Posted by: vlibrizzi | August 8, 2009

Summer Road Trip Extended: Boston’s Top Ten

C. and I just spent the last week in Boston visiting friends. We had a great time catching up with people (and hearing so many pieces of great news!), and visiting some of our old, favorite places. As we were walking around Harvard Square the other day, I realized that I’ve spent the last six months telling you about all of the great things to do, places to eat, and sights to see in France and Spain, but I haven’t said much at all about all the great things my own country has to offer. So, since I’m home in the US for the next two weeks, I thought I’d write a few blog entries about the two places in the US I know most about….Boston and New Jersey.

 So, first: Boston.

Before we moved to France, I lived in Boston for 5 and a half years (C. has lived there for longer). It was a great city to move to after college – so many young people, so much culture, and so many things to do. But, the more I’ve gotten to know Boston and the surrounding towns, I’ve come to realize how much the whole area surrounding and including Boston has to offer. So, below I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things to do, places to eat, and sites to visit in the Boston region…in the hopes that, if you haven’t been to Boston yet, you’ll add it to your list. (And, for all of you Massachusetts readers, please respond to this post and add your favorites to the lists.)


Things to do/sights to see:

  1. See a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. This is the true Boston experience. I’ve never been in a town that loved baseball as much as Boston. Heck, even I’ve become a fan. C. still roots for the Yankees, but we’re slowly trying to change that.
  2. Visit the MFA and the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. The MFA is a huge art museum with some great works. Often, it has really impressive special exhibits.  .
  3. Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. This museum was an old mansion that was converted into an art museum.
  4. Walk around Harvard Square (our old neighborhood). If you’re looking for a great place to window shop, listen to some music, or grab a bite to eat, you’ll find it in Harvard Square. We lived in this neighborhood for three years and loved it.
  5. Visit the Public Gardens (where we got engaged). Have a picnic in the Public Gardens, take a swan boat tour, or if you’re visiting in the summer, see one of the free Shakespeare in the park shows there.
  6. Shop on Newbury Street. This is Boston’s most famous shopping street, but it also has great cafes and is really close to the Public Garden and other downtown sights.
  7. Walk the Freedom Trail. If you’ve never been to Boston before, the walk through the city takes you to all the famous landmarks. If you have been to Boston before, though, I’d skip it)
  8. Go to Crane Beach in Ipswich. No beach in Massachusetts compares to the Jersey Shore in our humble opinion, but the best beach we’ve found in Mass. is Crane Beach. And, on your way back to Boston from the beach, you can stop at Woodman’s for some steamers and/or fried clams. Yum!
  9. Walk around World’s End in Hingham. This nature preserve has great trails for easy hiking, and at the end there is an amazing view of Boston. As you look over the cliff onto the ocean, you can really see why they named this place “world’s end.”
  10. Go for a run or a walk along the Esplanade. The running and walking paths along the Charles River in downtown Boston are a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Also, at the Hatchshell on the Esplanade there are often free summer movies or concerts.


Places to Eat

(This is a list of our current favorite Boston/Cambridge restaurants in no particular order. Note: the list is a bit “pizza heavy”…maybe because we’ve been craving good American pizza while living in France, or maybe just because C. has finally gotten me to love pizza as much as he does):

  1. Emma’s Pizza on Hampshire street in Cambridge. Jeff, the owner, is so friendly and the thin crust pizza, with very unique toppings, is crunchy and warm. C’s favorite pizza choice is the #19 which is a pizza with rosemary tomato sauce, caramelized onions, and Canadian bacon. Mine is the #1 which has caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and mozzarella sauce.
  2. Toro on Washington street in Boston’s South End. When we were back in Boston last week, this was the place that was top on my list to visit. It is one of the first Spanish tapas place that we came to love. So, after spending the last month in Spain, we wanted to compare the food at Toro with some of the tapas we’ve had in Spain
  3. Stella on Washington street in Boston’s South End. This trendy Italian place was a favorite of ours for awhile. We both love the tagliatelle bolognaise and, of course, the arancini. The restaurant also has a great, lively bar scene.
  4. The South End Buttery on Shawmut street in Boston’s South End. C. and I started going to this place for brunch/lunch right before we moved to France. They have a great selection of coffee drinks and yummy breakfast and lunch food. Also, it’s in a great neighborhood, so it’s fun to grab a coffee to go and then walk around for a bit on a lazy weekend morning.
  5. Lizzy’s Ice Cream in Harvard Square or in Waltham, MA. Everyone in Waltham loves Lizzy’s, so when it opened up in my neighborhood (Harvard Square), I had to try it. The Walthamites were right…Lizzy’s is great.
  6. Pinocchio’s Pizza in Harvard Square (or “Noke’s” as all the students call it). C. has been going to this place since he was a freshman in college. Their deep dish pizza (especially the tomato basil) is awesome…and so are their prices.
  7. The Butcher Shop on Tremont Street in Boston’s South End. This is our favorite restaurant by famous Boston chef, Barbara Lynch. She has some other great place that we’ve tried too…so check them out as well. This place is unique though because it really is like a small butcher shop. They have a great wine selection by the glass, and wonderful small plate meals to enjoy with the wine. If you go, try their hot dog…I know, it sounds weird to have a hot dog there, but trust me, it’s great.
  8. Scampo in the Liberty Hotel in Beacon Hill. When we lived in Beacon Hill for the few months before we moved to France, this was our favorite neighborhood restaurant. The restaurant has really good pastas, salads, and creative pizzas…and a great drinks list, but the ambiance is the best.
  9. Cambridge 1 Pizza in Harvard Square. We would go here a lot when we wanted a quick weekend lunch or weekday dinner. Like Emma’s they specialize in unique, thin crust pizzas, but if I had to choose between the two, Emma’s is definitely worth the long wait in line.
  10. Kebab Factory on Kirkland Street in Cambridge. I know the name of this restaurant sounds a bit weird, but it was the best Indian restaurant we found in Boston. They also have a great weekend lunch buffet.


  1. Nice! I should do this, too 🙂

    I have to say that I personally believe the best pizza at Pinocchio’s is the artichoke heart one, though…

  2. Thanks for your post; I’ll have to pass along to visiting out-of-towners.

    So many great things about Hingham, but World’s End is a top pick for me, too. The great thing about living in Hingham is there are so many good eats, recreational options, all within walking distance.

    And when you want to go to Boston, hop the train or the boat and you’re at South Station or Boston Harbor Hotel in 30 minutes.

    Glad you had such a great visit back!

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