Once desolate marshland, the adjacent Back Bay Fens form part of the landmark “Emerald Necklace” of nine continuous parks developed by Frederick Law Olmsted in late 1800’s. Highlights include the Kelleher Rose Garden and Fenway Victory Gardens, the last remaining U.S. victory garden from World War II.
Located across from nearby Fenway Park, America’s oldest ballpark (1912), Boston’s House of Blues sits on hallowed rock and disco ground, including a Studio 54 precursor from Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager.
Gardner and Mary Baker Eddy are among the Bostonians interred at verdant Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Consecrated in 1831, America’s first rural cemetery is a landmark for taphophiles, or cemetery enthusiasts. Spiral up inside the 62-foot-tall Washington Tower for 360-degree panoramas of the Boston region. It was a fitting stop for my penultimate day, providing a reflective look back on my visit and preview of my final overnight experience.
For those familiar with Las Vegas, the distant sight of Encore Boston Harbor, located just north of Boston in Everett, might inspire a double take. On approach, especially at night, the curving 671-room high-rise resort-casino, clad in the same copper-brown glass as Vegas siblings Wynn and Encore, appears airlifted from the Strip. Educated at nearby Tufts University and at the School of MFA, Boston, Roger Thomas, Wynn Hotels and Resorts’ designer emeritus, replicated the Vegas interiors down to the carpeting and signage. With the curtains drawn, my palatial 20th-floor Tower Suite was another mirror image.
There’s no mistaking the Boston location though. For more than a century, the 33-acre development site on the Mystic River had been inaccessible to the public due to past chemical manufacturing. Wynn Resorts invested $68 million in removing nearly one-million tons of contaminated soil and sediment from the site. At $2.6 billion overall, the resort, which opened in 2019, is the largest single-phase private development in Massachusetts history. The regeneration of the shoreline, now flourishing again with wildlife and accessible via the 6.5-acre Harbor walk park, is priceless.
Ornate floral and horticultural displays abound, along with rare works of placemaking art. The pair of 1930 polychrome art deco panels from the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, for example, reference the Mayflower landing of 1620 in Plymouth Bay. Outside, Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’strio of 10-foottall stainless steel female heads are hypnotic to behold. Two murals adorning the walls of a Harborwalk-facing electrical substation were created in partnership with Goldman Global Arts, curators of Miami’s Wynwood Walls.
Restaurants include Southern Italian-driven Fratelli and lively charcuterie and wine bar Cheese Meat Wine. My hosts and servers at each were pure Boston, which made for highly entertaining conversations and much merriment. Other concepts include Vegas import Red 8. Helmed by Chef Richard Chen, who opened Michelin-starred Wing Lei at Wynn Las Vegas, this stylish bistro is for Cantonese noodle dishes and Hong Kong BBQ.
Amenities include a luxurious 19,000-square-foot spa with numerous five-star treatments, and year-round ferry and water taxi service to the Seaport District and Downtown Boston. In 2019, the resort hosted the inaugural ‘high tea’ outdoor tea dance day party, benefitting Fenway Health AIDS Action Committee.
CULTURAL & HERITAGE
Boston Anthenaeum, 10 ½ Beacon Street. Tel: 617-227-0270. Buy a Day Pass and enjoy the “sweet fruit of letters” at this national landmark library. www.bostonathenaeum.org
Emerson Colonial Theater, 106 Boylston Street. Tel: 888-616-0272. Boston’s oldest continuously operated theater (1900) ushered in Boston’s return to pre-Broadway renown with Moulin Rouge! The Musical. www.emersoncolonialtheatre.com
Emerson Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street. Tel: 617-824-8400. Coming to this magnificent 1,797-seat former 1932 movie palace this April, Burgerz is “a trans reclamation story, served with a side of fries.” www.artsemerson.org
House of Blues Boston, 15 Lansdowne Street. Tel: 888-693-2583. In 1992, Hard Rock Café cofounder Isaac Tigrett partnered with Boston rockers Aerosmith and other investors to launch HOB in Cambridge. The site of the current 2,500-seat location, which features Drag Diva Brunch (www.dragdiva.com/boston), has hallowed former lives including gay Cabaret After Dark and a Rubell Schrager Studio 54 precursor with a huge disco ball and iridescent pictures of amyl nitrate poppers. www.houseofblues.com/boston
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive. Tel: 617-478-3100, Founded in 1936 as a sister to New York’s MoMA, ICA/Boston’s dynamic presentations include major exhibitions and emerging artists in a striking harbor-front building. www.icaboston.org
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way. Tel: 617-566-1401. Boston’s “millionaire Bohemienne” bequeathed her singular art collection and museum-home “for the education and enjoyment of the public forever.” One of Boston’s true gifts. www.gardnermuseum.org
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Avenue. Tel: 617-267-9300. Founded in 1870 and opened in 1876, MFA, Boston’s original Copley Square location housed 5,600 works of art. Today, with 100-plus galleries and nearly 500,000 works of art, the MFA is among the world’s largest museums. www.mfa.org
The House of the Seven Gables, 115 Derby Street, Salem. Tel: 978-744-0991. Set on a landscaped harborside campus, the large timber-framed 1668 mansion that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel of the same name may move you to literary greatness, along with Hawthorne’s relocated birthplace. www.7gables.org
Boston Public Garden, 4 Charles Street. Anchoring the eastern end of Boston’s fabled Emerald Necklace (www.emeraldnecklace.org) along with Boston Common, America’s first botanical garden (1837) is an urban oasis for the ages. Attractions include the sculpture immortalizing Robert McCloskey’s 1941 tale “Make Way for Ducklings.” www.boston.gov/parks/public-garden
HOTELS & RESORTS
Encore Boston Harbor, 1 Broadway, Everett. Tel: 857-770-7000. Viva Mass Vegas! Five-star Wynn luxury, fine-dining, rare art, gaming and more await at this 671-room reclamation triumph that brought people and wildlife back to the Everett waterfront. Rooms from $309. www.encorebostonharbor.com
Fairmont Copley Plaza, 138 St. James Avenue. Tel: 617-267-5300. Offering 383 individually decorated guestrooms, including 17 suites, this 1912 Back Bay landmark remains one of Boston’s most fashionable hotel addresses. Rooms from $309. www.fairmont.com/copley-plaza-boston
Four Seasons Hotel, One Dalton Street, 1 Dalton Street. Tel: 617-377-4888. Housed in a striking 61-story tower, Boston’s second Four Seasons property is for art, contemporary luxury, and discovery of deep Boston connections. Rooms from $495. www.fourseasons.com/onedalton
The Langham, Boston, 250 Franklin Street. Tel: 617-451-1900. Bank on curated art, luxurious residential-style rooms, and a lively social and dining scene at this gorgeously updated, accessibly exclusive money honey from 1912. Rooms from $495. www.langhamhotels.com/en/thelangham/boston
The Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles Street. Tel: 617-224-4000. Formerly the Charles Street jail, this architecturally arresting 298-room boutique will steal your heart with fetching Boston views and the liveliest lobby in town. Room from $179. www.libertyhotel.com
RESTAURANTS & BARS
Barbara Lynch Collective. Lynch, who chronicled her tough South Boston upbringing in her 2017 memoir “Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire”, is one of the world’s most influential chefs. Her seven restaurant group includes modern fine-dining Menton (www.mentonboston.com), which earned Lynch honors as the only female Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux in the U.S. www.barbaralynch.com
Club Café, 209 Columbus Avenue. Tel: 617-536-0966. Since 1983, this all-welcoming LGBTQ institution has been a Boston go-to for dining, cabaret, Broadway sing-alongs, drag shows and other fun. www.clubcafe.com
Fox & The Knife, 28 West Broadway, South Boston. Tel: 617-766-8630. With pride and passion, James Beard winning chef-owner Karen Akunowicz dives deep into traditional Emilia-Romagna cuisine at her Southie sensation, rainbow and transgender flags included. www.foxandtheknife.com
Fratelli, 1 Broadway, Everett. Tel: 857-770-3480. Famed local restaurateurs Frank DePasquale and Nick Varano bring authentic Southern Italian specialties from Boston’s Little Italy to the table at this energetic eatery (“brothers” in Italian) inside Encore Boston Harbor. www.encorebostonharbor.com/dining-andnightlife/dining/fratelli
Scampo, 215 Charles Street. Tel: 617-536-2100. Mentored by Julia Child, Lydia Shire found her own pioneering fame and global renown. Taste greatness at her Italian-inspired concept at the Liberty Hotel. www.scampoboston.com
The Fed, 250 Franklin Street. Tel: 617-956-8765. The Langham, Boston’s sophisticated street-level bar is a lively British-inspired cocktail pub serving locally-sourced fare and featuring a vault of high end libations. www.langhamhotels.com/thelangham/boston/the-fed
You May Also Enjoy