Ten years and eight months — give or take a couple of days — is how long I’ve lived in Boston. And I’ve never taken a Duck Tour.
I’ve watched them drive up and down Huntington Avenue, past my walk to class when I was an undergrad at Northeastern University. Again when I was in my mid-20s, as a writer living in Back Bay. I cringed as they quacked and groaned when out-of-town guests suggested we take one. Now, that I approach my last month in the city, I want nothing more than to take one for a ride.
Despite living in the Back Bay for the majority of my time here, I’ve never been to the top of the Prudential Center and had a cocktail at Top of the Hub. I’ve never strolled down to the Esplanade for fireworks on the Fourth of July. I’ve never been to the BSO. I was never at the finish line for the Boston Marathon. (To be fair, as a newsroom employee, I’ve always been working.)
I’ve never been to a game at Fenway Park. (GASP.)
I blame the “I’ll get to it when it’s not so crowded” mentality that comes with taking your own neighborhood for granted. I eventually moved to Davis Square, and now am anticipating my next move — back to New York, where I’ve Ping-Ponged with Boston since I graduated high school. This time, however, it’s different. It’s a more permanent move. While I’m not sure I’ll remain in New York, I know I won’t be back to Boston — at least not permanently.
So in the coming month, I plan to embark on checking off my (very) Boston bucket list. Below are 55 very touristy things I want to do before I leave the city for good. I think they could make an excellent summer to-do list. Some I vouch for (and just want to do again) while for others, I’ll be a first-timer. Either way, they’re all quintessentially Boston.
• Order the Beyoncé at Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers; wash it down with a lemonade.
• Go on a Boston Ghost Tour — which I’ve been told are equally terrifying and enthralling for history buffs. See a ghost.
• Study the fine art of preservation and replication — especially the glass flowers — at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
• Get down at Zuzu’s Saturday night Soulelujah dance party.
• Kayak down the Charles via Community Boating.
• Catch some stellar acoustics in Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
• Finally get to Fenway and order the Lobster Poutine. Don’t feel a bit guilty about it.
• Devour slices at Galleria Umberto and Ernesto’s in the North End, before washing them down with Santarpio’s in Eastie. Bring cash.
• Eat a chocolate mouse (or four) from L.A. Burdick.
• Say “so long” to the penguins at the New England Aquarium.
• Master the art of candlepin bowling at Sacco’s; skills are non-transferrable.
• Get lost at Cambridge Antique Market.
• Raid Boston Public Market and Haymarket, then picnic on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
• Check off my local craft beer brewery list — Trillium, Night Shift, Lamplighter, Aeronaut, Mystic, Dorchester, etc.
• Finally see the Boston Pops.
• Walk the paths at the Arnold Arboretum or the Public Garden; remember how lucky we are to have a city with access to this much green.
• Take the Architecture and Art tour of the beautiful Boston Athenaeum.
• Catch an After Midnight screening at Coolidge Corner Theatre.
• Whittle away an afternoon reading at one of the many fine independent bookstores I’ve failed to spend enough time in — Brookline Booksmith, Papercuts J.P., Porter Square Books — and ask their expert staffs for help with my summer reading list.
• See a laser light show at the Museum of Science Planetarium.
• Embrace all the cheese and glory of floating by on a Swan Boat in the Public Garden.
• Whisper a secret to the Mapparium — The Mary Baker Eddy Library’s perfectly spherical globe that carries sound from one bridge end to another.
• Attend open night at the Boston University’s Coit Observatory. They’re Wednesday nights, weather dependent, and free.
• Make the trek to Castle Island; get a chili dog with cheese at Sullivan’s.
• Eat one more absolutely perfect sticky bun from Flour.
• Catch a blend of Berklee and neighborhood jazz at Wally’s.
• Start a book at the Boston Public Library’s Bates Hall; finish it in the Courtyard.
• Follow almost every chef in Boston’s advice and eat through the menu at Peach Farm.
• Watch a flick from the balcony at the Brattle.
• Have that unavoidable drink at Cheers; don’t act surprised when nobody knows my name.
• Wait in line for the Super Cluckin’ sandwich at Cutty’s.
• Hike around the Harbor Islands.
• Let the bartenders take the wheel at Drink.
• Make last call at the Model; dance the remaining 30 minutes away.
• Surrender ears to Cantab on a weeknight.
• Snap a selfie in Graffiti Alley.
• Get all my senses tipsy at Cafe ArtScience.
• Slurp down a watermelon full of shoju at Myung Dong 1st Ave; follow with questionable karaoke.
• See a pay-what-you-can production from the Hub Theatre Company.
• Get lost in the halls of the Museum of Fine Arts; channel inner-“Gossip Girl” from the front marble steps.
• Eat at South Street Diner at 3 a.m.
• Walk up Washington Tower at Mount Auburn Cemetery at dusk.
• Take a taco tour through Eastie, finish with beers at K.O. Pies at the Shipyard.
• Find my zen with outdoor yoga at Frog Pond.
• Find one last diamond in the rough at the Garment District. (Fun fact: My freshman year, I bought vintage cowboy boots here for my dad. He still says they’re the best shoes he’s ever owned.)
• Experience one last seaside show at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.
• Go for a dunk at Inman Oasis.
• Stock up on stationary at Black Ink.
• Drink in the beer garden at Charlie’s Kitchen; eat all the cheeseburgers.
• See a science-theater production at the MIT Museum.
• Get tipsy with [Expletive] Shakespeare.
• Have a pint at the Bell in Hand.
• Stand under the Old State House balcony; download a reading of the Declaration of Independence from Audible or YouTube.
• Visit Make Way for Ducklings in the Public Garden.
• And finally take that Boston Duck Tour.
Rachel Raczka can be reached at email@example.com