Tag Archives: Boston

UPDATE: World Naked Bike Ride Boston has been cancelled

WNBR

The World Naked Bike Ride is a free, clothing optional global protest for more bikeable streets and curbing urban pollution. Boston hosted its first world naked bike ride in 2010 but unfortunately this year’s ride has been cancelled. If you are interested in helping rebuild and organize Boston’s next World Naked Bike Ride you can connect with the national organizer, worldnakedbikeride.org.

Boston hotel spotlight: The Langham

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and even for those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/
noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business – like the Langham Boston Hotel. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses.

The Langham, Boston Hotel’s address in Post Office Square has made it a favorite property for business travelers, but the hotel’s convenient location to many points of interest make it an ideal property for visitors coming to Boston for fun. The building first opened in 1922 as the Federal Reserve Bank and was declared an historical landmark in 1978. The granite building was inspired by the Palazzo della Cancelleria, in Rome and is considered an excellent example of Renaissance Revival architecture.

The 300+ room hotel closed in April 2019 to undergo a significant renovation that cost more than $150 million and reopened in June 2021. According to The Boston Globe, the hotel’s billionaire chairman, Lo Ka Shui, incorporated his collection in the Boston property along with a number of commissioned pieces specifically for this hotel from the Copley Society of Art.

Langham Boston Hotel dining and things to do

If you’re unlikely to book a room in this beautifully renovated Boston hotel, there remain several ways to appreciate this property. As part of the renovation, a new Italian restaurant called Grana, and a London-inspired cocktail pub called The Fed (which has an outdoor terrace) will open shortly after the hotel’s reopening I’m especially intrigued by The Fed because there are so few pubs and bars with outdoor space in the Financial District.

Grana is Langham Boston’s new Italian restaurant
The Fed is Langham Boston’s London inspired cocktail pub

For many gay travelers who plan on visiting Provincetown, The Langham might be a good choice. It is a 10-minute walk to either ferry service company or an easy ride from a taxi or Uber driver. Additionally, the hotel is close to points of interest, including the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall as well as Beacon Hill and the North End.

The Langham Boston
250 Franklin Street, Boston 02110
617.451.1900
langhamhotels.com/boston

Boston Pride disolves

Boston Pride

Boston Pride has been embroiled in a nasty back-and-forth with activists who have called the organization racist and “trans-exclusionary”. In response to the ongoing pressure and criticism Boston Pride president, Linda DeMarco, stepped down last month. For background on her departure and the criticism leveled at the organization, read more here.

Activists were not satisfied by that response saying it was too little too late and that the all white Boston Pride board didn’t represent the LGBTQ+ community and needed to resign now. And a boycott Boston Pride event was scheduled on Saturday, June 12th in conjunction with the second annual Trans Resistance March and Vigil. In response to the mounting pressure, the Boston Pride Board issued a statement today at 4:30 p.m. that the entire Board would resign and Boston Pride will shutdown.

“By making the decision to close down, we hope new leaders will emerge from the community to lead the Pride movement in Boston.”

– Boston Pride Board of Directors

You can read the full resignation letter online at, www.bostonpride.org.

The sudden dissolution of Boston Pride puts into question if there will be a 50th anniversary Boston Pride celebration later this fall. Earlier this year Boston Pride had indicated in-person celebrations might be scheduled in October.

Donna Summer Disco Party returns

Donna Summer was born in Boston and grew up in Mission Hill. Shortly after her passing in 2012, Boston started hosting an annual summer disco party to honor the Queen of Disco. Initially hosted in Government Center, the celebration was suspended last year due to COVID-19 but will return to Copley Square tomorrow, Thursday, June 24th.

Donna Summer Disco Party
Thursday, June 24 at Copley Square
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Free)

Unlike past years, this year’s event will not feature a roller-skating rink, but dancing is ecouraged as DJs play Donna Summer’s greatest hits in a groovy atmosphere complete with glow sticks, colorful lights, and a disco ball.

some assembly required

The Distillery Gallery in Southie has an interesting exhibit underway called, some assembly required, and Jenn Stanley from WBUR has a nice piece about the art gallery show that opened early this month. You can read her article, Distillery Gallery’s ‘Some Assembly Required’ Showcases Boston’s Intergenerational Queer Arts Scene, where she talks to the co-curators, Jasper A. Sanchez and Ena Kantardžić about how this showing came together and what it represents.

Shown below is artist Maxine Hwang Blomberg with her wearable art, the Prodigal Poppy Head. Many may remember Maxine from her days working at the Green Light Cafe and her creative pop-up shows in SoWa. She is one 30 emerging and established queer local artists who are exhibiting their works from the Boston LGBTQIA+ Artist Alliance (BLAA) at The Distillery Gallery.

The Distillery Gallery is located at 516 E. 2nd Street in Southie and is open Monday thru Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Swing by and check out the gallery showing which will be on view through Friday, July 23rd.

Boston hotel spotlight: Four Seasons One Dalton

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses at these properties. The Four Seasons One Dalton in Boston’s Back Bay is one such newcomer worth checking out.

The 61-story five star hotel and residence, which opened in May 2019, is Boston’s third tallest building. This is the second Four Season’s hotel in Boston and the glass and steel elliptical design hints at a more modern property than its sister property, the Four Seasons Boston located across from the Public Garden. While the 160 private residences located on the uppermost floors have the best views, the 215 room hotel offers a great vantage point with views of the Charles River, Back Bay and points south and west.

All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and come with iPads, premium bedding, 65″ plasma televisions and complimentary Internet access to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The muted colors in the guest rooms are intentional and designed to help guests relax, and the rooms’ furnishings have clean and simple lines consistent with the building’s modern design.

Four Seasons restaurants and more

Some of the amenities available to guests who stay at this sleek property include The Wellness Floor (on the 7th floor), which includes a worldclass spa, fitness center and salon facilities along with a stunning indoor pool that has great views of the city below. However, you don’t need to be a guest to make an appointment which is now open Friday through Sunday. Call and make a reservation.

If a stay at this new hotel is unlikely, it is still worth coming to see the property. Located off of the hotel lobby is a vibrant installation of the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s Great American Library. The captivating bookshelf installation brings a smile to my face when I walk through the room to take the stairs up one flight to the contemporary Japanese restaurant, Zuma. However, if contemporary Japanese cuisine isn’t your thing visit Trifecta, the Four Seasons cocktail lounge serves light bites. It is also here that weekend tea service is offered from 11:00am – 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re looking for something to do during the day and you’re not tempted to make use of the 7th floor pool, gym or spa, head out to Newbury Street for some retail therapy. The hotel is just a few blocks from Boston’s shopping district. Just a few blocks beyond Newbury Street is my favorite park in Boston, The Esplanade. Here you can go for a walk, run or bike ride.

If the dining options at the Four Seasons One Dalton are not of interest, read my post about the Back Bay and South End, which have more LGBTQ+ tips and places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails. The closest gay bar, Club Cafe, is a 10 minute walk. There you can have a meal, check out a cabaret show or go dancing.

Four Seasons
One Dalton Street, Boston 02115
617.377.4888
fourseasons.com/onedalton

Latino Wednesdays have returned

For those of you looking for a mid-week escape, head over to Legacy Boston in the Theater District for Latino Wednesdays. This popular dance night has returned. The weekly party is hosted by Gay Mafia Boston.

Get more information about Gay Mafia weekly parties by subscribing to their mailing list.

Verna Felton: Drag costume non-profit

Boston-based non-profit, Verna Felton, launched their website last week. The non-profit aims to support LGBTQ+ emerging adults interested in drag by applying the green concept of “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Verna Felton encourages anyone who may have one of a kind, beloved statement pieces such as drag costumes, dresses or gowns that have been relegated to closets and storage to be donated to LGBTQ+ young people who have an interest in drag but lack the financial resources to purchase such garments. I think of it as giving these sequins and sparkles previously worn to parties, tea dances and cruises an opportunity to shine in the spotlight once again.

The popularity of drag is hard to deny. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, drag was experiencing a renaissance. Drag nights, brunches and contests were everywhere, and the growing popularity of shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race has helped fuel the interest in drag with LGBTQ+ youth.

Scottie Gage conceived of the non-profit after he realized he had a closet brimming with statement pieces he was no longer using or intended to wear again and wanted to share with other young men who could make new memories with their friends in these clothes.

Recognizing that many gay men have garments that no longer fit or will be worn again provides a thoughtful approach and alternative to discarding these items. In addition to providing a practical solution to gift drag costuming, Verna Felton aims to be a resource for LGBTQ+ young people seeking additional clinical and behavioral health resources.

For more information about how to help support this non-profit financially and through clothing donations, or if you would like to learn more about how to receive a donated garment from Verna’s closet, please visit, vernafelton.org.

Boston hotel spotlight: XV Beacon Hotel

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses. The XV Beacon in Boston’s Beacon Hill is one such property worth checking out.

Although it is not part of the definition, exculsivity is often associated with luxury. For that reason, XV Beacon stands out as the only boutique property in this series.

XV Beacon first opened on Beacon Hill in 2000 and is consistently noted as one of Boston’s preeminent places to stay. It has earned the admiration and respect of Bostonians, guests and the travel industry. It was named by Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Best Hotel or Resort in every state and has many rave reviews on Trip Advisor.

This 63-room boutique property is in a beautiful ten story Beaux Arts building of iron, limestone and brick. It is capped with a copper cornice exterior and exudes great curb appeal. The hotel rooms were individually designed and have four-poster queen bed classic rooms or queen and king-size bed studio rooms that include whirlpool baths, heated towels, in-room fireplaces, complimentary high-speed Internet access, 400-thread-count linen sheets, and museum-quality artwork throughout. 

XV Beacon goes the extra mile by providing helpful guest services like their fleet of chauffeured Lexuses for complimentary trips around Boston. Their superb conceirge services can arrange for on-site massages in your rooms, private tours to places of interest and of historical significance, tickets to shows as well as airport transfers. Tempted? Check out one of XV Beacon Hotel Packages & Promotions and treat yourself.

XV Beacon Hotel restaurant and more

However, if a stay at this beautiful property is unlikely, one can appreciate this unique property’s excellent restaurant (also part of the Columbus Hospitality Group), MOOO. The modern steakhouse is perhaps best known for their private dining room ‘The Wine Cellar’, with double vaulted ceilings and 4,000 bottles of fine and rare wine dating from the 1700s to present day. For an additional private dining option, XV Beacon’s Parlor Suites can be booked, but a more realistic option for those seeking luxury on a budget is to visit MOOO for a cocktail at their bar with a few apps. The staff is superb and the cocktails delicious. Also be on the lookout for MOOO to (hopefully) bring back their acoustic jazz brunch this fall.

The central location of XV Beacon makes it easy for visitors to enjoy some of Boston’s most popular attractions. From the historic Freedom Trail to biking and walking paths by the Esplanade to Fanueuil Hall and shopping in the Back Bay there are plenty of ways to spend your time. If you have limited time and unsure what to do, speak to the concierge team at XV Beacon who have an impeccable reputation and can tailor suggestions to your interests.

After you are done sight seeing, perusing the unique shops on Beacon Hill’s Charles Street or strolling down Newbury Street, head over to Club Cafe for a cabaret show or dancing in the back. For more information about places to shop, dine or go out read my post about the Back Bay and South End which include more places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails at Boston’s gay bars.

XV Beacon Hotel
15 Beacon Street, Boston 02108
1.877.XVBEACON
xvbeacon.com

Boston Pride president, Linda DeMarco, to resign as calls for a boycott of Boston Pride grows

Boston Pride has been embroiled in a nasty back-and-forth with activists who have (for some time) called the non-profit organization racist and “trans-exclusionary”.

The tipping point for activists came last summer after the Boston Pride board’s tepid response to the police killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. The organization’s response was developed without consulting Black Pride subcommittee members. Critics said the board routinely disregard LGBTQ+ minority groups (especially those in the trans community) and that the all-white Boston Pride leadership and board needs to go. Organizers say by removing the entire board it will give the organization a fresh new start – one that is hopefully more representational of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community.

In today’s Boston Globe, Sue O’Connell, copublisher of Bay Windows and a host at NECN, the official media sponsor of Boston Pride, said, “The pandemic and the reckoning of our unjust racial past has just claimed the Pride committee because they were unable to actually do the right thing over many, many years.”

Activists are calling for the entire Boston Pride board to resign and are holding their second annual vigil for Black Trans Lives on Saturday. DiMarco’s announcement will certainly be acknowledged from the stage, but will DeMarco’s resignation be enough? The protest and vigil will start in Nubian Square and people will march to Franklin Park. More information about that is available here.

New music venues to open in Boston

Two new live music venues will open in Boston

Over the next year Boston will get two new state-of-the-art live music venues. These mid-sized venues will be welcome additions to the city and provide new space for musicians, artists and performers. The first venue expected to open is the MGM Music Hall at Fenway Park, which is eyeing a late fall 2021 opening. The second, is The Roadrunner, will open at Boston Landing in Allston / Brighton in the spring of 2022.

MGM Music Hall at Fenway Park is a new performing arts center located at the corner of Lansdowne and Ipswich Streets. The new venue has a 5,000 person capacity and will be operated in partnership with Live Nation Entertainment. MGM Music Hall is expected to open in the fall of 2021, but no website or further information has been forthcoming. This venue will provide Boston yet another indoor, performing arts space with a capacity that is approximately twice that of the neighboring House of Blues on Lansdowne Street and roughly the same as the seasonal venue, Harbor Lights (now known as Leader Bank Pavilion). Stay tuned for more updates on this new venue.

Roadrunner is set to open in the spring of 2022. Located at Boston Landing in Allston / Brighton, the venue is larger than the House of Blues but smaller than the MGM Music Hall. With a capacity of 3,500 the Roadrunner will be the largest general admission indoor music venue in New England when it opens. In case your wondering, the venue’s name comes from the 1976 rock song Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers, which has been proposed as the state’s official rock song. This venue will be operated by The Bowery, which also own and operate The Sinclair in Harvard Square and Royale in Boston’s Theater District. You can sign-up to receive updates from this venue by visting their website at roadrunnerboston.com.

Boston hotel spotlight: The Newbury Hotel

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses. The Newbury Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay is one such newcomer worth checking out.

When I think of luxury, The Newbury Hotel, (formerly the home to the Ritz Carlton for 75+ years) comes to mind. In 2019 the luxury hotel chain Taj Hotels closed the property and extensive renovations have recently finished. The elegant building that first opened in 1927 has been lovingly updated and reopened to the public as The Newbury Hotel in late May.

For those familiar with the property, the most notable change from the exterior is the hotel’s main entrance which moved from Arlington Street to Newbury Street. The Newbury Street entrance provides greater curb appeal and is easier for those arriving or leaving by car. The other significant change to the building are the enhancements made to the guest rooms. When the building first opened in the 1920s, many guests traveled with large steamer trunks and the hallways were much wider to accommodate them. By modernizing the width of the hotel hallways the Newbury was able to give more space to the guest rooms.

Photo from Newbury Hotel Instagram

Newbury Hotel restaurants and more

If a stay at The Newbury is not in the cards, you can still admire and enjoy this beautiful place and the excellent service from the staff by visiting The Street Bar (see below). The street-level bar looks out across Arlington Street and has nice views of the Public Garden. If you’re familiar with the previous bar, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the redesign which is filled with rich jewel-tone colors, comfortable club chairs and plush banquettes.

At the time of their opening, the bar was serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, but I think it makes for a great jumping off point for a fun night out in Boston or for a nightcap before heading home. I love restaurants and bars with a fire place and this cozy new bar is a welcome addition to the Back Bay.

Photo from Newbury Hotel Instagram

Above The Street Bar, tea service shall begin in July on the second floor. The views overlooking Arlington Street and the Public Garden are difficult to beat and provide plenty to see while indulging in the finger sandwiches, treats and tea. At some point I plan on bringing my niece to enjoy what she will likely refer to as a “fancy” day out with her uncle. Unfortunately the tea service menu is not currently available.

Ken Fulk Interiors [Official Rendering]

If you want to spend more time on the property, make reservations at the newly renovated glass rooftop restaurant called Contessa, that is expected to open before the end of June 2021. The rooftop restaurant with sweeping views of the Public Garden and Boston Common is unique and will be a place to add to your list of restaurants to try. Contessa’s menu will be Italian. The executive chef Mario Carbone is known for 1950s-style red-sauce dishes, according to this article in The Boston Globe.

If you’re idea of a luxury comes in the form of retail therapy, The Newbury Hotel sits at the top of Newbury Street, which offers some of Boston’s most exclusive brands and designers. However, you don’t even have to set foot outside the hotel. You can shop at the Tiffany’s store in the hotel, which means you can shop for some bling then wear it at the roofdeck restaurant over brunch as you live your best life and channel your inner Audrey Hepburn.

After you are done sight seeing, shopping or however you choose to spend your time while staying at the Newbury Hotel, head over to Club Cafe for a cabaret show or dancing in the backroom. For more information about places to shop, dine or go out read my post about the Back Bay and South End which include more places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails at Boston’s gay bars.

The Newbury Boston
One Newbury Street, Boston 02116
617.536.5700
thenewburyboston.com

Boston neighborhoods

The city of Boston is comprised of 23 neighborhoods. Many of the downtown neighborhoods span less than a square mile, but they are full of interesting sites and places of interest. To that end, this month I selected four downtown neighborhoods and shared my thoughts about what make them worth visiting.

South End

I started this series with the neighborhood I know best, the South End. I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years now but have been visiting since I moved back to Boston in the late 1990s.

The South End is incredibly charming. Built on landfill in the mid-19th century as a residential district for Boston’s growing upper middle-class, hundreds of Victorian Bow Fronts were built and today it’s the largest enclave of urban Victorian residential architecture in the country. The picturesque neighborhood is full of parks, unique shops and restaurants and cafes. While only a few gay bars remain in the South End, this was once upon a time an enclave for Boston’s LGBTQ+ community and while most of those businesses have closed or moved online, this is still where many in Boston’s gay community come out for dinner or to meet up with friends for drinks. Read my full profile of the South End here.

Back Bay

I moved into the Back Bay in the late 1990s after living in Atlanta for a few years. I thought I’d live in my apartment on Commonwealth Avenue for a year maybe two but ultimately, I stayed in the Back Bay for six years. I still consider it a homebase and love this neighborhood for all that it has to offer.

If you’ve visited Boston, you’ve probably spent time in the Back Bay. It is a centrally located, afluent neighborhood with some of Boston’s most iconic buildings, busiest streets, best restaurants, bars and shops. It is chock-full of office buildings, hotels, retailers, restaurants and of course residents. Tourists will love the parks (my favorite is The Esplanade) that run through this neighborhood, but Back Bay also has amazing architecture ranging from the modern I.M. Pei design of The Hancock Tower built in the 1970s to the beautiful McKim Building of the Boston Public Library and its hidden Italianate Courtyard that dates back to the late 1800s. In addition, this neighborhood has no shortage of restaurants, bars and shopping so there is plenty to see and do when here. Read my full profile of the Back Bay here.

christopher sherman

Beacon Hill

I never lived in Beacon Hill but one of my best friends went to Suffolk University which is located here. I also spent many hours at bars in this neighborhood in my late 20s and early 30s.

Beacon Hill is a popular destination for visitors due to its many historical sites, with some dating back to the 1600s. While this neighborhood is less than a square quarter mile in size it contains a lot to see and enjoy with its pretty as a postcard streets to its many Freedom Trail sites of interest to great restaurants and good pubs. While the neighborhood’s stodgy image is well deserved there is still plenty of fun to be had here and my favorite time of year to visit is in the summer when you can sit outside and enjoy the people watching along Charles Street. For more information about this historic and interesting neighborhood, read my full profile of Beacon Hill here.

North End

The North End is where my maternal grandmother grew up as a kid. My brother briefly lived here and at the moment one of my cousins call the North End home. While I’ve never lived here, it is this familial connection to this tiny neighborhood that makes me feel connected to it.

The North End is charming unless you’re driving then it is a nightmare. The neighborhood is comprised of a maze of narrow, meandering streets that are chock-full of Italian restaurants, bakeries and cafes. The tiny neighborhood is hemmed in between Boston’s inner harbor to the North and East and The Rose Kennedy Greenway (a.k.a. The Greenway) to the West and South. This neighborhood is for those who love American History (esp. American Revolution) and for those who love food. For more information about Boston’s “Little Italy”, read my full profile of the North End here.

Boston neighborhood profile: North End

North Square Park in the North End: Photo from Kimpton Onyx Hotel

The North End (a.k.a. “Little Italy”) is tucked into a tiny peninsula in Boston’s inner harbor. It is one of the city’s better known neighborhoods and is popular with tourists who come to eat and visit points of historical interest on the self-guided Freedom Trail, but more about that later.

This neighborhod is charming unless you’re driving then it is a nightmare. The North End is comprised of a maze of narrow, meandering streets that are chock-full of Italian restaurants, bakeries and cafes. It also happens to be where my Italian-American grandmother grew up. Although I never lived here, I feel connected to this otherwise touristy part of town because of my family’s history.

No neighborhood has benefitted more from the Big Dig, which replaced Boston’s aging Central Artery, than the North End. The noisy and polluted elevated expressway that was erected in the 1950s cut off the North End. The Big Dig rectified that by building a 1.5 mile tunnel under downtown Boston, and converting the land into a wonderful new park that runs from Boston’s North Station to South Station. The massive green iron girders used to support the 40′ elevated expressway are now gone as are the shadows and gas fumes it cast. The Rose Kennedy Greenway (a.k.a. The Greenway) has reclaimed this space, giving the North End access to a beautiful new park, more open space and cleaner air. I remember the first time having a drink in the North End after the expressway came down. Looking out the window, I was stunned to see the Union Oyster House sign. I had no idea it was so close.

Paul Revere Statue and the Old North Church

About The North End: The North End is one of the oldest parts of Boston with some buildings dating back to the 1600s. Today it is home to approximately 9,000 people. The neighborhood is only one third of a square mile and has some of the most maddening streets so park elsewhere and bicycle, walk or Uber here. The North End is a bit of a transportation center. It has Orange, Green and Blue Line MBTA stations, access to water taxis, and is adjacent to Boston’s North Station (a train station for the commuter rail serving communities north of Boston, Amtrak and Boston & Maine train lines) It is also near places of interest like The Boston Garden, The Boston Public Market, and Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market.

While the North End embraces its Italian heritage, it is no longer a refuge for Italian immigrants and their families. Italians stopped emigrating to Boston in large numbers decades ago, and the North End’s expensive rent pushed most Italian families out of the neighborhood years before that. It is now a rare thing to hear Italian spoken in the North End. However, that doesn’t prevent the North End from hosting huge feasts through much of the summer and being home to more Italian restaurants than any other part of the city. Tourists seem to eat it up (literally) so the neighborhood clings to its identity and the rest of Boston plays along.

Skinny House a.k.a. House of Spite in the North End from Wikipedia

What to do in the North End: There are really two things to do in the North End. The first is eat / drink. I would guess this neighborhood has more restaurant, cafes and bakeries per square block than anywhere else in the city. I’ll talk more about food later so that leaves the other thing to do in the North End; take in its history. This is one of the oldest parts of Boston, dating back to the 1600s. If you’re fascinated by Colonial America and the American Revolution, you’ll love it here.

Sites on the self-guided Freedom Trail include the Copps Hill Burrying Ground (built in 1659), Paul Revere House (built in 1680), Pierce-Hichborn House (built in 1711), and Old North Church (built in 1723). When I would bring friends here, I would often show places of interest that may lack the history of these other sites but are fun to visit, like the crazy All Saints Way on Battery Street and the Skinny House on Hull Street. Legend has it that this 6′ wide house was built in the 1870s out of spite. Sometimes I point out the Prince Building, which is now a luxury condominium building. About 100 years ago it was a thriving pasta company for Prince Spaghetti, which was founded by my great grandfather. As a child, my grandmother would run pasta up and down the stairs of the building.

If all that walking sounds exhausting, grab yourself an Italian pastry or gelato and sitdown on The Greenway or at the end of Long Wharf, and look out into the harbor to watch planes take off and land at Logan Airport.

Saint Anthony's Feast Boston
St. Anthony’s Feast North End Boston

Restaurants in North End: This neighborhood takes eating very seriously. If you like seafood, check out Neptune Oyster I realize you may be in an “Italian state of mind”, but trust me when I say it is worth the ridiculous wait and plan accordingly. It is consistently ranked the best seafood restaurant in Boston (and it deserves the distinction). Another place to stop by is Bricco Salumeria or two doors down I also like Monica’s Pasta Shop. While neither are restaurants, the former is an Italian grocer with excellent breads, cheeses, and meats and the latter has great grab-n-go options. You can make a picnic from their selections and sit outside by the water or on the Greenway. Just be sure to hide your bottle of wine in a backpack or bag! Everyone else is doing the same thing.

If you have pizza on the brain then you may want to stop by the North End’s best known pizzeria, Pizzeria Regina, which has been operating since the 1950s. My sister’s family recently stopped by Regina’s, Ernesto’s Pizza Shop and Ducali Pizzeria to see who made the best pizza. From what I understand everyone had a different favorite – the competition is pretty stiff so I’m not surprised there wasn’t a consensus. Should you come to Boston, I recommend you try a similar tasting to determine your favorite.

The list of restaurants in this neighborhood is too long for me to do them justice, but should you find yourself visiting Boston and in need of a recommendation, leave a comment, and I’ll share suggestions based on what you’re looking for (e.g., romantic setting, family friendly, fine dining, etc…).

I rarely order desserts, but this neighborhood has been responsible for my calorie consumption of sweets by the tens of thousands (if not more) over the years. In my late 20s and early 30s, I regularly visited Bova’s Bakery, becuase it is open 24-hours. After a night out drinking this place would call to me. I can’t tell you how many times I tipped my taxi driver with cash and a cannoli. If you like that Italian pastry, I recommend you read my 2014 blind tasting of cannolis, Mike’s Pastry vs. The Modern Pastry Shop.

If you happen to be new to Boston or planning a visit, feel free to reach out to me with any questions. If you are familiar with Boston’s North End, recommendations and comments are welcome.

Boston neighborhood profile: Beacon Hill

Louisburg Square on Beacon Hill – photo from Wikipedia page

Beacon Hill is a popular destination for visitors. It’s chock-full of history and historical sites, with some dating back to the 1600s. While Beacon Hill is considered a very desireable neighborhood and one of Boston’s (and the nation’s) wealthiest addresses, that was not always the case. As early as the late 17th century, the south slope of Beacon Hill earned the nickname, “Mount Whoredom”. From the 1930s through the 1960s, Beacon Hill was home to many nightclubs and bathhouses that catered to “pansies” who would then spill out onto the Boston Common to cruise for sex. Those days are long gone and difficult to imagine today, considering Beacon Hill’s current prim repute.

I never lived in Beacon Hill, but I spent plenty of time here especially in college and my late 20s. My most vivid memories of Beacon Hill involved the much dreaded moving days for my friend Tom who attended Suffolk University. He always seemed to live on the top floor of every building. Getting furniture up and down those tiny, twisting walk-ups was torture. I distinctly recall hurling pillows out of Tom’s 3rd story window on Joy Street, and him running back and forth in the street trying in vain to catch the flying projectiles. Moving day always resulted in a significant amount screaming profanities at each other. Fortunately, there was always a cold beer (or twelve) after the move.

Massachusetts State House sits atop Beacon Hill

About Beacon Hill Beacon Hill is home to more than 9,000 residents. Despite it’s sky high rents, many Suffolk University students and Mass General Hospital (a.k.a. MGH) residents live here. The neighborhood is also awash with State government employees and lobbyists who spend a lot of time at the Massachusetts State House. Many politicians make this their home, like former US Senator, 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate and Joe Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry who lives in Louisberg Square.

This tiny neighborhood, which barely spans a square quarter mile, is divided into three sections: the South Slope, facing Beacon Street and The Common; North Slope, facing Cambridge Street and Mass General Hospital; and the Flats, which like its name suggests is not a hill and is sandwiched between Storrow Drive (think Boston’s version of the Henry Hudson Parkway) and the Public Garden.

Acorn Street in Beacon Hill is a favorite spot to snap a photo

What to do in Beacon Hill This is an historic neighborhood known for its Federal-style rowhouses, narrow streets lit by gas lamps and bricked sidewalks. The best examples of this are Louisberg Square and Acorn Street. The neighborhood also has the good fortune of being surrounded by some of Boston’s most beautiful parks including the Boston Common, The Public Garden, and Esplanade. These parks are full of interesting sculptures like this personal favorite in The Public Garden, and in 2022 I’m looking forward to the unveilling of the Martin Luther King and Correta Scott-King memorial on The Common. The parks host many free outdoor workouts, movie nights, concerts and events throughout the year including (my favorite) free performances of Shakespeare on the Common in the summer.

The Freedom Trail traverses Beacon Hill and will guide you to the Park Street Church, King’s Chapel and Burying Ground, Old Granery Burying Ground and State House, but Beacon Hill has more to offer like Boston’s African American National Historic Site, Nichols House Museum, and the William Hickling Prescott House. While it lacks historical significance, those of a certain age may recall the MTV series Real World, filmed in the late 1990s in Boston. I’ve been known to break-up Freedom Trail visits with a quick stop outside the former Boston firehouse at 127 Mt. Vernon Street where Real World Boston was filmed.

When you get tired of walking around and photographing this quaint neighborhood, you’ll likely find yourself drawn to Charles Street which stretches several blocks from Beacon Street to Cambridge Street along the Flats. Here you’ll find an array of ateliers that include gift shops, antique stores, local grocers and other specialty retailers. There are also more than a few coffee shops and cafes but my favorite is the Tatte Bakery & Cafe because of its central location and outdoor seating. There is a complete list of Beacon Hill shops online here, but I recommend strolling around. It’s a short walk and to quote Boston poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

Beacon Hill
Contrary to what NBC told you – nobody knows your name here

Food and Drink in Beacon Hill: Cheers, which is located in “The Flats” below The Hampshire House, remains the most famous establishment in Beacon Hill some thirty years after the popular NBC TV show went off air. However, there are far better places to drink and certainly better places to eat. Even though this is one of Boston’s most expensive neighborhoods, there are many good, reasonably priced restaurants. Some of my favorites are 75 Chestnut, which has a lively bar if you can nab a chair. If you’re hungry for pizza, I’ve always enjoyed Todd English’s Figs on Charles Street and right next door is the Paramount, which serves breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner daily.

Beacon Hill also has its share of fine dining if you’re in the mood to celebrate. One of the city’s best restaurants, No. 9 Park, run by Chef Barbara Lynch is just steps from the State House and is the perfect destination to share a romantic dinner. Just around the corner is one of Boston’s best hotels XV Beacon. Their restaurant, Mooo, is an excellent steakhouse, but I prefer their brunch, which they offered pre-pandemic. If you’re craving Italian, the subterranean Grotto Italian restauant behind the State House and Lydia Shire’s Scampo (technically in the West End) are favorites.

Although I rarely go to Beacon Hill for drinks, at one point in my life I clocked a lot of time at The 21st Amendment and The Sevens Ale House. Both are great pubs and fun places to meet up for a drink after work. If you’re more into wine or cocktails, go to Mooo’s bar. I’ve yet to try Peregrine, a relatively new restaurant in Beacon Hill’s newest boutique hotel, The Whitney, but it is on my list of places to try. In good weather, the best option for a drink outside is the patio at Liberty Hotel’s lounge, Alibi.

Destiny Boston is werqin‘ it at Drag Me To Brunch

Gay life in Beacon Hill: Beacon Hill is not a gay neighborhood. It hasn’t had a gay bar or shop for decades, although there are plenty LGBTQ+ residents. Prior to the pandemic, Carrie Nation in Beacon Hill had one of the best drag brunches in Boston called, Drag Me To Brunch hosted by Destiny Boston and Dee Dee de Ray on Sunday afternoons. Fingers crossed this will return later this year. As you can see from the photo above, it is predominantly attended by straight (and loud) women out for a fun afternoon rather than gay clientele.

If you happen to be new to Boston or planning a visit, reach out with questions. If you are familiar with Boston’s Beacon Hill, recommendations and comments are welcome.