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The past, present, and future of Boston are intimately tied into the city’s relationship to water. From the iconic Charlestown Navy Yard to the bustle of all the new developments in the Innovation District, it’s an exciting time to explore these areas.
If you’re looking to be close to all the action (historical and otherwise), it’s a good idea to walk up and down State Street to get a sense of the dynamism of this corner of the Hub and you’ll be connected to the beautiful blue water of Boston Harbor as part of your perambulations. Of course, it’s so much easier just to set up a base of operations in the area for a night or two to take it all in.
Here are a few suggestions to make such a journey all the more memorable.
Overnight at the Harborside Inn
Photo: Harborside Inn Lobby
In Boston, if you can bring the historic and the modern together as a benediction to the past and present, why wouldn’t you? The Harborside Inn offers the perfect blend of both, as it is housed in a glorious 1846 mercantile shipping warehouse that has being lovingly restored and remained by owner Marc Hagopian.
The decorative touches in the lobby set the atmosphere for a contemporary, nautical chic feel that features warm and inviting couches. The entire area is a great place for relaxing with family or new friends, and it’s definitely one of those fine gathering spaces that makes the place feel welcoming.
Photo: A room at the Harborside Inn
The rooms are well appointed and the fun nautical lighting fixtures are a nice touch, as are the excellent beddings and custom-made teak furniture. Some of the rooms have city views and others feature a fine look into the building’s atrium. It’s worth making a reservation for one of the city view rooms and you can find all the particulars about reservations here.
From a highway to a greenway
After you set up your room, step outside and walk a few steps to the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. This, of course, used to be the singular domain of the Central Artery highway, which whisked cars quickly (and slowly) through Boston. The highway came down as part of the Big Dig project and it has been replaced by these lovely swaths of public space that feature all manner of entertainment, food trucks, and much more. You’ll want to look at their ongoing schedule of food trucks and also check out their events calendar, which features free fitness classes and music performances, to name just a couple of the activities.
Photo: Rose F. Kennedy Greenway during spring
Four Centuries of History in One Mile
It’s quite wonderful that you can walk through 400 years of Boston’s commercial, maritime, and political history in one mile. This monumental Walk to the Sea was made possible by a generous gift by Norman B. Leventhal and it features eight wonderful stops along State Street that tell this story through beautifully designed kiosks. The “Then & Now” features of the kiosks recall the city’s transformation, covering everything from the Revolutionary War to urban renewal. Close consideration of each kiosk will probably inspire additional stops along the way and it’s a great delight for those Bostonians who might feel that they already know all there is to know about the area, up and down State Street from the water to the State House.
Photo: The Norman B. Leventhal Walk to the Sea
Go underground, have a bite
After a bit of exploration along State Street, you should head on down Bromfield Street near the Granary Burying Ground for a meal at the Silvertone Bar & Grill. It’s just down a flight of stairs and they have a nice bar area that offers a solid martini and good conversation. Also, you might slip into a booth and stay for a meal. My top picks here are the meatloaf and the shepherd’s pie. They’re closed on Sunday and the bar stays open until 2 a.m. the rest of the week.
After such a busy day, you’ll want to go back and retire to the Harborside. If you’re feeling up to it, slip on down to their lounge for a drink before calling it a night.
Photo: The Harborside Inn Lounge
Either way, there’s plenty to do the next day and surely you’ll find your way out to another nearby destination, such as jumping on a boat to the Boston Harbor Islands or just wandering a few hundred feet away to the New England Aquarium.
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.