Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Visit Walden Pond This Summer From our Bed and Breakfast

Are you looking for things to do in Boston this summer? Try some of the 62 acres of Walden Pond, open year-round to visitors, have risen to true celebrity status and are protected within the boundaries of a State Reservation in Concord, MA. Concord native Henry David Thoreau is responsible for turning the pretty pond into a “literary icon”. For 26 months between 1845 and 1847, Thoreau secluded himself in a pond side cabin he built for less than $30 and wrote the acclaimed book, Walden. This book, inspired by his immersion in nature and lessons in self-sufficiency, is credited with raising awareness for the environment and sparking the American conservation movement. Through Thoreau's legacy, Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Walden Pond State Reservation encompasses 335 acres of protected open space. To protect the natural resources of the area, no more than 1,000 people are permitted on the reservation at once. This peaceful restriction allows visitors to appreciate the serenity of the wildlife in its natural habitat. In warm summer months, the pond is a popular swimming destination. In spring and fall, visitors from all over come to hike the trails that surround the pond and visit the replica of Thoreau's one-room cabin. Interpretive programs and guided walks are offered all year, and a gift shop, bookstore, and the Tsongas art gallery is open to the public.
Walden Pond and the surrounding reservations are about a 40 minute drive from our downtown Boston bed and breakfast.  Our luxurious, peaceful, historic atmosphere perfectly complements a leisurely day in this inspiring park. The staff Clarendon Square Bed and Breakfast is happy to provide guidance and recommendations for a day trip to Walden Pond!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Art and Architecture Tour at Boston Public Library

At the Central branch in Copley Square, the Boston Public Library offers free tours highlighting the architecture of Charles Follen McKim and Philip Johnson, as well as the many works of famed sculptors and painters. The McKim Building of the BPL, just a ten minute walk from our Boston bed and breakfast, is a strikingly memorable structure. Classic facade, a grand Entrance Hall, and a modest elegance contribute to its charm and serenity.  The interior details give the building a constant flow of surprise and aesthetic exploration.
Bates Hall
Upon entering the vestibule, you face a unique trio of 1500 pound bronze doors, created by Daniel Chester French. The broad entrance hall boasts vaulted ceilings covered in a marble mosaic. The great twin lions, crouched on pedestals at the turn of the grand staircase, are the work of Louis Saint-Gaudens, memorials to the Massachusetts Civil War infantry regiments - the 2nd and the 15th.  A gallery of the French artist Puvis de Chavannes's murals inhabit the second floor corridor, heading into Bates Hall. A series of richly colored murals entitled The Quest of the Holy Grail cover the walls in the Abbey Room, on the south end of the Chavannes Gallery, a favorite of many visitors. The lobbies at either end of the Chavannes Gallery are richly decorated with elements reminiscent of Pompeii at the south end and Venice on the north.  Boston artist John Elliott claims the namesake to the Elliott Room neighboring the study hall through the Venetian Lobby, due to his decor on the ceiling, entitled The Triumph of Time.  The magnificent Bates Hall occupies the entire front of the building with enormous arched windows and a barrel vaulted ceiling.  The great American painter John Singer Sargent spent years decorating the long, high walls of the Sargent Gallery with his Triumph of Religion mural. The absence of windows brings a somber tone to the powerful artwork.  Through the south end of the Sargent Gallery is the Wiggin Gallery, originally devoted to the donation of a special print and drawing collection of the Boston-born New York financier Albert H. Wiggin in 1941.  Since his donation, additional works of American and European artists of the 19th and 20th centuries call the Wiggin Gallery home.
Boston Public Library Courtyard
The McKim Building's deep interior courtyard is a haven of peace in a busy city. An arcaded promenade rounds three of the outdoor walls, identical to the cancelleria Palace in Rome. A bronze cast fountain statue entitled Bacchante and Infant Faun lends a bit of whimsy in this picturesque outdoor space.

A new addition to the Boston Public Library was opened in December 1971.   Philip Johnson observed two specific requests in his design of the new building - to mind the existing roofline, and to use complimentary material to the exterior of the McKim Building.  the McKim and Johnson Buildings are connected on three of the Johnson Building's ten levels to provide access to the resources and public services of the library.  Unique structural and mechanical systems were developed in order to contain nine floors and a mezzanine level within the high limitations of the neighboring McKim Building.

Trying to think of things to do in Boston and want to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Boston Public Library for yourself?  The volunteer staff at the BPL offeres free one-hour guided tours every day - but times vary each day, and space is limited. You can find more information on the Boston Public Library website.  The historic experience at the Boston Public Library is seamlessly complimented by a stay at the Clarendon Square Inn.  Our Boston boutique hotel in the South End neighborhood is in a carefully restored 19th century brownstone rowhouse with luxury accomodations offering unparalleled attention to detail.  Let the team at Clarendon Square guide you in a discovery of Boston's most hip and historic neighborhood!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Take a Cruise Over to the Boston Harbor Islands

Map of Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area
The Boston Harbor Islands consist of 2 coastal peninsulas and 32 small islands, ranging in size from less than an acre to over 200 acres.   Hopping a ferry to the Harbor Islands is a fun way to spend an afternoon exploring some of our city's unsung scenery.  Ferries depart from the Long Wharf on the Boston Harborwalk, which is just a ten minute drive from our boutique bed and breakfast.

Spectacle Island

 Boston Harbor Islands ferries make their first stop at Spectacle Island, which opened to the public in 2006 and quickly became a daytime destination.  Jump off the ferry and explore the new Visitors Center, relax on the family-friendly beach, or trek through 5 miles of hiking trails up to the island's highest point and check out amazing views of the Boston skyline and waterfront.
Fort Warren on Georges Island
The Long Wharf ferries then continue on to Georges Island, home to Fort Warren.  Used as a prison during the American Civil War, Fort Warren is best known for it's ghost legend of the "Lady in Black". Park Rangers offer free guided tours, with tons of information about the infamous ghost and other free activities on the island.  Catch a play, historic show, musical performance, or even a vintage baseball game!

If you're looking for more information on the Boston Harbor Islands ferries and how to make the most of your time in the city, Clarendon Square is happy to help.  From our Boston South End location, guests have access to all the popular tourist attractions, and some of the city's best kept secrets!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Trying Small Plates and Tapas in downtown Boston

With so many diverse dining options right in our city, we often find ourselves enticed by one too many dishes on one too many menus - and we want to try them all!  When dining at a restaurant that offers a variety of sharing-sized small plates and appetizers, everyones taste buds can be tickled.  Clarendon Square Boston Bed and Breakfast in the South End neighborhood is very close to a few of our flavorful favorites, and public transportation or a taxi can take you to the others!

 Toro: South End
A short walk from our bed and breakfast, Chef Ken Oringer wins the praise of Bostonian foodies for his thoughtful ingredients and expert preparation.  The dim lighting, bold furnishings, and traditional decor in this Barcelona-esque "taberna" is both complimented and juxtaposed by a wonderful variety of dishes from mouth-watering steaks to lighter vegetarian fare.  Reservations aren't an option, but the buzz is nearly deafening for this perpetual Best of Boston winner, so our recommendation is to go for lunch, or get there early to try it on a weeknight. The best surprise of all: the all-Spanish wine list is very reasonably priced.

Bar Lola: Back Bay
If you are shopping on Newbury Street, Bar Lola has answered the call for a just-off-Newbury retreat to rehydrate and refuel with this Back Bay gem. It's chic, cavey, dimly lit interior plays popular electronic and European sounds, and the patio boasts lively evening scene along the Commonwealth Ave streetside. Mediterranean treats abound on the tapas menu, and their signature cocktails are equally exciting: an edible orchid floats atop the Lolita martini, and the house sangria recipe is the best we've found.

Chinese barbecue pork buns at Myers+Chang
Myers + Chang: South End
The East-meets-1950's dining room is jam-packed nightly, and their popular Tuesday night "date night" menu has the midweek diners out in droves. But their small plates and dim sum offerings are the not-so-secret gems: the Chinese barbecue pork buns and lemony shrimp potstickers are just a few of our favorites. This foodie favorite is just a few blocks away from our Boston boutique hotel.

Cuchi Cuchi: Cambridge
Unlike the popular Spanish-influenced tapas joints, this one in the Kendall Square neighborhood offers small plates from around the globe. Their eclectic decor reminds us of vintage Hollywood glamour and the delicious dishes are equally as memorable. The staff is as wonderful as the extravagant furs and flapper dresses they wear, and whether you come with a group of friends or a romantic date, Cuchi Cuchi will provide an evening you wont soon forget.
Oleana: Cambridge
The sumptuous North African and Mediterranean-inspired small plates like tuna & black olive deviled eggs, or Armenian bean-and-walnut pâté are out of this world, and the entrees are equally tempting. The warm, carefully decorated dining room transports you to the streets of Bodhur and Marrakesh. Visually magnificent, their patio is also wonderful for summertime alfresco dining.  The garden is put to good use, too - Oleana's kitchen staff often harvest herbs, fresh tomatoes and garlic, and a thriving fig tree.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Our Bed & Breakfast's Favorite Way to Chill Out This Summer

As the weather heats up, those visiting Boston - and locals too - need a little something to help cool down. Ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt are America's favorite summer time treats. With so many flavorful options and unique places to try near our bed and breakfast, adults and kids can satisfy their sweet tooth and sample something new without breaking the bank.  While exploring the neighborhoods of our city, chill out at a few of Clarendon Square's favorite spots.

Gigi Gelateria - North End
This Best of Boston winner on Hanover Street offers fresh gelato in fifty flavors each day, ranging from the typical tiramisu to melon or mint. You can order from the street window, or go inside to hear Italian pop music and experience the changing wall colors and mini flat-screen TVs

Toscanini - Cambridge
Made in-house with fresh ingrdients and rich flavors, this place is sure to please the most particular ice cream aficionados. Famous for their burnt caramel flavor, we also enjoy their sorbet - strawberry honey is our favorite scoop. Yet with Toscanini's ever-rotating inventory (french press coffee, gingersnap molasses, and lemon vanilla, to name a few), you'll find your favorite in no time.

Christina's - Cambridge
This home-grown ice cream shop has an endless selection of unique and original ice cream flavors. Lavender honey, Kaffir lime, and cinnamon-spiced Mexican chocolate are just taste of the countless offerings made right on-site. Christina's sister spice shop next door supplies fresh ingredients daily, and for those with simpler tastes, even the cookie dough ice cream is full of flavor.

J.P. Licks - Beacon Hill
This Boston staple has some of the most exotic flavors we've seen, like chocolate ice cream with cayenne pepper and cinnamon, dubbed El Diablo; or the wasabi-flavored Turning Japanese.  J.P. Licks experiments with unusual blends and always yields interesting results. For milder tasts, they offer typical ice cream flavors and some cooler, sweeter flavors like melon, sweet cream, or cucumber.

BerryLine - Newbury Street
Just a few blocks away in the Back Bay, you can swap your ice cream craving for it's cold creamy cousin frozen yogurt. BerryLine's serve-yourself froyo and toppings mimic the setup of the popular west coast Pinkberry chain, but with one major difference - fresh New England taste. A proud Boston original, customer feedback is appreciated and even encouraged. Suggest a seasonal topping or a new flavor, and you may see it on their menu soon after!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Visit Some of the Boston Historic Homes

Our city has one of the richest cultural histories in the United States. Countless influential personalities have called Boston home over the centuries. Many of these historic sites are a short distance of our Boston bed and breakfast. The staff at the Clarendon Square recommends putting aside a few hours to visit at least one or two of these captivating monuments to the past. Experience a trip back in American history by touring any of these Boston homes this summer!

Paul Revere Statue in the North End
Paul Revere House
This North Square townhouse is downtown Boston's oldest building, and ninety percent of the structure of this historic home is original. Built around 1680, the home was purchased by Paul Revere just five years before his famous ride. Repurchased by a descendant of Paul Revere in 1902 after changing hands of ownership for many years, the property has since been restored to accurately resemble its original appearance.

Longfellow House
Originally built in 1759, this historic Cambridge home served as George Washington's personal headquarters during the siege of Boston in the Revolutionary War. In 1843, this historic home was bought by the father-in-law of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as a wedding gift for Longfellow and his new bride. The home and its possessions were carefully preserved by Longfellow's descendants over the years, and guided tours of this historic home are available in the summer.

John F. Kennedy House
The birthplace of President John F. Kennedy in Brookline was personally restored by his mother Rose in the late 1960s. Many of the former president's personal belongings from his younger years are viewable in the nursery, including his original christening gown!  Now a National Historic Site, there are ranger-led tours of the home during the summer but the property is open to the public year round.

Nichols House
The Nichols house is one of the oldest structures on Beacon Hill. Constructed in 1804, the house has been adapted into a museum depicting the domestic life of a typical Beacon Hill family during the early 1800s. Those with artistic interests will love the beautiful antiques and rare possessions such as Flemish tapestries and ancestral portraits filling the rooms of this historic home.

Gibson House
The Gibson House of Boston's Back Bay was built in 1859-1860, and declared a National Historic Site in 2001. The Gibson family's original furniture and personal possessions allow visitors to get a true insight of the life and times of a wealthy Boston family during the late 1800s. Located on Beacon Street, the Gibson House is open year-round for guided tours.

Old Manse
Old Manse
Located in Concord, about 30 minutes outside of Boston, this historic home stood witness to the beginnings of the American Revolution and has influenced the lives of many writers. Originally built in 1770 by Reverend William Emerson, the grandfather of the writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, the home is now a museum that can be toured by the public. Ralph Waldo Emerson was not the only writer to have occupied this historic home. In the mid 1800s, Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife rented the home for three years. During that time, Henry David Thoreau sowed a vegetable garden at the Old Manse as a wedding gift to the Hawthornes. A recreation of that garden exists in the same location.
Orchard House
Orchard House, also in Concord, is the birthplace of author Louisa May Alcott. Built in the early 1700s, The Orchard House serves as the setting for her celebrated novel Little Women. No major structural changes have been made since the Alcott residency, and nearly three quarters of the current furnishings are original family-owned pieces.