By land and by sea
Every American knows about Paul Revere and the Boston Tea Party, but how many realize that Boston played a founding role in football, too? Harvard was one of the first schools to play the sport as we know it today. Its rivalry with Yale is storied and one of the nation's oldest.
Fast-forward to 2010 and the reignited New England Patriots, a team that played four Super Bowls in the past seven years. Quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Wes Welker have fully recovered from injuries that hampered them last year, and the Pats — who play in Foxborough, about 30 miles from downtown Boston — look forward to benefiting from their league-leading talents again. But even if you're not a Patriots fan, Beantown still has a lot to offer.
If you go ...
Boston is famous for seafood, and great restaurants abound. Ye Olde Union Oyster House has been serving fresh seafood since 1826. The North End, Boston's “Little Italy,” has the best authentic Italian food in the city (try Mamma Maria). And Durgin-Park’s famously sassy staff has been serving guests at communal tables in Faneuil Hall since 1827. Also in Faneuil Hall are many other bars, restaurants, street performers and shopping. For more upscale shopping, check out Back Bay’s Newbury Street and Beacon Hill’s Charles Street galleries and boutiques.
American history comes alive in Boston. Follow the Freedom Trail through the old city to see Paul Revere’s Old North Church and the USS Constitution. Boston hosts many worthy museums, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (site of a famous 1990 art heist) to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
If you just want to relax, visit the Public Garden for lagoons, willows and the mallards made famous in the children’s book Make Way for Ducklings. Enjoy the view from a famous swan boat, or have a picnic along the Charles River or at any of dozens of spots with spectacular water views, such as Sargent’s Wharf, on the edge of the North End.
For closer looks at the history of Boston sports, attend a Red Sox game or simply tour the nearly century-old Fenway Park. The Sports Museum, with sculptures of Larry Bird and Ted Williams, pays tribute to all Boston athletics — the Bruins, the Celtics, the Boston Marathon and more. And basketball's Hall of Fame is only a two-hour drive away in Springfield, Mass., where the game was invented.
Autumn is particularly lovely in New England, and Boston is a rail gateway to beaches and bright fall foliage along the coast. The Amtrak “Downeaster” offers a leisurely ride from Boston to Maine, and passengers 62 and over can travel for half off.