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You’ve walked the 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail, seen Paul Revere’s house and climbed the 239 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument, rode a Duck Boat and toured Fenway Park. Now what? Explore a bit beyond the obvious attractions with these interesting, lesser known Bean Town things to do and see.

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Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company-Ancient and Honorable Company

Photo courtesy of Ancient and Honorable Artillery

Discover a hidden museum

Tucked underneath the eaves of Faneuil Hall, which dates back to 1742, is the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. Founded in 1638, this is the oldest artillery company in the world. Exhibits show military artifacts that go back four centuries. Meanwhile, everything you will ever wanted to know about the history of Boston is inside the Commonwealth Museum. Marvel at a multitude of artifacts that include Paul Revere’s copper plate rendering of the Boston Massacre (1770) and Massachusetts’ copy of the Declaration of Independence (1776)—each of the 14 states received one, and Massachusetts’ was written by John Adams.

Royal Sonesta

Photo courtesy of Royal Sonesta

Spend the night in an art museum hotel

The Royal Sonesta Hotel along with being a chic, elegant hotel is, basically, a free art museum. It’s home to a stunning collection of contemporary and pop art: In the lobby and hallways are works by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella and Richard Serra, to name a few. With over 100 pieces in the collection the art extends into guestrooms and Artbar, the hotel’s stylish bistro. Maps and information on guided and self-guided tours for guests and visitors are available at the concierge desk.

 SoWa Open Market

Photo courtesy of SoWa Open Market

Shop and dine in a totally transformed neighborhood

About 25 years ago, if you were going anywhere near Boston’s South End neighborhood, you’d be sure to go in the daytime due to all the drug dealing and prostitution. That’s all changed today, as those same streets are lined with artists’ studios, chic shops and trendy restaurants. Condos here are now priced upward of $3 million for a small one bedroom. Set in the middle of all this gentrification is the SoWa Open Market featuring stalls filled with art, baked goods, vintage clothes, jewelry, vegetables and flowers. Events here run the gamut from art walks, including the surrounding galleries, to DIY workshops and art exhibitions. When your market strolling tires you out, sit and enjoy a cold locally crafted brew.

smoots Halfway to Hell-Image courtesy MIT

Photo courtesy of MIT

Get the scoop on Harvard Bridge Smoots

Crossing Harvard Bridge, you might notice some unusual markings on the pavement. In 1958, members of MIT fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha came up with the idea of repeatedly laying their fraternity pledge, Oliver Smoot, who was 5’7” at the time, face down on the bridge to measure the length of the bridge in a comical unit of measurement known as a Smoot. They painted the pavement with his height in inches from head to toe all the way across the bridge, tallying a grand total of “364.4 Smoots, plus or minus 1 ear,” or roughly 365 push-ups for the exhausted Oliver. Over six decades later, freshmen pledges of Lambda Chi Alpha re-paint the “Smoots” every year.

Marriott Vacation Pulse

Photo courtesy of Marriott Vacation Pulse

Stay in a historic custom house with great views

The bottom half of Boston’s Custom House building, designed in the style of a Greek temple, was completed in 1847 with the distinctive tower added in 1913. Today it’s part  of the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse at Custom House, Boston with luxurious suites offering killer views. The 26th floor observatory looks over the waterfront, Rose Kennedy Greenway, harbor islands, and the Charlestown Navy Yard with the USS Constitution and the North End neighborhood. While there, be sure to check out the web-cam for viewing the “resident” Peregrine falcons. Weather permitting, observatory tours are given daily at 2pm, except Fridays.

Regina Pizzeria

Photo courtesy of Regina Pizzeria

Grab a classic slice of pie

Located steps away from the Old North Church (stop #13 on the Freedom Trail) is Regina Pizzeria. Since 1926, the kitchen in this hole-in-the-wall trattoria has been churning out great pizzas. That’s all they serve, so grab a seat in one of the old wooden booths or go al fresco on the sidewalk, and choose from a long list of toppings. This place is a favorite with locals; it’s always crowded but worth the wait.

 Forest Hills Cemetary

Photo courtesy of Forest Hills Cemetery

Spend a lovely afternoon in a Victorian cemetery

Forest Hills Cemetery is a Victorian-era landscaped cemetery in a peaceful setting with lakes and birdlife. Its 275 acres are dotted with sculptures by artists such as Daniel Chester French (who created the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.) and Kahlil Gibran. Luminaries buried here include Revolutionary War heroes Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and William Dawes, who rode through Concord with Paul Revere, plus poet e.e. cummings, playwright Eugene O’Neill and suffragette Lucy Stone.

 Tradesman Coffee Shop

Espresso Martini | Photo courtesy of Tradesman Coffee Shop

Spike your coffee in the most delicious way

Relax with a hot chocolate doused with Cynar Liquor and Chartreuse at Tradesman Coffee Shop and Lounge. Not in the mood for hot chocolate? Try one of their coffee drinks or an iced Vanilla Latte with vanilla vodka and crème liquor or a Cold Fashioned with bourbon, chocolate liquor and espresso.

rooftop garden in Kendall Square -Credit-Kendall Square Association-My Secret Boston

Photo courtesy of Kendall Square Association

Discover a peaceful hidden garden

Several years ago when Google moved into Kendall Square in Cambridge, the company decided that employees needed a peaceful respite from the cacophony of the busiest area in Cambridge. So, they designed a garden on the only open space in the square, the rooftop of a neighboring parking garage. This quiet oasis is filled with winding paths offering fantastic views over Boston and Cambridge, and lined with tables, benches, shrubs, flower beds and trees. To get there, find the Broadway Street entrance to the Cambridge Center garage and take the elevator to the top.

Tagged: City, Destinations, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

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Frances Folsom

Frances Folsom

Fran is a journalist based in Cambridge. MA. She has written for the Boston Globe, USA Today GO Escape, German Life, Fiber Art Now, several AAA magazines and other publications.

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