Exploring Boston: Day One

Boston Exploring - Things to do if you only have one day in Boston

We arrived in Boston mid-morning on Thursday, the day before our Ragnar Cape Cod race. Lucky for us, we scheduled our visit so that we could maximize our time in the city, meaning we had almost a full day to check out Boston before our Ragnar race started.

The T subway system put us in an instant state of confusion, but one of the station workers at the airport helped us get where we needed to be. Our friend from Chicago, John, was running Ragnar with us over the weekend and used to live in Boston. He told us where to meet him downtown and gave us a brief walking tour around the city.

Things to do in Boston - Navigating the T Rail SystemThings to do in Boston - Boston Public Garden Statues

Things to do in Boston - Tulips at the Boston Public Garden

Sam and I were carrying our travel backpacks, but it didn’t stop us from exploring the city on foot. After a quick bite to eat, John led us to the Boston Common and helped us orient ourselves with directions and landmarks. Our Midwest-grid-system minds struggled to comprehend the twists and curves of Boston’s streets, so John’s interpretation was a welcome relief after our early morning flight.

Our visit to the Common transitioned into a stroll through the Boston Public Garden. I was in a plant-trance and couldn’t stop gawking at the spring blossoms, verdant foliage, and plush grass. We strolled the grounds, crossing over the little bridges and admiring the old statues, grateful that the sun decided to pop out from behind the clouds for our walk.

Things to do in Boston - Boston Public Garden

Things to do in Boston - Springtime at the Boston Public GardenThings to do in Boston - Springtime at the Boston Public GardenThings to do in Boston - Boston Public Garden PondThings to do in Boston - The Boston Public Garden

Before we left on our trip, I did some extensive research on places to visit in Boston. Of course, the Common and Public Garden were high on my list, as were a lot of the Freedom Trail stops. Somehow, though, the thing I researched the most were places to eat. My Google Map was starred with dozens of places to grab baked goods, sandwiches, cannoli, coffee, seafood, and other delicious vittles.

After a bit of walking, I thought I’d plug John’s opinion about Fomu, a vegan ice cream locale I found on my research spree. John’s eyes lit up with excitement. He started raving about Fomu and how badly he misses them every time they come up on his Instagram feed because there’s nothing remotely comparable in Chicago. John’s vegan, I’m pretty lactose intolerant, and ice cream is Sam’s favorite food: it was a done deal. We shifted gears and walked towards South End for a treat.

Fomu pretty much blew our minds. I couldn’t get over the fact that everything was vegan and so enticingly delicious. We filled up on ice cream, a cookie or two, and a muffin I stowed away for Ragnar fuel the next day. After our sugar rush snack break, we went back outside to walk off some of our vegan food coma. (I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but believe me, it’s a real thing when Fomu is involved).

To motivate ourselves for the race, we strolled over to the Boston Marathon finish line in Copley Square. I’m not sure if I’ll ever qualify to run the Boston Marathon, but it will remain one of those “someday, maybe goals for me. Seeing the finish line was really inspiring, even if my belly was stuffed with ice cream at the moment.

The Old South Church, located on the corner near the finish line, was equally inspiring. Despite not being a spiritual person, I do feel transcended in certain sacred spaces. It amazed me that something this old, this renowned, existed in America. Breathing in the cool air of the dark nave and admiring the slanted light streaming through the stained glass, I felt like I was Europe. I have never visited anywhere in America that felt as historic as Boston, and this city quickly captivated me.

Since we were in Copley Square, we decided to check out the Boston Public Library. It was another one of the destinations on my list, and it did not disappoint. We plopped down our heavy packs, taking in the beautiful architecture, murals, granite, and air conditioning. Sam graciously volunteered to watch our luggage and sit down for a few minutes while John and I explored the upper levels of the library sans backpacks. I was trying to contain my excitement for this beautiful, entrancing structure, but I couldn’t help whispering to John every few minutes about how exquisite and remarkable this space was to me. I made a mental note to come back here later in the week, after Ragnar, if we found the time.

Things to do in Boston - Admiring the Boston Public LibraryThings to do in Boston - John Singer Sargent Murals at the Boston Public LibraryThings to do in Boston - Admiring the Boston Public LibraryThings to do in Boston - Admiring the Boston Public LibraryThings to do in Boston - Admiring the Boston Public LibraryThings to do in Boston - Exploring the Boston Public LibraryThings to do in Boston - Exploring the Boston Public Library

We left the library and walked back out into the beautiful afternoon sunshine. Just on time, our fellow Ragnar teammates swooped through Copley Square and picked us up. Together, we drove to our pre-race Airbnb accommodations and met some of our other teammates for dinner.

It was an early night before our big race the next day, but I slept soundly after a long day wandering Boston’s streets. I was excited to run, but I was already looking forward to finishing our race so I could continue seeing what Boston had to show me!

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