Boston's Best

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Boston’s Best

By Camilla Tubbs

As we prepare for another great AALL Annual Meeting, you will undoubtedly see many recommendations and “top 10” lists for things to do in the Boston area: places to see, books to read, great eats, etc. To help you pick from all of the wonderful options, the Annual Meeting Local Arrangements Committee has put together 10 excellent planned excursions for members during their stay in Boston.

I recently sat down with The Yale Book of Quotations author Fred Shapiro to put together some of the best quotes from the Boston area, relating them to the planned AALL excursions and other fun activities to do while in Boston. Registration for all excursions closes July 6, so register now! Happy planning, and I look forward to seeing you in July.

#10: Boston Red Sox Game

“Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open anguish, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters.”
- John Updike on Ted Williams’ last baseball game at Fenway Park, The New Yorker, October 22, 1960

Although the Red Sox just missed the playoffs, 2011 was still a great year for Boston area sports: the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl, and the Celtics made it to the semifinals. Perhaps all the Red Sox need this year is a little law librarian help! On Saturday, July 21, enjoy a Red Sox game at one of America’s most beloved stadiums—Fenway Park.

If you are a baseball fan but can’t make it to the planned excursion game, you can still tour Fenway Park on your own. You can purchase Fenway Park Tour tickets at the Red Sox Ticket Office or, when the Ticket Office is closed, at the Team Store on Yawkey Way. For more information about tour availability, visit the Red Sox website.

And for fans of those “other sports teams,” check out the Sports Museum, housed in the TD Banknorth Garden. This museum holds some of Boston’s best sports memorabilia for the serious Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Revolution fans.

#9: Beacon Hill and Public Garden Evening Tour

“Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes in The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, volume 1, issue 6, 1858

Stroll past the golden dome of the “New” State House and the elegant homes of Louisburg Square during an evening tour. Learn the story of Beacon Hill, from its rural beginnings to the visions of the Mount Vernon Proprietors, while walking among this historic collection of Federal and Greek Revival row houses. Then follow your guide through the Boston Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in the United States.   This excursion will take place on Monday, July 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

If you cannot make the tour of Beacon Hill, you can still visit the Old State House, which is the oldest surviving public building in Boston. Built in 1713 to house the government offices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the site served as the seat of the British colonial government until 1776. A hub of historical activities, the area beneath the balcony was the site of the Boston Massacre. The Old State House is located at the corner of State and Washington Streets in downtown Boston and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.  Check out the Bostonian Society’s website for visitor information.

#8: Bottoms Up . . . Boston Brewery Tour

“I have just returned from Boston. It is the only sane thing to do if you find yourself up there.”
-Fred Allen in a letter to Groucho Marx, June 12, 1953

You can take a break from conference insanity by enjoying a tour of the Samuel Adams and Harpoon Breweries on Saturday, July 21, from 9 a.m. to noon. Beer tasting is included in the guided tour, but please note all participants in the Brewery Tour must be 21 years of age or older with a proper ID.  

If you still need to relax (or if 9 a.m. is too early for you to think about drinking), Boston’s Comedy Studio is a great place to catch a few laughs while enjoying a Scorpion bowl or two . . . or three. Nightly shows (except for Monday) start at 8 p.m. For more information, visit The Comedy Studio’s website.

#7:  Cambridge Academia Tour—MIT Campus/MIT Museum and Harvard University

“Enter to grow in wisdom. Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind.” 
-Inscription on Dexter Gate to Harvard Yard, 1880
Not to be confused with:

“I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”
-Rumbles Left and Right by William F. Buckley, Jr., 1963

Enjoy a tour of the Harvard and MIT campus on Saturday, July 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. A professional guide will walk you through the campus of the oldest university in the country, as well as MIT’s cutting-edge Emerging Technologies Gallery. You will have time to browse the shops and bookstores of Harvard Square. Roundtrip transportation will be provided via mini coach.

If you cannot make it to this tour but are interested in visiting the campus, Harvard’s Information Center offers a number of tours.

#6: A Twilight Tour of Salem

“If therefore in the examination of this Cause the Evidence is not sufficient to Convince you beyond reasonable doubt of the Guilt of all or any of the Prisoners by the Benignity and Reason of the Law you will acquit them.” 
-Robert Treat Paine, closing argument in the Boston Massacre Trial (1770). Earliest known reference to the “reasonable doubt” standard of guilt in criminal cases.

The benefit of the doubt would have really helped Mary Walcott and others during the Witch Trials of the 1690s! During this excursion, your guide will create a portrait and an understanding of the legacy of the witch trials and how this chapter in Salem’s history influenced the city for generations to come. You’ll walk through the charming streets of Salem, passing by the famous House of Seven Gables and the Witch House. After the tour concludes, a delicious seated dinner will be served at Capt’s Waterfront Grill and Pub overlooking the harbor. This excursion will take place on Sunday, July 22, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. and will include roundtrip transportation, a tour guide, the specialized twilight tour, and a complete three-course dinner.

#5: JFK Library Tour 

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” 
-John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

Although this quote was not first spoken in Boston and is not about Boston, it is from one of the most famous Bostonians of all time, President John F. Kennedy. Celebrate his presidency with an excursion to the John F. Kennedy Library. You will travel from Cambridge to the shoreline of Dorchester Bay to visit the spectacular JFK Library, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei. First, you will see a short film about President Kennedy, and then you can walk the campaign trail, view the famous Kennedy/Nixon debates, see the often humorous press conferences, and continue on through the highlights of his presidency. Sit in on the strategy sessions during the Cuban Missile Crisis; see the Kennedy oval office and the gifts the Kennedys received during his presidency, as well as mementos from his personal life. This excursion will take place on Saturday, July 21, from 1 to 4 p.m.

#4: Lexington and Concord—The Shot Heard Round the World

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,  
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.” 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn,” 1837

Travel the Battle Road between Lexington and Concord. You will visit the Old North Bridge, see the Minuteman Statue, and stand on the site of the “shot heard round the world.” While in Concord, you will pass by the homes of Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, three of Concord’s most famous residents. Roundtrip transportation will be provided via mini coach. The tour will be on Saturday, July 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

#3: Evening Boston Ducks Tours: The Ride of Your Life

“ . . . One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm . . . .”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” 1860

Travel by land and sea in an amphibious landing vehicle, a “duck” retrofitted to take you on a special historical tour of Boston, with a very special splashdown right into the Charles River for a breathtaking waterside view of Boston. This activity will take place on Tuesday, July 24 from 5:30 to 6:50 p.m. Pick-up and drop-off will be at the Hynes Convention Center.

And if you feel the need to go even further out to sea . . .

#2: Private Whale Watch in Stellwagon Bank, Plymouth 

This excursion takes you on a four-hour private charter, departing from Plymouth Harbor, to visit one of the primary feeding grounds for humpback whales, dolphins, fin whales, minke whales, and harbor porpoises. Experienced naturalists will guide you on a trip that is educational, exciting, and impressive. This excursion will take place on Wednesday, July 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with the actual whale watch occurring from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The tour includes roundtrip transportation via mini coach, professional guide service, cruise, refreshments, boxed lunch, and all taxes.

#1: Complete Tour of Boston

“I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she needs none. There she is. Behold her, and judge for yourselves. There is her history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure. There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill; and there they will remain forever.” 
-Daniel Webster, Second Speech on Foote’s Resolution, U.S. Senate, January 26, 1830

Discover the charm of one of America’s oldest and most historic cities by exploring Boston’s old and new neighborhoods, including Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Downtown, North End, Charlestown, and Fenway/Kenmore. The tour, part on a mini bus, part on foot, will take place on Saturday, July 21, from noon to 4 p.m.

If you cannot make the complete tour but would still enjoy a walking tour of the city, there are various others available:

‘Neath the Streets of Boston

“Did he ever return?
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn’d
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.”
-“M.T.A.,” often called “The MTA Song” or “Charlie on the M.T.A.,” by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes, released by the Kingston Trio in 1959

Take the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) throughout your stay in Boston to easily explore the various sites. Schedules, fares, maps, and more information are located at MBTA’s website.

Camilla Tubbs ( is head of instructional services and faculty services at Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Library in New Haven, Connecticut.