Fall is the best time to visit Boston. The weather is crisp, leaves are a flutter with vibrant colors, students are out in force to enjoy the weather before winter hibernation, and fireplaces are roar so all is comfy and cozy. I visit Boston several times a year to see my family and visit old friends. I tend to spend most of my time driving from one house to another to visit as many people as I can, and usually in a short window of time. Because of this, I spend too little time exploring the old haunts and beloved favorites in my hometown.
I’ve lived in New York for many years and tend to compare everywhere and everything to NYC. The fact that delivery of everything is simply a way of life — and if it is not deliverable it is archaic. All restaurants should not stop serving dinner before 10:30 pm, a taxi is available anywhere at any time. Boston is not New York, but I am realizing that this is a good thing. Boston has the charm of the West Village, the best shopping of any city, outstanding hotels and chefs who specialize in serving sophisticated dishes with a local twist.
I recently snuck into the Taj Boston to spend a few days rediscovering ‘my’ Boston. For a long time, Boston seemed to change ever so slightly, ever so often. Yes, a building would be erected and it would fit neatly into the skyline and appear to have always been there. But now, if feels as if an entirely new city is encapsulated within the old city — new buildings everywhere and with that new…everything! Stores, restaurants, night spots and the list goes on. The Taj Boston regally sits upon the entrance to The Public Garden and is perfectly situated on the corner of Newbury and Arlington Streets. For shopping, Newbury Street rivals any shopping street internationally, and is filled with quaint cafes and art garlleries. The Taj overlooks both the manicured Public Garden, with its famed swan boats, and The Boston Common. As I approach the Taj there’s a sleek, new Jaguar in front of the hotel, ready to take you throughout the city. Geographically the city is quite compact and can be explored on foot in a few hours, but the hotel car is there for guests when needed. The Taj is famous in Boston for its High Tea and it is quite a serene and comfortable time to read the paper or catch up with friends.
The restaurant selection in Boston keeps getting better and better each year. Here are few of my new favorites:
1. Chef Barbara Lynch’s Menton. Lynch has become the most acclaimed chef in Boston and is not only self taught, but incredibly creative with her French and Italian creations. Menton has an incredibly chic decor to compliment the outstanding food. Menton, 453 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210 617.737.0099. www.mentonboston.com
2. Another feather in Lynch’s cap is her No. 9 Park. Sitting directly below the State House, overlooking the Boston Common, No. 9 is one of the toughest tables to be had in Boston. Book early and enjoy. Like Menton, the decor is chic and also like Menton the food is delicious. No. 9 Park, 9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108 617.742.9991 www.no9park.com
3. Chef Lydia Shire has been serving Bostonians and visitors fabulous food for many years and has only grown her following with each year that passes. Her outpost Scampo is a favorite of many and the menu is uniquely Italian with both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. Scampo, 215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114, 617.536.2100. www.scampoboston.com
4. Toro is a great Tapas bar in the South End. Toro, 1704 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118, 617.536.4300. www.toro-restaurant.com
5. Coppa has yummy crudos and foie gras–maybe do a bit of extra cardio first. Coppa, 253 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, MA 02118, 617.301.0902. www.coppaboston.com
I love the museums of Boston. They are large enough to feel important, but small enough that you don’t have to get lost for days and days to get through all the rooms. Here are three favorites and three must see spots.
1. The Institute of Contemporary Art is new and amazing! ICA, 100 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210 www.icaboston.org
2. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a true gem in Boston. The museum is intimate and lovely and worth the trip. It reminds me of The Frick Museum in New York. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115. www.gardnermuseum.org
3. The Museum of Fine Arts is a majestic spot with incredible works and was a place I loved when I was young. Sorry for the continual New York references, but this is a bit of a mini Metropolitan Museum. Museum of Fine Arts, Avenue of the Arts 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, 617.267.9300, www.mfa.org
A few other must see spots:
1. Boston Common
2. Freedom Trail
3. Public Garden
4. Louisburg Square
5. Skywalk at the top of the Prudential Center building
6. Mary Baker Eddy Library Mapparium
7. Harvard Square
Finally…shopping comes to my list. Boston is a great and convenient shopping city. Newbury Street is filled with every major designer and Copley Place is just steps away with anyone that might not yet have a store on Newbury. There are many great stores, but two that stand out are Louis and Alan Bilzerian. Louis moved its anchor from Newbury Street to the waterfront and has started the move to spread the footprint of Boston shopping to the outskirts of town. It is now very cutting edge in aesthetic and design–very cool. Alan Bilzerian is a native Bostonian and has been a purveyor of haute couture for quite some time. His eye is on the mark and he doesn’t miss.
1. Louis, 60 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210, 617.262.6100, www.louisboston.com
2. Alan Bilzerian, 34 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617.536.1001, www.alanbilzerian.com