In August, we spent an amazing week in Boston. While the grownups had been there before, the kids had not, and I was super excited about introducing them to this dynamic, vibrant city. Shortly before we left, my husband’s work portion of the trip totally fell off, so I had to scramble to get accommodations for a longer period of time. I tried to find an apartment on vrbo.com, but no dice. I was really thinking we were going to get the “screw me” rate, and Boston is NOT a cheap city! In desperation, I stumbled onto hotwire.com to find some special deals. The only catch? You wouldn’t know which hotel it was until you paid in full up front. We only knew the general area/neighborhood it was in (in this case, Back Bay). We took a chance, and it paid off in a HUGE way!
The Lenox Hotel was our reward, a stunner of a boutique hotel located one block away from Newbury Street’s shopping and dining mecca. It was exactly where we wanted to be location-wise, but we were even more bowled over by the service and attention to detail. Upon arrival, the kids were given stuffed animal lobsters, and we had a basket of goodies and a handwritten note awaiting us in our room. We were off to an excellent start! Nice touches included the concierge desk assisting us in making reservations, and the hotel sedan ride back to the airport was WAY better than our taxi trip there.
Without a doubt, this was one of my favorite vacations EVER. Well, I may be slightly biased since it was such a break for the normal mommy routine (hey, I didn’t have to cook once!) So naturally, one of the highlights of the trip for me was…
The food Boy, did we eat well in Boston! Between the lobster, crab legs, and oysters on the half shell, we were seafood fanatics! My favorites include the Barking Crab and Island Creek Oyster Bar. Barking Crab is self-described as offering “the casual atmosphere of a coastal clam shack in a funky urban setting.” Good description! With a picturesque view of the Charles River and delicious seafood, I could totally understand why people have been digging the Barking Crab for 20 years. And Taylor simply DOVE into the lobster. (We’re definitely raising a girl with expensive tastes!) At the opposite end of the dining spectrum is Island Creek Oyster Bar, a well-located restaurant near Fenway and attached to the Hotel Commonwealth. Island Creek embraces the farm to table concept, only this time it is the oyster grower and harvester. This place was on my must do list for Boston before we left. Clearly popular, we had to go with a 5:30 reservation, and the place was PACKED! After perusing the menu, most of us decided that this evening’s focus would be oysters. Our server recommended several varieties and we went to town on 3 or 4 dozen oysters over the course of a few hours. Totally fresh, upscale in decor (including walls of oyster shells) I would be remiss if I didn’t also include an honorable mention shoutout for Red Lantern, where we noshed on sushi and the shared plate of whole roast duck with peking pancakes.
Discovering a great band at Faneuil Hall Since music is such a big deal in my life and hey, even in my blog title, I’m always looking for new and inspiring music. What better place to find street musicians than Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market? This bustling marketplace filled with food and souvenirs is also alive with the sound of music. And our exceptional find was the band Cahill. The more they played, the more we liked them. 2 guys, acoustic guitars, a foot amp to add special effects, and that was it. But their voices were unique and they really hooked you! We bought both their CD’s but you can also find them on iTunes. And even Taylor was willing to pose with a photo with them. Forget America’s Got Talent: THESE GUYS got talent!
Duck tour: I KNOW you have probably heard of the Boston Duck Tours, this land/water tour on a World War II style amphibious vehicle also known as DUCK. Our conDUCKtor/driver was Flo, who kept us in stitches despite the crazy Friday afternoon traffic. Once on the Charles River, Taylor even got to drive! This goofball tour is a perfect overview trip to give you a sense of all that Boston has to offer. My only advice would be to choose a tour earlier in the day to avoid rush hour traffic.
Boston Garden and the Swan Boats: No big surprise that my kids loved Boston Public Garden given how much they loved Central Park in NYC. Lots of green space in a big city to run and play is like a beacon to them. But the added bonus was the Swan Boats. Families piled on to take the 15 minute sojourn around the lake. The swan boats are powered by pedal propulsion (say that 3 times fast!). The swan boats are unrivaled (as in, you won’t find them anywhere else) and inexpensive to boot. All 4 of us enjoyed this leisurely cruise for only $9.00. Fun family entertainment in the great outdoors!
Whale watching: I got a wild hair on the last day: let’s do something totally unexpected and unlike anything we’ve ever done. Boston Harbor Cruises fit the bill because they offer whale watching excursions. Seriously? I was down for that! It was AH-MAZ-ING! We went from one mode of water transportation (swan boats) to a giant catamaran that would take us miles away from Boston in search of whales. I did have that moment when we had arrived at the feeding grounds where they had seen whales earlier in the day, and we sat there. A minute passed. Then two. Then a few more. I’ll admit, when we weren’t seeing anything, I thought: “I rode an hour and a half for this?” As if on cue, the whale emerged from the sea not once, not twice, but at least 30 times while we all gasped and squealed at every leap (the technical term is “breaching”). It was breathtaking and exhilirating and I immediately was so glad we went. Not sure when or where we might have the chance to whale watch again–that is exactly what made this excursion so memorable and special!