Boston Attractions

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For a city that was once considered ultra-conservative (AKA boring), Boston has made itself a world-class metropolis with endless ways to educate, enthrall, entice and, of course, entertain. Incorporating activities for all ages and tastes is no longer a daunting task that takes ingenious planning. A shaped-up nightlife and a surge of innovative restaurants, added to an existing stable of world-class museums and theatres, have helped make Boston an emergent cultural mecca for residents and visitors.

Museums & Galleries
Boston has a magnificent selection of art complexes, from large to small, American to Italian, local to national. Many museums offer specials and discounts for tourists and students. The enormous Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are the best-known and most popular. Among smaller museums is the Institute of Contemporary Art. Kids love the ChildrensMuseum, while the Museum of Science with its Mugar Omni Theatre draws crowds of all ages. Newbury Street, the South End and Brookline boast a diverse array of galleries, many of which showcase the regions up-and-coming artists.

Theatre & Music
Boston has dozens of theatres, large and small. Some of the countrys best professional regional theatre can be found here. Especially popular with visitors are the Broadway-scale shows and other special performances at The Wang Center for Performing Arts, The Colonial Theatre and Schubert Theatre. Boston has a diverse music scene, including the world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra, which performs at Symphony Hall. The Boston Pops offers a different sound with the same brilliance, and their free show at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River each Fourth of July is not to be missed. Both ensembles perform during the summer at Tanglewood, a beautiful outdoor concert hall in the Berkshires in Western Massachussets.

For mainstream music, check out the FleetCenter, a new addition to the citys largest musical and sporting venues. Harborlights, The BankBoston Pavilion, The Orpheum and Avalon are other venues for world-class talent. In warmer months, the Hatch Shell is famous for throwing free concerts.

For such an urban setting, you might think Boston would be lacking in outdoor recreation. Not so. Spring begins a resurgence in outdoor activities. Roller bladers and runners flock to the parkland along the Charles River. The Public Garden and Boston Common fill with walkers and strollers right about the same time the Swan Boats reappear, and when finding a vacant park bench becomes impossible. The Commonwealth Mall, which runs parallel to Newbury and Marlborough Streets, overflows with walking tours and dogs on leashes, and has a great selection of diverse statues to check out. One undiscovered treat is the Back Bay Fens where a gorgeous rose garden and pond come alive. The Arnold Arboretum is a horticultural oasis, 256-acres of walking grounds and heavenly flowers and plants that shouldn't be missed when things begin to bloom. From April to October you can rent a sailboat on lovely Jamaica Pond. In South Boston on historic Castle Island you can walk around the "sugar bowl," lick an ice cream cone from Sullivans and watch as planes take off at nearby Logan International Airport.

Shopping has become a popular pastime for many Bostonians, as fashion and style have been resurrected and found their way back to the Hub. Boston has caught on to trends set by scenesters and college kids. It also has myriad shops serving the social elite. Lets not forget the wealthy internationals who help keep shops on Newbury and Copley Place in business.

You can find such standards as Express, The Gap, Banana Republic and the Limited sprinkled throughout the Back Bay, Cambridge and the downtown area. Bargain hunters will have a field day at Filenes Basement, a New England shopping tradition located at Downtown Crossing.

For the upscale, decadent shopping experience the Copley Mall, Newbury Street and parts of Boylston Street will have you working overtime. Haute couture is represented by such shops as Escada, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Prada and Dolce & Gabanna. Other fine stores include Alan Bilzerian, Akris and Tiffany&Co., Neiman Marcus, Macys and Bloomingdales.

For the souvenir collector, the Faneuil Hall area is calling your name. Rows of stores line both sides of the Quincy Market building, and merchants sell trinkets and wares from carts both inside and outside. Salt-water taffy, baked beans, statues of Paul Revere and Boston t-shirts are a few choice items you can pick up.

Antiques and other collectibles can be found in Beacon Hill, where exquisite pieces for the home await you in tiny shops that line Charles Street. Prices can be steep, but we're talking quality goods with history to match.

For the finest baked goods and sweetest pastries, you can't go wrong on Hanover Street in the North End, with its countless bakeries featuring the citys best Boston cream pies and éclairs.

Whether you're a fan or a participant, theres plenty to do. Watch the Celtics play basketball at the Fleet Center or the Red Sox play baseball at historic Fenway Park, which many fans consider the finest stadium in the country. Although Foxboro Stadium is a bit of a drive, you can catch all your pro-football favorites playing against the New England Patriots.

For those with a love of the water, try sailing or sculling on the Charles River or whale watching in Boston Harbor. Head to the Boston Harbor Sailing Club to cruise around the bay on hot, summer weekends. Frog Pond in the Boston Common is where ice-skaters go to glide beneath the shadow of the State House dome.

The Boston Marathon and the Head of the Charles are two premier events that return year after year, bringing thousands of spectators from all over the world.

Once upon a time Bostons nightlife fell into just two categories: bars and pubs and Lansdowne Street. Today, the city has much more to offer the grunge lovers, young professionals and uber-hip who prowl the city at night. All establishments close promptly at 2am and the MBTA stops running at 12:45am, so go out earlier and catch a cab home. With so many different establishments it may be hard to discern what environment is right for you.

Clubland A Go-Go!
Lansdowne Street, known as club land, is a scene of frenzied activity from 9pm on. Located across from Fenway Park, it boasts six clubs, each with a different theme. Avalon, the biggest, has just undergone a $4 million renovation and boasts an impressive list of visiting DJs and live acts. The streets newest addition, The Modern, is an ultra-sleek and ultra-chic spot for those who can garner a booth in the VIP section.

Not surprisingly, with its rich immigrant heritage, Boston has plenty of Irish bars and pubs. But many offer more than just a pint of Guinness. You can find live entertainment, DJs and theme nights to keep the citys diverse crowd satisfied. The Black Rose and The Purple Shamrock are two favorites in Faneuil Hall. Hibernia is a new spot with a hip downtown appeal.

If you're looking for a more polished atmosphere, consider the Leather District. Off the beaten path between South Station and Chinatown you'll find places like the G Lounge and Oskarswith plush interiors, acid jazz playing in the background, and a cosmopolitan crowd.

On the other side of town is Sophias, Bostons hottest new Latin club. You'll find three floors of dining, drinking and dancing filled to capacity with beautiful people of all nationalities.

Internationals (and some elite downtown types) have Euro-scene playgrounds they have made their own, including M-80, Armani Cafe, Venu and Caprice. Beyond the velvet rope, imagine dark, smoky rooms and dance floors filled with beautiful people where the veuve clicquot flows like water.

Laura Carlson

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