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A Perfect Spring Weekend in Boston
By the time spring rolls around in New England, residents are beyond ready to put away their galoshes, parkas and ice scrapers in favor of running shoes, light jackets and sunny smiles.
I can attest to the severity of the winters. I had a paper route one winter in Cambridge, Mass., delivering the now-deceased Boston Herald Traveler. I used my bike when the sidewalks weren't coated with ice, but most of that miserable season, I trudged in snow before daylight, or tried and keep the papers dry in the icy rain using plastic sheeting whipped about in the wind. Now before you start to roll your eyes, expecting me to spin a yarn about cutting wood for the pot bellied stove, let's move on to what a visitor can expect when spring raises its glorious head in Boston.
The first thing I recommend for a perfect weekend is to get a sense of the city by boat. One of the consensus favorites is the Duck Boat Tour, a fleet of crazy, converted World War II war machines that drive through historic sites in Back Bay, Beacon Hill, downtown Boston and the North End ... until they splash down into the Charles River for a 30 minute cruise. Folks quack like hell since some get a little wet, and the kids get plastic duck bills to wear. The guides keep things lively with quips and plenty of 'tude, which is what you'd expect in Beantown. It's best to reserve a ride online, or tickets are available inside the Museum of Science after the gift shop, inside the Prudential Center across from Barnes and Noble and in the Whale Watch Booth at the New England Aquarium.
Boston is one of the nation's top sports towns, so taking in a game is a must. I'm a diehard Celtics fan and if they're in town, my preference is to watch the "Big Three" with Rajon Rondo work some magic on the famous parquet floor. But it is inside, and if the Celts aren't driving to the NBA Finals, Boston's sports fans gravitate to Fenway Park in the spring to watch the Red Sox. Few venues capture the romance of the game as this brick-faced stadium. It also has the Green Monster, a manual scoreboard and narrow seats ... although they didn't seem so small when I was 12.
If you're looking for a great place to eat with a nightlife scene and fun music, check out Lucky's Lounge — a swinging hipster lounge straight out of the '50s. It gets pretty crowded after work and the swing gets down when Motown, funk and blues bands take the stage.
The next day, make sure you get an appreciation for the area's history by taking the Freedom Trail, either on a guided tour or download a map and hike it on your own. Our family followed the map for part of the trail and visited the places we all learned about in school: From Boston Commons, the Boston Massacre site and Paul Revere's Old North Church (where Sarah Palin famously and erroneously said that Mr. Revere warned the "British that they weren't gonna be takin' away our arms by ringing those bells ...") — to Bunker Hill and, my favorite, the USS Constitution. It's quite a distance, so take it piecemeal if necessary.
Do not leave town without visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, one of Boston's CityPASS' premier attractions. Last year, the museum opened its Art of the Americas wing — doubling the number of objects it can display from the museum’s vast collection, including several large-scale masterpieces not displayed for decades. Running through August, its special Paper Zoo” brings together prints, drawings, and photographs of the animal kingdom dating from about 1500 to the present. It features some 30–40 works by Rembrandt, Audubon, Picasso, and others, and will delight both children and adults.
Another perfect weekend favorite of mine is another Boston CityPASS stop: Harvard Museum of Natural History, mostly because I'm a sucker for dinosaurs. Located at the oldest university in America, the child-friendly museum features dinosaurs (a 42-foot Kronosaurus, and one of the first Triceratops ever discovered), meteorites, gemstones, and hundreds of animals around the globe. The main feature of the museum is its impressive Glass Flowers collection, which was started in 1886 and took over five decades to complete. Dazzling, intricate and botanically precise, more than 3,000 glass flowers comprise the museum’s signature exhibit.
While you're at Harvard, you might was well take a Harvard Tour, which are freewheeling and fun. Harvard's graduates include Sam Adams, John Hancock and John Adams. That dude from The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg, also went to Harvard, except that instead of graduating, he left early to go be a billionaire running Facebook.
But if you're really looking to cap off that perfect weekend, stroll across Harvard Square to Lizzy's Handmade Ice Cream and get a double cone and walk down to the Charles River. Don't forget to ask for jimmies.
Boston CityPASS can be purchased online at citypass.com or at any of the Boston CityPASS attractions. It is valid for nine consecutive days, beginning with the first day of use.