Sports Power Weekend Destination: Boston, January 14-16

By Jared Cooper




January 14-16 Friday
  • Bobcats at Celtics
Saturday
  • Penguins at Bruins
Sunday
  • AFC Divisional Playoffs at Gillette Stadium


Getting Down in Beantown

Travel + Leisure ranked Boston the number four city in the country for a cultural getaway, which is high praise for the city’s museums, art and music. It is a confluence of sporting events that brings visitors to The Hub on this weekend, however. With the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics holding court at the TD Garden on Friday night, the Boston Bruins facing the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on the ice at the Garden on Saturday, and the top-seeded New England Patriots hitting the gridiron in the AFC Divisional Playoffs on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, Boston sports fans will have their hands full. Mixing in some of that aforementioned culture and the strong history of this city, 2011 is off to a good start in the capital of Massachusetts.

Friday

  • Union Oyster House
  • TD Garden
  • Canal Street

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

There is no better way to start your visit to one of America’s oldest and most historic cities than at America’s oldest restaurant, Union Oyster House, a National Historic Landmark. Since 1826 Union Oyster has been keeping patrons happy by serving up some great lobster, clam chowder, and of course, oysters. It is hard to go wrong here; the seafood platters will give you a little taste of everything and you won’t leave hungry.

After dinner make the short ten-minute walk from the restaurant to the TD Garden, which opened in 1995, replacing the historic Boston Garden. The 17-time NBA champion Boston Celtics will face the Charlotte Bobcats at 7:30 PM on the legendary parquet floor of the Garden; the building is one of the two NBA arenas that use this surface, with the newly opened Amway Center in Orlando being the other. Be sure to check out the Sports Museum of New England, focusing on the rich history of Boston sports, located in the building.

There is no shortage of bars and nightlife scene in the area surrounding the Garden. Canal Street and Friend Street feature well-attended bars such as Hurricane O’Reilly’s, The Four’s, Greatest Bar and DJ’s. Have some fun, but tomorrow you’ll be exploring the city a bit, so don’t burn out just yet.

Saturday

  • Liberty Hotel
  • Harvard Square
  • TD Garden (Penguins-Bruins at 1 PM)
  • Quincy Market
  • Freedom Trail
  • Mike’s Pastry
  • Hanover Street
  • Seaport

With the puck dropping at 1 PM for the Bruins game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, you don’t have a great deal of time in the morning, but you can still be productive. Start off with breakfast at CLINK at the Liberty Hotel on Charles Street in Beacon Hill. The hotel opened in September of 2007 and has become a must-see spot; it was formerly the iconic Charles Street Jail and has since undergone a $150M acquisition, renovation and construction process that still features the rotunda and cupola built in 1851. You can get a good breakfast at CLINK in the hotel, which actually uses vestiges of jail cells for dining nooks.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

From breakfast you can make your way to Harvard Square, a cultural and historic destination adjacent to Harvard University, the oldest university in America. Follow the red brick walkways and check out the shops and buildings that comprise one of our nation’s finest institutions.

Boston’s public transportation is a strong attribute of the city, and getting around is easy on the T subway lines or buses. Getting back to the TD Garden is easy using the orange or green lines on the T, and it is also walkable from Harvard Square. I’d save the walking for after the game though as you check out some of the historical sites along the Freedom Trail.

The Bruins, one of the NHL’s “Original Six,” face Sidney Crosby and the Eastern Conference power Pittsburgh Penguins on the ice at the Garden, which will have made a quick transformation from last night’s Celtics game. The Bruins, like the Celtics, made the move to the new Garden in 1995. They’ve won five Stanley Cup championships, second-most by an American team behind the 11 of the Detroit Red Wings. The ice at the Garden also hosts the annual Beanpot Tournament between local college hockey teams from Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern and Harvard, this year being held on February 7 and 14.

After the game, head out toward Faneuil Hall and pick up the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile walking trail that leads you to 16 historic sites, including museums, churches, meetings grounds and parks. Among the places you can check out are Faneuil Hall and the Quincy Market, the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere House and the Old State House. Near the Paul Revere House is Mike’s Pastry, a spot on Hanover Street known for their cannoli.

Also on Hanover Street are some top-notch dinner options in North End Boston, including Lucia Ristorante and Giacomo’s. Following dinner you can stroll along the Harbor and make your way to Seaport Boulevard, where places like the Atlantic Beer Garden get a good crowd.

Sunday

  • Zaftig’s
  • Fenway Park Tour
  • Top of the Hub
  • Patriot Place
  • Gillette Stadium

Photo courtesy of AP Images

The headliner of the weekend is definitely the New England Patriots starting their 2010 playoff campaign at 4:30 PM with their eyes set on their fourth Super Bowl title in the past 10 years. Start off the day with breakfast at Zaftig’s in nearby Brookline. It is a short walk from the green line on the T, which you can then take to Kenmore station just outside of Fenway Park for your tour of the historic ballpark.  The 50 minute guided tour of the park – the oldest in baseball – will starts on the hour every hour from 9 AM to 4 PM. You can also check out the team store across the street on Yawkey Way so you aren’t the only one without any gear on the tour.

A little further east on Boylston Street is the Top of the Hub, which on a clear day offers spectacular views of the Boston skyline from the 52-story high observatory. If you are lucky you can see all the way to the beaches of Cape Cod to the south and the mountains in New Hampshire to the north. Take a good luck at Boston before you kiss the city goodbye en route to Foxboro.

Gillette Stadium is about a 40-minute drive from Boston, mid-way between Boston and Providence. A good place to go before the game is the adjacent Patriot Place, a shopping, dining and entertainment district that also features The Hall celebrating the history of the New England Patriots and New England football.  The Patriots are no strangers to winning games in January at Gillette Stadium. Since the stadium opened in 2002, the Patriots have hosted and won two AFC Championship Games there, and aim to host their third with a win in this game. A 12-story lighthouse and a bridge modeled on Boston’s Longfellow Bridge atop the main entrance welcomes guests, but the stadium is not so welcoming to opposing teams.

As far as Sports Power Weekends in Boston go, you can’t do much better than seeing the Celtics and Bruins at the Garden, taking a tour of Fenway Park, and seeing a playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Just make sure you book a trip back over the summer when the weather is nice and the Red Sox are running the town.

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