Exploring Boston’s North End with WITS
As an adult, I’ve lived in some pretty cool cities – Boulder, Colorado; Washington, DC; and now, Boston – vacation destinations for many. As such, my friends and family have always assumed that I’ve spent all of my free time skiing in Colorado, exploring museums in DC and wandering the Freedom Trail here in Boston. Not quite. I like to say that no matter where you live, you still need to do your laundry and get your oil changed.
That’s why it’s so refreshing when you have an excuse to explore your hometown like a tourist. It shakes up your regular routine and makes you remember why you call a place “home.” It can even stave off wanderlust until you are able to take a “real” trip.
Having spent most of the fall and winter overseas, I jumped at the opportunity to lead a local tour for fellow attendees of the Women in Travel Summit, which kicks off here in Boston tomorrow at the Revere Hotel. So yesterday morning, I showed three lovely traveling/writing/blogging ladies my favorite spots in the North End, Boston’s “Little Italy.”
We met at the top of Hanover St., the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, and then followed the Freedom Trail to main historic sites, stopping for some good eats along the way:
- Stop 1: Cafe Paradisio – This cozy neighborhood cafe instantly transports me to Europe when I walk through the door, with dozens of football scarves hanging from the ceilings and old Italian men huddled over tiny tables with their espressos.
- Stop 2: Paul Revere House – Built in 1680, this is the oldest house in downtown Boston. It only costs $3.50 to get in, and the tour is a quick one, but my guests decided to pass.
- Stop 3: Paul Revere Mall – A brick courtyard spanning between the chaotic Hanover St. and the rear of Old North Church, the Mall’s focal point is the Paul Revere Monument, by sculptor Cyrus Dallin.
- Stop 4: Old North Church – Old North Church was built in 1723, making it Boston’s oldest church building. The “one if by land, two if by sea” signal is thought to have been made from its steeple the night of Paul Revere’s midnight ride in 1775. (It’s still operational, so check Mass times before visiting.)
- Stop 5: Copp’s Hill Burying Ground – This is the second oldest cemetery in Boston, containing thousands of graves and 272 tombs.
- Stop 6: Cantina Italiana – We had a delightful lunch at one of my favorite North End restaurants, Cantina Italiana, which has been in business since 1931. (You really can’t go wrong with any of neighborhood’s restaurants!)
- Stop 7: Mike’s Pastry – Some Bostonians would say Mike’s Pastry has the best cannoli in Boston. Others would say it’s its rival across the street, Modern Pastry. Our group was pro-Mike’s.
How to get to the North End:
- By car: Driving in the North End is difficult since the roads are narrow and congested, and there are a lot of one ways. Also, parking is usually hard to find, although there are several lots along the perimeter of the neighborhood.
- By taxi: I usually take an Uber when going to the North End. I always get out at the top of Hanover St. and walk, so I don’t pay to sit in traffic.
- By T (subway): There isn’t a T stop in the North End. The closest is the Haymarket Square Station stop (green and orange lines). You’ll have to walk for about 10 minutes to cross the Greenway and two major roads.
Are there any other North End spots that you recommend?