Chuck the maps and travel books for an insider’s tour of Beantown.
In lieu of aimless boutique-hopping, hit the one-stop artisan fair for clothing, jewelry, and stationery from the city’s best indie designers. Refuel with a snack (takeaway lobster roll, perhaps?) from one of the food trucks parked nearby. (May through October.)
Thoroughly modern Millies revel in the museum’s avant-garde collections, while architect buffs salute the wood- and glass-beamed structure. The plate glass walkway affords all visitors a gasp-inducing view of the water.
The Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Avenue, Waterfront (617-478-3100 or icaboston.org).
The museum-weary will find renewed inspiration in the 15th-century, Venetian-style palace and its tropical indoor gardens. Amid the sumptuous Rembrandts, Michelangeos, and Manets, the famous 1990 art theft also gets its due, with empty frames indicating where stolen masterpieces once hung.
How better to drink in the beauty of the dramatic McKim interior than with a rejuvenating afternoon tea? Chase your Darjeeling with currant scones, tartlets, and smoked-salmon butter canapes.
The Courtyard Restaurant at the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street (617-859-2251 or thecateredaffair.com).
Drink different. At Barbara Lynch’s menu-free subterranean lair, bartenders quiz patrons on their favorite ingredients, from liquor to mixers to garnishes, then construct a thoughtfully conceived cocktail on chipped ice.
One of Boston’s few remaining art cinemas screens a charming cornucopia of film treasures, from foreign art-house hits to cult classics and modern-day masterpieces. Real-butter popcorn and local ales amplify the viewing pleasure.
The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Harvard Square (617-876-6837 or brattlefilm.org).
Philly has its cheesesteaks, NYC its dogs; New England, meantime, revels in its beloved fried clams, bellies and all. Just a short drive north of the city, Woodman’s sets the regional bar with its crusty delicacies.
Woodman’s of Essex, 121 Main Street, Essex (978-768-6057 or woodmans.com).
The Public Gardens: beautiful, twee, and tourist saturated. Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum: vast, bucolic, and perfumed by 15,000 plants. Dog owners and bikers take advantage of the intersecting trail system.
Hot dogs, crinkle fries, soft-serve ice cream — it’s the quintessential Southie dining experience. Massive lines never deter locals from grabbing their cardboard-boxed meals and hitting the Castle Island hills for dinner overlooking the harbor.
For the best drinking views in the city, hit the third-floor roof deck for a dozen oysters and a flight of bubbly. Come winter, the retractable glass roof and centerpiece fireplace create a snow globe effect.
Legal Harborside, 270 Northern Avenue, Liberty Wharf (617-477-2900 or legalseafoods.com).
Prove your brunching bona fides with a smorgasbord of Chinatown’s best dim sum. Waitresses cart plates of mushroom-topped sui mai, stuffed crab claws, and chicken feet on two always-packed levels.
Hei La Moon, 88 Beach Street, Chinatown (617-338-8813 or heilamoon.com).
A picnic on the rolling, 35-acre grounds caps off a fascinating indoor/outdoor tour of massive installations from both local and international artists.
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln (781-259-8355 or decordova.org).
When only the best will do, let Barbara Lynch’s Relais & Chateaux destination stun you into submission. Butter soup, seared foie gras, and champagne mango tartare are mere bookends to bites of langoustine, porcelet, and farm veal, all paired impeccably with wine.
History is a dish best served covered in cheese. Nestled on a North End corner, the city’s oldest pizzeria serves a no-frills but perfetto menu of huge, customizable pies and pitchers of beer. Add your vote of confidence to the celebrity endorsements papering the walls.
Nothing sucks the soul faster than a cheesy Duck Tour. Forgo quacking for paddling with a leisurely two-person trip down one of the city’s central waterways. Patient boat mongers refresh you on the rules of the waves before casting you off.