This weekend, my little sister, C, flew all the way from California to Boston for a short weekend visit. I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, so I was so excited to spend some quality sister time. We had a jam-packed weekend of amazing food, ice cream and gorgeous spring scenery. I took her all around the city to my favorite spots, and she oohed and ahhed all the way back to sunny San Diego.
Pasta and Ice Cream
For C’s first night, I made reservations for a local Italian eatery in the South End called Giacamo’s. This no fuss, no frills, cash only restaurant is, in my opinion, one of the best places for delicious homemade pasta and seafood. My favorites are the mussels in a white wine and garlic broth and the seared scallops. To die for!
So C has this obsession with ice cream… I mean, most people love ice cream, but C LOVES ice cream. When I asked her what she wanted to do and where she wanted to eat when she visited, she immediately said “ice cream!… oh, and lobster rolls.” Of course the first thing she thinks of is dessert… After stuffing ourselves at Giacamo’s, we headed to Emack & Bolio’s on Newbury Street, which was a brisk 15 minute walk from the restaurant. Emack & Bolio’s is a local homemade ice cream favorite amongst Bostonians with interesting flavors and hand-dipped waffle cones. After deciding she had sufficiently walked off just enough pasta to have some ice cream, C ordered an Oreo S’mores ice cream in one of Emack’s famous Nutella dipped cones. The whole thing was nearly the size of her head!
Lobstah Rolls and Harpoon Brewery
The next morning, C, P, and I went in search of the lobster roll. P and I don’t often eat lobster rolls in Boston, so I had to do some research. I wanted a delicious lobster roll that was reasonably priced. I found just that at James Hook and Co., which sells not only chowder and lobster rolls, but also whole lobsters and fresh fish for home cooking. For only $14 each, we each had fresh chunks of lobster stuffed in a buttery toasted roll. No lettuce or tomatoes. Just lobster. And a lot of it too. We also ordered some chowders to share, which were also delicious. Yum…still dreaming of that amazing “brunch.”
After our seafood feast along the waterfront, we trekked over the bridge to the Harpoon Brewery, which recently underwent a major remodeling with beer hall, pretzels, and chandeliers. We didn’t want to wait over an hour for a beer tour, so we found an open table in the beer hall and ordered some beers. The beer hall had a lively atmosphere, but was spacious, modern, and clean. It was the perfect place to just chat and try a new beer. C had a fruity beer, I had a summer beer, and P had a dark beer. At about half way through our beers, we looked over at another couple who had ordered a flight of beers to taste, instead of each ordering a large glass of one type of beer. What a brilliant idea! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that earlier… We were too full to attempt a flight of 6 more beers and it was too early in the day to be woozy. So, we checked out and moved on.
Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution
Despite what many may say, my favorite part of the Freedom Trail is the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution, which most tourists never get to because they get lured into the North End bakeries, get stuck in a food coma, and get too dazed or tired to finish the trail. C had done the Freedom Trail three years ago, and of course, her tour ended at Mike’s Pastry where she got a canoli and vegged at a park for the rest of the day. So, this time, we went directly to the end of the trail in Charlestown where we explored both sites and the surrounding residential neighborhood. The magnolia trees were showering us with their petals and the sidewalks were filled with green.
The USS Constitution was surprisingly fun and educational. P and I had visited before in the winter but it was really deserted. This time, there were guides (stationed navy men and women) dressed in historical sailing costumes that were stationed around the ship telling animated stories about the different battles the famous USS Constitution had encountered and the life of the sailors on board. The entry is free and you get a brief history lesson. Win, win!
Boston Public Gardens
Spring in the public gardens is magnificent! It only lasts for a few weeks, but the city fills the gardens, squares, and parks with rows and rows of tulips and daffodils. C had perfect timing and came when the tulips were in full bloom. It’s nothing compared to the tulip fields in Amsterdam but it certainly brightens up Boston. Yellows, pinks, reds, and purples line the walkways in the garden and everything seems chipper and brighter.
Beacon Hill and Ice Cream… Again
After our mini photo shoot in the gardens, we walked the short distance to Beacon Hill to show C the historical and gorgeous residences and streets. And of course, we had our second ice cream of the weekend at J.P. Licks on Charles Street in the neighborhood.
Harvard Square Mayfair
Sunday was the Mayfair festival at Harvard Square to celebrate the first weekend of May. The square becomes a pedestrian only area lined with food stalls and carnival games. Dancers and singers performed at various stages in the area so there was always music wherever you went. A section of the street was blocked off for the chalk walk where sponsored artists would design their section of the street with colorful chalk drawings. For lunch, P and I took C to a mini beer garden at Charlie’s Kitchen which renovated it’s outdoor seating to include tables with gas fire pits. P and I have been going there since we first started dating, and we always go back in the summer for their fantastic selection of beers and their lobster melts. Even though it was semi-warm enough to sit outside, the warmth from the fire pit kept us nice and toasty as we dined on the amazing lobster melts, waffle fries, and beer.
Fenway Stadium Tours
I’ve lived in the Boston area for almost 10 years, and I had never taken a Fenway Stadium tour. Baseball never really interested me. Don’t get e wrong, I’ve been to my share of Red Sox games… because the tickets were free or a friend was visiting. And, when I did go to a game, the highlight for me was sadly the hot dogs because frankly, nine innings is just eight too many innings. But, I had my trusty Red Sox baseball cap and I guess I also liked the fun atmosphere where fans screamed in unison and guys in yellow yelled “pop corn, get your pop corn!”
C wanted to check out the stadium because we kept passing it on our way to dinner, to lunch, or on our way home. It’s the oldest baseball stadium in the nation and still maintains a lot of history from it’s original grand stand seats to the old school score board to the famous Green Monster. The tour was fantastic! At least much more than we had ever expected a stadium tour to be. Our tour guide walked us through the entire stadium, telling us quirky anecdotes about the team history, founders, and players. We were able to sit in the press box, in the coveted seats on the Green Monster (a 70 ft wall erected to prevent balls from flying out of the stadium and breaking store windows), and the oldest baseball stadium seats in the grand stand, all while watching Big Papi film a commercial. Pretty neat! The tour and the history of the Red Sox team made me appreciate the game just a little bit more. Maybe next time, I’ll actually pay attention to a game… maybe…
So glad my little sister came to visit! With most of my family on the west coast, it was nice to have a little piece of home in Boston, even if just for the weekend.