Boston’s answer to SXSW, Inbound is a future-forward business conference hosted by marketing and sales software firm, Hubspot. With inspiring keynotes, innovative talks, educational breakout sessions, entertainment, and tons of networking (plus cool parties), the event draws nearly 20,000 attendees from more than 90 countries, taking over the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and unleashing a host of smart, techie types on the city.
This year’s solid lineup of speakers includes Michelle Obama, Bozoma Saint John (Uber chief brand officer), Judd Apatow, Brené Brown, John Cena, Mario Batali, and Billie Jean King. It’s as good a reason as any to visit Boston, where there’s plenty of history, culture, and food to keep you busy should you need a break from the intense, intellectual stimulation.
The convention center is conveniently located just two miles from Logan Airport, but it’s also not far from some of Boston’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods like Fort Point Channel, where the Institute of Contemporary Art offers a stunning collection in a visionary building that overlooks Boston’s waterfront. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston contains more than 450,000 works, including pieces from the tower of Babel and the largest collection of Japanese art outside of Japan.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood (and walking distance from the MFA), is a local favorite. Housed in a Venetian-style palazzo, sights to enjoy here include classic paintings and sculptures, but also gardens, textiles, and furniture. What it doesn’t have? Thirteen of its original artworks, which were stolen in 1990 by a pair of thieves disguised as police officers. These pieces, by masters including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, and Degas, are worth more than $500 million. The heist remains an unsolved mystery.
Boston is filled with beautiful parks and neighborhoods to stroll through, and Boston Common and the Public Garden are among its prettiest and most famous. Pull up a bench and reflect on the conference, or just watch the world go by. Nearby, on Newbury Street, is some of the city’s best shopping, where high-end retailers like Tiffany and Co. and Marc Jacobs co-mingle with funky local boutiques as well as tons of bars and cafes. If design is your thing, check out Restoration Hardware’s stunning renovation of the Historic Museum of Natural History.
If you can’t catch a baseball game while you’re in town, consider a tour of Fenway Park; built in 1912, the stadium is filled with old-time-y charm, nostalgia, and artifacts. (Plus it has really good hot dogs.) Of course, Boston’s history goes back a lot further, and if it’s Revolutionary-era lore you’re after, follow the Freedom Trail, a two-and-a-half-mile, self-guided walking tour that will lead you past 16 significant historic sites, like the Old North Church (the launching point for Paul Revere’s famous ride), the site of the Boston Massacre, and Faneuil Hall. Yes, it’s a tiny bit hokey (there’s a chance you’ll run into costumed reenactors) but it’s fascinating to think about how people lived back in the day when our country was formed.
Another extraordinary historic spot to explore is Bay Village. This often overlooked (even by locals), but incredibly charming, neighborhood is a hodgepodge of 19th-century row houses and early 20th-century Art Deco office buildings built by the movie studios that were headquartered there at the time. Grab a sandwich from Mike + Patty’s and wander through the crooked, cobblestoned streets.
Don’t let anybody (*cough, New Yorkers, cough*) tell you Boston’s food scene isn’t up to snuff – in fact, it’s superior. There are Best New Boston Restaurant lists, Best Boston Restaurant lists, Best Restaurants in Boston lists, and well…you get the point. Frankly, they’re all very good, but there are a few standouts offering various takes on regional cuisine.
Puritan & Co. in Cambridge has a contemporary twist on classic New England fare; think swordfish pastrami and pan-seared scallops with chanterelles. Likewise, Townsman downtown offers seafood towers, charcuterie, and fresh, upscale versions of New England classics. The casual KO Pies at the Shipyard is a destination as much for its meat pies (try the Irish beef stew) as it is for its location among East Boston’s boatbuilding yards. Nearby, Cunard Tavern offers rooftop views and a regional menu influenced by global flavors.
Regionally speaking, we’re serious about oysters. And while most of the restaurants listed above offer excellent varieties, a few notable Boston eateries have developed menus built around the bivalves. Connoisseurs will enjoy B&G Oysters (owned by Chef Barbara Lynch), Row 34, and Island Creek Oyster Bar.
After all that walking, eating, and drinking, there’s a possibility you’ll wake up the next day in need of a hearty breakfast. I wholly recommend Blackbird Doughnuts‘ incredible gourmet confections with a tall cup of coffee. You’ll need to get back to Inbound, after all, to figure out how to make the world a better place, or at least your own business.