Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
25 Evans Way, Fenway
The Gardner museum offers art with a side of scandal. In 1990, thirteen works, including a rare Vermeer and Rembrandts valued at $500 million, were stolen by thieves posing as police. They’ve never been recovered, and the empty frames still hang in their original spots in memory of the lost works. Heist aside, this is probably the most beautiful museum in New England. Modeled on the Venetian palazzi adored by nineteenth-century socialite and philanthropist Isabella Gardner, it’s an immersive experience, with pencils and sheaves of paper nestled into corners and stacked on surfaces to encourage sketching. Although she was a Boston resident, Gardner spent most of her time exploring Europe and the Far East with her husband, accruing a collection of paintings, books, sculptures, and textiles—nearly 16,000 items in all. Sketches by Manet, Michelangelo, and John Singer Sargent, gothic tapestries, paintings by Velázquez and Titian, as well as an extensive furniture and rare books collection fill the galleries. Wander through the rooms of the palazzo and wind up in the courtyard, a cloistered space filled with sculptures, trees, tiles, and a proper Roman-style pond, all of which adds up…
Island Creek Oyster House
500 Commonwealth Ave., Fenway
In a city of oysters, these are different. Rather than advertising wild-caught, Oyster Creek is ahead on the sustainability curve—they source their mollusks from small farms specializing in aquaculture. The restaurant started as an extension of Island Creek Oyster farm, which has been pioneering ocean-friendly aquaculture since 1992, and these special oysters are the pride of the menu. The fish selection changes daily, depending on what comes in on the boats, and the “from the land” section covers the comfort-food bases with a cheesy ramp rigatoni (dusted in toasty, citrusy breadcrumbs), skirt steak, roast chicken, and an all-American burger. The restaurant is a pleasant spot to spend an evening—high tables and chairs, blonde wood everywhere, and an especially well-stocked bar.
1106 Boylston St., Fenway
In 1981, at the age of twenty-six, ice cream-lover Vince Petryk opened J.P. Licks in his Jamaica Plain neighborhood outside of Boston (hence the initials J.P.). Today, there are thirteen locations in and around Boston—including the original in Jamaica Plain, Beacon Hill, Cambridge, and Mission Hill—making this a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike. Part espresso bar, part bakery, part ice cream shop, J.P. Licks's awesome rotation of soft-serve frozen yogurt may be its best selling point, particularly in a city where scooped ice cream largely dominates the scene. Although...the ice cream cakes and chipwhiches at J.P. Licks are really good, too.
4 Yawkey Way, Fenway
There is nothing more Boston than walking down Yawkey Way on game day. Even if you’re not a baseball fanatic, Fenway can make you feel like one for a few hours. The stadium, which was originally built in 1912 and then reconstructed in 1934, is arguably the most historic in the MLB. Bonus points if you see a home run over the Green Monster while you’re there. If nothing is on the schedule while you’re in town, keep in mind that they still offer tours on non-game days, where you can go up in the Green Monster and peek into the locker rooms.
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