Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tourist Boston: Duck Tours and the Freedom Trail

As mentioned in my previous post, my family came into Boston for a visit last month. What’s the best part of visitors in Boston? A chance to do all the touristy sites your friends are embarrassed to do. Honestly, as a Boston transplant, I do touristy-destination and sight-seeing activities all the time (I know it’s hard to tell with my blog and all). However, it’s especially difficult to get a partner in crime (or two) to visit these places after a while – and sometimes you just feel bad asking.

So, what are some of the touristy things that my family and I did?

Boston Duck Tours - Image Credit: Kim LaFleur

Boston Duck Tour

The tour I took with my family was the first time I had taken the full tour – as I had only taken an abbreviated version before this. I often recommend Duck Tours to people from out of town, as a way to get an overview of the history of the City, get a sampling of the historical sites and be have a bit of fun. If you don’t already know, the Duck Tour drivers are a hoot. Each has a “persona” and I was lucky enough to be on Disco Dan’s boat (he had fish in his platform shoes). The tour also takes you on land and through the Charles River. It’s just a cool way to see Boston. If you want a more engaging experience, download the new iPhone app that goes with the tour. You can follow along with the tour, and get facts of the different areas you drive by. All in all, my family really enjoyed the tour – and because of it my family requested that we make a visit to the U.S.S. Constitution. Quack, quack.

Freedom Trail - Image Credit: Kim LaFleur

Freedom Trail

I really don’t know how the Freedom Trail was created but it’s a really interesting concept. The top 10 or so historical sites in and around downtown Boston are mapped out and connected by a red line that runs between them. Literally, there is a red line running through the streets and on the sidewalk. For a City where the streets don’t run on grids, the Freedom Trail is insanely helpful. I have lived here over a year, and I don’t think that even with my smartphone, I would have been able to direct my family to the different sites without the line. On top of that, the sites on the Trail have a very rich history. Ben Franklin’s family is buried at one location. You can see where Paul Revere lived. Or how about a visit to Old Iron Sides? Done. The Freedom Trail gives you a chance to follow history and get a real taste of the founding of America. If you’re feeling really lively, you can take a walking tour with a guide that dresses in full colonial garb. Yes, I said garb.

If you’re a visitor, or a resident that hasn’t experience either of these things, I’d definitely recommend it! Duck Tours take about 90 minutes, and the Freedom Trail can take up a full day. Just don’t forget your walking shoes.

Extra shout out to my friend Kim for letting me use her photos in my post!

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Chowderfest…Need I Say More?

It’s been a couple weeks since my last posting but man, has the time flown by! I should have some fantastic posts coming up, as I had a chance to visit some classic Boston tourist destinations recently. More of that later.

Back to the chowder. Every Fourth of July weekend, Boston holds a series of events lovingly called Harborfest. Reenactment activities are coordinated around the City, while tours, sailing, runs and more all keep locals and tourists bustling all over town. Of course, these events lead up to Boston’s nationally recognized fireworks celebration. The one event that particularly caught my attention during this slew of fun activities was Chowderfest.

Clam chowder, the infamous Boston seafood stew, is best served in the summer when seafood season is at it’s peak. So why wouldn’t you want to spend a warm, gloriously humid summer day sampling some piping hot chowder? I actually thought the idea of this whole event was so funny that I had to attend last year. It was one of my first Boston activities. And it will live in infamy.

I have to say, last year, I wasn’t thrilled that there were only seven or eight restaurants that lined up to dish out their very best chowder. However, I appreciated that the event provides you with all-you-can-eat samplings, and an opportunity to place a vote for your favorite chowder. After such a great experience last year (despite my disappointment at the selection of the 2010 winner), I absolutely made it a point to attend the 2011 event.

Unfortunately, there were only four to five vendors at this year’s event. The line to enter the event was absolutely crazy which meant that people were displaying disappointing chowder decorum. There was a dedicated kids activity area, and a bunch of free samples from other vendors (Nantucket Nectars was my personal favorite).

If you’ve never experienced Chowderfest, I would recommend a visit. But be ready to fork over at least 12 bucks for a ticket – and get pushed around a bit. Me, I’ll need to reassess my attendance next year as I did not leave with a satisfied feeling. Either for the chowders sampled or the event itself.