One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

5 days in Boston, Massachusetts

Recently we were able to make a quick family getaway to Boston and explore the city for a long weekend in the middle of my two-week Epic computer system goLive for my hospital client in Boston. I had to put in some 12-14 hours days on both sides of the days off, so it gave me a nice little window to fly Norah and Kegan up for a few days. I always love the flight from New Orleans to Boston, which I’m having to make monthly at the moment, because the route goes directly over New York City and I love catching the island and dreaming about how I wish I lived there 🙂

One of the great perks of doing a Boston trip in the middle of my trip was that I already had a reserved and paid for hotel room! Well, a closet. The hotel was the MOXY Downtown Boston, so the location was great…but its a weird hipster hotel that is “euro style” meaning a single full bed in every bed, no two bed rooms, no seating, no closets, no iron… literally a bed, a TV and a bathroom.

The lobby did have a tabletop Pacman

Me showing off my 2 weeks worth of clothes in my “closet” – pegs along the TV wall.

Poor Norah was a great sport. When I checked in and found out they had no two bed rooms, they said they had air mattresses they’d send up. The only floor space in the room was the entryway so you had to walk overtop of Norah’s mattress to go to the bathroom. lol It was ridiculous ha but she took it in stride.

The first night they were there I had to leave at 5am for work and the poor kid’s mattress had a leak and she was sleeping on the hard floor. We got the air mattress swapped out for another for the rest of the nights.

My daily ride to work at the hospital was fun, going past sites like Fenway and Harvard Medical School.

Walking back from the subway station one day prior to Kegan and Norah arriving, I found this Edgar Allen Poe statue at the corner of Boylston and Charles St dubbed “Edgar Allen Poe Square”. The bricks have books trailing out behind him, there is a heart on a stack of books behind him and a raven perched on his briefcase.

Interesting fact I read- apparently Poe was born in Boston, although he wasn’t raised there and only ever returned to Boston twice- one time being to attempt suicide by overdose… but was unsuccessful. I’m not sure he was a big fan of Boston.

The afternoon before Norah and Kegan arrived, I got us our Charlie cards, which granted us unlimited rides on their public transportation system.

Its no London or New York subway…in many ways they seem to still be working out the kinks of moving into the 21st century. Like, currently, you cant even board buses or subway train cars through the rear doors because they don’t have the card readers working to be able to accept your pass/fares. They still get you a paper receipt with a barcode to scan for a single ride. There is no tap/scan pay system… and on my first attempt to use my CharlieCard, it wouldn’t scan at their kiosks…and the solution I was given by the attendant at the station was that I could take my card to this one office downtown (not even in a subway station, mind you) and they could transfer the pass to a new card. haha it was comical.

Kegan and Norah’s flight arrived to Boston after the poor guys sat on the tarmac in NOLA for over two hours waiting for a repair. So they got in to the hotel just an hour before I got there from work.

We explored Chinatown a bit because we are always down for the best Chinese or Asian food and the hotel sat right on the edge of the Chinatown area of Boston.

We walked by the China Trade Gate, donated to the city by the Taiwan government in the 1980s

We ended up at a Dim Sum restaurant called Windsor Dim Sum Cafe and it really hit the spot with a spicy marinated tripe, taro cakes, sesame balls, egg custard tarts….all of the staples.

We had to try to fit in as many escape rooms as possible for Norah, that’s always her first question when we tell her we’re going someplace new: “are there any escape rooms?” lol …so, that was our only evening event after dinner. I put what seemed to be the lowest quality room on the first night so that it went in increasing order of fun and quality throughout the week. Night one was what I expected. A run-down single college student run place….but overall-a good time. The only photo I have is this weird wide angle one with our faces looking weird-its not doing Norah or I any favors…ha…but oh well. It lives forever on the blog! ha

The Paramount Theater was on our way back to the hotel. Originally owned by Paramount Pictures and opened in 1932 as 1,700 seat single screen theater- one of the first theaters in Boston to show moving pictures with sound.

We walked by French Quarter, a bar and restaurant which legit looked like a New Orleans bar in the French Quarter. Not enough time to test it out and see if the food was legit.. plenty of New Orleans cuisine available any other week 🙂

This book shop had a parking lot beside it and the utility closets on the side were painted to look like bookshelves. It was super cool.

Wednesday, I had to work again, but Kegan booked tickets at Fenway park for Norah to catch her first baseball game. They beat the Atlanta Braves 9-0 and Norah got to see rookie Jamie Westbrook get his first MLB hit. They got to see 2 “ova the Monsta” home runs, too.

After work, we ate at PF Changs where we met up with a couple friends in Boston and then went to another escape room together- this time at a place called Trapology- in a room called The Hot Dog Heist. It was super fun. We were attempting to steal the Golden Weenie from Frankfurter National Bank.

All in all- it was a difficult room! With lots of crawling through between rooms… without all of us, we never would have escaped. But… with just a few minutes to go, we made it out! Highly recommend it, but only if you have 4 or more people.

Thursday was our first day of full-on mini vacation. But… it was supposed to rain, so we swapped our planned Freedom trail plans for something with more indoor time.

We started the day over in Chinatown at a bakery and with Vietnamese coffees.

We next headed over to the Wharf to check out the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum because Norah saw this ad and REALLY wanted to throw tea in the ocean. ha

Their 6th grade history was all centered around early American History, so between Hamilton and her entire history year, she’s been living the American Revolution.

One of the highlights is that you could sample all 5 of the teas that were tossed into the Harbor during the Boston Tea Party. So we got our unlimited tea cups and began our tastings.

We tasted Singlo -a Chinese green tea picked late in the season that was just coming to Boston at a lower price point due to the Tea Act. However, none of that lower priced Singlo ever made it to the Bostonian’s who were awaiting it.

Next was Young Hyson green tea- a green tea picked early in the Spring on new growth leaves. It was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

Next we moved to the black teas- with Bohea (boo-hee) which was a botched English version of the original Chinese Wuyi. This was bottom of the barrel late season affordable tea and was the most common tea. John Adams, always appealing to be a man of the people, loved a “good cup of bohea”.

Following Bohea, we sampled Congou, a high end Chinese black tea that had a bit of apple pie flavor, very sweet, very good.

Lastly, we tried Souchong – a very smoky tea, dried over a charcoal fire. It was like drinking a Scotch, in my opinion, although not a favorite. Kegan liked this one the best. Norah didn’t like any of them lol

After drowning in 5 cups of tea, we headed out to Cambridge to visit the Harvard campus.

We started out at the Harvard Book Store to get Norah a Harvard sweatshirt. Planting seeds lol

Getting her picture in front of something Harvard in case its needed for a time lapse later 🙂

We made our way across campus to the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Norah’s favorite animal is the capybara so she was thrilled to find one.

We also took a couple fun pictures imitating the animals. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to find these made the blog! lol

They had a super interesting special exhibit of glass plant specimens. I mean, once I learned about this, it makes total sense. This Czech master glass blower would construct plant specimens for study made entirely of glass… and even this close, you couldn’t tell! Glass never rots or changes… and can be created to demonstrate whatever features you want to show at any given time. It was an entire room of these… I was surprised how cool it was after I was like, “I’m not sure I really care about a bunch of glass sculptures of plants”. Well, I do. and you should too if you ever end up at a place with this exhibit.

They also had huge collections of rocks and minerals, so of course Kegan and Norah just walked around nerding out at every case and picking their favorites.

We passed by Memorial Hall a couple times while on campus.

Lunch was a quick stop at an Indian food truck in a plaza on campus. I had a spicy paneer wrap. Norah had the non-spicy version.

I think she liked walking around a college campus.

Next we went to the Scientific Instrument museum. The coolest item they had, in my opinion, was this Grand Orrery. A mechanical model of the solar system

Around the dome are bronze figures of Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin and James Bowdoin (the governor of Massachusetts) and the figures were cast by Paul Revere himself, somewhere between 1776-1786.

They had tons of other cool instruments and even an old floppy disk computer and an old control panel of a 1960s lab. I guess I was so involved I forget to take photos of anything else. ha

On our way off campus, we passed the music building, so I captured the girly in front of the concert hall. She may play something here one day.

We wrapped up our time on campus by heading back towards the hospital I’m working with to quickly meet my team at Wahlburgers for a drink. They had planned an outing to relax for an hour or so at the request of our VP and he was disappointed I wouldn’t be joining, so he asked me to bring the family by. So, like a weirdo, I strolled into a work function with Kegan and Norah. ha but it was all good, just a few people chilling on a patio, and it was nice to be able to connect work friends to family faces and the other way around. We hung out there until it was time for our dinner reservations back downtown at Union Oyster House.

Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the US. Open to diners since 1826. It has tons of ties to history. The Massachusetts Spy newspaper by Isaiah Thomas was printed in the upstairs, the first paymaster general of the Continental Army set up the first pay station here. Wives of famous revolutionaries like Adams, Hancock and Quincy mended clothes for colonists here. A future king of France lived on the second floor at one time. Daniel Webster used to eat oysters religiously at the famous half-circle oyster bar. Toothpicks were first used in the US at the Oyster House.

Overall the food was fresh, but average. But I expected that for the history and how busy it was. It wasn’t for the culinary depth, it was for the history. And oysters!

We made our way past some historic sites that we would revisit the next day including Faneuil Hall (pronounced Daniel with an F) and the Old State House.

We had my favorite escape room of the trip next- Storyteller’s Secret at Boxaroo. It was widely listed as the best escape room in Boston…and I agree. The technology in the room was fantastic and the story was unique. We escaped in plenty of time, but it wasn’t overly easy.

For Friday morning we were up and at it for a long walk along what’s known as the Freedom Trail. A 2.5 mile walking path through Boston along 16 historic sites relevant to early American history.

We started with a walk through Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States. From around 1660 to the 1800s, the park area was pastureland for the local family cows to graze. Revolutionary troops headed out to Lexington and Concord from this park.

On the edge of the park starts the trail at the Massachusetts State House.

Following to the Park Street church, a church founded in 1809 and still open today. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother preached here, My Country Tis of Thee was first sung on the front steps. However, the most interesting thing to me was the Granary Burial Grounds next door.

This cemetery is full of so many cool old tombstones and some notable names.

James Otis – a Harvard graduate lawyer that was one of the first outspoken voices of the revolution. Heavily influenced John Adams speaking style and stances but was plagued by alcoholism and mental illness…so we don’t really put him up on the pedestal we do some of the other Founding Fathers.

John Hancock himself, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Peter Faneuil – who built Faneuil Hall in 1742, but died shortly after. Faneuil Hall became a public hall and many public speeches for the revolution were delivered there.

The famous Paul Revere. Famous for silversmithing, copper plate engraving, carving picture frames, drawing political cartoons…even dentistry when times got tough…and many other artistic and business ventures…but none as famous as his Ride.

The parents of Ben Franklin. Benjamin Franklin only lived in Boston until he was 16 when he left town for Philly after he got fed up of working for his brother as an apprentice in his printing shop.

Samuel Adams, of beer fame- although the beer didn’t come around until 1987 in Cincinnati… cousin to John Adams, a politician, Declaration signer and patriot of the revolution. He did inherit his father’s brewery in his life and worked as a brewer… but not really the link to the brand today.

The Boston Massacre victims. What really kicked off the actual revolution. 9 British officers fired into a crowd of 200-300 protesters. Although only a few people were killed, the colonists were successful in branding it a “Massacre” and engravings by Paul Revere and speeches by people like James Otis and Samuel Adams inflamed the already angry colonists and mobilized them to finally take action against Britain.

Next up was King’s Chapel. The first anglican church in Boston pre-dating the revolution. Notable members and visitors including George Washington, Paul Revere, Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams, Charles Sumner and more. It was the first church in New England to have a pipe organ and it has the oldest in-use pulpit in the country dating back to 1717.

They had marked where each notable person sat. Back then, people paid for a pew for their family and it was their own personal property and they furnished it as they saw fit. U shaped benches, singles benches. Some even had hidden compartments. This was a status symbol. A “see and be seen” sort of thing.

They have a crypt underneath…but they were charging a lot for a tour. I found that with a lot of these sites. If you toured everything on the trail with 3-4 people, I think we figured up you would spend $400-500. I know things require upkeep and maintenance…but can’t we have our tax dollars subsidize something like these sites?? Why should your financial status determine whether you or your children can visit and learn from these important historical sites? My Democrat is showing.

Next was the Old City Hall, which also used to house The Boston Latin School from 1704-1748

Randomly, in regards to my Democrat comment above- there is a bronze donkey in this courtyard with two bronze footprint in front of it labeled “stand in opposition” and a plaque that explains that this statue is the origin of the party symbol.

Our next stop was the Old South Meeting House. Most famous historically for being the site where 5,000 people gathered on December 16th, 1773 to protest and debate the tea tax and when the final attempt at compromise failed, Samuel Adams gave the signal that started the Boston Tea Party, with the Sons of Liberty leading the way to Griffin’s Wharf to dump 342 chests of tea into the sea.

The clock tower’s bronze bell was made by Paul Revere in 1801.

Following the trail, we passed the Irish Famine Memorial

I think they got “the Irish guy” right. ha

Up next was the Old State House, the oldest surviving public building in Boston, built in 1713.

The Declaration of Independence was first read out from this balcony to Bostonians below.

This was also the site of the Boston Massacre with a brick circle out front marking the site. The actual massacre location was a few feet away- but was moved up to the sidewalk because people were getting hit by cars looking at the original- which was in the street.

We probably should have paid to tour the interior of this building… but I was honestly just kind of angry they were charging like $25/person to walk through….so in a huff, I was like forget it.

The Gold Lion and the Unicorn are from the days of Colonial Boston, symbolizing British rule- the same used on the Coat of Arms in the UK. These are replacements because the colonists burned the originals in the heat of the revolution in a bonfire on King Street.

Next up was Faneuil Hall, built in 1742, that has been a marketplace and meeting hall ever since- still a space filled with over 200 vendors

Earlier in the morning, back at Boston Common we saw two college age boys walking through the park both wearing these bright red crab hats. Norah thought it was hilarious and asked if she could have one. I said, if we come across one…sure. Well…. we did. ha Silly girl wore it the rest of the day. ha

We ended up with lobster rolls from Quincy Market, part of the Faneuil Hall complex. Kegan got the cold lobster roll with mayo. I got the hot buttered lobster.

Norah wanted the lobster grilled cheese and she said it was amazing. Bussin’ , I believe, was the term used. ha

We sat down on a bench and as we are sitting there, looked up to see a sign for Co-Operatives. It ended up being a pop up mini escape puzzle event. So, you KNOW we had to check for openings. Everything was open lol so… we did one of their rooms. It was just a puzzle set up in a little cubby area, but it was interesting and different. Norah seemed to enjoy it.

After lunch and puzzles we headed out towards the North End

We stopped at Paul Revere’s house. It was built around 1680 making it one of the oldest remaining buildings in the city. Revere did live here during the revolution years… and likely where he set out from on his famous ride.

Walking further we came upon Mike’s Pastry and I had read they had the best cannoli in the city… so we stood in line to test that theory out.

I had the chocolate cannoli

Kegan had a lemon cannoli

and Norah had…a doughnut lol

We found a kneewall in the park in front of the Old North Church to sit and eat our cannolis

The Old North Church was the famous signal station for “one if by land, two if by sea” for the lanterns hanging in the tower. This alerted Paul Revere about the British troops movement as he set out to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming.

Caught a glimpse of the “skinny house” – skinniest house in Boston- last sold for 1.25 million, by the way… its only 10 feet wide. Legend has it, it was built as a spite house by a brother returning from war to find his other brother had built a house on their shared inherited land. So, what else do you do but build your own house and block out all their windows and light? ha

The trail continued across the Charles River over a bridge towards the USS Constitution. Literally, there is a brick or painted trail to follow along the entire path:

The USS Constitution or “Old Ironsides” is a Navy warship- the oldest still in existence- that was launched in 1797, served in the War of 1812 where it helped defeat 5 British battleships… completed a world tour in 1840 and still sailed under her own power until 1997. it has been a museum since 1907.

Finally we were down to the last stop on the Freedom trail- the Bunker Hill monument. I work right next to this monthly… so I REALLY wanted to call it a day and NOT complete the last push UP Bunker Hill to see it…but Kegan called me a weenie and made me. He said you cant stop at site 15 of 16… so, onwards Norah and I pushed… completely annoyed and tired.

The monument was erected where the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought-one of the first major battles of the American Revolution, across the Charles River from Boston. Bunker Hill was a bloodbath- of the 2400 British soldiers who fought, over 1000 were wounded. Compared to about 400 wounded and killed on the colonist side. The British said “A few more such victories would have shortly put an end to British dominion in America”. The famous saying “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” supposedly comes from the Battle of Bunker Hill, although scholars seem to dispute if anyone actually said it. We at least like to think they did. Basically, the ammunitions were limited, so they were told to save it for where it would have the greatest impact. Seems to have worked.

The Marquis De Lafayette set the cornerstone 50 years later on this monument. Its actually sitting on top of Breed’s Hill, not Bunker Hill… but…details. 🙂

We took an Uber back to the hotel after messing with Norah and telling her she had a two mile walk back. haha Norah and Kegan played Mortal Kombat in the lobby, but it was short lived because none of the buttons seemed to work on Kegan’s controls.

We hung out for a while, then headed to the WNDR (Wonder) Museum. An interactive art exhibit type place.

They had this cool thing where they would take a photo of your eye and display it in hi res on the wall

Norah’s Eye

My eye. You can actually see my astigmatism haha how un-circular my eye is and how yellow and light brown my eyes are.

Kegan’s piercing brown McKinney eye

The final stop was at another Chinatown resturant- Liuyishou Hotpot

This was the best hot pot I have ever had (excluding the Las Vegas Lobster broth $400 dinner- but thats not authentic hotpot or ever something I would splurge on again ha) The tray of 9 dishes are the “traditional” hotpot dishes including things like spicy tripe, beef aorta and duck blood…. and a discovery we all thought was awesome- a green peppercorn beef. The peppercorns are not spicy at all… but instead have this strange herbal taste and leave your tongue numb! like one peppercorn can do this! ha I had to ask the waiter what it was…and then Kegan got me a jar at the asian grocery before they flew out ha

Saturday morning, we headed out of the city, but first- a stop at The Dubliner- a fairly authentic Boston Irish Pub serving Full Irish Breakfast, scotch eggs, seafood chowder, brown bread and Irish tea. And we had all of those. We were both hardcore missing Irish breakfast… and I must have been focused, because no photos were taken of the meal.

We walked to North Station to pick up the commuter rail line out to Salem, Massachusetts. Not knowing that THAT line wasn’t part of our 7 day passes. Luckily, it was easy to get a ticket for that and it was all of about $7 a piece roundtrip.

Salem was a bit underwhelming. It felt like it maybe used to be super quaint and a lovely historic seaside town…but now it was just touristy, gimmicky, busy and focused on one thing- the witch trials, of course.

Since we didn’t have a car and limited time, we did a trolley ride around town seeing some sites.

The highlight for me was the Peabody Essex Museum downtown. It was massive and seems really new.

I don’t know if this is the ACTUAL Massachusetts Bay Colony Charter, or if its a copy… but it said this is “one of two copies created” – not sure if that means in 1629 or later. But this document is King Charles I granting the Massachusetts Bay Company permission to establish a colony between the Merrimack and Charles Rivers. It was delivered by English envoys to the governor in Salem, MA.

I thought this was a cool Inuit carving

An actual ships log from the Friendship that sailed between Salem and India, a merchant ship that made at least 15 trips to Asia. There is now a replica of this ship in Salem.

Overall, glad we went.. likely never make the effort to go back 🙂

We hopped back on our train and headed back towards the city.

We hit up a Nepalese restaurant/pizza place with jhol momo to see if it could hold a candle to my place in New York. It didn’t. but it was good.

Our evening was spent at Boda Borg- a big puzzle room concept in Medford where you pay by the hour and go through multiple puzzle rooms trying to make it through 3 phases to the end to collect the stamp to show you beat it. The catch is, they give you no info, no clues. So you literally enter the room, and have to figure out the point, the puzzle and the solution. and the second you do something wrong you get a red light and you have to exit the room and start over.

I think we went through a couple rooms 20 times- one we were SO CLOSE to… but the other group ahead of us had such bad body odor, we had to abort mission and go find another room to tackle ha. It was interesting… but not sure it was really my thing. But, it was a new experience.

Sunday, we slept in and headed out for museums because it was raining all day, so I traded the South Shore for museums.

We started at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. If you aren’t familiar with this one, I recommend the Netflix documentary about a famous heist they had in 1990 where 13 works of art worth 200 million were stolen. To this day, no arrests have been made, no works have been recovered…and that’s with the museum offering a 10 million dollar reward for info…

The building itself is modeled after a Venetian Palazzo

It is just FILLED with the most amazing collection of art. Its hard to believe that one woman collected all of these things.

John Singer Sargent painting

They have left the frames and empty spaces on the walls for items that were stolen.

After the Isabella Stewart Gardner, we headed to the Museum of Fine Arts since it was still raining pretty heavily. We spent a few hours there but I only captured a few photos. It was a very decent museum, but wouldn’t make my top 10.

This dresser was a hilarious find as we have this SAME dresser in our spare bedroom, a long term loan from Kegan’s family’s farmhouse because I commented that I loved it and if they ever decided to get rid of it, to please let me know. I had to text a photo to Kegan’s dad. I know I have an expensive eye…but who knew I had a museum eye lol

This one was my fave. An actual tea kettle shaped like an ostrich, made with a real ostrich egg.

Norah posing with her likeness from ancient Greece lol

We ended the day at Lobsta on a Roll on Newbury St to end the trip by gorging ourselves on lobster rolls and clam strips.

The evening was just hanging out watching TV and me catching up on work. Shipped Kegan and Norah home and finished another week of work in town. We squeezed a LOT into 4-5 days and at some point we’ll spend a few more days to explore the south shore and some other areas outside of town. Until next time!

1 Comment

  1. Katherine Burnside

    Wonderful! Thank you so very much for sharing; I always enjoy seeing these.

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