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For many, the fun in the Fenway comes largely from the activities on the lovely diamond at the center of Fenway Park, the green jewel of a ballpark that is the hub of activity in the area from April to early October. If you’re a fan of baseball, you’ll find much to enjoy here, but even the casual visitor will want to stay a few days to explore the nearby green spaces, restaurants and the general cultural milieu of this distinct and diverse neighborhood.
Your Home Base on Brookline Ave
It’s important to have a sanctuary, a home away from home, a place of comfort and leisure as you get ready for intense urban exploration. The Marriott Residence Inn Boston Back Bay/Fenway Suites has the type of convivial surroundings that provide for a fine respite, whether it be a tad raucous or just relaxed.
The hotel is but a few hundred feet away from Fenway, so it’s the perfect place for citizens of Red Sox Nation (or fans of the Most Welcome Visitors) to hang their hats, cleats, gloves, and everything else. As their name indicates, every room here is a complete suite, so you can swing back from a shopping expedition to cook up your own meal, if you so desire. It’s a nice bonus that some of the rooms have views of Fenway, so make sure and call ahead to see if such a vista is available.
The rooms are well appointed, and if you do want to venture out into the rest of the hotel, don’t forgot to check out the wonderful original art featuring the Boston skyline behind the front desk and the welcoming lobby that has myriad chairs to help visitors get comfortable. As a nice bonus, they also offer a complimentary breakfast that is ambitious in its scope, as it features over two dozen items, including oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, and pastries.
The signature space here is truly the roof deck on the eighth floor, which is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and people watch. There are great views of Fenway Park and it’s an ideal place to relax if you’re not headed over to a ball game or another nocturnal activity. If you have any extra time, why not check out the cozy pool that’s also close by, too?
The Green Monster Beckons
For many visitors to the Hub, watching a game at Fenway is the sine qua non of such a sojourn. It is a great way to spend an afternoon or fine evening, but you might do just as well just to slip on in for one of their authoritative tours. Along the way, you’ll hear a great deal of Red Sox lore, including tales of Ted Williams, the park’s exquisite architecture, and much more.
If you’d still like to take in a bit of the game from the outfield, you can walk over to the Bleacher Bar, which is a welcoming sliver of property carved out of the park itself. You enter on Lansdowne Street and you can enjoy looking out onto the field as you grab a beer or order up some pretzel sticks (highly recommended, I should add). It’s not a bad way to catch an inning or two of the game and you’ll enjoy stopping by and talking with the friendly staff.
For those who enjoy a bit of literary musings with their baseball, I also recommend reading John Updike’s celebrated essay “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” which offers a lovely description of the experience of watching a game at Fenway.
Green Spaces, Lovely Landscapes
To explore the Fens is to encounter a bit of quietude amidst the busy bustle of Boston. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the Fens area is short walk from Fenway Park and it’s a great way to spend a few hours as you linger over the ponderous Agassiz Road Bridge, ponder the communal spirit of the Victory Gardens, or take a close look at the Kelleher Rose Garden. From May to October, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy offers a range of wonderful tours that start from their Shattuck Visitor Center. There are a number of other activities to do here as well and you may wish to consult the complete calendar of events, sponsored by the Conservancy, before you head on over.
The Happiest Hour (or Three)
After a bit of wandering around the nabe, you’ll want to to sit back and relax before your next adventure. Located on the first floor of the Marriott, Bar Louie is the perfect place to cruise in for a bit of a bite. Their Monday through Friday happy hour (4-7pm) offers up half price appetizers and flatbreads. Standouts in this corner of their menu include the meatballs al forgo and the beer braised mussels. As the night goes on, things get a bit more raucous and loud. But you didn’t come in for the quiet, did you?
Max Grinnell is a writer based in Cambridge, MA, who writes about cities, public art, geography, travel, and anything else that strikes his fancy. His writings can be found online at www.theurbanologist.com and he tweets over @theurbanologist.