Boston Off-the-Beaten Track
Alternate Ways to Explore Beantown
Dan Mahr, flickr
Boston is an old city with some quirky sensibilities. As such, it's got plenty of off-the-beaten-track activities that will take visitors into a Boston not everyone gets to know.
TV and Movie Tours
Follow the serpentine route Ben Affleck and his crew took through the city's North End as they attempted to outrun the FBI in “The Town,” bend an elbow in the iconic neighborhood of Southie's L Street Tavern from “Good Will Hunting” or even go where everybody knows your name, Cheers. On Location Tours’ Boston TV and Movie Tour takes film buffs to shooting locations across the city, from Charlestown to Beacon Hill. The bus tour hits 40 sites during the 3-hour trek. Tours depart on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. from the Boston Common. Tickets are $40. Call 212-683-2027 or visit Screentours.com.
Indulge at a Chocolate Bar
If chocolate is good, more chocolate is great. This is the philosophy of the Cafe Fleuri chocolate bar in the Langham Hotel. Willy Wonka would be jealous of this sumptuous outlay of sweet temptations. From the famed Langham chocolate croissant bread pudding to an array of truffles, sauces and cakes, chocoholics are sure to get their money’s worth at the café’s $40 fixed price Sunday brunch. For those keeping score, an hour at this swanky, outrageous buffet may encompass both gluttony and greed. The Langham is is a 5-minute walk from the Aquarium stop and the State Street stop on the MBTA. A taxi from the Boston Convention Center to this sinful site costs approximately $10. The chocolate bar is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 617-451-1900 or visit opentable.com to reserve a spot.
Uncover Boston's Secrets
Every neighborhood in Boston has its secrets, and the North End is no different. On the Old Boston Original Secret Tour you’ll see where a man flew from the steeple of the Old North Church and puzzle over a blinking Madonna statue. Visitors will even learn what really happened the day a molasses flood dragged 21 people to their sticky doom, and discover for themselves whether it’s true that the sweet smell of molasses still permeates the streets of this Italian neighborhood. The 2-hour tours run Monday through Saturday at 10 a.m., with additional weekend tours at 3 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 617-755-2648 or visit Oldbostontours.com.
High-Speed Boat Tours
Wind whips across the bow, a cacophonous soundtrack pummels your ears and the sea spray soaks youduring one of the more pulse-pounding trips across Boston Harbor. Codzilla, a high-speed thrill boat, is equipped with twin turbo-charged diesel engines and is capable of churning across the water at 2,800 horsepower. This “wicked fun” 40-minute voyage is more water coaster than whaler and even warns customers: no refunds for a bad hair day. Codzilla leaves Long Wharf every 2 hours starting at noon until May 21, when it begins whipping thrill-seekers around the water at 10 a.m. Tickets are $27 for adults and $23 for children. Long Wharf is accessible from the Convention Center via water taxi. A taxi ride from the Convention Center to Long Wharf is approximately $12. Call 1-877-733-4321 or visit Bostonharborcruises.com.
Visit the Harvard Bridge
Taking a stroll across the Harvard Bridge (alternately called the Mass. Ave. Bridge or the MIT Bridge) will introduce visitors to the odd unit of measurement known as the “Smoot.” Invented as part of an MIT fraternity prank in 1958, the Smoot is named for Oliver R. Smoot – a 5’7”-tall student who laid down on the bridge and was used to measure its length. It was discovered that the bridge was precisely 364.4 Smoots (plus or minus 1 ear.) The bridge spans the Charles River, and offers great views of the city and MIT. The closest MBTA stop is Kendall/MIT – about a mile from the bridge. The nearly 5-mile taxi ride from the Convention Center to the Harvard Bridge is roughly a $21 fare.
See Bad Art
One of the benefits of visiting the Museum of Bad Art in nearby Somerville is that it's located conveniently near the restrooms in the basement of the Somerville Theater,, according to its erstwhile curators. Since 1994, the MOBA has been presenting the newest worst art to appreciative audiences. Its 55 Davis Square location has 50-70 pieces of art on display at any given time. Each piece is presented with a narrative that explains the “complexities inherent in the work.” Admission is free with the purchase of an admission ticket to the theater, where first-run movies are shown. Take the MBTA red line to the Davis Square stop. The 20-minute taxi ride from the Convention Center is approximately $30. Call 781-444-6757 or visit Museumofbadart.org.