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While at Boston University, Fenway became a favorite neighborhood of mine for its intensely Bostonian vibe and proximity to most of the city. Like many of Boston’s neighborhoods and city squares, it can also be the absolute worst place to end up without a plan. It is rife with tourists vying for $50 parking spots and endless foot traffic between the House of Blues and Fenway Stadium during game or concert nights.
Officially incorporated as Fenway-Kenmore, this historic neighborhood has transformed in recent years with high-rise luxury apartments like The Viridian and Fenway Triangle. Fenway’s neighborhood has evolved around the eponymous Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, famous rivals of the New York Yankees.
However, most Bostonians I know happily admit that they go to a Red Sox game for brews and company. You can hang out with friends and eat a famous Fenway Frank and fried dough, and sample different beers from a surprisingly solid local beer selection. But if you’re hoping for a memorable Massachusetts flavor, Wachusett Brewing Company’s Blueberry Ale is a home run.
Other quintessential Boston staples are its streets lined with brownstones and tidy, gate-enclosed gardens, making it the perfect place to visit during fall.
So, sit back, relax and learn more about what Fenway has to offer outside of baseball.
Stroll & Shop
You can start off your stroll with local staple Blackbird Donuts and make your way through the neighborhood with their amazing salted toffee donuts.
“I love seeing the willow trees as I walk past the garden plots in the Fens, finding pop-up shops like Hourglass,” Cat Bunker, a Fenway resident tells me. The Fens is a stretch of land where individuals in the Fenway Garden Society cultivate their own plots- and is where you’ll see plenty of folks in sun hats and knee guards tending to humongous hydrangeas and bougainvillea’s. Nestled within the Fens is the James P. Kellerher Rose Garden, a must-see for flower aficionados.
Sights & Sensations
If you’re craving grandeur, add the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum to your itinerary. The site of a famous and still-unsolved art theft, the Gardner is a stunning museum with a Venetian-style enclosed courtyard in the center, making it a lush greenhouse no matter the intensity of Boston chilliness outside. The Museum of Fine Arts holds a tremendous collection, and merits a stop for its seasonal exhibitions alone. Be sure to check their events page for courtyard concerts in the summer, unique lectures for art fans and First Fridays special events.
Bar Stop & Snacks
Once you’re ready for an amazing cocktail, Tiger Mama’s front bar is all you need for unique tropical drinks. With the ambitious Tiger Tikis, you’ll need 5-7 friends to help you get through the $80 Dead Man’s Chest- a literal chest full of rum, spices and exotic fruit. Decked out in neon and vibrant plant walls, you can’t go wrong staying for dinner, where Chef Tiffani Faison serves Southeast Asian cuisine that consistently impresses guests.
However, if you’re thinking of extending your journey, polish off your tiki drink and head to Sweet Cheeks for the Bucket O’ Biscuits with honey butter.
Cat Bunker told me she likes to end this food crawl with the impeccable “oysters at Island Creek, a classic local restaurant.” Island Creek is renowned for harvesting oysters from Duxbury Bay the same day you enjoy them. Sit at their raw bar and let your server take you on a journey through the best oysters in Massachusetts, from Wellfleet to Plymouth.
Food, drinks, art and baseball, Fenway has it all! Learn more about this iconic city here. ■