Saturday, April 2, 2016

Travel Review: A Weekend in Boston

In late February, Daniel and I spent a weekend in Boston (which meant really just during the day on Saturday)! We knew we wanted a weekend getaway, to somewhere we had never been together before, and were torn between Philly or Boston, and ended up deciding on Boston since it offered the aquarium, which would be a great activity regardless of weather.

We were in our hometown on Friday afternoon, so it ended up being a five hour drive out on Friday night. We stayed just outside the actual city, and had a nice, easy start Saturday morning, including hitting up the (actually really nice!) hotel gym, before we headed in to Boston for lunch, activities and dinner!

We did elect to drive and pay for parking while we were there, rather than taking public transportation. Their tickets for their trains and buses were actually quite pricy, so driving ended up not being too different cost-wise for us personally, and was obviously much more convenient!

The first place we stopped to park was under Post Office Square. Both of the locations we parked were underground - I'm not sure if this is just the norm in Boston, but it was really interesting, from a city planning perspective! If you're going to the New England Aquarium, they have a lot of garages they work with for discounted prices, so we had a short walk to the Harbor area, and then they stamp your ticket when leaving the aquarium and your whole day of parking is just $8!

Post Office Square

Walking around!

Before going to the aquarium, though, we went to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, home of the iconic Boston stop, Quincy Market. We lucked out, and even though it was February, it was a beautiful 50 degrees out, so it was a great to walk-around and get lunch in Quincy Market from the millions of choices!

I'm a big lover of Shark Tank so we stopped at the Wicked Good Cupcakes stand to get cupcakes in a jar. Daniel got Red Velvet and I got Cinnabon flavor with cream cheese frosting.

And, of course, walked around to all the different shops!

From there, it was off to the New England Aquarium. I had been here before on a school trip in high school, but Daniel hadn't ever been - and he's the animal lover, so it was a "must go". The price is a little steep, and we didn't get tickets ahead of time online even though you could, because I wasn't sure what the point was. Well, it turns out the point is not having to wait in line. We had to go through a queue in an entire tent and tented hallway before we made it to get our tickets... Probably at least a 25 minute wait. It was fine because we weren't in a rush, but I would definitely recommend buying your tickets online ahead of time to avoid this. They also have bundles for whale watching and IMAX movies!

Touch tank!
From there, we left our original parking spot under Post Office Square, and went to park at the Commons! I wanted to get dinner at a place we ate on our high school trip called Fire and Ice... it's the kind of place that is so amazing and delicious, you can't stop thinking about it, and I haven't for 5 years!

It was awesome to park at the Commons at dusk. We got to walk through the entire Commons to get to the restaurant, which was amazing and so beautiful. We had a bit of time to kill before our reservation, so we made a coffee stop as well.

Even took in a beautiful city sunset...

Then it was dinner time - I 1000% recommend going to Fire and Ice if you're in the Boston area, but make a reservation; we heard someone get told it'd be an hour and a half wait while we were checking in for our reservation, and we even had to wait fifteen minutes after our reservation time because it was that busy! That being said, it is "all you can eat" for roughly $17 a person (I believe that's what it was), so in the scheme of nice dinners in a major city, it's very reasonable! What happens is you get to fill a bowl with all of your choices of meat, starches, veggies and sauce, and then go to a circle of grills, where someone takes your bowl of food and cooks it - it is entertaining and skillful work that these chefs do! There was 4-5 of them handling 30+ people's food at once, all while being watched!

The lighting was dim so I took limited pictures, but I did snap one of my first plate of food... A. MAY. ZING.

Tri-colored pasta, steak, water chestnuts, green peppers, onions, baby corn, and a sweet garlic sauce

After that was our walk back through the Commons - this time at full darkness, with lots of twinkly lights, super pretty!

And that rounded out our day in Boston! The next morning we hit the hotel gym before checking out, and then we were on the road. It was nice to see the city, and take in some of the sights without a huge hit the wallet. There's a LOT of historic sites/tours in Boston, but we elected to skip those in favor of a more low-key day, hitting a few of the major tourist stops like the market, the aquarium and the commons.

It was the perfect mix for a weekend getaway! 

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