I always thought it was kind of gross that people call Boston “Beantown”, since I happen to think beans are the worst, but hey- you can’t pick where you were born, can you?
That sounded random, but it actually stems from a conversation I had with my closest girlfriend this past weekend when I went to go visit her in the place where I was born and where I lived for many years (we were talking about how picky of an eater I am, but I know I’ll get to unpack that in a later post, so I’m moving on).
I was so happy to visit my good friends, and get a taste of the city life for a few days, but to say I barely had two pennies to rub together would have been an overstatement. I was flat broke. A combination of pre-planned bills and surprise car maintenance (isn’t it always), my financial situation really felt like it would throw off the whole weekend.
Luckily, my friends had just paid rent and were every bit as broke as me, so we were all poor together! And, as luck would have it, a city like Boston has plenty to do for the budget-conscious traveller.
Stick around for some of the highlights (some of these places I went this weekend, and others I haven’t been in years, but they’re all worth checking out):
1. Quincy Market / Faneuil Hall
It really doesn’t get more Boston than the Quincy Market & Faneuil Hall shopping and walking area. Catch a free street performance (make sure to tip a few bucks though), grab a bite to eat, or tour the historic Fanueil Hall- where the first town meeting in America was held, way back in 1743. Admission is free as part of the larger experience including the shopping in and around Quincy Market, and 24 times a year, the hall is used to swear in new American citizens. A pretty rad piece of history- and totally wallet-friendly.
2. Revere Beach
This time of year, living in a coastal city like Boston is especially wonderful- and luckily there’s a few beaches practically in the heart of the city ( with Revere being only 4 miles from downtown) . Known as “America’s First Public Beach”, it’s a scenic spot for picnics, walks, and plenty of lounging by the beach. The best part? Admission is free, and you can avoid the parking fees if you take public transit (and if you don’t feel like hopping from train to bus, the beach is only a 10 minute walk from the where the Blue Line drops you at Wonderland Station).
3. Mike’s Pastry
A short train ride from my friend’s apartment is the historic North End neighborhood, known as the oldest residential community in the city, having been continuously lived in since the 1630s. It’s also home to the literal best pastry shop in the continental US (don’t @ me lol). Seriously, I get a mint chip cannoli every time I come visit- and I dare you to pass by without stopping inside. The line might look long, but it moves fast, and most pastries are under 5$- just make sure you have cash, since they don’t take cards!
4. The Paul Revere House
The Revere House, along with Mike’s and Faneuil Hall, are all located a short walk from one another in what I like to think of as the epicenter of American history. Built in 1680, this otherwise unassuming, dark gray house was home to one of the most famous key players in the oft-dramatized retellings of the early days of the American Revolution. For a $5 admission, you can enter this historic home, learn more about the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers, and the man himself. The historians even offer guided tours, and directions on recreating Revere’s famous “Midnight Ride”.
5. Boston Commons / Public Garden
Last but not least (and certainly the highlight of my most recent trip) was a lovely picnic by the water in the Boston Public Garden, which is adjacent to the Commons. Both are lovely, but there’s something so special in my fond memories of visiting with my parents as a child and feeding the ducks. This time, we fed ourselves and shooed away the pesky pigeons, but it was such a nice feeling to lay back in the grass and relax in the last few hours before my flight.
All in all, I spent about $11 on public transit over the course of my 3 day weekend, and a total of about $25 on food and sightseeing. You can always splurge a little extra here and there if there’s something you want to do, or if you want to go a little further outside the city, but there’s certainly no need to break the bank.
Boston is a city of firsts, and most important of those to me is the fact that it was the first place I ever called “home”. It’s a special place filled with a lot of history- which trumps the materialistic experience of other cities, in my opinion.
I’m excited to travel further around the US, and excited to return to visit my friends!
Keep it real,