Boston is the new New York

New York. New York. The superlative city where everything is grand, big and covered in lights. And yet just under 200 miles away is an almost forgotten treasure of a place that boasts architecture, culture, cuisine, entertainment and most importantly, shopping, to rival the Big Apple perhaps as notoriously as their baseball teams. Start spreading the news, Boston is the new New York.

First and foremost is of course shopping. Every year thousands swarm to New York to fill their suitcases with purchases from Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue, when instead they could avoid jabbing elbows, gasp inducing prices and queues even the British would be proud of by heading to Boston. At the heart of this city is Newbury Street, much akin to Oxford Street, but located amongst leafy green trees, alfresco cafes and palatial apartments. There’s the designer end if you fancy yourself as the new Carrie Bradshaw or the quirkier boutiques amongst which you’ll find record stores and second hand bookshops. I quite literally thought I had stumbled into heaven. And forget about Pretty Woman style snobbery where the sales clerks ignore you, everyone here is so friendly. Upon purchasing my first vinyl record: Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ (it seemed an appropriate way to commemorate the holiday) the guy behind the counter began reminiscing about its year of release and his first vinyl. I was even accosted on a street near Harvard by some women claiming I was her new best friend.

Boston too is not without its tourist attractions. They may not have Times Square or the Statue of Liberty but who really wants to stand in a crowded hot spot or climb a gazillion stairs? Instead walk the historical Freedom Trail which begins in Boston Common and meanders through enchanting side streets filled with colonial history and architecture, wherein you can meet Benjamin Franklin or at least have your picture taken next to his statue, learn about the American Revolution and indulge in the crème de la crème of pizzas in Boston’s Little Italy. This all sounds very quaint I can hear you say. Charming little Boston with its duck pond, antique shops and farmer’s markets; what we want is the exuberance and buzz of New York City.

The one thing I would recommend about going to America is do it after you’re 21. It’s no fun sitting 6ft away from the bar whilst your parents smugly drink a pint of Samuel Adams, especially when you’re just in the throes of turning 18 and training your liver for uni life. However if you are of age and looking for some fun, not a chat-up line I promise, Boston does have a vibrant nightlife to offer. I happened to stumble upon a gay bar right next to our hotel called Geoffrey’s cafe which welcomes anyone and serves top notch food; including disco brunch, original cocktails which I sadly could not sample and a ‘doggy style’ beer which I gladly did not sample and has been labelled a culinary hub of Boston. There are also some adorable bistros dotted around the place, especially on Newbury Street. Sonsie, a lively cafe that I believe featured in the film ‘A Perfect Catch’ boasts an award winning chef and a great location, whereby during the summer the concertina doors are pulled back and you can sit, relax and watch the world go by. Whilst I didn’t exactly hit it up big style in any clubs in Boston, especially not with my parents in tow, there is a bustling club scene to discover that caters to all music tastes and a brilliant live music venue in The Paradise Rock Club. Boston also has a Theatre District to contend with Broadway and though I sadly didn’t get to witness a production myself, if our taxi drivers’ recommendations are anything to go by, it’s well worth a visit.

Perhaps the highlight of my holiday to Boston was seeing the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway Park. Even if you know nothing about baseball, the atmosphere is electric and won’t fail to make you feel involved. During the 8th inning 30,000 odd people get up and belt out ‘Sweet Caroline’ and even if you’re not American, there’s something rather patriotic about it. Whilst after 4 hours you might find your bum’s gone numb and you have no idea whose winning, believe me, it’s a good night out, especially if the Red Sox end up winning.

Other things to do include visiting the prestigious Harvard, with its Harry Potter style dining hall and free student-led tours revealing the corridors that Natalie Portman, Matt Damon and Mark Zuckerberg have graced. Whilst the New England Aquarium proffers a spiralling, 23 ft deep tank, as well as a Shark and Ray touch tank if you like the idea of scuba-diving without the diving. Or the scuba for that matter. Ultimately, Boston is a city of combination. New York may be the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, but in Boston there is literally nothing you can’t do. It has the glitzy city vibe without feeling dirty or claustrophobic and the quainter areas with its brownstone buildings and cobbled streets. New York certainly isn’t named one of the best cities for nothing, but for the 21st century traveller Boston is where it’s at.


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