Christmas in Boston
Replies: 29 - Last Post: Mar 18, 2013 7:46 AM Last Post By: amobr82
Nov 17, 2012 6:22 AM
15From the Mass General area you may well be better off walking. Downtown Boston is very compact, and the T (subway/metro/tube) stops are not always convenient. By the time you find a station and perhaps change trains, you could be there on foot. Eternal Boston question: "Shall we walk, or is there time to take the T?"
I would recommend the Boston board on Chowhound for more details. Anyone can read, free registration required to post.
Your best bet for a traditional Christimas dinner may be one of the big hotels, which always keep their restaurants open on holidays. If you do that, make a reservation.
Nov 17, 2012 2:40 PM
16Thanks for useful links and ideas, everyone. I'm reading and replying on my phone, so apologies for the short message - will respond properly tomorrow.
There are definitely some promising suggestions there, which I'll follow up tomorrow when I can get on my PC - sounds like I need to book early to be on the safe side.
Great to hear the city is walkable. My husband and I are both fit and healthy (we run marathons regularly) so walking a few miles, even in the snow, really isn't a big deal (and is a great way to burn off the calories in a big Christmas dinner!).
Nov 17, 2012 2:48 PM
Nov 17, 2012 5:45 PM
Nov 18, 2012 2:26 PM
19Thanks again everyone - the two links from bzookaj and VinnyD in particular have some potential winners on there for me. I doubt any of those listed are the best or most authentic restaurants in the city, but we can do those on any other night - and the hotel restaurants will be full of people in the same boat as us, away from home for Christmas.
One final final question (I promise!): What time to people typically eat Christmas dinner there? Here we tend to eat somewhere around 3.30 (after the Queen's Speech), but I'd imagine it's different there. I'd kinda like to be there the same time as everyone else, to get a little more atmosphere.
Nov 18, 2012 3:24 PM
Nov 19, 2012 5:19 AM
21Atmosphere? Everyone else? It's my impression that you will be eating with some foreign tourists and stranded travelers, rather than the majority of locals who celebrate with family and friends at home, go to a movie, or maybe serve at a food pantry.
Just out of curiousity (and with all due respect), how many of you have chosen to eat Christmas dinner at a restaurant? Boston residents on here ... how many have eaten, or know someone who has eaten, Christmas dinner at the listed restaurants? Do the restaurants really get enough traffic to make it worth opening and taking staff away from their own families? I noticed in one of the local foodie magazines that some that are open on Thanksgiving aren't open on Christmas. (Maybe my impression is utterly incorrect, but then it's not my holiday.)
Nov 19, 2012 7:27 AM
Nov 20, 2012 7:49 AM
23Umm, thanks, amobr82, but I am well aware this isn't the most authentic of Boston experiences and that most people will be celebrating at home. Of course I am going to be in a hotel restaurant with a bunch of other stranded people, but that's kind of why I'm asking - because that's still preferable to being on our own in an apartment in a foreign city on Christmas Day. Given that I do have to be abroad for Christmas, I would rather be in a restaurant with a bunch of other people in the same boat than be the only people there - hence my question about timing.
Not all queries are about wanting to keep it real - sometimes you just are where you are and have to make the most of it, and I am pleased to hear there are a small number of places that cater for people in my position.
Nov 20, 2012 8:01 AM
24So if you are supposedly with a bunch of other stranded foreigner travelers, why would when we Bostonians or Americans typically eat Christmas dinner be of concern (vs. simply open hours of restaurants) ?
Why not sign up for Couchsurfing, an organization of people who enjoy showing their city to others (not just housing them on the couch), and see if someone local would like to invite you for a typical family dinner? (If you're here a Chanukah, I'd be glad to invite you personally, but Christmas is not a holiday I celebrate in any way.)
Or contact Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, who need volunteers to bring a complete Christmas dinner, including flowers, to a qualifying, sometimes isolated, elder and stay for a while to chat. I believe they do a short training just before you choose a person to visit in an area that's most convenient for you.
Nov 20, 2012 9:10 AM
25Question for OP: do you belong to a church in the UK? If so, perhaps your priest/minister has some connection to a congregation in Boston and someone there can put you in touch with a host family for Christmas dinner.
Nov 20, 2012 2:09 PM
26Our big Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November tends to be a very traditional meal. X-mas meals are more variable. Some families repeat a turkey dinner, but many don't.
Families tend to develop their own X-mas dinner, especially in the North East. A roast of some type is common (often pork or beef). A ham is also popular, but perhaps a bit more common in the southern U.S. Many just cook a gourmet meal and it varies from year to year. Some families focus more on X-mas eve dinner, and X-mas day dinner can be something simpler.
Opentable.com is a good resource for determining which restaurants will be open.
Nov 26, 2012 6:02 PM
Mar 18, 2013 6:25 AM
28Updating the thread for future searchers!
Picking up on a few of the points above:
- West End: This very much seemed to be a real place when we we got there. We rented an Airbnb apartment near Mass General. At the start of the road leading up was a big sign that said 'welcome to Boston's West End'. And when we took a taxi back late one night, we told the driver to drop us by Mass General, and he replied "in the West End?". So if it's an antiquated term, then no one seems to have told the locals, or Google.
- Christmas dinner: We booked a table at Astana, where we had a lovely (if expensive) Christmas meal (turkey, beef with all the trimmings). We went at 5pm and it was packed. There seemed to be a good mix of locals and out-of-towners - the sommellier was Scottish (and very clued up).
- "It won't snow": It snowed. I went running along the Charles River in the snow on Christmas morning. It was lovely.
Summary: aside from Christmas Eve, which was VERY quiet (bars seemed to close early evening), there was enough stuff open to keep me amused and fed over the Christmas period in Boston. Even the transport was open, although we barely used it the whole time we were there. Boston is VERY walkable.
Mar 18, 2013 7:46 AM
29"West End: This very much seemed to be a real place when we we got there. We rented an Airbnb apartment near Mass General. At the start of the road leading up was a big sign that said 'welcome to Boston's West End'. And when we took a taxi back late one night, we told the driver to drop us by Mass General, and he replied "in the West End?". So if it's an antiquated term, then no one seems to have told the locals, or Google."
Yes, the city is trying some 'campaign of pride' for more recent residents, since the city government did destroy the heart of the actual West End "neighborhood" (in the true sense of that word) many years ago after forcibly evicting residents and has very recently expressed some contrition, now that it is generally accepted that "urban renewal" did not work in most US cities where it was imposed by short-sighted officials.
If you walked near North Station or the (TD or whatever it's now called) Garden, you could have seen the ONE remaining brownstone from the old neighborhood, and the new apartment building that finally got built very recently, decades after the promise that residents of the hundreds that were destroyed by the city could come back to new residences near their longtime neighbors in a few months afterward the demolition. VERY sore point for actual locals with generations of roots in Boston and any sense of city history.
Mass General is usually considered to be at the edge of the Beacon Hill neighborhood, even when the actual West End neighborhood still existed before the 60s.
Boston taxi drivers are usually Haitian or some other immigrant group, not locals.
You lucked out the the snow. So did we, since there wasn't much to actually have to shovel and to make commuting a nightmare.
Glad you enjoyed your trip.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$319.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$206.21 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$515.00 per night