I contacted my pal, and emerging Boston-running legend, Louis Serafini to pen a guide to Boston for this weekend’s hoopla as it culminates in Patriot’s Day. I think Lou did a nice job with this even though he left out some important aspects of Boston culture. He should have told us where we can meet Good Will Hunting, the best place to fake a Boston accent and not get clobbered, and given us directions to the Dunkin Donuts in Boston. If you don’t know, Dunkin Donuts is a quaint family-owned donut and coffee shop where everyone “knows your name.” Take it from me, I’ve been to Boston once for three days.
Take it from here, Lou!
Let me start by trying to tell you in one sentence why I love this city: “Boston is small enough to navigate in one day, but has enough activities to last a lifetime – and it’s much cleaner than NYC.” With that I’m going to try to be creative with this write up and tell you some cool things to do that you wouldn’t find by Googling “what to do in Boston?” Except for “Go see a game at Fenway.” I’m a Yankee fan and can admit there’s nothing like catching a game at Fenway Park.
That’s enough of me struggling to set this up. Let’s get started!
So let’s start off with some running related activities. This is a running site, after all. The first thing you should do when you arrive is obviously come visit me at Heartbreak Hill Running Company (I’m working all day on Saturday). I manage our Newton shop located at Mile 20 of the Boston Marathon course. In my opinion, our logo shines brighter than most. It’s a broken heart and the “break” is the elevation profile of the infamous Heartbreak Hill. HOW COOL IS THAT?! Also, we have 3 locations all with their own unique flare so make sure you hit one of them up and snag yourself some gear!
Wow. Thanks, Lou! So, where should I run?
Well lucky for you, many are calling Boston the new Flagstaff. (Editor’s note: I’m not sure this is true). There are some really great places to get your pre-race in or, if you’re not running the Boston Marathon, some fantastic long run spots. The Charles River is a must. Along the river offers gorgeous views of the Boston skyline complete with soft surfaces next to the bike path. The one downside of this path is that on a nice afternoon you’ll have to deal with a lot of multi-use traffic (especially on marathon weekend). If you’re looking to avoid fellow pedestrians, stick to the Cambridge side and head outbound!
If you’re staying out of the city in Brighton or Brookline (my hood!). Hop on either the Chestnut Hill (1.5 mi) or Brookline (.9 mi) Reservoirs. Both are totally flat, hard packed cinder paths. I do every single pre-race run on the Chestnut Hill Res. It also sits right next to my alma mater, Boston College! (Editor’s note: Go Eagles!)
Finally, if you’re staying a few extra days I would highly recommend making a trip out to Lexington to run on the Battle Road Trail. This is where you’ll frequently catch Boston’s professional running groups doing their long runs. It’s also a great place for an easy hike post-marathon if you’re looking for a flat trail where you can also learn some history – the theme of the trail is the Battle of April 19, 1775, that launched the American Revolution. (Editor’s note: I do not recommend hiking after a marathon, especially in the name of a history lesson. This seems dangerous, Lou).
Let’s move onto the real reason you’re all here.
The important questions like, “Where should I eat?” and more importantly “Where should I drink?” The summer before I qualified for the Olympic Trials I spent many a night carbo-loading at Parish Cafe in the South End. If you’re staying or hanging out in Boylston, there’s a location there too! Parish has the most extensive beer bottle selection in the city and is famous for their “Mug Club Challenge” where you can earn your own mug at the bar by drinking 150 unique bottle beers in 6 months. Yes I have one. Number 463. Parish also has great sandwiches that are inspired by famous chefs across the city. My favorite is the Parish Chicken with potato salad. It’s delicious.
Harpoon Brewery in Boston’s Seaport District is a must-visit. Harpoon is the official beer sponsor of my running club, The Heartbreakers. Yes, we have a beer sponsor. All you free agent runners take notice. Take a tour of the brewery and then enjoy a beer (or five) and a pretzel (or 10) at the bar.
Us Bostonians love our chowdah and ice cold lagahs. (Editor’s note: What Lou did here – with the “ahs” – is an attempt to showcase the unique Boston accent. The people of Beantown dislike the letter “R” and have seemingly dropped it from their lexicon. Don’t believe me? Watch the Boston classic “You’ve Got Mail.” Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan showcase perfect Southie accents while falling in love over the internet). There is no shortage of places to grab a bite and a beer in this city. I would highly encourage you to explore whatever neighborhood you’re staying in and support a local waterhole.
Since I really only covered running, food and beer. Here are some of my other favorite places in the city.
Coffee: Dunkin Donuts (obviously) or Barrington if you want “good” coffee.
Pizza: Pino’s Pizza. Sicilian BBQ Chicken is nice.
People Watching: Harvard Square.
Greasy Post-Race Breakfast: Jim’s Deli – ask my story about Jim’s if you ever meet me.
Place to rage if you’re 23: Lansdowne Pub.
Live Music w/ dinner: The Beehive.
Live Music w/o dinner: Brighton Music Hall (catch me at Chairlift this Thursday).
Shopping (mainstream): Newbury St.
Shopping (less mainstream): Tremont St.
Drinking outside: Yardhouse Patio.
Local beer: Harpoon IPA.
Grilled cheese: Deluxe Cafe.
That’s all I’ve got! If you’re running on Monday, good luck. If you’re in town to spectate, have fun. If you do everything on this list or nothing on this list, I hope your time spent in our city is time well spent.
That’s a wrap from our fast boy on the ground, Lou Serafini. I believe he failed to mention he is actually racing this year! Lou has been on an upward trend as of late, and I’m especially excited to watch him have a fantastic race in the city he loves. Go Eagles!