Over the years, I thought I’d discovered just about everything to see and do in Boston. But recently, I encountered a new Boston – one that triumphantly emerged after a painful facelift, the Big Dig, the nation’s largest, costliest urban infrastructure project. Now that a dilapidated elevated highway has been razed and a new roadway positioned underground, the city looks younger, fresher, oxygenated.
These days, in addition to enjoying classics, such as the Freedom Trail and the Museum of Science, families can cool off in spray fountains on the Rose Kennedy Greenway (a mile-long ribbon of parks), watch the action on the nation’s oldest working fish pier from the HarborWalk (a 40-mile-long series of paths, observation points, attractions, and public art), and stay at one of several new luxe waterfront hotels (the Fairmont Battery Wharf even has a small maritime museum and observation deck).
The number of city tours is at an all-time high; travel by foot, trolley, water taxi, duck boat, kayak, bicycle, ferry, schooner, lobster boat or even Segway for an overview of old and new treasures. Cycling through the city just got easier; visitors can rent bikes at 60 self-service Hubway stations and return them -- after a few minutes or a day -- at the nearest location (note: bring your own helmet).
This year, Boston’s in an especially festive mood; Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox, celebrates its 100th birthday with family-friendly activities and events. The city marks the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 with a majestic floating parade (featuring the USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat) during its expanded Harborfest celebration. This summer, the amount of free fun is astounding; film festivals, spray parks, festivals, story hours, moonlight concerts, and nature programs are on tap from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
What’s more, one of the city’s most anticipated attractions, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, opens in June. Attached to the Congress Street Bridge, the complex features two reconstructed 18th-century meeting houses, a retail store, an 18th century tavern, and three ships, the Beaver, the Eleanor, and the Dartmouth, each of which lost more than 100 chests of British East India Company Tea on December 16, 1773, the night of the Boston Tea Party.
The museum will feature the same groundbreaking technology used at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. “When people think of Boston, they think of the Boston Tea Party,” says Shawn P. Ford, the museum’s vice president and executive director. “At the museum, the 17th century meets the 21st century in a way that’s never been seen before. There’s a big wow factor.”
If city travel is your cup of tea, a trip to Boston is a slam dunk.