30th Birthday Trip to Boston
Last weekend, I went to Boston for a short weekend trip and came back as a thirty-year-old and with a new found love for Boston! Alex surprised me with this trip for my 30th birthday though he did tell me the destination a week or two prior so I could pack appropriately and add a few “must” places on our itinerary.
We were in Boston from Saturday morning to Monday evening, and we got to do almost everything on our list! Having another day would have been even better but I’m happy with how much we got to do this time around. Boston is a perfect weekend trip destination if you’re on the East Coast!
What We Did (Books, Books, Books! + History and Parks)
Having lived in the South for most of my time in the US (my family lived in Maryland for less than a year before we moved down to Virginia and then settled in North Carolina when I was in 8th grade), I absolutely adored the older architecture in Boston, especially the Boston Public Library! I took so many photos, both inside and outside the building, because the whole place is stunning. They even have a cafe inside where you can do an afternoon tea, which is now on my bucket list!
Between the Boston Public Library and Beacon Hill Books & Cafe, I’ve died and gone to heaven in Boston! It’s a four-story bookstore (it’s basically a renovated townhouse) with a cafe on the basement level that opens out onto a patio (the cafe part was actually not yet open when we went). It’s the most adorable bookshop I’ve ever been to. I’m a big fan of squirrels so I was naturally a fan of their branding (they have squirrels and acorns throughout the bookshop) and I had to get one of their stuffed squirrels!
We went on the busiest Saturday ever (confirmed by the employee that was checking us out) so be warned that it might be quite crowded as it’s the cute new spot in town. Every corner is adorable and photogenic, and I took so many photos and videos that I think I should dedicate a whole blog post to it! (Update: I did, indeed, write a blog post about Beacon Hill Books & Cafe).
I saw a video of the biggest Little Free Library on Instagram a few weeks before our trip so I had to go obviously. This Little Free Library is in downtown Boston at the Irish Famine Memorial Plaza in front of a Walgreens. The address for this LFL is 315 Washington Street, Boston, MA. I did pick up a book by an author I have read and can’t wait to read it!
One of the many things I loved about Boston was how many gardens and parks there are throughout the city. Boston Public Garden is one of the largest city parks and has the bronze ducks from the children’s book Make Way for Ducklings! Not having grown up in the States, I was not familiar with these ducks but we took some photos of Alex with the ducks and sent them to his grandparents who used to have a copy of the book for him.
Because I moved to the States in middle school and I took ESL instead of social studies classes, I did not know who Paul Revere was and I was confused when Alex wanted to check out Paul Revere House. If you’re like me and don’t know, Paul Revere was the messenger who alerted the “Americans” of the British attack ahead of the Revolutionary War. The House has a small admission fee but is maintained very well and the staff were very knowledgeable. The House is very close to Little Italy so we almost stumbled upon it while walking along The Freedom Trail, it is a great way to see Boston and visit many of the historic neighborhoods and landmarks.
USS Constitution Museum was another source of confusion for me because isn’t the Constitution in D.C…? USS Constitution was one of the first US naval ships that was named after the US Constitution. We couldn’t go on the ship because it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but the museum is open every day of the week. The museum is very thorough and informative and is worth a visit. (Random but something about it (maybe the font on the signs?!) reminded me of social studies textbooks?!)
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum came highly recommended but unfortunately, they were sold out the day we went. We were one of many groups that turned around at the entrance so FYI if you try to go on a weekend day, I recommend reserving tickets ahead of time! There is a little park across the museum that was in its peak foliage so we made the best of it and spend some of the afternoon there.
What We Ate
Since we are both foodies, we had a full list of restaurants to try, of course. I will say I was not super blown away by any of the seafood we tried but we’ve had some great meals and possibly the best pasta of our lives.
Saltie Girl was the very first stop on our trip…and it was not our favorite. Alex and I were both unimpressed by the lobster roll (truly, I’ve had better lobster in Holly Springs, North Carolina) and we were scared to try more lobster rolls the rest of the trip. We were really happy with the clam chowder and the raw scallop dish.
Alex loves Mediterranean food so I made us a reservation at Kava Neo-Taverna for the first night’s dinner. It’s a tiny neighborhood spot in the South End of Boston. Their reservations open the morning of each day, and you definitely need to make one. Kava was worth the hype. We loved all the small plates we tried, particularly the keftedes (lamb meatballs). We shared the uvetsi (braised beef short rib over orzo) for the entree, and the orzo was lifechangingly good.
Red’s Best was our second attempt at Boston seafood. It was inside the Boston Public Market and carried local fish. We had the fried scallop roll and a fish sandwich, both of which were good but not amazing.
We had my birthday dinner at Fox & The Knife, which was our favorite meal of the trip! They surprised us with customized menus that said “Happy Birthday, Juyoung”, and the rest of the dinner was as lovely as that thoughtful touch. Alex loved their pepe e cacio (their take on traditional cacio e pepe, made with goat butter and pink peppercorn), and I loved their raviolo carbonara! Our waitress gave us top notch drink pairing recommendations, which elevated this meal to another level.
Our last meal was at Neptune Oyster which is known for its oysters and seafood. They do not take reservations so you’ll have to brace for some wait. We initially tried to go Sunday but there was a long line and we had an early dinner reservation so we went back the following day, hoping for a shorter wait on a weekday but that was not the case lol. We got a bunch of oysters and a pumpkin crab bisque. I’m more of a West Coast oysters so they were not the best oysters I’ve personally had but they were very good and at great prices (all under $3/4 I think)!
We went to both Tatte Bakery and Flour Bakery & Cafe as recommended by many people. I liked Flour Bakery a little bit more but that might be because we had an actual meal there (including the chicken tikka masala naan pictured above) versus snacks at Tatte. Both Tatte and Flour have several locations throughout the city, and I don’t think you can go wrong with either!
Where We Stayed (and What I Would Do Differently)
We stayed at the Hilton hotel in downtown Boston and found it to be pretty convenient. There were quite a few places nearby, and most places we wanted go to were in ~30 minutes of walking distance. I found Boston very walkable (you might have to walk far but it will be on an actual walking path for pedestrians), and combined with the subway, you really don’t need a car. Next time, I think I do want to stay in Back Bay as we headed to that area quite frequently. But seriously, I’m planning another trip in 2023 because I loved Boston so much and I think it’s a city my mom will love too!