Newcomer's Guide

Em’s Newcomer’s Guide to Boston

Welcome to Boston – you’re gonna love it!!! You may have heard that Bostonians are a bit ‘rough around the edges,’ or that the winters are brutal, or that all anyone ever talks about are New England sports teams, but there’s so much more to it than that. I’ve put together a guide of personally-vetted activities to get you acclimated, as well as some helpful tips, websites, and blogs.


Transportation: The T is great – if you live anywhere near the city I would recommend using it over driving any day of the week (traffic here is AWFUL). Getting the monthly T pass (aka Charlie Card) is super handy, and at $75/month, you have access to all the local trains and buses. Definitely helpful to see if your employer has a program to sign you up for commuter benefits – they automatically deduct the cost from your pre-tax paycheck (hello tax benefits) and automatically reload your Charlie Card so you don’t have to worry about it. A helpful app is the MBTA Bus app or NextBus (if you need to take one). Hubway bikes are also a fun way to get around and a yearly membership is only $80. If you do have a car, just be extra alert – there are street cleanings twice a month and the schedule gets crazy and you can get a $50 obstruction ticket if you forget to move your car. Same goes for when it snows – you can get a $100 snow plow obstruction ticket if you’re not careful. ALWAYS read the parking signs and pay your meters – you’ll get ticketed over anything. Also, sign up for E-Z Pass for your car – no more waiting in line to pay tolls!

Church: One word: Aletheia. Located in Cambridge off the Central Square red line stop, this place can’t be beat!

Clothing: Ok, let’s be real. Boston can get cold. Really cold. And wet. And hot. Basically you get all 4 seasons, so it’s best to be prepared. After living here for several years and consulting with fellow New Englanders, I’ve come up with a few ‘necessities’ for your wardrobe (if you don’t have them already):
·         Coat – the North Face parka is hands down the most recommended winter coat I’ve heard of. The fur on the hood is crucial.
·         Rain/Snow Boots: Hunter Wellies. With the Fleece Sleeves. Boom.
·         Gloves – they need to be warm but not cumbersome as you’re fumbling to find your Charlie Card to get on the train. Mountain Hardware Power Stretch gloves are awesome (and with the clasp, you’ll never lose just one).

~Getting Plugged In~

Meetup: This website is *awesome.* When I first moved to Boston, I immediately signed up for a few different groups based on my interests and made a commitment to try them all at least twice. The group that I met the most people in eventually disbanded, but there are still a ton of great meetups!

Church: Even if you don’t end up coming to Aletheia, getting plugged in at church is huge. It takes a lot of effort and intentionality, but it’s worth it! I recommend joining a community group as soon as possible and once you’ve found your church home, sign up to serve on one of the ministry teams. It’s a great way to meet people and see them on a regular basis!

Classes: Taking classes is so fun! I love to cook so I enjoy taking cooking classes (Helen’s Kitchen is great) and you can attend free lectures on Monday nights at Harvard. Paint Nite is also fun if you’re the creative type. The Cambridge Center for Adult Education offers great classes in all sorts of areas that are super affordable.

Volunteer: Such a great way to meet people! I’m a Big Sister, but there are a ton of other great organizations and causes you can work with in the area.

~Playing Tourist~

When you first get here, you should definitely take advantage of all that Boston has to offer. Check these items off your Boston Bucket List:

Boston Public Library: The BPL is *gorgeous* and worth a visit just to take in the architecture. Get a library card while you’re at it!

Museum of Fine Arts: The MFA is beautiful and has wonderful exhibits and traveling exhibits. It (along with many other Boston museums) has a First Friday you can attend with a bar, DJ, hors d’oeurves, and mingling – all while looking at art!

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: The ISG is my personal favorite museum in the area. Go see it – it’s worth it!

Duck Tours: Yeah, they’re cheesy, but they’re actually really fun and show you a lot of the city! You can sign up for your tickets online.

Walking Tours: Another great way to see the city and learn more about its history!

Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market: Another Boston must – just go check it out, spend too much on the overpriced food, and watch the street performers.

Newbury Street: Located in Back Bay, this is great place to shop and stroll, people watch, and buy that North Face coat you’ll need. Also near the Prudential Center (part of the Boston skyline).

Charles Street: Another great place to shop and stroll. Also right in Beacon Hill, Boston’s most well-known neighborhood. Be sure to stop in at Black Ink, Flat of the Hill, and Moxie.

Harvard Square: You’re in Boston – you have to visit Harvard. Go into the Coop and get lost in a book, stop around the corner at Cardullo’s for imported international treats, grab a hot chocolate at L.A. Burdick, and eat a quick slice at either Otto’s or Pinocchio’s.

Fenway Park: I’m not a baseball fan, but you should still catch a game and eat a Fenway Frank! Same goes for the other sporting events – watching the Bruins or Celtics at TD Garden or the Patriots at Pat’s Place.

~Outside of the City~

There’s more to New England than just Boston! New York City is a 4-hour bus ride away ($25 for a one-way ticket), Montreal, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the Cape are all great weekend getaways (for an extended weekend – you need 3-4 days for each). If you sign up for Zipcar or Relay Rides (if you don’t already have your own vehicle) you can easily go to some of the surrounding areas.

Nashoba Valley Winery: A quintessential New England fall activity – apple picking, a $7 winery tour (with tastings!), and a picnic. Only 40 minutes outside the city!

Newport, RI: Just an hour drive away, it’s a really cute harbor town and you can catch a polo match in the summer!

Newburyport: Probably my favorite beach town (there are a ton on the North Shore), it’s small, walkable, and less than 10 minutes away from Plum Island Beach.


And now….the good stuff! I’m a total foodie and have a TON of restaurant recommendations, but here are my top picks if you’re new to the area:

Bagelsaurus - you *must* get the pretzel bagel with honey rosemary cream cheese
Central Kitchen - Filet Mignon Tartare FTW (and a Fire Lily Cocktail if you're feeling adventurous)
Commonwealth - BRUNCH. The Chicken & Biscuits are the and $1 oysters ROCK
Diesel Cafe - best coffee and mocha around
Drink - mixology bar that can make anything you want - Ramos Gin Fizz and an order of the fries please!
The Friendly Toast - Mexican Mash Meal and the best Bloody Mary you've ever had
L'espalier - Oh. My. Goodness. It's a splurge, but so worth it! Get the tasting menu…or chef’s table if you can swing it!
Marliave - Rarebits (melty cheese and BACON), Beef Wellington
Neptune Oyster - the lobster roll (cold or hot)
Oak Long Bar + Kitchen - great place for cocktails
Que Padre - Saltenas are AMAZING and get a plate of the Pique a lo Macho to Share
Renee's - try the Corned Beef Hash Eggs Benedict...and bring cash (no cards accepted)
Saus - the spicy frikandel...and the fries with any of the sauces (I like the bacon parm dipping sauce)
The Beehive – The caprese salad…it’s not your average salad. And it’s a jazz club – can’t top that
Tres Gatos - my favorite tapas place! Rotating menu, but they always have amazing patatas bravas
Union Square Donuts - the maple bacon donut (oh my goodness) and the strawberry donut

~Other Resources~

I’m not the only one plugged into life in Beantown. Here are some great blogs and resources you should check out!

~In Conclusion~

What’s not to love??? Boston has so much to offer without the overwhelming sense you get when visiting other major cities. I hope you’ve found this helpful – if you think of anything I should add to the list or just want to hang out, please shoot me an email!

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