The race is only part of the scene for spectators during the Boston Marathon. From the starting line in Hopkinton to the waning miles in Brookline, there is no shortage of places to eat, drink, or enjoy the fun along the famed 26.2-mile route. Here are a few of the possibilities.
Sculptor Michael Alfano is best known locally for his bronze statue of George V. Brown holding a starter's pistol at the Boston Marathon's starting line. Alfano, a Hopkinton resident, is working on producing 26 winged feet, each painted to represent a different aspect of the race. The pictured sculpture, painted by Maura Conron, captures the route in all its quaint New England glory and is on display in a Main Street storefront just before Mile Zero.
Storefront at 28 Main St. (Route 135), Hopkinton
If it's a party you seek, go directly to T.J.'s Fine Food and Spirits, just past the Hopkinton line. A disc jockey will be serving up tunes, and starting at 8 a.m. the bar will offer alcohol, including a special beverage from Samuel Adams called Boston 26.2 Brew. A Gose-style ale, it is available on tap only at race-related events and at about 100 pubs and restaurants along the route and around Boston, according to a spokeswoman for the Boston Beer Co. So do marathoners ever stop at T.J.'s for a beer? "They have,'' said T.J.'s owner John Tomasz, with a grin. "Runners have come in and not gone any farther.''
T.J.'s, 355 West Union St. (Route 135), Ashland
You can scarcely enter the third town along the marathon route without sampling something from Little Brazil. Right on the route near downtown is the Magic Oven, or Forninho Magico, which opens at 6 a.m. Customers new to Brazilian fare often like the bakery's coxinha, which is deep-fried dough with chicken and cream cheese, or the rissoles, another deep-fried Brazilian specialty, but with cheese and corn, according to bakery co-owner Katia Caldeira. The race also goes right past Framingham's commuter rail stop, and several trains can get you there before the first racers pound the pavement.
The Magic Oven, 470 Waverly St. (Route 135), Framingham
Marathoners go right past the Natick Common, which is surrounded by a small but thriving downtown. American Legion Post 107 plans to sell hot dogs and hamburgers again after last year's big success. Money raised goes toward an annual Natick schools' ceremony, at which flag-raising and -lowering duties are transferred from student to student, according to post commander Patrick Clark. Need coffee? Try Bakery on the Common, which opens at 6 a.m. Need a "Mad Men'' fix? Try Renew Arts and Industry, a new shop just off the route on South Main Street, which sells vintage housewares.
Natick Common, East Central Street (Route 135), Natick
Just after Wellesley College and the famous Scream Tunnel, formed by students cheering on marathoners, the route winds through Wellesley Square. There, spectators can stop at any number of businesses, but if all that movement has inspired you, check out Wellesley Books, where you can pick up some tips on running. The store carries the "Great Runs'' series by Brookline author Mark Lowenstein, which suggests scenic and historic places to jog or walk in several towns in the area, including Brookline, Newton, Wellesley, Natick, Weston, Lexington, and Concord.
Wellesley College, 106 Central St.; Wellesley Books, 82 Central St. (Route 135), Wellesley
Last year Boston College students decided it was time to stake out their unique position at the top of Heartbreak Hill, encouraging students to be good cheerleaders, and this year organizers plan to carry on the new tradition. The inflatable arch will be back at Mile 21, which the school is calling the Golden Mile, said Sharon Blumenstock, assistant director of programming at BC. Look for golden pennies, rally towels, and "super fan'' shirts, she said, and you'll know runners have only about 5 miles to go.
Boston College, Commonwealth Avenue and College Road, Newton
Here the route takes you through Coolidge Corner and past an abundance of shops and eateries. Last year, the Meat House took its offerings outside, with a hot dog machine, free samples, and a man dressed as a pickle. This year will mean more of the same. "We will be bringing our store into the street,'' said franchise co-owner Bonnie Hoagland, who lives in Hopkinton. She said the marathon is a great family-oriented way for people all over the region to come together. "It's overall just a really fun day," she said. "It's a springtime rite of passage for this area."
The Meat House, 1285 Beacon St., Brookline