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Reasons that Make Boston Unique and One-of-a-Kind

July 18, 2018
by Pamela Lawson

To an outsider, Boston may appear to be quite an odd city. Everything from the Bostonian Southie accent to the old wives’ tales that served poignant parts in our country’s history are what makes Boston an enduring, honest-to-goodness tourist magnet.

It boasts of thick-booked culture, colonial history, a long luminary of schools, colleges and universities, age-old sporting venues and civic landmarks, and is also one of the greenest cities in America. While history lovers tackle the Freedom Trail or the Black Heritage Trail, young and old alike will find the townie-style Greater Boston enduringly idiosyncratic in every way. Beantown streets and neighborhoods may not have been well-planned because English men and women who first step foot in New England did not come with a definitive blueprint on how to raise their freshly off-the-boat families in this strange, unfamiliar land during the 1600s.

Boston is a city of dreamers, where everything is possible, where music feeds the soul, sports catapult it, art runs in the veins and marriage is ideally for life. Its uniqueness shot Boston up in ranking as the number one summer vacation spot in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. What the locals might shrug off as “normal”, you might find quintessential. That’s, in the nutshell, how unique you can expect Boston to be.

Visit Boston City Hall with a rented charter bus


1. A Menagerie of People, Food, History and Culture

Starting off with its location, many Bostonians will tell you that there is no place like it. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! You can expect history spilling out from every corner of its buildings, seeping into every layer of society, hip-hop songs blasting from hilltop parks, students clamoring out of its university and college doors, and authentic traditional local cuisine enticing you at every corner of your walk from the North End to the Commons.

There are perks to being one of the most established cities in the United States; visitors will have fun legging it around Boston downtown taking them only a little over 15 minutes of brisk walking from North End to the Commons. Some people would intentionally ditch their cars to walk from Southie to the Back Bay. Just because Boston is pedestrian-friendly, it is incredibly walkable.


Boston, with its endless effort to promote greener lifestyles, has been attracting eyeballs. Aside from Washington DC, Boston is a major boom town. Within the next ten to twenty years, they expect it to grow faster than many other metro areas in the Northeast, specifically in medicine, technology, and academia.

Since the New England States are relatively small, taking a trip anywhere is a short three-hour charter bus ride away. From the hills to the beaches, trails to the islands, Boston has it all. The astonishing scenery is one of the main reasons why the famed Boston Marathon never made it anywhere else. Families, groups, organizations and companies looking for a place to “get away from it all” can make it a hike up Mount Washington in neighboring New Hampshire, a weekend of swimming in Vermont's Lake Champlain, a train ride to downtown Manhattan, or rent a quaint historic home on Cape Cod for a quiet vacation.

Along the coast, there are thirty islands are sprinkled around Boston Harbor; hence, boating and swimming are extremely popular activities for the people of Boston. When the last trace of a winter dusting is over, locals would head out to the boat docks near The Aquarium and Georges Island to cool off. Spectacle Island, despite facing skepticism in the past, has become quite a popular spot for local getaways. It has a 105-acre park, beaches, hiking trails, a cafe with hill-scape views, and much more. Not too shabby for a former landfill.

Saint James Avenue. . . #johnhancocktowerboston #johnhancockboston #boston #bostonmass #bostonmassachusetts #iloveboston #bostonishome #bostonismyhome

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2. An Assuaging Art and Music Scene

When speaking of the heart of Boston arts, you need a whole book. To keep it short, I’ll break it down to you plain and simple - New Kids on the Block and New Edition. While the bands unmistakably launched Boston into the limelight when they became world-famous, there are quaint little signs of its artistic side showing all around town.

Let's get started with the cute line-up of bronze statues of a mother duck with her little ducklings at the Boston Public Garden; they’re called “Make Way For Ducklings”. The 35-feet-long (collectively) duck statues of Mrs. Mallard, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack don’t need polishing because kids (and tourists!) are always sitting on or hugging them to take pictures. The Nancy Schon magical and kid-magnet statues are so popular that a replica was produced and gifted to Moscow by the United States First Lady Barbara Bush. When you reach the public garden near the corner of Beacon Street and Charles Street during winter, the ducks (and their mother) could be all wrapped up snugly in their own scarves, courtesy of neighborhood kids and their grandmas.

A little like but a lot different from New York, the Bostonian art and music scene is both candid yet exemplary at the same time. Artists are more innovative and given much more creative space than Broadway would ever accord its performers. With fewer rules come greater opportunities for exploration and cultural infiltration. Away from the constant glare of klieg lights, universities, colleges, art houses, theaters, and studios give birth to a list of luminaries rocking the global art scene. Powerhouse plays went on to win Tony Awards with their revivals, original Broadway shows, chart-topping pop songs, and a long list of underground and indie performances. In fact, Boston is also the birthplace of polished hardcore punk, indie rock, college rock, post-punk and new wave hits. Its reputation is almost sacrosanct.

Places to visit to get to know the Boston art, music and theatre scene better.

“Love’s more than what’s perceived at first glance. Love can be difficult but it’s worth taking a chance.” #cityspotlights2018 These teens are so talented! They have made their mark with their original song at the State House! Join us for their Final Showcase on Aug 15 at the Shubert Theatre to see it performed live! . . . . . #artsadvocacy #bochcenter #artseducation #bostongram #boston #mastatehouse #lyrics #songlyrics #igboston #bostonusa #leadership #advocacy #love #lovequotes #lovemusic

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"The dancer's body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul." –Isadora Duncan Artist @sagenicolehumphries by @brooketrisoliniphoto #BBColorYourWorld #PURPLE #dancersofinstagram

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#USCO "Memorial to M.I. Borris",1965, @bostoncyberarts exhibition ends Dec.10, #Boston #Jamaicaplain #subway

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“Uncharted,” a collaboration between @bostonsculptorsgallery’s Andy Moerlein and Alaska Writer Laureate Ernestine Hayes in “Breath and Matter,” opening today—Wednesday, July 18. Reception and readings from 5:30-8:30. 486 Harrison Ave. in the SoWa arts district. (Thank you, @artnewenglandmagazine, for the coverage!) Both sculptor and writer spent their childhoods in Alaska, which shaped them and their work. Hayes writes, “When Andy first proposed collaborating, I was intrigued and beguiled by the possibilities such a concept offered. His work—inspired by geology and by birds—expresses ideas and truths that defy words, and I wondered: ‘What common inspiration can there be between a sculptor living on the far East Coast and an old, Tlingit woman finally home? What common inspiration can any of us share? What do any of us have in common—except our humanity, our shared paths, our expression, our art, our suffering, our love, our joy, the touch of our hands—our first breaths and our last?’” . . . #bostonsculptorsgallery #sowa #breathandmatter #sculptors #writers #poets #collaboration #readings #Alaska #geology #topography #layeredtales #transformation #rediscovery #commoninspiration #humanity #sharedpaths #expression #art #suffering #love #joy #breath

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TONIGHT | Berklee Vocal Summit Concert: Becca Stevens Tomorrow 6/19 | Berklee Vocal Summit Concert: Mario Jose Wednesday 6/20 | Berklee Vocal Summit Faculty Showcase All shows are at 7:30pm. Tickets are at Berklee.edu/bpc • • • #berkleecollegeofmusic #vocalists #singers #berklee #concert

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3. An Avalanche of Authentic Boston Cuisine to Sample

Thanks to the boatfuls of English and European men who docked and leaped off at the shores of New England what seems like eons ago, much of Boston’s cuisine and tradition is still rooted in a normal family's old ways. With the Atlantic shore right beside it, seafood is a staple. It’s what people seek when they come from out of town, especially codfish which seems to be always available regardless of the time of the year. Hence, it has earned its name as Haven for seafood lovers.

There’s an old poem that goes something like this..and it explains a lot.

The home of the bean and the cod.
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God.

The cuisine in Boston, however, has evolved beyond serving seafood. The ice-cream parlors are state-of-the-art having turned ice-cream into a whole new delicacy on its own. Unique names and local twists are given to and injected into a conventional hot dog while the city boasts of signature beers and wines. Boston is home to 27 open-air markets and is the birthplace of the to-die-for Chocolate Cream Pie.

For seafood, you might want to rely on an oldie like the Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the country. Many of its ornate traditional cuisine like the New England clam chowder, half-shelved clams, beans, and lobsters are as fresh as they come, right out of the ocean. As you cruise along the streets of North End (known as Boston’s very own Little Italy) and Newbury Street, the clusters of Italian restaurants, pizzerias, and bakeries are beckoning. Restaurants, diners and cafes owned by TV personalities and worshipped chefs like Ming Tsai, Jasper White and Todd English are also must-trys if you have the budget for it.

Food is a large amplifier of its traditional customs as seen at the two-day-a-week Haymarket. It’s been around for ages, serving the freshest of meats, fruits, vegetables, cheese, and seafood. On a beautiful, colorful fall day, visitors should pop by the Boston Local Food Festival which is usually held in September annually. Over 25,000 attendees clamor to the market for the best palate-pleasing delicacies and desserts of Boston without fail.

Bostonians are also really serious about their Dunkin Donuts (which is littered throughout the city center), Lime Rickey’s, Fenway Franks (no, it’s not just another hot dog), and Boston Cream Pie. The delicious chocolate dessert was first conceived in the 1850s at Parker House Hotel. Ever since then, everyone knows that Boston has the best cream pie in the world! If there are doubts about the Boston ice-cream business epicness, the 40-foot tall Hood Milk Stand ice-cream and snack bar will convince you.
  • Union Oyster House
    The oldest restaurant in the country offering the most delightful plates of oysters you'll ever sink get
    41 Union St, Boston, MA 02108
    (617) 227-2750
  • Mike’s Pastry
    It's been serving top-notch felati, cannoli and biscotti since opening its doors in 1946
    300 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
    (617) 742-3050
    www.mikespastry.com
  • Legal Sea Foods
    Like a petard, it's been around the block and still serves the hard-to-beat seafood and steaks.
    255 State St, Boston, MA 02109
    (617) 742-5300
    www.legalseafoods.com/restaurants/boston-long-wharf-63
  • Summer Shack
    Run by celebrity chef, the upbeat, creative yet traditional outlet has everything from fresh seafood to fried chicken, burgers and steak. You just can't go wrong.
    50 Dalton St, Boston, MA 02115
    (617) 867-9955
    www.summershackrestaurant.com
  • Quincy Market
    Faneuil Hall Marketplace
    Flanked by historic buildings and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, it's where you strike gold as a foodie
    4 S Market St, Boston, MA 02109
    (617) 523-1300
    www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com
  • Boston Local Food Festival
    http://bostonlocalfoodfestival.com
  • Neptune Oyster
    Time to get some lobster rolls and delicious wine!
    63 Salem St # 1, Boston, MA 02113
    (617) 742-3474
    www.neptuneoyster.com
  • Mistral
    Enjoy mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine in an elegant setting
    223 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02116
    (617) 867-9300
    www.mistralbistro.com
  • Mamma Maria
    A romantic townhouse-setting restaurant serving the authentic Italian cuisine you're craving for refined Italian menu with a focus on local ingredients, served in a romantic townhouse.
    3 N Square, Boston, MA 02113
    (617) 523-0077
  • Tiger Mama
    Let your tastebuds go on a Southeast Asian adventure in a funky, chic cafe
    1363 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215
    (617) 425-6262
    www.tigermamaboston.com
  • Toro Boston
    If you think you can handle spunky Spanish tapas in the South End, head on over!
    1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118
    (617) 536-4300
    www.toro-restaurant.com

“This was one of the best meals I've had - EVER. Elegantly simple, yet perfectly balanced. The waiter understood food and wine pairing and the result was smashing!” – Guest review via TripAdvisor #MistralBoston

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Thank you @eaterboston for including us in the summer 2018 Essential Restaurants round up! View our Story for details plus a shout-out to @foolserrandboston 👈👀

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Think you’ve got porrón skills like @daveskap? 🥂🍾 Show them off this Sunday at our #RunningoftheBulls fiesta from 12-5PM! Come for the sherry pours and porrón moves, stay for the all you can eat pintxos, paella, sliders and raw bar 💯🍴#NOBULL Tickets via the link in our bio! 🎟 *no bulls were harmed in the making of this fiesta* #pamplonatothepeople

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Holy cannoli

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4. Historic and Cultural Sites Abound

Boston plays a central role in America’s history. From the time Puritan colonists set foot in New England to the times of the American Revolution, Boston Tea Party and the famous battle of Bunker Hill in Charlestown, the series of conflict thereafter only made Boston a treasure for history buffs. It shaped Boston’s culture.

Like other metropolises in the United States, Bostonians’ unique "Howayah?" greeting and their faster speech pattern may surprise unsuspecting tourists. The Irish roots of many families may show up during family dinners, traditional feasts, and religious festivals. Many people play up the so-called rivalry between Cambridge and Harvard on both the educational and sporting front. Students from renowned educational organizations like Harvard University, Boston University, Boston College, Brandeis University, University of Massachusetts, Wellesley College, Wheaton College (and many more) keep the city swinging and evolving through its early days of development and continues to do so today. Mark Twain once wrote that while others in New York might ask "how much money do you make" people in Boston would ask "How much does he know" instead.

If you’re not up for checking out the attractions and iconic landmarks yourself, either over the internet or poring over brochures, hit the Freedom Trail. It is a 2.5-mile trail that winds its way around downtown Boston, passing through 16 of Boston’s most significant historic sites. If you’re more selective and are game to dig deeper into each attraction on their own, the following list should smoothen the process out.
  • USS Constitution
    Charlestown Navy Yard, Building 22, Charlestown, MA 02129
    (617) 426-1812
    www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org
  • John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
    Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125
    (617) 514-1600
    www.jfklibrary.org
  • Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
    306 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
    (617) 338-1773
    www.bostonteapartyship.com
  • Museum of African American History
    46 Joy St, Boston, MA 02114
    (617) 725-0022
    maahprograms@gmail.com
    www.maah.org
  • Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
    210 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125
    (617) 740-7000
    www.emkinstitute.org
  • Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
    11 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138
    (617) 496-1027
    www.peabody.harvard.edu
  • Old North Church
    193 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113
    (617) 858-8231
    www.oldnorth.com
  • Castle Island
    2010 William J Day Blvd, Boston, MA 02127
    (617) 727-5290
  • Massachusetts State House
    24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133
    (617) 722-2000 / (617) 727-3676
    www.malegislature.gov
  • St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church
    24 Clark St, Boston, MA 02109
    617-742-4715
    office@socstjames.com
    www.socstjames.com
  • The Mapparium
    The Mary Baker Eddy Library at the Northeastern University
    200 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115
    (617) 450-7000
    librarymail@mbelibrary.org
    www.mbelibrary.org/visit
  • John Hancock Tower
    120 St James Ave, Boston, MA 02116
    (617) 572-6420
  • Park Street Church
    1 Park St, Boston, MA 02108
    (617) 523-3383
    www.parkstreet.org
  • Paul Revere Mall
    Bordered by Tileston, Hanover, and Unity Streets in Boston, MA. Easily spotted if you're on the Freedom Trail, you can take tons of pictures with Paul Revere Statue and then head over to Old North Church which is within walking distance
  • Charlestown Navy Yard
    114 16th St, Charlestown, MA 02129
    (617) 242-5601
  • Boston Common Carousel
    45 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108
    (617) 635-2120
  • The Paul Revere House
    19 N Square, Boston, MA 02113
    (617) 523-2338
    staff@paulreverehouse.org
    www.paulreverehouse.org

Good music. Good people. Good vibes.

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Continuing the #FourthOfJuly celebrations with @USS_Constitution. #Thankyou for the hospitality #USSRamage! . . . #USNavy #Navy #IndependenceDay #HappyFourth #USA #American #birthday #military #party #reception

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We’re here on Nantucket for “200 Years of African Americans on Nantucket”

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On what would have been his 100th birthday, please join the Institute in remembering the eloquent words of #NelsonMandela, the late anti-apartheid leader and former South African president: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." #LivingTheLegacy #Mandela100 #MandelaDay

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Sunlight and peaceful vibes at the #OldNorthChurch. ✨ #RevereRegram 📷: @erikaaileen . . . #thingstodoinboston #bostonactivities #bostontours #thefreedomtrail #northendboston #discoverboston #bostonma #visitboston #bostonusa #visitma #massachusetts #boston #northend

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One if by land, two if by sea ♦️ . . . . . #rsSENIOR #seniorDESTINATIONshoot #RICHARDSON #rsLIFESTYLE #rsEPIC #richardsonEXPERIENCE #rsFAMILY #BLOOMINGTON #BLOOMINGTON #citybestpics #agameoftones #city_explore #illgrammers #thecreative #shotaward #HypeBeast #vscoportrait #ig_mood #discoverportrait #portraitphotography #profile_vision #bleachmyfilm #postmoreportraits #igersboston #iheartboston #igboston #bostonusa #nikonphotography #nikontop #nikon_photography_

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5. Boston is Big on Bigwig Ball Games

To know the meaning of true rivalry, one would have to try one’s best to remain seated during a game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. So strung are the fans it would be impossible not to explode with unabashed cheers every time someone scores. Locals would argue that apart from history and food, the people of Boston eat, drink, breathe, walk and talk sports all the time.

Boston is home to established sports teams like Celtics, Bruins, the New England Patriots, New England Revolution and boasting of a slew of college athletics and sporting teams. If you say you’re a fan of the basketball team Celtics, don’t be caught unawares with high-fives and “Hell Yeah”s by strangers. It has, after all, won 17 NBA championships and boasts of worldwide support, thanks in part to the sterling record of Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. If you’re into the game, make time for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. With a long list of professional sports teams leaving their city of origin to play in larger, more modern and newer venues, Boston has so far maintained a spectacular record. Even established venues like Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park kept their positions as top Boston sporting venues. All the sports facilities in Boston professional sports are unique because they’re all privately owned and operated.

Speaking of sports, never undermine the power and reach of the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world, the Boston Marathon which takes place every April. In recent years, the women’s soccer team, Boston Breakers, has been producing head-turning results too. And if you’re into hockey and college athletics, you will not be disappointed with the teams from Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and Harvard University.

DINGER 3️⃣0️⃣!

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46 days ➡️ kickoff. 1 day ➡️ #PatsCamp.

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Summer concerts at Fenway >

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#Repost @gordonhayward ・・・ Working with @drewhanlen and the @puresweat guys to get back! Slowly but surely making progress day by day, week by week! 🎥: @samlimon_

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