After graduating from college in 2007, New England native Lauren Wells moved to the west side of South Boston with her then-boyfriend/now-husband, Matt. Over the years, they’ve watched developing neighborhoods emerge — including their own — and have enjoyed being a part of the ever-changing landscape.
As Creative Director and founder of her own firm, Lauren often travels for both work and play, but she is grateful to call this four-season, East Coast city her home. From its walkable streets and historic sites, to its world-famous marketplaces and attractions that rein in over 12 million visitors each year, this proud capital of Massachusetts has a lot to offer, and today, Lauren is sharing just a taste of it. –Sabrina
Photography by Lauren Wells
First up, tacos and guac! Border is a staple, right in Harvard Square. Bottomless chips, the best empanadas, and frozen strawberry margaritas — all for under $40.
Loco in South Boston is a favorite of just about everyone who walks through their doors. Ceviches, oysters, fish tacos and coconut margaritas — not to mention the best service.
In Somerville, The Painted Burro is another favorite, with the most daydream-inducing nachos, an eggy chorizo taco that is heaven, and an amazing brunch menu as well. Be sure to get the horchata iced coffee if you visit!
Speaking of brunch, two spots we frequent are Tatte Bakery (the muesli and the shakshuka, please), and Rosebud Kitchen. Oh, Rosebud Kitchen. It’s everything brunch should be, from the DIY bloody mary bar to the griddled breakfast sandwich to the blueberry-stuffed pancake. Toro and Puritan serve great brunches, too.
If you are on the run, there is nothing like a South End Buttery bacon, tomato, egg and cheese on a biscuit. Unless, of course, you pair it with one of their blueberry-lemon scones. Perfection!
Now, onto coffee and cocktails! Thinking Cup on Newbury pours the best hazelnut latte around, while The Coffee Trike is great for a midday pick-me-up. Newly opened Gracenote by South Station is a beautiful spot to check out as well.
Loyal Nine in Cambridge is my absolute favorite — reminiscent of the open-air coffee shops in Chiang Mai, it is the dreamiest place to sit, work and sip all day. As for cocktails, Drink, Shojo, Trade and Alden & Harlow continuously impress, with inventive drinks and beautiful presentation. If you are a wine enthusiast, be sure to visit Belly in Kendall Square — and roast a s’more while you are there!
A few favorite dinner spots include Sarma (go with friends so you can order as much of the menu as possible), Island Creek Oyster Bar (their sister restaurant Row 34 is equally splendid), and Menton (fine dining at its finest).
There are a few casual favorites that we dine at regularly, and they are all sorts of wonderful. Picco in the South End has wood-fired pizzas and homemade ice cream, with an extensive beer list to boot. Myers + Chang offers modern Asian cuisine, served dim sum style with mouthwatering flavors. And lastly, Cafe Jaffa is a tiny gem in Back Bay, serving Middle Eastern dishes and giant vats of “sangria for two.”
My favorite neighborhood to shop and stroll is Beacon Hill. There are plenty of boutiques along Charles Street, such as Good (unique, beautiful gifts), Crush (my favorite women’s clothing boutique), Dress (they carry a number of great brands, including Clare V. and Ace & Jig), and December Thieves, offering all sorts of amazing accessories and high-quality finds.
The South End is great for small shops and boutiques as well. Sault offers a great range of menswear and gifts for men, while Niche offers everything you need for an urban garden oasis. Olives & Grace sells food gifts and small goods from domestic makers, and Follain is an organic beauty haven, with the most simple and stunning store design.
Farm & Fable is the one-stop shop for foodies and culinary collectors, and you can even attend events in the beautifully designed kitchen below the store. Pioneer Goods Co. is another don’t-miss shop, with furniture, home accessories and antique finds. And lastly, Hudson is a fantastic home store, with small accessories and larger pieces of furniture that are both classic and unique.
Harvard Square is another great area to explore. Mint Julep is the best for cocktail dresses and pretty frocks, while Leavitt & Peirce is a tobacco, gift and game shop. Black Ink has all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to delight, and there is an honor-system bookstand right on Brattle Street that is perfect for perusing.
Boston has plenty of farmers’ markets, with Copley Square and the Greenway hosting two of the best. Pick up fresh fruit, locally grown veggies and handfuls of wildflowers.
The Verb Hotel is one of Boston’s newest spots, right in the midst of Fenway. With a mid-century vibe and an outdoor pool, it can’t be beat.
The museums in Boston are exceptional! From the MFA to the ICA to the Isabella Stewart Gardner, there is art for everyone. Each of those museums have monthly cocktail parties, so be sure to check the calendar before you visit. ICA First Fridays on the harbor are a blast, with DJs, summer cocktails and an Island Creek Oyster raw bar. Another museum that flies a bit under the radar is the Harvard Museum of Natural History. There are two exhibits which always blow my mind — the rocks/minerals and the glass flowers — but the whole museum is worth exploring!
No trip to Boston would be complete without stepping into the Boston Public Library. It is a storied building, pun intended, and so magnificent.
You should also be sure to wander through the Boston Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in America.
Get out on the water! Whether you rent stand-up paddle boards for the Charles or Fort Point Channel, charter a sailboat from the Boston Sailing Center, or embrace being a tourist on a Duck Tour, be sure to view the city from the sea.
If you are looking for a fun activity, try a cooking class at Stir, have a picnic at the Arnold Arboretum, visit the SoWa Open Market, or head over to Lawn on D for what is sure to a fun-filled day under the sun.
Is it raining? Catch a movie at one of Boston’s many local theaters. Brattle Theatre and Landmark Theatres, a Kendall Square Cinema, show a wonderful selection of films, with freshly popped popcorn and Boylan natural sodas.
And lastly, leave the city! One of the most tremendous things about Boston is you can drive two hours in any direction, and you will end up somewhere crazy-beautiful and quintessentially New England, such as Cape Cod, Vermont, Maine or The Berkshires.