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FIRST-TIME Boston visitors usually journey through some combination of the Beantown behemoths, the tourist traps, and the trademark landmarks. You follow the painted red lines of the Freedom Trail, wander through Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (Look! A Gap! Just like home!). You stroll around the Museum of Fine Arts, eat at a tony restaurant in the South End, and practice (mock?) the Boston accent in Hahvahd Yahd. These areas and attractions are all well and good, but Boston rewards return visitors. Here are places to explore the second (or third or 10th) time you return to the Hub.
The DNC makes traveling north of Boston a near impossibility this week. But any other time of year, itís well worth taking the commuter rail up to the lesser traveled of the Bay Stateís two capes. Along the rocky shoreline in Gloucester, Essex, Rockport, and Manchester-by-the-Sea, youíll find rattletrap clam shacks, lighthouses standing sentinel, and gruff seafaring charm. Unlike the congested Cape Cod, Cape Ann has experienced minimal commercial disruption, leaving its personality and panoramas fully intact. This is true New England.
The cheapest tickets at Fenway Park ó when you can get them ó are $18. But the place is always packed. So take a short drive to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where you can escape the cost and chaos of Fenway for a minor-league PawSox game. Tickets are cheap ($4Ė$9), itís a beautiful stadium, and you can scout out the up-and-coming Red Sox hopefuls (and maybe catch one of the actual BoSox players recouping after an injury).
McCoy Stadium, Division Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, (410) 724-7300; www.pawsox.com
The opening of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art turned a sleepy Western Massachusetts town into a buzzing artistic mecca. Sprawling over 13 acres in renovated 19th-century factory buildings, Mass MoCA is the largest center for contemporary arts in the country, drawing artists and visitors from around the world to its industrial-size galleries. Itís a champion of boundary-blurring art and performance and an incubator for artistic experimentation.
Mass MoCA, 87 Marshall Street, North Adams, (413) 662-2111; www.massmoca.org
The Boston Molasses Disaster
Everyone heads to the North End for tortellini and cannoli. But forget about pasta and pastries and take a moment to reflect on one of the most bizarre catastrophes in Boston history. On January 15, 1919, a tank filled with more than two million gallons of molasses exploded, creating a molasses tsunami that ripped through the streets of the North End, killing 21 people and 12 horses, and leaving destruction in its hot and sticky wake. Thereís no plaque, no monument, no museum, no official holiday to commemorate the event. Just stand on Commercial Street and Coppís Hill Terrace, and imagine the gooey flood.
The swanky South End teems with upscale eateries. Try forgoing them and duck into the dark Delux, a cramped and kitschy bar and restaurant, for a cocktail and some creative comfort food. Itís a neighborhood, bike messenger, and foodie favorite.
Delux Café, 100 Chandler Street, Boston, (617) 338-5258.
Gone are the days of the grand boulevards and bandstands, the carousels and roller coaster. But Revere Beach remains endearingly seedy (barring the stray hypodermic needle). Itís the first public beach in the country, and also home to the famous (and original) Kellyís Roast Beef.
Revere Beach, Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere, (978) 535-7285.
You donít have to be a brainiac technophile or a science-minded number lover to appreciate the galleries at the MIT Museum. Exhibits showcase MITís influential science-doing, demonstrating how the school hasnít just pushed the technology envelope, but turned it into a perfectly aerodynamic computerized unmanned paper airplane and launched it across the Mass Ave Bridge. Thereís an element of play to the place: art and science blend in exhibits on holography, photomicrography, stroboscopy, photography, architecture, computing, and nautical engineering.
MIT Museum, 265 Mass Ave, Cambridge, (617) 253-4444; web.mit.edu/museum
Bibulous Bostonians guzzle barrels of brew. Sam Adams, brewed in Jamaica Plain, is the behemoth of Boston breweries. But Harpoon Brewery, maker of Harpoon IPA, UFO, and a sudsy sampling of seasonal beers, grows more macro all the time. It was the first brewery in the Commonwealth to get a permit to brew and package beer, back in 1987. And the folks there are happy to run tastings and tours.
Harpoon Brewery, 306 Northern Avenue, Boston, (617) 888-HARPOON; www.harpoonbrewery.com
Hub of the Universe
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.ís hub-of-the-universe phrase wasnít describing Boston (he referred to the State House) and it wasnít the universe (Holmes said solar system). But the hubristic "hub" term stuck, and the chip on Bostonís collective shoulder reflects it. In Downtown Crossing, in front of the entrance to Fileneís (certainly Bostonís retail hub), often tucked underneath a fruit cart, thereís a sun-shaped plaque on the ground marking the actual center of the universe.
Hub of the Universe Plaque, 426 Washington Street, Boston.
Nina MacLaughlin can be reached at nmaclaughlin[a]phx.com
Issue Date: July 23 - 29, 2004
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