Sharing Boston With Visitors

December 21, 2010
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This Holiday Garden, in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, will remain on view through early January. (Photo courtesy of the Gardner Museum.)

By Penny Cherubino

This is a wonderful time of year to have friends and family visit you in Boston. The city is dressed in a holiday glow. Boston offers so much to do and see that daily plans can be adapted to whatever nature sends our way. Here are some of the places Bostonians love to share with visitors now or anytime of year.

Back Bay resident, Jackie Yessian surprises guests with the beauty of one of her favorite Boston landmarks. “The library is a place we often share with people,” Yessian said. “It’s wonderful to have tea there in the little cafe.”  How do her guests react? They say, “I can’t believe I’ve never been here. This is really nice.”

Marlborough Street resident Jamie Barth has two special places to recommend. “My favorite holiday place (actually favorite year-round place) is The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Their holiday decorations are charming, and the intimate courtyard offers lovely calm in a hectic season,” she said.

If your guests are music lovers, Barth says, “I can also sing the praises of Passim. Any night of the week, there’s great music, and great food.” Passim is the legendary Harvard Square club with nightly performances of folk, acoustic, jazz, and everything in between.

Designer, Lara Van Slyke of Lara B Designs loves taking people to the North End. She likes, “the unique atmosphere on Hanover Street and the small restaurants off the beaten path.” Her visitors might also experience the, “…spectacular views with all the lights glimmering…a wonderful perspective of the city,” from the Top of the Hub.

Live theatre is another thing Van Slyke offers friends. This year has seen the reopening and completed restoration of Emerson College’s Paramount Theatre on Washington Street. From the 7000 bulb marquee to the Art Deco lobby, this is a place that will bring back memories for older family members.

If your guests want tickets to live performances, share the secret of the Bostix ticket booth in Copley Square. There, they can be spontaneous and score day-of-the-performance, half-priced seats at venues throughout the city.

Liz Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden, has company coming for the holidays. “I’m taking them to the MFA [Museum of Fine Arts] to the new wing, which is going to be really exciting. I bring people there whenever they come to visit.”

Vizza likes to get outside so she’ll also share some of Boston’s most beloved open spaces with her guests. “I love to go to our parks. I love to go to the Olmsted parks. I love to walk along the river– the Charles River is just fabulous,” she said.

Some favorites are missing in action during the holidays but may be back for your next visitors. For Commonwealth Avenue resident, Cathy Walsh, that favorite is Boston Duck Tours. “We have been on the Duck Tour 5,000 times. It’s different every time. I always laugh and have a good time. It’s Wonderful!” Duck Tours will be back quacking along the streets and river on March 21st.

Finally, to add some depth to your holiday spirit on Christmas Eve, you might stroll Charles Street and then make your way to Louisburg Square at around 7:30 p.m. Since the 1920s the homeowners of the square have hosted a tradition of English handbell ringing and Christmas caroling. You could imagine yourself back in the 1800s as neighbors gather to sing along or gently sway with the music. It’s an authentic, serene, and memorable experience in this day of over-produced and over-hyped events.

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