spectators guide

Explore Boston: with kids, grown-ups — or solo

The Boston Children’s Museum is the country’s second oldest.
Yoon S. Byun/Globe staff/file 2013
The Boston Children’s Museum is the country’s second oldest.

Whether you’re in town for the Marathon with the kids, a big group, or adventuring solo, here are a few entertaining itineraries to make the most of your visit.


Where to eat: 5 Napkin Burger

Centrally located near the Prudential shopping area and finish line festivities, 5 Napkin Burger specializes in — you got it — burgers. There’s also a kids’ menu for those 12 and under. Special for the Marathon, they’re selling Boston Strong T-shirts; proceeds benefit Boston Children’s Hospital. Parents take note: They’ll pour limited-edition draft brew Sam Adams 26.2 in honor of the race. 105 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-375-2277,



Blocks from the Boston Children’s Museum, this new Neapolitan pizzeria has a kids’ menu with plain and pepperoni pizza ($8), rigatoni with red or white sauce ($8), and grilled cheese ($8), plus free refills on Shirley Temples ($2), house-made sodas, and gelato. 345 Congress St., Boston, 617-345-0005,

Where to go:

The Boston Children’s Museum

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Our children’s museum is the country’s second oldest and a rite of passage for every native kid. There’s still time to check out Animal Motion Park, a kinetic sculpture exhibit with lifelike snakes, birds, and fish. The exhibit will be up till April 27. Special tip: To save money at the Boston Children’s Museum, visit after 4 p.m. Saturday through Thursday — tickets are half-price. 308 Congress St., Boston, 617-426-6500,

The New England Aquarium

The Aquarium recently got a face lift, including a massive renovation of the Great Ocean Tank. It’s easier than ever to gawk at more than 2,000 fish through floor-to-ceiling windows and a reflective ceiling dome. Say hi to Myrtle, the aquarium’s 80-year-old, 500-pound turtle. Special Tip: If you’re hitting several Boston museums, consider a City Pass ($54). You’ll get 47 percent off several area museums, valid for nine consecutive days. 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 617-973-5200,


Battle reenactments at Concord and Lexington

Marathon Monday just so happens to fall on Patriots Day, a Massachusetts holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Early risers can soldier west to Lexington’s Battle Green (a 25-minute drive from Boston) for a reenactment at 5:30 a.m. At 8:45 a.m., there’s a musket firing at Concord’s Old North Bridge (roughly 30 minutes from Boston) impeccably staged by British and Colonial reenactors.

The world’s only Curious George Store

In a world of big-box stores, this Harvard Square shop remains an indie mecca for Curious George books, toys, and souvenirs. There are also plenty of playthings from other classic children’s books, as well as literary attire for children and adults. Shop, then head up the street to the new Shake Shack (92 Winthrop St.). 1 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-547-4500,


Where to Eat:

Bistro du Midi


Robert Sisca, former sous chef at New York’s Le Bernardin, helms this sophisticated Provencal restaurant overlooking the Public Garden. There’s a formal dining room upstairs; downstairs, enjoy casual bistro fare like quiche and steak frites. 272 Boylston St., Boston, 617-426-7878,

Neptune Oyster

This is a refreshing respite from a North End stroll — provided you can get a seat, that is. No reservations at this glorious seafood temple, so plan ahead (the restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. daily). Cioppino, lobster rolls with butter or mayonnaise, and a large raw bar draw crowds. 63 Salem St., Boston, 617-742-3474,

Where to go:

The Museum of Fine Arts

Head to the Museum of Fine Arts to check out the “To Boston With Love” exhibit. Almost 2,000 hand-sewn flags sent to Boston in the wake of the bombings will be strung in the museum’s Shapiro Courtyard throughout April. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-267-9300,

The Sinclair

This rock club and restaurant in Harvard Square has high-quality food and a funky lineup of musicians. It’s a nice throwback to an edgier Square. Note: Same-day tickets to shows are often available, but the Sinclair’s box office is cash only. 52 Church St., Cambridge, 617-547-5200,

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/file 2009
Beacon Hill sightseeing could include Louisburg Square brownstones.


Beacon Hill

Wander the narrow, romantic cobblestone streets, gawk at the swanky brownstones, browse the boutiques along Charles Street, and pause for a glass of wine at Bin 26 Enoteca (26 Charles St.). Grab a bag of gourmet hand-roasted nuts at Fastachi (83 Charles St.) as a take-home treat.

The Public Garden


Wander through America’s first public botanical garden and stop at the suspension bridge: This romantic spot is great for photo ops. Sadly, the swan boats don’t set sail until April 30, but it’s still worth a visit. Plus, it’s free.


Where to Eat:

Wiqan Ang for the Boston Globe/file 2008
Enjoy shareable plates like paella at Estragon.


Toro is the South End’s best-known tapas parlor, but Estragon holds its own — and it’s often less crowded. Enjoy shareable plates of vegetables, seafood, and grilled meats in moody surroundings heightened by high-octane cocktails. The restaurant is sensitive to vegan and gluten-free diners. 700 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-266-0443,


This subterranean lair beneath dim sum parlor China Pearl trades in Asian small plates. Craft cocktails — not easy to find in Chinatown — are sublime. Fittingly, there are also tiki drinks (the Scorpion jar serves two eager imbibers). 9A Tyler St., Boston, 617-423-7888,

Where to go:


Take in a live show performed by a talented troupe of comics. The actors often rely on audience participation, and late-night shows can get saucy. 40 Prospect St., Cambridge, 617-576-1253,

Fenway Park

Baseball season is finally underway, and the Red Sox face off against the Orioles Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (tickets for a Patriots Day home game against the Orioles are sold out). If you’re in the city post-Marathon, the Sox take on the Yankees April 22-24. Fenway has made several enhancements this year, including additional veggie-friendly concessions and discounted “Sox Saver” games throughout April and May, with tickets starting at $10. 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, 877-REDSOX-9,


Boston By Foot

These themed tours led by highly trained volunteer guides start every April. At 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, visit Johnny Tremain’s Boston. You’ll stop at Colonial-era landmarks mentioned in the classic Revolutionary War tale, like Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church.

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/file 2013
Harpoon Brewery has daily tours beginning at 11 a.m.

Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon’s brewery is in Boston’s rapidly expanding waterfront area. Tours run daily beginning at 11 a.m.; there’s also a newly refurbished beer hall with long tables, a full assortment of beers (plus pilot batches), and pretzels. You’ll get a terrific view of the city skyline, too. Special tip: Harpoon offers private tours for groups, with tastings. 306 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-456-2322,


Where to Eat:

Alden & Harlow

The bar scene here is lovably eclectic: professors, neighborhood eccentrics, giddy students, aging grannies. For a slice of Harvard Square life — and chicken-fried local rabbit — you can’t go wrong. It’s below the landmark Brattle Theatre.40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-864-2100,

Sportello and Drink

Chef Barbara Lynch’s wine bar, Sportello, has a chatty staff, primo people-watching, and portions designed for one. Nibble on pork belly or duck liver crostini ($6), then meander downstairs to Lynch’s bespoke cocktail bar, Drink, where solo imbibers can strike up a conversation with an expert mixologist or blend into the atmosphere. 348 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-1234,,

Kara Baskin can be reached at