Boston’s Impromptu Serenade

From waterfront dining to serenaded squares, Boston longs to tantalize you with a luxurious tapestry of sight and sound and taste. Forget chasing history, at least for the weekend! Savour the present moment away from traffic and neon and visit the parks, markets, and piers.

Boston’s Impromptu Serenade

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by kjlouden on September 5, 2002

All you have to do to enjoy Boston is to find the perfect place to sit outdoors. Avoid the traffic and the "Big Dig." Head for the markets, the piers, the squares. Stay out of museums and indoor restaurants, too. Sidewalk cafes are allowed, but don’t stray far from the perfect outdoor pulse that is never sleezy or frantic, always just rich enough to make you glad you’ve found your spot. When you find it, sit a while, at least until another spot beckons you, as the front of Quincy Market may at about nine o’clock on a Saturday night, if "The Jim Show"--or another--returns. Sample the impromptu entertainment all around town as your senses note the scarcity of neon and traffic and bask in the absence of overload. ${QuickSuggestions} Saturday night, point yourself early in the direction of Quincy Market--or South Market or Fanueil Hall Market, the name depending on what locals you ask to do the pointing. Find one relaxed, well-lighted, motorless crowd and you can find the rest simply by walking in the front door and out the back of any restaurant or store. The entertainment is different on each "square," so stroll a little and decide if you like the horns, guitars, or violin. Never mind planning your evening meal. You can be an opportunist here, as plenty is always close at hand at vendors’ carts and open-air stands and cafes.${BestWay} Don't attempt to drive into or around Boston. At the airport, you will find a free bus to take you to the airport public transit station, where you can buy a day pass for one, two, or three days. (Our three-day passes were $12.00.) Then you can use the train to go to your hotel and all around town.

Your metro pass is also good for the ferry from Long Wharf to the Charlestown Navy Yard, where you can see "Old Ironsides" and museum on the same, but you can save that trip for a weekday and enjoy a relaxing weekend downtown.

Legal Sea Food

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on September 5, 2002

Perhaps you know the concept of "legal seafood." The waiter explained that the establishment has their own inspectors who meet the fishing boats directly, so that the lucky customer could count on the freshest seafood possible. I counted on it with the Boston scrod and was pleased. It was delicious and reasonably priced at about $16. My friend, who doesn't like seafood, found many chicken dishes to choose from and found his delicious, and we both enjoyed healthy fresh steamed vegetables. Altogether, dinner was a pleasant sidewalk experience serenaded by violin, so forget noise from the street, which is mostly a walkway for humans, anyway. There is a bar and a good wine list, but we didn't imbibe.

Aside from the food, we chose this restaurant because there are tables outside, where we could enjoy the fresh air and see all that was going on at Long Wharf. Tour buses and ferries to the Charlestown Navy Yard are all stationed right across the street, and we, having just arrived in Boston, were content to watch them come and go. We were happy here observing the activity, but later we found the more secluded Rowe's Wharf, totally away from any noise from the street. Still, Legal Sea Food is a convenient and delicious stop before or after a bus tour or ferry ride.

Legal Sea Foods
26 Park Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts, 02116
(617) 426-4444

Quincy Market and "The Jim Show"

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on September 5, 2002

You can shop, dine, and be entertained at the marketplace. Your seat may be a wooden bench or the granite edge of a planter surrounding one of many locust trees canopied lacy overhead. Partake of something barbecued, but take your time. Feel like sauntering into the Yankee Candles shop between courses? Want to buy a tapestry bag from a stand under the market roof? Sing along with your chosen music as you browse, for it is right there with you, never far away. Eventually, the stack-lighted, lacy canopy under the night sky calls you back, so find your next course, perhaps a frozen yogurt, and mosey on back to your seat. Be happy you’ve found your spot, for that’s what you’ll remember of Boston: your favorite spots. One of them is surely at Quincy Market or an adjoining market square.

Stay late. When the crowd begins to thin, maybe nine o’clock, something surprising may happen: it’s Saturday night downtown. Perhaps Jim will gather a crowd and delight you with a barrel of laughs in front of the main Market building, so saunter on over there. Families will linger, for the kids love this clean fun. And Jim loves them, regardless of the exasperation he designs for six-year-olds. It may take three of the bravest of them a half-hour to get themselves definitely volunteered and to get successful at throwing Jim his juggling pins, but you’ll not want them to catch on any faster, lest the show might end. An hour of belly-laughs is therapeutic, and Jim knows how to make it last, even with only three tricks. Working an audience with six-year-olds is his forte, and we adults do enjoy laughing at their expense. So, if you hear an entertainer commanding you to gather round and "move in," because "There’s going to be a big crowd," ignore the implausibility and plop yourself right down there on the cobblestone in front of him.

If you miss "The Jim Show," you can visit his website: How about that picture of him on his main page! Why, there he is at Quincy Market! Guess he frequents that spot in daylight, too. Perhaps he's found his favorite place in Boston.

Quincy Market
Faneuil Hall Market Place
Boston, Massachusetts, 02109
(617) 523-1300

Boston Public Gardens

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on September 5, 2002

A truly "antique" garden, the Boston Public Gardens were created in 1837 at what used to be the edge of the city, now the perfect place for local folks and visitors alike to take a delightful detour away from the noise of the street. The garden gates, the pagoda on the lake, the serious statuary, the weeping willow trees gracefully highlighting the lake, the lighted bridges--all these cooperate with the exquisite flower arrangements to make this the best walk-through in Boston. How quaint and unique the contrast of the city skyline still visible, but nearly forgotten as it peers over this naturalistic Victorian dream. Don't miss it when you visit the Commons, which of course, you don't want to miss either.
Boston Public Garden
Adjacent to Boston Common
Boston, Massachusetts
(617) 522-1966

Patriotic Band at the Old North Church

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on September 5, 2002

A lover of antique churches, I admired the Old North Church inside and out. Inside, rich wood and pure white walls were pretty much what I had expected, only a little more "satisfying" than I had imagined. Not much to surprise me until a marching bank started playing in the narrow street just outside the door. As I walked out, I was struck by the patriotic sounds played with passion and precision.

In this Italian neighborhood in Boston’s North End, a one-year-old baby was having a birthday. According to some fellow onlookers, that was the purpose of the performance. I’m not sure. Paper mache figures on poles were held high in the middle of the street while the band stood still and played "America the Beautiful" and other favorites of patriots. The baby’s father stood in the doorway of his own business on the corner opposite the church, holding his little girl high on his shoulders while band members waved to her between selections. They played "Happy Birthday," and Dad called out over the crowd his "Thanks."

The paper figures were carried along, then, on up the street while the band dispersed. Mostly older men, perhaps they represented a local organization. All I know for certain is that they delighted a large group of tourists and local folks, too, on a Sunday afternoon, serenading us with their music and demonstrating for us their neighborhood spirit. At this point, I reflected that I had heard almost every kind of music possible in Boston--and more important, I had enjoyed a type of music I had never relished before, that of a marching band. There is more to see in the North End of Boston than Paul Revere's House and the Old North Church, more than art galleries and Italian delis and pastry shops: there's much local color and spirit. Look for it in the North End.

Old North Church
193 Salem St
Boston, Massachusetts, 02113
+1 617 523-6676

Impromptu Serenades: the Commons

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on September 6, 2002

Unexpected surprises await you at the Commons. You may get to sit on a bench at the Visitors’ Info Center and watch a playful horse get saddled up! One certainty is that you can choose from a variety of impromptu serenades. Even on a Sunday morning, musicians haunt the Commons. Bring a picnic or visit a vendor’s cart for some ice cream, find a bench or spread a blanket on the green, and enjoy a violin.

When you want to move on, take a delightful stroll among historic statuary, monuments, fountains, and antique grounds. If you are travelling with children, they must get wet in the Frog Pond, of course, while grownups enjoy a table alongside the Concession. While you muse about the historic figures who have been here before, don’t miss the photo ops. When you are ready to leave the Commons, find the Charles Street exit so that you can cross to the antique Boston Public Gardens, established 1837.

Boston Common
Charles, Beacon And Tremont Streets
Boston, Massachusetts, 02116

© LP 2000-2009