What to do with friends in summertime Boston?

Revere Beach in July

This weekend some very good friends came to visit Boston. Ali and Dan, like me, made the big JUMP across the pond seven months ago; moving from our north London neighborhood to the USA. Both are rather good writers and have kept wonderful online journals of their antics in Philadelphia (visit Ali’s blog here and Dan’s blog here). Needless to say, the three of us have a lot in common and I was really looking forward to showing off my new stateside city.

We spent most of the weekend outside on bikes or at the beach. Here is a selection of things we did:

Friday

Saturday

  • Rent bikes from UrbanAdventours (prices start at $35 per 24hrs). We cycled four routes stopping off where something fun took our fancy:
    1. Aquarium- along the Charles River Reservation- MIT…
    … Stopping at Massachusetts Avenue Bridge to take in the view of the Boston skyline.
    2. MIT – along Massachusetts Avenue- Harvard Square…
    …Stopping at Harvard Yard for ice cream while basking in the sun of the historic university grounds.
    3. Harvard Square – along the Emerald Necklace bike path (Back Bay Fens section) – Longwood Medical Area…
    … Stopping at the rose garden (see earlier post) and Harvard Medical School.
    4. Longwood Medical Area – along the Emerald Necklace bike path (Brookline section) – Jamaica Pond…
    … Stopping at the boat house by Jamaica Pond to watch the swans on the water.
  • Wander around the Italian Quarter in the North End and dine at Nico’s where violent gangster movies are screened during dinner!
  • Nip into Matt Murphy’s at Brookline Village for a night-cap.

Sunday

  • Walk through the Boston Public Gardens
  • Grab lunch at the Parish Cafe on Boylston Street where the best sandwiches in Boston are served.
  • Paddle in the water at Revere beach while eating ice cream

Revere Beach

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Cycle in Boston

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Boston is a bike-friendly city. The roads are flat, many have cycling lanes, and there are plenty of bike racks in the street to lock up your bike. Surprisingly sharing the road with the infamous ‘masshole’ driver is not even a problem – more of a pressing issue as a Brit is remembering to cycle on the ‘right’ side of the road!

Cycling gives you freedom as well as speed in getting from A to B, and the opportunity to see parts of Boston that are often missed by taking the Underground (‘T’) public transit. If you want to start cycling but dont want to commit to purchasing a new bike then try the Hubway; there are 60 stations at 600 sites across the city that you can rent for a small fee. Pricing starts at $5 for the first 30mins. Alternatively you can rent bikes for the entire day or over the weekend from local bike rental stores.

Where to buy a bike in Boston? There are lots of bike shops in Boston to choose from; some independently-owned and some part of huge chains. Of the few I have used the staff have been really helpful and know their stuff.

(1) Superb Bicycle
New bicycles, a small selection of second-hand bikes, and all the accessories to go with it. This shop oozes trendiness due to the bright colours of frames and types of bikes available. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable. There is even a blog! I bought my single gear road bike from here – a beauty made by Schwinn and with vivid yellow rims (see photo at the top of the page). I got a discount and have been back once to retune the bike free-of-charge. Superb Bicycle is located between St Mary’s St and Kenmore Square T-stops on the Green line. Its sister shop is the Cambridge Bicycle and is located near Central Square T on the Red line.

(2) Bicycle Bill’s
A wide range of bicycles and prices. If you are unsure of what to buy, these guys will really try and help you find something that fits your budget and is a quality ride. My friend was given a 20% discount on last years bike, with a couple of extras added in. (The condition of this was that they insisted in showing us TV reruns of British comedy shows such as ‘The Catherine Tate Show’ and ‘The Mighty Boosh’ at the counter in return.) Bicycle Bill’s located in Allston, close to the Harvard Athletics Field.

The Hubway website is an excellent tool for finding local bike rental places and has an extensive list of bike stores in Boston area. Click here for more information.