Visiting Boston and NYC in February

Due to a brief lapse in judgment, I’ll be flying over to Boston to visit a friend in February for 10 days. The plane tickets have been booked and there’s no backing out from my fate as an icicle. I’m a cold weather wuss, so I’m hoping the weather gods are kind on me.

We’ll be taking a bus to NYC for two days and staying in Boston for the other 8 days. I have a hotel booked for New York City (The New Yorker via hotwire) and I’ll be staying at my friend’s place in the Cambridge area. Another friend will be joining us for part of the time as well. It’s a girl’s week out and our main concern is to spend some time together and go out and see some sights if we can. Any suggestions for food destinations or interesting local attractions in both Boston and NYC is gladly welcome. We’re all in our mid-twenties and enjoy good food, art, and culture. None of us are really into the club or bar scene although we don’t mind a good place to get a drink or two.

I took a brief look over the previous threads on visiting Boston and NYC and I compiled a list of places that sounded interesting:

Boston: Harvard’s Natural History Museum, Sam Adams Brewery, Faneuil Hall, MIT Museum, Museum of Science, Mike’s Pastry, Museum of Fine Art. The duck tours and the Freedom Trail both sounded great, but the cold might dampen my enthusiasm for prolonged outdoor activities.

New York City: Metropolitan or Guggenheim (which one is better?), Staten Island Ferry, walk around Central Park, Katz’s Deli, Momofuku (at least one of them), Peter Lugar’s or Keen’s, maybe a Broadway play. We’ll be there during Chinese New Year’s weekend, so hopefully we can walk around the Chinatown and see what’s going on. It’s too much stuff for a two day trip and we’ll probably only end up doing a fraction of it, but this is more of a wish list than a real itinerary.

Any suggestions or advice?

The Duck Tours won’t be running, but the other trolley tours will be, though on a reduced schedule. The trolleys are heated, IIRC. If you are going to do the Freedom Trail I think it’s worth getting a costumed guide: http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/tickets/tours.html They’ll hit the highlights and you won’t risk freezing to death while wandering around trying to figure out where the first school house went.

Art: Check out some of the Harvard Art Museums. http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/

Good food: you didn’t mention price ranges, but I highly recommend the following places:
[ul]
[li]Coppa in the South End[/li][li]The Daily Catch ( a couple of locations)[/li][li]Euno in the North End[/li][li]The Friendly Toast in Kendall Square[/li][li]The Helmand in East Cambridge[/li][li]China Pearl in Chinatown for Dim Sum[/li][li]Sacco’s for pizza and candlepin bowling. It’s not high culture, but it’s New Englnd culture[/li][li]Highland Kitchen in Somerville[/li][li]The Publick House in Boston (is that actually Brookline?)[/li][li]Casablanca in Harvard Square[/li][li]Anna’s Taqueria - any of the numerous locations, for a cheap very good burrito[/li][/ul]
Beer and cocktails later - I have a train to catch.

The Freedom Trail is not long and with 8 days, you can certainly see much of Boston.

With two days, I would say go to Battery Park but skip the Staten Island Ferry- it’s exactly what you think it will be. And take the hour and a half you save and walk around Times Square and Rockefeller place. The Guggenheim/Met discussion is going to be dependent on what you like. I’d recommend the Met as there are more things to find what you like.

MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY!!! DINOSAURS!!!

Also whales and fossils and crap.
But mainly DINOSAURS!

Lincoln Center is a great area to walk around, even if you’re not going to the opera. Amazing restaurants (Josephina is a personal favorite), shopping and great buildings to look at.

Did somebody say DINOSAURS? Awesome. I’m there. I’m assuming you meant the Natural History Museum in New York, right?

I just checked out the exhibits that’ll be showing at the Metropolitan and the Guggenheim Museums and they both have something interesting going on. Some of the interesting exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum such as the French Art Deco and the Charles Rohlfs exhibits will be gone by the time we get there though, but the sheer size and breadth of their collections is swaying my vote.

We’ll keep Battery Park in mind if we have some extra time.

The trolley guide sounds promising, I’ll look into it. As for the costumed guides on the Freedom Trail, I’m afraid I’ll be flashing back to the 30 Rock episode where Tracy Jordan crashes a Freedom Trail group and starts spouting off made-up facts. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the food suggestions, Motorgirl. I’m checking out the links and keeping a list. We’re trying to be as budget friendly as possible right now since my friend’s still a student and I’ll be heading back to grad school later this year, however, we’re both willing to stretch our budget for a good meal or two.

Thanks also to Disheavel and friedo for your suggestions as well!

For the Met v. the Guggenheim, it depends on how much you know what you like. The Met has more variety (obviously), it can also be more overwhelming. I would vote for the Met for someone who was generally interested in seeing some art, but didn’t have strong feelings about which art he/she was going to see. I would vote for the Guggenheim for someone who is a more advanced art viewer, if that person had a particular interest in the show that will be up, which looks like it will be the best of their own modern collection, which makes me wonder how much of it is already on view in the Thannhauser collection anyway.

I personally would skip Katz’s Deli, it’s a little geared toward tourists these days, but that’s just my opinion. If you wanted something on the Lower East Side in particular, I would instead opt for the Yonah Shimmel Knish Bakery, or if you wanted a deli experience in general, then Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop in the Flatiron District.

For newer foodie places, I would check out Eataly, the Mario Batali Italian food court/market thing.

When you get to Boston, grab a cab and ask the driver, “Where can I get scrod?”

There’s nothing special about Battery Park, unless you’re super into visiting Castle Clinton. The most interesting thing there is the half-smashed modernist sculpture that once stood in the WTC plaza (which I believe, without much exterior justification, actually represents Atlas shouldering the world. You have to see it from a certain angle). That’s adjacent to the Bull (feel free to pose with its testicles, everyone does) and the Museum of the American Indian, which is free. Battery Park is also the windiest, most freezing cold place in all of Manhattan. The ferry’s for the close pass of the Statue of Liberty, not for the ferry itself (which is basically… a ferry).

The Met is GIGANTIC. You have to visit it with A Plan, because you could wander around looking at interesting things and collapse from exhaustion before you ever see what you came to see. Also, the entry fee is by donation, but they WILL and DO pressure you to pay $12 or $15 or whatever it is these days – just remember you can walk in for a buck or $5 or whatever you feel.

Yonah Shimmel & Katz’s are only a couple of blocks apart, so you can scope out and decide. Also of note on the same street, Russ & Daughter’s for smoked fish.

Been asked that question many times in my day, but never in the pluperfect subjunctive.

Beer and Cocktails!

[ul]
[li]The Friendly Toast in Kendall Square - really creative interesting cocktails, including one rimmed with Pop Rocks. It’s a bit sweet, but fun[/li][li]Sacco’s - great ever-changing tap list[/li][li]Highland Kitchen in Somerville - terrific cocktails![/li][li]The Publick House in Boston (is that actually Brookline?) - great tap list of Belgians and IPAs. They pride themselves on a good variety of properly-served Belgians.[/li][li]Eastern Standard - Kenmore Square - WARNING - Flash required for their website - highly annoying - great classic and interesting cocktails[/li][li]Boston Beer Works- Kenmore or North Station (I like the original Kenmore location much better) - brew pub[/li][li]Bukowski - I understand there is one in Inman Square now, but I’ve only been to the one in the Back Bay. Great beer list, affordable good eats[/li][/ul]

eta - this is for Boston, of course

Here’s a link to my suggestions for NYCin another thread.

Unless you are friends with owners, are a celebrity or know Mayor Bloomberg, your chances of getting into Peter Luger’s are slim to none. They book up about 4-6 months in advance. If it’s just two of you, you might be able to get a walk-up if a table comes available. If you can get in there it is great. They don’t take credit cards, so bring cash.

Keen’s is good as well, but so is Sparks and Rothman’s. Have fun.

I’m a little scared to ask, but what’s a scrod?

The Publick House, Eastern Standard and Bukowski Tavern all sound promising. We’ll try to swing by at least one of them. Thanks for all the food suggestions, Motorgirl.

Sounds like Peter Lugar’s out of the question then. We like to keep our schedule fairly flexible so Keen’s or another steakhouse it is then.

We’ll probably hit the Met then. We both appreciate art and enjoy going to museum, but I don’t think we’re in any way advanced when it comes to understanding art. :slight_smile: Plus, there’s a few exhibits on Tibetan art at the Met that my friend will probably be interested in. We will definitely prepare a plan, thanks for the tips, Hello Again and delphica!

Touristy is fine as long as the food is good. I’ll swing by the other delis if we can and see which one strikes our fancy.

Thanks again to everyone! Our trip is coming together.

Scrod

Well, yes, that wasn’t very hard, but the phrase “Where can I get scrod” seem to imply a distinct double entendre that only those familiar with Boston might understand. That and it sounds like something one of those Bostonian mob stereotypes in movies might call their scrotum. “Oh yeah, well eat my scrod!”

So, how about: I’m a little scared to ask, but does scrod have any other meaning besides the name for a tasty fish.

No. :slight_smile: It’s safe to say outloud in public.

Though we’re also very fond of dropping f-bombs in casual conversation, so maybe I’m not the best judge of whether scrod is vulgar…

I really like the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The Green Line getting there is a charming reminder that Boston’s subway/trolley system was the first built in the US ^^

http://www.mfa.org/

On the Boston part:

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum usually comes highly recommended.

Otherwise, eight days is probably five or six more than is needed to see the tourist stuff. I recommend just wandering about various parts of town, but that depends on the weather and your standards of entertainment. But hey, if you run out of things to do, go check out South Boston, or Dorchester, or Jamaica Plain (besides the Sam Adams brewery), etc. There are a lot of places where most visitors never set foot.

Speaking of this, it kind of bugs me that the T doesn’t post some signs to assist tourists and newcomers: the surface Green Line stops work like a bus - board at the front door of the car and pay your fare on board, and press the tape to request a stop (although around the MFA they’re almost certainly going to stop anyway). Sure, the Northeastern kids know what they’re doing when they sneak in the back door and don’t pay their fares, but on every (occasional, I admit) trip I make on this line I see confused outsiders.

Wandering around different parts of town sounds like a perfectly good time to me, although as I noted earlier, I generally am not a big fan of cold weather. So if any of you encounter a lost looking Asian girl who looks like she might be freezing to death, come say hi. :slight_smile:

The Gardner Museum sounds quirky and we’ll probably go check it out along with the MFA. Thanks for the tip on the Green Line, PigBoy. My friend’s lived in the area for a year or two now so she probably knows the drill, but it’s always good to be forewarned.

Thank’s Motorgirl, I shall now say scrod with abandon.

Update time!

I just got back from Boston yesterday and I had a great time hanging out with old friends and exploring both Boston and NYC. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful and friendly so despite our general lack of planning and lack of maps, we got to all the places we wanted to see.

Luckily, I didn’t get affected by the Snowpocalypse or whatever the hell they called it since they barely reopened all the airports in time for my flight. My flights did get a lot of the previously stranded travelers.

We only spent two days, Saturday and Sunday, in NYC, but the first thing we did was hit up the Lower East Side for Russ and Daughters and Katz’s. We somehow managed to miss Yonah Shimmel, but after eating a bagel with smoked salmon and a pastrami on rye (washed down with Dr. Brown’s cel-ray), we were too stuffed to contemplate more eating. We wandered about the Lower East Side and wandered somehow to the East Village. By then, we were hungry and had a light, overpriced snack at Momofuku Milk Bar.

We made it to the Met that afternoon and stayed for about 3 hours, checking out the very impressive armory collection, the modern art collection, some of the Asian arts, and their current collection on European caskets and boxes. We missed much of the impressionist and American art, which I regret, but we were dead tired after a long day of wandering about town and art fatigue was setting in. We did map out a rough plan as you suggested, Hello Again but between getting lost in the exhibits and getting sidetracked by pretty shiny art, we ended up not following any distinguishable plan anyway. The Met could easily have taken up an entire week for us, but we had other plans for the next day.

That night we were so tired, we ordered in pizza from Lazarra’s and slept like the dead. The next day, we took it easy and hit up some more touristy spots like Times Square and Rockerfeller Center. We ate at Chez Josephine and were fawned over by handsome flamboyant waiters who knew just the way to flirt with us lonely ladies. :smiley: My friend spotted Magnolia’s and just had to get a cupcake there. I tried a bite and it was vaguely underwhelming. We ended our trip with some shopping and a quick view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

We left on Monday morning, but the bus broke down on the freeway and we didn’t end up back in Boston till night time. Thankfully the rest of the Boston trip only improved from there. The Gardner Museum was my favorite museum of all the museums we visited, not only for the cantankerous security guard who couldn’t contain his ambivalence for Mrs. Gardner and told us to look for the mustache on her portrait when we passed by it, but just for the omnipresence of Isabella Gardner in every nook and cranny of the place and how wonderfully oddball she was. Her collection as well as the MFA’s collection of John Singer Sargent paintings were also incredibly diverse and comprehensive. I found that I really enjoyed his portraits quite a bit.

Other museums that we visited included the MIT Museum (more fun than I imagined) and the Harvard Natural History Museum. We stopped by Faneuil Hall (eh), spent lots of money at Commonwealth bookstore nearby, went to the Boston Public Library, and visited the site of the Boston Molasses Disaster.

On the food end, we ended up visiting quite a few of your recommendations, Motorgirl! The Publik House was amazing, and our waitress recommended the Troublette, which has now become one of my favorite beers. We also went to Helmand with their delicious, fire-oven flat bread, and The Daily Catch (one of my friend’s favorite places), where we had the squid-ink pasta and calamari. For my fancy meal of the trip, we went to Neptune Oyster where I splurged on raw oysters and a lobster roll and shared the clam chowder with some friends. We compared the cannolis from Modern and Mike’s and Mike’s richer custard won out for us. We also went to Crema Cafe (good), Flour (great), Mr. Bartley’s (eh), and L.A. Burdick’s (love the caramel latte).

Wow, I didn’t know I had so much to say! Overall, I really enjoyed the East Coast and found the public transportation convenient, the people very friendly, and the architecture incredible. I managed to not freeze my ass off and I only slipped on the ice once! Thanks again to all the New York and Boston Dopers for your great advice. I hope I can return the favor if you ever decide to visit Portland (OR) or LA.