The real Boston is a sight to behold.
While the masses mostly head to the big-name landmarks, instead visit one of these nine unexpected discoveries and treasures outside of the usual tourist zone.
Text and photos courtesy of Trazzler.com.
Elevating Eco-Artistic Consciousness " width="52" height="52"/>
Tucked away just a few feet from the Broadway T-Stop in Southie, Artists for Humanity resides in one of the most fascinating structures in the city. The EpiCenter was built in 2004 with a concentrated focus on renewable energy. Every aspect of its design takes into account the creation or conservation of energy. From its air-conditioning-free ventilation system to the array of solar panels on the roof, the EpiCenter's philosophy is firmly rooted in resourcefulness. In fact, it has attained the elite status of LEED Platinum certification--an honor rarely attained. And the building is just the beginning. Artists for Humanity pay inner-city youth to create works of art. In doing so, employed teenagers learn the virtues of both art and enterprise. Take a tour of the building and art, rent out the gallery space for an event, make a donation, or just volunteer your time for a great cause. You are bound to be impressed by the ingenuity and dedication of the place. Writer: Yiannis Ifantides | Photo: Artists for Humanity
Riding Like Paul Revere, Minus the Horse " width="52" height="52"/>
Boston has an odd relationship with cyclists. The city's narrow, hopelessly tangled streets limit sight lines and crowd bikes and cars into uncomfortably small spaces. Luckily, the Minuteman Bikeway begins just steps from the northern edge of the MBTA's Red Line in Cambridge. Like most paved urban bike trails, the Minuteman was traversed by locomotives before its conversion for bikes. Unlike most paved urban bike trails, this one is nearly identical to the path Paul Revere took on his famous ride. Writer: Dan Weber | Photo: Madeleine Ball
Exploring a Garden Grown on Trash " width="52" height="52"/>
Wasn't Spectacle Island once a garbage heap? Didn't there used to be an old grease reclamation plant there back in the 1920s? Well, yeah, Spectacle Island was once, literally, a dump. But if you unplug your nose and trust in the island's environmental reclamation process, you'll be rewarded with a pristine and inexplicably uncrowded beach in the heart of Boston's historic harbor. Wind your way around hilltops that offer spectacular views of Massachusetts Bay. The beach is closed in winter, but snowshoeing trips run occasionally throughout the coldest months. Splurge on Jasper John's seafood near the pier, or bring your own snacks, but be warned: "pack-in, pack-out" camping rules apply to help keep Spectacle clean once and for all. Writer: Dan Weber | Photo: Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection
Soaking Up Suburban Sun and Seafood " width="52" height="52"/>
Wollaston Beach in Quincy proves that Boston beachgoers needn't brave the crowds of Cape Cod for a slice of sun, surf and seafood. Cradled in one of the coves just south of the city, the beach's sandy, gravelly shores draw sun seekers on sultry summer days, while boxy clam shacks serve up heaping helpings of fried fish perfect for dunking into a creamy, tangy remoulade. In cooler weather when the waves are too rough, you can still walk along the promenade--just be sure to sidestep the seagulls and strollers--and check out the view, especially vibrant at sunset, when the Prudential Center peeks through low-hanging clouds and the John Hancock Tower juts majestically from the cityscape. Writer & Photographer: Rachel Lebeaux
Fairmont Battery Wharf " width="52" height="52"/>
A visit to the Fairmont Battery Wharf is an experience in juxtapositions. It's the only hotel in the North End--convenient for enjoying the Italian neighborhood's pasta, pizza, and pastries. The hotel's own waterfront restaurant, Aragosta Bar and Bistro, opens in April and features contemporary Italian-Mediterranean cuisine (handmade pastas, local seafood...). For those looking to learn more about the one-of-a-kind location, an on-site museum details Battery Wharf's role in Boston history. And the hotel's Exhale Spa provides a peaceful urban respite and waterside sanctuary. Winter treats include free hot chocolate in the lobby and outdoor fire pits for toasting marshmallows. Warm weather brings outdoor dining and yoga classes. The architecture creates the illusion of cruise ships sitting at dock, and the décor echoes the sleek modern look, while still exuding comfort. Deluxe rooms all have harbor views (and the windows actually open to let in the sea breeze!). Harbor Suites, located at the "bow" of the buildings take the nautical experience to soaring heights with views of the water on three sides--not to mention a jacuzzi in the over-sized bathtub. A stay in the Fairmont Gold building--a hotel within the hotel--offers even more luxurious perks, with treats like a complimentary breakfast to start your day and a complimentary "Sweet Dreams" buffet of local desserts to end it. Writer: Sam Sherman | Photo: Fairmont Battery Wharf and Ben+Sam
Swooning Over Incredible Edibles " width="52" height="52"/>
A visit to Formaggio Kitchen produces sensory overload at its finest. Step through the door and find yourself face to face with cases full of colorful prepared vegetables and cheeses of all shapes and sizes. Above it all, cured meats hang from the ceiling. This is a food lover's paradise. Friendly staff members offer tastes of cheese, samples of coffee, and other goodies. Shelves and bins in every available inch are filled with wine, oils and vinegars, honey and jam. The small center room has a tempting bakery case and fine chocolates, and the third room is a grocery featuring local and exotic produce, artisanal beers, breads, and even cut flowers. On a busy Saturday, customers are congenial as they bump into each other among the wonders. So much good stuff puts everyone in a good mood. Writer & Photographer: Sam Sherman
Making Noise Underground " width="52" height="52"/>
At its best, public art completes a neighborhood. If you live or work in Cambridge's Kendall Square, your daily commute is enhanced by the Kendall Band, three musical sculptures created by artist and inventor Paul Matisse. Suspended between the tracks, Pythagoras, Kepler, and Galileo, as they are named, invite subway riders to "play" them while waiting on either the inbound or outbound platform. Matisse, who won the commission from the Boston transit authority in the 1980s, rigged the instruments to interactive levers that effect a series of distinctly urban noises to meld with the screeching and thundering of trains: Swinging tubular bells and mallets strike each other like a carillon in B minor while a hammer ratchets F sharp out of a metal ring and a mechanic roar issues from a long sheet of stainless steel. When they all sing together, you know why you love the hum of the city. Writer: GladysG | Photo: Dan Nicolas
Elbowing Past Giovanni and Marco for Midnight Cannolis " width="52" height="52"/>
When your sweet tooth kicks in after hours near the North End, Boston's well known Italian neighborhood, the locals all agree there's only one place to go: Bova's 24-hour Bakery. Bypass the lines of tourists at Mike's Pastry, say "Ciao!" to the folks clambering at the doors of Modern Pastry, and head over to the lesser known corner of Salem Street that houses this landmark. Expect whoopee pies oozing with fresh whipped cream, éclairs that will have you licking chocolate off your fingers and then looking for more, and, of course, cannolis--the iconoclastic Italian treat--that will leave you wiping powered sugar off your shirt for the rest of the night (or perhaps, into the morning.) Writer: Amber Hillman | Photo: www.northendboston.com (Bova's Bakery)
Discovering the Next Jazz Stars at Wally's " width="52" height="52"/>
Boston is a musicians' town. The labyrinthine streets host some of the most prestigious musical institutions in the country. Down on Massachusetts Avenue is a tiny little bar where some of the leanest and hungriest jazz players engage in the old Kansas City tradition of head-cutting. The bygone spirits of pork-pie hats and indoor cigarette smoke waft through the low-ceilinged tavern. You're gonna get hot, you're gonna get jostled, and you're gonna hear some soulful music. Nearly as important, you're gonna walk out of Wally's satisfied, feeling like the hippest tourist in Boston. Writer: David Chachere | Photo: Michael Siemer