Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Anne Stone and Erin Foley. Anne is owner of Stone Strategic Marketing Services serving the associations, publishers and organizations in the research ecosystem. Erin is Director, Rightsholder Relations at Copyright Clearance Center (CCC).

If you are familiar with the Dropkick Murphys version of “Shipping up to Boston”, you may think Boston has a bit of an Irish edge. That’s not a secret. Add The Departed or Mystic River to your movie watch list if you haven’t seen them. Whether you are planning a fresh playlist for your travels or a groove to play at home during breaks, discover a little bit of ‘90s alt rock music history from Boston. You may be surprised to know Billy Bragg, Natalie Merchant, Pixies, 10,000 Maniacs, Radiohead, Weezer, The Lemonheads, and many others recorded at Fort Apache Studios. If you have time, the music scene in Boston has all kinds and fresh sounds as we continually attract budding musicians and seasoned performers at the Berklee Performance Center, featured in the movie CODA.

Things have changed a lot in Fort Point and the Seaport district since its grittier days of vacant lots, nightclubs, and abandoned factory buildings – and even since 2020, when SSP was last planned for Boston. With SSP’s first return since 2017, we offer fresh ideas for eats and drinks, sights, and local ‘cultcha’ for our post-pandemic return to Boston. There are many meetings to be had and memories to be made. In person registration is nearly at capacity, so now is the time to register for in person or virtual attendance.  Below are highlights on a virtual tour and ideas for destinations if you are coming to Boston. Are there Boston landmarks you always think of or look forward to seeing? Do you have publishing, library, or museum landmarks that you would add? We welcome you to share in the comments.

view of Boston

Accessibility in Boston has its challenges. Public transportation, good(?) behavior of motorists, and remaining cobblestones don’t always make it easy. Boston has long been promoted as a “walkable” city (with good shoes), mainly because it’s small and so are the few hills. The Seaport is the latest area to be re-developed, over a century after the T (the MBTA bus and subway system which is the oldest in the country) began. There’s plenty to do both within and outside of the neighborhood. Get the official MBTA app or Google Maps to plan journeys, and you can buy tickets onsite through kiosks or through the MBTA app. Taxi stands are easily found at the airport and hotels, and Uber and Lyft are everywhere. If you do want to have a wander, Beacon Hill (specifically Acorn Street and the surrounds), Back Bay & Newbury Street (for shopping), the North End (for Italian vibes), Union and Davis Squares in Somerville, and Cambridge are all good options. Southie is not far from the Westin, where you can find the JFK Presidential Library and U Mass-Boston. Southie should not be confused with the South End, home to the SoWa Art + Design District, also worth a visit. If you get confused, look for stunning water views and the L Street Beach — if you can see them, you’re in Southie, if not, enjoy the South End.

Good Eats in Good Spots

The Seaport is the hip, hot place to be and the main action is nearby the Westin, without crossing Fort Point Channel. Start the day or recharge with coffee and treats at Tatte (sounds like latte), a top bakery and coffee shop with an interesting origin story in Boston — Pier 4 is the closest location, and 125 Summer St is over the bridge. Other local coffee spots include The Well Coffee House, Bean & Leaf Café, and many more.

Free spots with water views are easy to find in little parks around the Seaport. You can grab Greek take-away at GRECOright by Tatte. Watch the sunset on the steps of the Institute of Contemporary Art – where RedBull has diving contests. You might see Boston’s biggest yachts as you walk along the piers. For finer dining and entertaining, Davio’s is top tier Italian without going to the North End. And of course, there is Legal Seafoods (Harborside, Aquarium, Copley) or check out Row 34A tip for virtual attendees looking for local flavor – check out online delivery from Roger’s Fish Company – the founder of Legal’s new online business. Prefer Mexican or a lounge vibe? Lolita is tucked away along the channel. There’s also the classic Lucky’s Lounge on Congress St.

Just Beyond the Seaport

Cross the bridges over Fort Point Channel and enjoy the Rose Kennedy Greenway, an oasis with a daily food truck schedule and a beer garden tucked inside. It took the place of the “central artery” after the Big Dig. For engineering, politics, and urban planning enthusiasts, check out the podcast about reconnecting Boston to the waters’ edge, or “what does $15 billion buy?”.  James Hook & Co has managed to continue the family lobster business after a fire and as the city changed around it. If you see people, they are lining up for pricey, but delicious, fresh lobster rolls. There’s always the Union Oyster House, the oldest operating restaurant in America and still delicious.

Head west and make things easy for your crowd. Time Out Market is perfect casual, community dining. Not sure what you and your people are in the mood for? Think food trucks but indoors with places to sit. Go north to arrive at “the North End.” On your way to the original Italian community, you will pass Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, the first planned green space by the water in Boston, and you’ll find the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s house (lights, horses, action) around there as well. The Italian community manages to hold its own against perpetual change. Haymarket T station marks the long-time trading space of produce market and vendors (now called Boston Public Market) – who long opposed the Big Dig due to disruption in trade and loss of business. Neptune Oyster is a great seafood option in the North End. We recommend Vinoteca Di Monica right off Hanover, a relation to Monica’s which provides a lot of the freshly made pasta in the neighborhood daily and has great Negronis, and don’t forget to enter the age-old debate about whether Mike’s or Modern has better cannoli by having one of each right on Hanover (bring cash). Keep going North and you’ll get to “Eastie” where Santarpio’s has destination pizza, or find it at Logan Terminal C. Eastie is also the home of the new and cool Next Door speakeasy and Taqueria Jalisco, in the top 11 for Mexican on Eater’s Boston list.

For the foodies who like stories about food, urban Chinatowns are at risk throughout the US. What makes Boston’s special? Its heritage of local grocers, featured in a story by a local daughter in a Moth radio hour story. Check out the best dining options and take a break from crowds in the Seaport. Just a bit further south, if you listen to Christopher Kimball’s podcast, pay homage at Milk Street Café. For foodies who make travel a dining event, Nightshade Noodle Barin Lynn, Vietnamese and French inspired menu from a James Beard Award nominee. There are plenty of options to book private group dining throughout the city. Check out Yvonne’s spaces – including the library.

In just a few hours you can see the city and have a laugh. Take a Duck Boat Tour around the city, not to be confused with the Swan Boats which go slow and not very far. You’ll also see Boston Trolley Tours which go everywhere except in the Charles River. Any way you explore, you will appreciate Olmstead’s Green Necklace, Boston’s original landscape architect.

History is everywhere, just step outside

It doesn’t take long to find notable places. A first stop from the Westin for revolutionary history is the Boston Tea Party Museum (a 15 minute walk). In a short reenactment experience, you’ll be complicit and discover some difficult truths about the colonialists/revolutionaries.

Check out the Freedom Trail by starting at the Boston Common and the Public Garden, where Matt Damon and Robin Williams sat in Good Will Hunting. Look for the red line of brick through the city first laid down in 1976 for the bicentennial. There are accessibility accommodations and several 90-minute tours of less than a mile. The Black Heritage Trail is another 1.6 mile signposted walk with a National Park Service audio guide which includes the African Meeting House, the oldest surviving Black church structure in the country. All the trails are available virtually. The Massachusetts Historical Society offers rich archives of Boston’s Abolitionists. In January 2023, Boston unveiled The Embrace and the 1965 Freedom Plaza, a place of joy within Boston Common, commemorating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King who met while studying at Boston University. More than a sculpture, the organization works toward a more equitable Boston in many ways.

Head toward “The Town.” If you saw the movie with Ben Affleck, you’ll see the bridge to Charlestown, and discover Old Ironsides, the U.S.S. Constitution and Navy Yard where it was built, the oldest commissioned ship in the world and free to veterans in May. Climb Bunker Hill and look south to spot the Seaport. If you find yourself hungry in Charlestown, the Warren Tavern is a classic.

Boston is a sports town. Love it, hate it, or don’t care, it will come up – and we have The Sports Museum at TD North stadium (aka The Garden). B’s = Bruins = Hockey; C’s = Celtics = Basketball. The Patriots are not the P’s = American Football Dynasty. Sox = Red Sox = Baseball and Fenway. Fenway is both one of the oldest parks in the US and a neighborhood where you can find our Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, her stunning home and unique collection.

Can’t-Miss Cambridge and off-beat Somerville

Going north on Mass Ave, you can find your way to the land of little squares…Harvard (Harvard Square) and MIT (Central Square). Harvard museums have a lot to offer and are all free to the public. The MIT Museum offers very different collections – a virtual visit is free. Food and spirits abound as you go beyond the ‘college tour.’ On Mass Ave needing Italian? See what Giulia offers. Rum and rangoons is the theme for amazing American Chinese, Wusong Roadon Mt. Auburn St. in Cambridge with plenty of veggie/vegan options. The Friendly Toast is a simply delightful ‘retro’ diner right in Harvard Square if you don’t have a big budget. Oleana is a destination for Mediterranean classics, but be aware that reservations are likely gone, so the brave can check out the first come, first serve beautiful patio seating. In Union Square Somerville, you’ll find Backbar for legitimately great and usually nerdy-themed cocktails, it’s tiny, though, so don’t bring a crowd. There’s also Vera’s in Union Square and Puritan & Co in Inman Square Cambridge for old-school New England.

Getting out and about

If you have more time before or after the meeting, here are a few ideas for enjoying the outdoors. Take a ferry to visit Boston Harbor Island National and State Park – the urban oasis surrounding the Seaport. For a unique experience, the aquarium offers 3-4 hour whale watches at Stellwagon Bank – also where The Perfect Storm took place. Find the Fellsfor a long view from Wright’s Tower. Take a short rideshare or taxi for a great little hike and views of the harbor at the top. Wright’s Tower may be best reached from trailheads in parking lots on South Border Road in Medford, such as the Bellevue Pond “pull-off.” For an easier walk, go birding with the dead at Mount Auburn Cemetery. It is a destination for birders because it serves as an arboretum since the 1830s with beautiful walking paths or visit Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain.

If you haven’t registered for in person or virtual now is the time. Plan some fun with colleagues at SSP

We could crowd-source a tour of Boston publishing houses past and present. Share locations and memories of Boston publishing houses in the comments.

Anne Stone

Anne Stone is owner of Stone Strategic Marketing Services serving the associations, publishers and organizations in the research ecosystem. She has worked in marketing and publishing for over 20 years at organizations including TBI Communications, Wiley, Blackwell, Pearson, and Constant Contact.


10 Thoughts on "Guest Post — Shipping up to Boston? Plan Some Workers’ Playtime during the SSP Annual Meeting"

Great Boston travel wiki, Anne and Erin. I would just suggest skipping the lines at Mike’s and Modern and get your cannoli at Bova Bakery a block over on Salem St. Buon viaggio!

sounds like really good advice, Mike. There is a Mike’s (or is it Modern?) at one of the terminals at Logan if pressed for returning home with a souvenieur.

Personally, I suggest a cannoli crawl — try them all! 🙂 (Modern gets my vote…)

Technically, USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned *floating* ship in the world, since HMS Victory is still a commissioned vessel and a few decades older. That said, HMS Victory is in permanent drydock and the only water that touches Victory is rainwater.

Also, USS Constitution is the only active American warship to have won a naval engagement. Remember that for your next trivia night.

Finally, if you’re in Boston *right now*, Constitution is headed out on a turnaround cruise *as I type*, with a 21-gun salute being fired in about one hour (11:30am Boston time). Alas, I’m a 6-hour drive from there, but if you’re not, you should check it out.

Don’t forget to visit the excellent and privately run USS Constitution Museum, next to the ship, which tells its story.

Peter McCracken, Librarian and Maritime History nerd

Peter, apologies for my lack of precision regarding drydock status of HMS Victory. I admit I am not as up to snuff on all British Maritime history. Lived in Massachusetts most of my life and still have not made it out on a turnaround cruise or gotten into the city in time for the 21 gun salute… Will you be able to make it to SSP this year? I have a book I’ll bring along…

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