36 Hours in Boston

Each week, nytimes.com/travel shares recommendations on how to spend 36 hours in top travel destinations around the world. Check out "36 Hours in Boston" guide for more recommendations, location details and price information: http://nyti.ms/1GPAkcK
  1. The classic tour
    Start at the 50-acre Boston Common, the nation’s oldest public park. From here, if history’s your thing, walk the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, which wends its way through 16 Revolutionary-era sites. Just follow the red brick (or painted) trail as far as your legs can take you.
  2. Browse the Back Bay
    This 'hood was once as wet as Boston Harbor before being backfilled and built up with elegant 19th-century brownstones. Today, you’ll find the haughtier designer shops closest to the Public Garden, but increasingly funkier boutiques as you walk west toward Massachusetts Avenue. On your way back east via Boylston Street, stop by Copley Square and pop in at the Boston Public Library’s 1895 wing.
  3. Grab a bite in the South End
    The South End is a place to go for fresh, bold dining spots. One such down-home, artisanal-spirited place is the Gallows. Try one of their “boards,” little bites arranged on a wooden slab.
  4. Got room for music?
    The Paradise Rock Club, nestled next to Boston University, features performances by alternative and indie bands. If you’re in a mellower mood, check out Wally’s Cafe Jazz Club. Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and Art Blakey once played at this legendary nightspot; these days, the snug venue still swings.
  5. Breakfast in Beacon Hill
    Beacon Hill is famous for its brick and stone Federal, Greek Revival and Gothic-style buildings, and its myriad shops and cafes lining Charles Street. Begin your day at the Paramount, whose beloved breakfast menu inlcudes the malted Belgian waffle, Texas-style French toast and a blue cheese, bacon and spinach omelet.
  6. Get the lay of the land and the sea
    Head down to Long Wharf and jump a ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands, a park encompassing 34 islands and peninsulas. Alternatively, Boston Duck Tours ply the city (and the Charles River) in World War II-style amphibious landing vehicles, and goofy costumed characters narrate your ride. If a boat tour isn’t your idea of a tea party, another way to discover the town is to rent from the Hubway bike sharing system.
  7. Seaport and Swing Sets
    As you wander the Boston HarborWalk along Fort Point Channel, and by the former brick warehouses along Congress Street, make a late afternoon refueling stop at the local baked-goods maker Flour Bakery, or buy high-end provisions at the market/deli/cafe Bee’s Knees Supply Company. Behind the Boston Convention Center, the city is reinventing its outdoor spaces at Lawn on D, an innovative park with swing sets for adults, public Wi-Fi, a beer tent, food trucks, free games, and live performances.
  8. Grab seafood by the sea
    Pendant lights and fresh tile accent the cavernous brick-and-rafter space of Row 34’s converted warehouse. Here, at one of the city’s best raw bars, begin with local oysters, and choose from two dozen beers on tap.
  9. Grab a drink along the waterfront
    Two basement hangouts show the range of bar life along the waterfront. There’s the quasi-French Bastille Kitchen’s underground Chalet, whose low seating, candles, a fireplace and a deer-antler chandelier attract a trendier crowd. Lucky’s Lounge creates a popular and laid-back hideaway, part dive-bar, part throwback to your parents’ wood-paneled rec room. The Sinatra Saturday Night (and Sinatra Brunch) feature a live jazz band covering the best of Old Blue Eyes.
  10. Books and Brunch
    For eclectic reads and eats, stop by Back Bay’s multilevel Trident Booksellers and Cafe, with dinerlike seating, and an upstairs bar. Afterward, browse the bookstore stacks, including one of the best magazine racks in town.
  11. Baseball and Botticelli
    Two of Boston’s most beloved shrines are both accessible by the quirky Green Line MBTA trolley. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was built as a folly to house Ms. Gardner’s eccentric art collection, which ranges from ancient statuary to 19th-century masters, to the faux Venetian palace’s dreamy landscaped courtyard. And more than just Red Sox fans will appreciate Fenway Park’s behind-the-scenes guided tour, which takes visitors backstage at Major League Baseball’s oldest theater.