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Beyond the City Limits: 5 Places to Visit Just Outside of Boston

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If you’re traveling to Boston, but feel as though you’ve already experienced all that the city has to offer, you don’t have to drive very far to reach some other cities and towns that are totally worth visiting. Check out our list of our top five places to visit just beyond Boston’s borders.

1. Salem — Rich in history, thanks to the famous Salem Witch Trials of 1692, Salem is loaded with interesting museums and attractions. Stop by the Salem Witch Museum, or the Witch Dungeon Museum for the low down on the city’s dark past. Or, for a change of pace check out the House of Seven Gables, a 1668 colonial mansion on the coast that has been transformed into a museum.

2. Manchester by The Sea — Located at the southerly end of Cape Ann, Manchester by theSea is a quintessential New England town with a quaint downtown and stunning harbor. Though lacking in the big “touristy” attractions, the town more than makes up for it in charm. Visit the picturesque “Singing Beach” (so named due to the sound the sand makes when dry) for a quiet afternoon in the sun.

3. Brookline — Though part of Greater Boston, Brookline was incorporated as a separate town in 1705. This means you’re sure to experience an eclectic mix of urban and suburban amenities here. Be sure to check out Allendale Farm, one of the nation’s oldest privately held family farms, for some bountiful veggies and colorful flowers. If you need a place to crash, check out our Inn for tasteful accommodations in a restored Victorian brownstone.

4. Cambridge — Despite its location right across the bridge from Boston’s bustling downtown, Cambridge is often overlooked by the tourist crowd — making it great for the travelers looking for something a little different without having to go very far. Boasting a vibrant arts scene, visitors have the option of checking out a show at the theater or browsing the Harvard Art Museums.

5. Newburyport — The furthest location on our list, about 45 minutes north of Boston, Newburyport is definitely worth the trip. From great shopping and dining to views of sailboats coming into port, this is a destination worth visiting. For lunch, stop by Michael’s Harborside for an amazing deck with a view and indulge in the lazy man lobster pie.

Have you visited any of these cities and towns? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

10 Reasons to Stay in a Boston Bed and Breakfast

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While many may have preconceived notions about what a stay at bed and breakfast entails — including outdated furnishings and overbearing hosts — the truth is, many BNBs and inns alike have modern amenities and stellar service to rival even the poshest urban resort. Read on for our top reasons why a local bed and breakfast should be on your list when planning your next destination.

1. The value. Smaller in scale and smaller in price, at many bed and breakfasts you will find killer deals for accommodations that are on par, or better, than the big-name corporate hotels.

2. The service. Let’s face it, a large corporate hotel just doesn’t have the time to cater to your every whim. Not so at an intimate bed and breakfast. Have specific dietary needs? Or want to surprise your honey with some flowers and chocolates upon arrival? Chances are the innkeepers will be happy to go out of their way to make sure your stay is top notch.

3. The details. You won’t be surrounded by cookie-cutter oak hotel furniture or Ikea artwork here. Instead, you’re likely to find fireplaces, turn of the century antiques, or even a ridiculously comfortable four poster bed.

4. The history. Forget the freshly built skyscrapers, instead opt for accommodations with a nod to the past. When you stay at a bed and breakfast, you’ll have the option to stay in a piece or history, including a restored Victorian brownstone in Boston, the site of a civil war battle in Mississippi or even the same suite as a past president in Virginia.

5. The people. Staying at a bed and breakfast can often be much like staying in the home of a beloved relative, or at least a well-liked aunt. You’ll get to know the innkeepers who will likely have some great advice on things to do in your destination city and you’ll even have a chance to mingle with your fellow guests on the front porch or over breakfast in the morning.

6. The location. One of the biggest benefits of bed and breakfasts are their inconspicuous locations. Often, you’ll get to experience the city like a local by staying in the area’s residential neighborhoods, rather than being confined to the commercial centers. This way, you’ll get a much more authentic view of the city.

7. The flexibility. Don’t bother asking the front desk at Corporate Hotel Chain if you can check in bit early or stay a few hours late — rules are rules, after all. Fortunately, bed and breakfasts are much more accommodating when you need to bend them a bit in order to fit your tight schedule.

8. The security. Let’s face it, even with a doorman, huge corporate hotels don’t always have the best security. The smaller scale of a bed and breakfast or inn means fewer people and potentially safer accommodations.

9. The quiet. Fewer guests often means a quieter night’s stay, too. So, you can finally leave the earplugs at home.

10. The availability. From major metropolitan areas, like right next to Boston’s Fenway Park, to a quaint retreat in the mountains, chances are there’s a bed and breakfast located in just about any of your future destinations.

What are your reasons for booking a Boston bed and breakfast? Let us know in the comments below!

Boston Like a Local: 4 Non-Touristy Things to Do in the City

As the warm weather approaches, more and more tourists will be crowding Boston’s already bustling sidewalks. So how do you avoid the usual tourist traps and take in some true local Boston culture? Read on for our top “must-dos” from real life Boston residents.

1. Catch a live show.

Whether it’s a killer comedy show at Improv Asylum, a hot new local band taking the stage at the House of Blues, or a ballet at the Boston Opera House, taking in a live event is one of best ways to experience the city like a local. Boston prides itself on its diverse arts scene, so on any given day you’ll likely find the locals skipping the spots overloaded by tourists in exchange for culture within any of the numerous venues that dot the city.

2. Get lost in a great book (store).

In a city that’s home to some of the nation’s top universities (Harvard is, after all, just around the corner), it’s not unusual to find brainy locals with their noses buried deep books — even while walking down the street. So, take a cue from the bookish types and spend the afternoon getting lost in one of the city’s great bookstores. We recommend the unusual Brattle Book Shop, located on West Street. One of the oldest and largest used bookstores in America, you’re sure to find something within the racks to suit even the most finicky bookworm. The vacant lot next door is even taken over with additional inventory.

3. Do happy hour like it’s your job.

Besides sports, Boston is perhaps most passionate about happy hour. After a long day at the office, you’ll find businessmen and women leaving their offices in droves and heading toward their favorite watering holes. Skip the touristy Quincy Market area and instead opt for one of the locals’ favorites like Meadhall over in Cambridge, where you’ll find comfortable sofas and over 100 beers on tap or Eastern Standard on Commonwealth for strong cocktails and tasty oysters.

4. Avoid the mainstream hotels.

Instead of the usual big-name corporate hotel chain, opt for a quaint inn or bed and breakfast during your next jaunt to the city for a more authentic vibe. These smaller establishments, like the Beacon Inn, frequently provide much better service and swankier amenities than their corporate counterparts — with the added bonus of more interesting accommodations, like a location within a converted Victorian brownstone.

What are your favorite ways to experience Boston like a local while you’re in town? Let us know in the comments below!

Holiday Season in Boston!

It’s that time of year! There are plenty of festive events and activities happening in Boston this time of the year. The 74rd annual Boston Common Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place in December at the Boston Commons. In addition to the tree lighting, there is outdoor ice skating at the Frog Pond.