BOSTON – This is the cradle of patriotism, the site of Paul Revere's historic ride and home to the USS Constitution.
But it's also home to a new greenway, high fashion at low prices, discount theater tickets, great public transportation and cool places to eat well on a budget.
The combination of old and new, historic and trendy, gives Boston its unique personality — and provides limitless opportunities for a visit that doesn't require help from one of the city's leaders in venture capital.
There's a lot to choose from, well beyond clam "chowdah," the patriots of 1776 and historic Faneuil Hall.
PAHK YOUR CAHR: Here's the secret of why Bostonians "pahk their cahr in Hahvid Yahd" — because it's too expensive to park it in the city.
If you plan to stay in Boston, there's no need to rent a car. The city's public transit — known locally as "the T" — is an easy-to-follow color-coded system that is safe and inexpensive, just $2 per ride, with kids free.
In good weather, the most affordable and efficient way to navigate Boston is on foot. And the best way to see the most historic sites — for free — is along the Freedom Trail.
You can start anywhere along the red-brick pathway that winds and bends through historic Boston — from Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument. There are 16 official sites but plenty of fun unofficial stops along the way, too.
HISTORIC HAUNTS: Some of the most intriguing figures in the nation are spending their eternal rest in the Boston area. Just one free visit to the Old Granary Burying Ground provides a history lesson for the thousands who come each year to see the graves of noted patriots John Hancock, John Adams and Robert Treat Paine — who all signed the Declaration of Independence. Also buried here are Paul Revere and victims of the Boston Massacre. Established in 1660 in what used to be the southernmost portion of the city, the burial grounds are now in the heart of the downtown bustle, just steps from the Boston Common and the Park Street subway station. It's one of three cemeteries on the Freedom Trail, http://www.thefreedomtrail.org.
GO GREEN: It's not the "Go Green" chant of the NBA champion Celtics or the Green Monster of historic Fenway Park.
One of the newest ways to enjoy Boston is with a stroll along the Rose Kennedy Greenway — http://www.rosekennedygreenway.org — which was officially dedicated in October. This string of parks and fountains replaces a giant eyesore of an elevated highway, which was taken down and buried beneath the city in the nation's largest public works project known as the Big Dig.
KIDS WILL LOVE THIS: Big kids will, too. Grab an ice cream, burger or fried foods at Sullivan's on Castle Island in South Boston. From there, you can watch the boats heading in and out of Boston Harbor, feel the rumble of planes flying remarkably close overhead, and let the kids let off some steam running around the playground. Sullivan's closes for the winter at the end of November, but the parks and walking trails around Castle Island are open year round, http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/metroboston/castle.htm.
HIGH FASHION-LOW PRICES: Boston also has bargains for the fashion-addicted. Among the boutiques on the Back Bay's Newbury Street is The Closet, at 175 Newbury between Dartmouth and Exeter Streets, known for 30 years for its high-end designer consignments. The Second Time Around consignment chain has also several stores in the area, including at 176 Newbury, 219 Newbury, and 82 Charles St. In the North End, Karma Designer Consignment at 26 Prince St. has designer consignments and vintage clothing.
Filene's Basement, founded in Boston a century ago to move excess goods from the now-defunct Filene's department store, is best known for its "Running of the Brides" wedding gown sales, but has fashion markdowns year-round. The Boston location of the now-national chain is at 497 Boylston St. in the Back Bay. The bridal sale is held twice a year here. The next one: Feb. 20, 2009, at the Hynes Convention Center.
HARBOR CRUISES: One of the quickest, easiest and most affordable ways to get to and from Boston's Logan International Airport is by boat. Water taxis offer service from several spots on Boston Harbor to a dock at the airport, where a free bus shuttle will pick up passengers and take them to their terminals. The ride across the water is just $10 one-way — far less expensive than a cab — and takes just seven minutes. It also affords one of the most spectacular views of the Boston waterfront, http://www.massport.com/logan/getti_typeo_water.html
While you're along the waterfront, save time to take a quick detour to the New England Aquarium, where you don't need to pay admission to get up close with one of the most enjoyable attractions: the frolicking harbor seals in the tank outside, http://www.neaq.org.
OVER THE RIVER: If you want another view of the city, take a quick T ride or a walk a bridge over the Charles River to Cambridge, home to Harvard and MIT. Enjoy the spectacular Boston skyline, visit the Harvard Coop bookstore, or take in the street performers in Harvard Square. When you're done, check out Grendel's Den, just off Harvard Square. By law there can be no official "happy hours" in Massachusetts, but all food is half-price with $3 drink purchases at dinnertime at this great student haunt, http://www.grendelsden.com.
BOSTON'S BROADWAY: Get half-price same-day tickets to shows in Boston's theater district at the BosTix booth at Copley Plaza or Faneuil Hall. The tickets also are listed online at http://www.artsboston.com.
GOOD EATS: Breakfast at The Paramount on Charles Street requires a healthy appetite — and some attention to protocol. Don't try to sit down before your food is ready at the counter. The unique seating policy — waiting in line while your food is prepared — keeps customers from Massachusetts General Hospital doctors to bluebloods to tourists moving in and out of the door, http://www.paramountboston.com.
Taste the rich Italian history in Boston's North End at Regina Pizzeria for the best cheap pizza in town. Boston's "original pizzeria" has been serving up slices since 1926, http://www.reginapizzeria.com.
If you can't decide between Italian, Chinese, seafood, steak or virtually anything else, take a walk through Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where nearly every food or drink craving can be satisfied. To save some dough, grab your food to-go at one of the more than 40 eateries and enjoy some people-watching instead of eating at a sit-down restaurant. There is seating available inside the hall, http://www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com.
For more information on visiting Boston, check out with the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, http://www.bostonusa.com