2012 LSA Executive Retreat: Learning from the Past, Leading into the Future
September 27-30, 2012
Hyatt Regency Boston (View Hotel)
One Avenue De Lafayette
10 Things to do in Boston
From Lutheran Social Services on New England
1. The Freedom Trail
A walk along the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail is one of the best ways to get acquainted with Boston and to efficiently visit the city's bounty of historic landmarks. If you're in a hurry and in pretty good shape, you can cover the length of the trail in as little as an hour, but that won't really allow you the time to stop and visit any of the sites along the way. Your best bet is to allow three hours or more to walk the trail at a leisurely pace and see all of its Revolutionary landmarks.
2. Boston Public Garden
Boston Public Garden, located along Charles Street adjacent to Boston Common, is the nation's oldest botanical garden. The famous Swan Boats have returned to Boston Public Garden each spring since they were first invented in 1877 by Robert Paget. The business, which operates from mid-April through mid-September, is still operated by descendants of the boats' inventor. When winter arrives, the pond is open to ice skaters.
3. Quincy Market
Most people know it as Quincy Market, although its official name is the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Whatever you call it, this indoor-outdoor market is a great place for both shopping and dining.
4. Fenway Park
On a sunshine-filled summer afternoon, there is perhaps no better place to be in all of New England than Fenway Park, historic home of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox. Baseball fans have been energized and agonized by the exploits of some of baseball's greatest players at Fenway since 1912. If you can't score tickets to a Red Sox game, look into behind the scenes tours of Fenway Park.
5. Museum of Science
Boston's museums are as good as any you'll find in the world, and the most visited one is the Museum of Science at Science Park. It has more than 400 interactive exhibits including my favorite--the Virtual Fish Tank, an IMAX theater and a planetarium. Take the kids!
6. Sam Adams Brewery
These days, Samuel Adams is known as much for being a brewer as a Patriot. Tour the Sam Adams Brewery in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston for a glimpse at the microbrewery's beer-making process and a sample of the finished product. The brewery is also home to the Boston Beer Museum.
7. New England Aquarium
Want to see sea lions smile and penguins play? Head to the New England Aquarium, one of Boston's perpetually popular family attractions. Once inside, you'll find yourself immersed in a watery world, where you can wave your flippers at cavorting sea lions and press your nose right up against the glass of the poisonous fish tank--if you dare!
8. Boston Harbor Islands
Want to swim, hike, explore the ruins of an old fort and camp out under the stars at a national park? Believe it or not, you can do all of these things without leaving the city of Boston. The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area consists of 34 narrow isles scattered in New England's most historic harbor, and you can visit these "hidden" outdoor spaces by boarding seasonal ferries from Quincy and Boston's Long Wharf.
9. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The MFA is New England's largest art museum. It is known for its collection of works by Claude Monet--the largest assemblage of paintings by the French Impressionist outside of France, as well as for its enthralling Art of the Americas Wing, which opened in 2010. It is also home to spectacular changing exhibitions that never fail to attract attention.
- or -
Isabella Steward Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway, Boston, MA
10. Cheers Boston (formerly the Bull & Finch Pub)
Famous as the inspiration for the television show Cheers, the former Bull & Finch Pub, now officially known as Cheers Boston, is located in Boston's Beacon Hill District. It's definitely a tourist trap with souvenirs galore for sale and overpriced pub food, but it's still one of those places that fans of the show make a beeline for when they're in Boston.
10 Alternative things to do in Boston
1. GLASS FLOWERS AT HARVARD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
"Don't sneeze when you pass the goldenrod,'' said Carol Carlson, the museum's Volunteer Coordinator. She's joking, of course, because the goldenrod in question, all 1,000 individual florets, is made of glass. Starting in 1886, artisans Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph, were commissioned to make glass flowers as a way to teach botany. The project continued for five decades, and resulted in a collection that includes over 3,000 life-size models representing more than 830 plant species. Displayed in a climate- and light-controlled setting on the third floor of the museum, it's hard to believe these delicate objects are not the real thing.
Tip: Bring a small flashlight to illuminate floral details. 26 Oxford St.
2. CAFÉ MARLIAVE was the place for bohemians in the late 1880s to talk poetry, art, and politics, and dine for 75 cents. This historic spot near Downtown Crossing was renovated three years ago by current chef-owner Scott Herrit. The second-floor terrace is enclosed with stylish floor-to-ceiling windows, but the first floor retains an old-time pub feel, with tin ceiling, tiled floor, and long, white marble bar. The menu hearkens to Marliave's original French and Italian roots with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. There is something for everyone, from escargot to mac and cheese, traditional onion soup to sophisticated salads, plus pasta, pizza, burgers, and meat and seafood entrees. Classic cocktails use fresh squeezed juices. "We have a purist philosophy here,'' said Herrit.
3. MOUNT AUBURN CEMETERY, with more than 5,000 trees providing shade for its illustrious (and deceased) inhabitants, is a tranquil oasis. Founded in 1831, this 175-acre National Historic Landmark was the first large-scale green space open to the public in North America. "This place is full of history,'' said Frank Gadsby of Belmont. "I've been coming here to walk for a good 10 years. There's always people bird-watching bright and early in the morning You can walk or drive along snaking paths to visit the monuments, mausoleums, and chapels. Many of the 97,000 individuals buried here are historic figures, including Mary Baker Eddy, Buckminster Fuller, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Winslow Homer, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.
4. GROLIER POETRY BOOK SHOP in Harvard Square has books stacked on tables and filling floor-to-ceiling shelves. Said to be the oldest continuous poetry book shop in the United States, the store has had only three owners since its founding in 1927. "It's a labor of love,'' said Carol Menkiti, whose husband, Ifeanyi Menkiti, a poet and professor of philosophy, bought the bookstore in 2006. Photos of poets who have visited decorate the walls like a rogue's gallery, including E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, Mary Oliver, Caroline Forché, and Robert Pinsky.
Tip: The website calendar lists upcoming readings. 6 Plympton St., Cambridge, 617-547-4648, www.grolierpoetrybookshop.org
5. CASABLANCA might be hard to find - but once you do you will be back. Located in a subterranean space near the Brattle Theater, Casablanca has served bar patrons since 1955 and added Mediterranean food to its repertoire in 1970. Local writers, artists, politicians, academics, business people, and students flock here to eat and drink beneath murals depicting scenes from the film "Casablanca.'' "I love the secret aspect of Boston,'' said Sam Underkofler, general manager. "You have to know someone who knows someone to find out about things. And nothing's more secret than a basement in Harvard Square.''
Tip: The Turkish meze plate is a local favorite. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-876-0999, www.casablanca-restaurant.com
6. DOYLE'S CAFE a neighborhood joint in operation since 1882, pours a staggering selection of draft beer at its mahogany bar. "People come here for the variety of beers we have,'' said waitress Shannon Torchetti. Irish brews Guinness and Smithwicks top the favorites list, along with Sam Adams. The restaurant's menu covers the basics, from chowder to burgers to meatloaf, and standards like broiled scallops, sauteed scrod, and steak tips. Don't be afraid to order pizza in this Irish enclave; the roasted garlic with olives is worth the trip. The mayor of Galway City in Ireland touted Doyle's as, "the best pub outside of County Galway.''
Tip: A trolley runs between Doyle's and the nearby Sam Adams brewery tours four days a week. 3484 Washington St., Jamaica
7. RINO'S PLACE located in an inauspicious three-story building in a residential section of East Boston, has been serving heaping plates of antipasti, calamari, pasta with red sauce, and other Italian specialties for 27 years. This family-run business must be doing something right, as there are lines out the door almost every evening, rain or shine.
"We waited in the alley in the thunderstorm for an hour,'' said Cathy LaRoche, who traveled with her family from Templeton to try the signature dish, lobster ravioli. (Pictured at left is Rino's pasta with lobster and scallops.) Tip: "Rino's Special'' combines chicken, veal, and shrimp in a brandy cream sauce. 258 Saratoga St., East Boston, 617-567-7412, www.rinosplace.com
8. 224 BOSTON STREET RESTAURANT, a neighborhood bar and bistro, has been a destination for tasty casual fare and camaraderie for 25 years. The menu changes seasonally but almost always features fried calamari on arugula, cod cakes, salads, thin-crust pizzas, and eight to 10 entrees. The cozy dining room with exposed brick walls overlooks the kitchen, and in warmer months, there is seating in the garden. Or snag a spot at the seven-seat bar and catch up on local gossip. "I always feel like Norm from Cheers when I come here,'' said regular patron John Flagg, who describes himself as OFD (Originally From Dorchester).
Tip: The Death by Chocolate dessert (warm fudge brownie, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream) has been on every menu since opening.
9. CAFÉ PAMPLONA has not changed much since Josefina Yanguas opened it in 1959. The ceiling is low and the walls are yellow in this below-ground-level hideaway where you often will find serious-looking patrons reading while sipping espresso. In warmer weather, hipsters and academics drink iced lattes on the tiny outside patio. "It's one of the few places left from the '60s,'' said Joan Hill of Cambridge. "It's the kind of European place where you could sit and hang out - before laptops.'' The new owners have kept Yanguas's extensive menu of coffees and teas, and small selection of Spanish-style soups, sandwiches, and desserts.
Tip: Signature soups are gazpacho in summer, and sopa de ajo (garlic soup) in winter. 12 Bow St., Cambridge, 617-492-0352
10. UNION OYSTER HOUSE a National Historic Landmark, is the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the country and is located in the earliest standing brick building in Boston. "If you're going to go to an oyster bar, you go here,'' said Don Perdios of Braintree. In addition to the famed raw bar, the menu offers traditional New England favorites such as lobsters with corn on the cob, and grilled, broiled, or fried scallops, clams, scrod, shrimp, and other seafood. "What's old is old for a reason,'' said Perdios. "It's very good.''
Tip: Sit at the semicircular wood bar where Daniel Webster (1782-1852), senator and statesman, enjoyed oysters and brandy daily. 41 Union St., Boston, 617-227-2750, www.unionoysterhouse.com
Links to tour information
Walking Tour of Boston
Literary Tour of Boston
Paid tours by bus
Ten best Boston tours
Boston Duck tours