
FRANKLIN PARK ZOO
STONE ZOO
SKYWALK OBSERVATORY
BLUE HILLS RESERVATION
OLD STATE HOUSE
LARZ ANDERSON PARK
BUTTERFLY PLACE
SPORTS MUSEUM AT NORTH STATION

I came across a great posting from another person’s Boston bucket list from when they spent four years in Boston.  He has highlighted some of the same things on our “list” plus additional ones.

I’m also going to see if my parents can stay with the kids while I head into town alone to take tons of photos, on my own time and not having to worry about them all the time.   Just need to find a good day to do that.

I recently found this:  “Things you have to explain to out-of-towners about Boston” and think it’s funny!

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