Boston Blog Posts
Encore Boston Harbor
Yesterday I spent six hours at the new Encore Boston Harbor . It was a fun day in Massachusetts newest casino. The Hotel/Casino officially opened on June 23, 2019.
Here’s some notes on my experience.
- Nothing for kids - no game room, pool or activity area. Really nothing for kids to do while the adults gamble - Definitely not a place for anyone under 21.
- There is a Dunkin Donuts on site which offers the complete Dunkin menu. (A large hot coffee cost $3.99. )
- You have to pay for self-parking unless you use the Membership card which gives you free weekday parking.
- The casino is easy to get to from Boston. Getting back to Boston was a bit tricky during rush hour. If you're not familiar with the area, you might want to use water transportation.
- Lots of great options in the Buffet - Seafood, American Fare, Chinese, and Salads.
- The Clam Chowder was really good - highly recommend.
- The line moves pretty fast. Don’t be discouraged if you see a long line when the buffet opens. We noticed that at 1pm the line was much smaller.
- Buffet is in the main casino- so kids are allowed.
- There are supposed to be drink servers around the casino - but I rarely saw them. This could be that we were there at an off time.
- We arrived at 9 and noticed it was very quiet around the casino. It started getting busy around 11.
- Lots of Slot machines- many of them are penny slots. (No you can't just put pennies in - you need to use a cash voucher.)
- When we got there the Blackjack table minimum started at $5, but by 2 pm most tables were $25 or $50.
- They do not sell "used" cards. You can buy souvenir dice ($14 for a pair) at the DrugStore - near the main Casino entrance.
- There are lots of ATM machines around the casino floor.
- You can buy Massachusetts Lottery Scratch tickets at some Lottery machines.
- Most of the slot machines were electronic machines - like playing on a computer. There weren't many "one-arm bandits." I didn't see my favorite - Haywire.
Overall it's a fun casino. Certainly, a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Claritin Street Mass Pike On-ramp
On September 3, 2019, the Mass Pike On-Ramp from Claritin Street will permanently close. Full details are available on the blog post: Boston: I-90 Westbound Clarendon Street on-ramp Closing Permanently on the MassDOT Blog, which was posted on August 6, 2019.
Basically it comes down to safety:
This on-ramp has limited sight distance for drivers, meaning they have little visibility of other vehicles when they are merging onto the highway, and it is too short for vehicles to accelerate to the appropriate speed at the access point. The crash rate at this on-ramp is also higher than the rates at other on-ramps in the local area.
Alternative Mass Pike Entrances
The next closest entrance to the Mass Pike from Claritin Street is the entrance by the corner of Huntington Ave and Blagden Street. (Next to the Boston Public Library at Copley Square.)
To get their from the Claritin Street Garage: Take a Right on to Start Street, and then a right on to Dartmouth Street and then take the next left.
Another Mass Pike entrance is off of Massachusetts Ave, near Newbury Street. While this exit is a bit further away, the on-ramp to merge into traffic is slightly longer. This isn't a good solution after a Red Sox game as traffic tends to back up on Massachusetts Ave.
Claritin Street Garage
The Garage at 100 Clarendon Street promotes itself as "The only garage in the city with Mass Pike Access."
Looks like they will have to come up with another slogan. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- "Closest Garage to Copley Square"
- "That Garage Formerly known as the easy way to the Mass Pike"
- "Best Garage Deal in Boston"
- "2,000 parking spaces can't be wrong"
Boston’s North End is well known for their Italian cooking and shopping. There are lots of great restaurants to pick from.
If your a celiac, and need to eat gluten-free it might be a bit frustrating to want to go to the North End. There are some great places to go and be able to enjoy a fine Italian meal.
Recently we discovered Catalina Italian on Hanover Street, and thought we give it a try since it got good reviews on the "Find Me gluten free" App.
Six Things We Learned About Catalina Italian
- There’s no gluten-free menu or indicator on the menu of dishes that are allergy-friendly.
- The host told us said they could make any dish Gluten Free. We were surprised by the various pasta that they had available for gluten-free.
- We ordered our daughters an Alfredo Pasta dish. Which for her is like a Mac and Cheese dish.
- After we placed our order, they put regular rolls on our table. I asked if they had Gluten Free tools and they said they didn’t.
- When the order was delivered it was brought with the rest of the dishes and not by the manager as we have seen in other restaurants.
- The Alfredo was delicious. My daughter loved it. I tried a bite and it was good. She ate most of it leaving a little amount on her plate.
We would likely go back to this restaurant as they did have good gluten-free options and the service was good.
An interesting side note that the regular pasta dishes didn’t taste that fresh. It could be that lunch hour meals are quick and dinner meals are more prepared with fresh pasta.
Finding Catalina Italian
The restaurant is located on Hanover Street, not too far from the Paul Revere Statue. It's located on 346 Hanover St. in Boston, MA. It's between the St. Leonard's Church and the Paul Revere Mall.
Disney World Tribute to Boston History
In Disney World, there are two tributes to the city of Boston in America History. These are sites are located in Liberty Square - not too far from the Haunted Mansion.
Back in 2016, I blogged about the Liberty Tree in Liberty Square.
The Liberty Tree in Boston is where colonials would gather to talk about the future of America. In particular, they talked about how it would be much better apart from the British rule.
I'll blog more about the historical significance of the tree in Boston - later this month.
Columbia Harbor House
The Columbia Harbor House would feel right at home in the port city of Boston in the mid-1700s. It's the typical Bostonian style house that you would see along the Boston shore.
This is a great "fast food" restaurant where you can get a quick bite to eat. You might be lucky to score a seat on the second floor overlooking the Haunted Mansion.
This is one of the few places in the park where you can order a Boston Cream Pie. Bostonians will tell you that it's good, but you should try the original. When in Boston, head over to the Omni Parker House on Boylston Street and try some fresh Boston Cream Pie.
Gluten Free at Fenway Park
There is a cart at Fenway Park where you can buy a Fenway Frank that is Gluten Free! The Cart is located at the top of the ramp at the Home Plate Concourse.
Gluten Free Cart at Fenway Park
Four Things We Learned
- The Hot Dogs are the same hot dogs that are available elsewhere in the park.
- The Gluten Friendly Fenway Franks cost $5.50 each (430 Calories)
- The person at the cart has to microwave each roll before putting it on the bun. We found that the roll was still pretty stale. My daughter said that the roll tasted very much like another roll she had - just couldn't remember it. Possibly it's Rich's Gluten-Free Fully Baked Roll.
- The Gluten Friendly Desserts cost $5 each and they have two options: a brownie or a cookie.
Rich's Gluten Free Brownies and Cookies are available at Fenway Park.
Full Gluten Free Options in 2019
Homeplate Concourse has the most Gluten-Free options. That's the place to go that has the Hot Dogs, Pizza and Deserts.
Franks with buns
- Home Plate Concourse
- Home Plate Deck
- Gate E Concourse
- Big Concourse
- Home Plate Concourse
- Pavilion Level
- Home Plate Concourse (At the Gluten Free Cart)
- Coca Cola Deck
- Big Concourse
Christian Science Center Skyline
The Four Season's One Dalton Street is now open - actually has been since Memorial Day weekend.
The Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences, One Dalton Street, is a 850,000 sq ft (79,000 m) skyscraper in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the third tallest building in New England - The Prudential Tower is 7-feet shorter than the Prudential Tower.
The new building has certainly changed the skyline of the backback
View from 2013
This is the view from the Christian Science Center< from 2013:
View from 2019
This is the view today:
Some Fun Facts
- You can stay at the hotel for $660 a night. But what a view of the Fenway area.
- There is a "sky walk" on the 50th floor.
- 104th tallest building in the United States is the Prudential Tower
- 118th-tallest building is One Dalton Street.
At the corner of Columbus Ave and Stuart Street, across from the Boston Park Plaza Hotel is a small park called: Statler Park.
Six Things I Learned About Statler Park
In 1927, Ellsworth Statler donated the land (.23 acres) to the City of Boston as a part of the design of the Hotel Statler. The hotel is now the Boston Park Plaza.
In 1930, he donated the water fountain as a park centerpiece. It's called "The Fountain Figure." It was given as a gift to the City of Boston from the Hotel Statler Company. The water fountain was created by Ulysses Anthony Ricci. There is a marker in the water fountain for Ulysses Anthony Ricci. If you visit the park, Check out the various signs of the zodiac in the fountain. At one time, the water used to flow from the top of the fountain.
In 2010, major renovation was done to the park to The redesign won the Halvorson Design Partnership the Preservation Achievement Award in 2010.
There are two markers in the park, one about the history and the other about the 2010 Improvement done in the park.
2004 - As part of the Silver Line Phase 3 planning, there was some consideration to put an underground station at Statler Park. Some users thought it might have caused some serious damage to the little park.
The park is located across the street from the Coconut Grove Night Club and was probably used as a staging area during the night that night club caught on fire.
Swan Boat Experience
The Swan Boats in the Boston Public Gardens is a great way to experience Boston. Hop on board and enjoy a few minutes around the Boston Public Gardens.
Six Things to Know about the Swan Boat Experience
- The Boston Public Garden's lagoon is very shallow - maximum 3-feet deep. This is why you won't see any life jacks on the boats.
- This is a very short ride - about 12 minutes. The total duration depends on the number of boats in the water and the number of passengers on each boat.
- Each Swan boat has six rows of benches, with room for 2-adults and 2 small children in each row. Rarely will they fill the boat in each ride - as they don't want to crowd people in.
- The line for the Swan Boats move pretty fast. It's about a 10-minute wait from the trash can - just outside of the stone circle.
- Pro-Tip: You'll want to sit on the right side of the boat so that you can pay attention to the island as you go around it. You'll have an opportunity to see nests and babies around the island. Keep an eye out for turtles.
- Tickets are good forever. Cost $4 for adults and $2.50 for Children over 2.I would recommend getting some extra tickets as a souvenir when you return to Boston. (If you're a local, it makes for unique stocking stuffers or birthday gift!) The Swan Boats accept MasterCard and Visa - I believe they were once an all-cash business. (In 2016, the ride was $3.50 for adults and $2.00 for children)
This is what the lagoon water looks like in the early March 2018. As you can see the lagoon is very shallow:
Sailing the Charles River
One way to enjoy Boston is to take on the views from the Charles River. Certainly, you can do this by the Boston Duck Tours, but it would much more adventurous and rent a sailboat.Community Boating Inc, has small sailboats available for daily retails. They have two boat types available:
- Cape Cod Keel Mercury which carries 4-person ($89 day)
- Rhodes 19 which can hold 5-people ($119 a day)
Some Key Rule on Rentals
- Sailing is limited to the Charles River Basin between the Mass Ave bridge and the Longfellow bridge.
- Lifejackets are provided and must be worn at all times.
- Must be able to swim 75 yards.
- Prior experience is required, candidates are interviewed by the dockmaster on duty.
- Minimum rental age is 18 years old. Guests under 18 may crew with parent or guardian permission.
About Community Boating
Community Boating, Inc. (CBI) is the nation's oldest, continuously running public sailing center, incorporated in 1946. The mission of Community Boating is to enable “Sailing for All". We offer sailing and other water sports to people of all ages, abilities, and means in the greater Boston area.
Five things I Learned About Community Boating
- When the non-profit Community Boating first open in 1946 it was America's only public Yacht club.
- In 1956 they had 51 boats. Today they have 63 Centerboard Mercuries, 20 Keel Mercuries,2 RS Venture Connects, 4 Rhodes 19s, 7 Sonars, 6 Ideal 18s, 12 Lasers, 18 E420s, 30+ Sit-on-Top Single/Double Kayaks, 20+ Windsurfers, 15+ Stand-Up Paddleboards.
- Every March the Community Boating house has an early season open house. It's a great way to learn about their summer sailing program.
- During the July 4th Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular you can get reserved seating at the Boat house! It's the only public reserved seating event on the river. People that attend the event get to watch the Pops on Jumbotrons, enjoy Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, face paintings and much more.
- There is no on-site parking. The nearest parking lot is the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary. If your taking public transportation, get off at the Charles/MGH Red Line station.
Elm Bark Beetle Trap
As you walk around the Boston Public Gardens you may see a strange white box on some of the Elm Trees. This is Elm Bark Beetle trap. The beetles transmit Dutch Elm disease which have been killing trees.
Six Things I learned about the Elm Bark Beetle
- The Boston Public Commons use to have a lot of Elms trees but many of them had to be cut down because of the Elm Bark Beetle.
- There's only two known natural predators to the Elm Bark Beetle: Woodpeckers and Wasps.
- The beetle is originally from Europe and was first spotted in 1909. By 1933 the beetles were spotted in seaports of Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
- The Friends of the Public Garden removes ailing trees to prevent the spread of the disease. (Several trees near the Park Street Station were removed because of the Dutch Elm disease.)
- You can learn a lot more about how to Identify and Manage the Dutch Elm Disease on the United States Department of Agriculture document.
- In 2010, one of the oldest Elms Trees in New England had to be cut down because of the Dutch Disease: https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Gardening/2010/0112/New-England-s-oldest-elm-tree-to-be-chopped-down
Text of the Sign below the Beetle Trap
This is an experimental trap to monitor Elm Bark Beetles. These beetles transmit Dutch elm disease which threatens the health of our historic elm tree population. There are no pesticides or harmful chemicals in this trap. Any questions or concerns can be answered by calling the Boston Parks Department Tree Division: 617-635-7275. More details online at: www.boston.gov/parks
This program is made possible through the Friends of the Public Garden. 617-723-8144 or www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org
Kip Tiernan Memorial
On Dartmouth Street, between the Boylston Street and Newbury Street, is a special memorial to one of Boston's community activist Kip Tiernan.
Four things I Learned about Kip Tiernan
- Kip Tiernan was born on June 17, 1926 in West Haven, Connecticut. She moved to Boston in the 1940s to work as a writer.
- In 1974, She opened Rosie's Place - the first shelter for homeless women in the United States.
- In 1981, She founded the Greater Boston Food Bank - an organization to help create Easter Massachusetts hunger-free.
- Kip Tiernan died on July 2, 2011 in the South End of Boston.
Nine Things I Learned about the Kip Tiernan Memorial
- The memorial title is "Passages"
- According to Rosie Place, The three arches represent personal growth and raising awareness to issues. On each of the arches are quotes by Kip Tiernan.
- The memorial height is 14-feet
- The design won against 50 other architects who submitted bids.
- The Boston Art Commission Approved the design on March 22, 2016.
- The words of Kip Tiernan were chosen by a team at Rosie's Place. They represent Kip, the Person, Justice, Hope, Faith, Compassion and Risk/Challenges.
- The memorial was complete self funded by private donations. It's estimated the memorial cost $150,000.
- The memorial opening was on Saturday, October 6, 2018, and the public was encouraged to attend. Boston Mayor Walsh did the official dedication.
- The Kip Tiernan Monument is only the fourth memorial to honor a women in Boston.
Sample of the Quotes on the monument
Cui Bono? Who sets the terms of the debate around poverty and homelessness? Who decides who gets the condo and who gets the cardboard box?
The pain of being homeless- the endless waiting in welfare offices, the thoughtless dismissal, the terror of the streets the endlessness of the long, dreary days, especially Sundays. The burdensome struggle to carry every you own with you, the desperation of loneliness, the fear when the sun goes down, the dining cold of a careless February afternoon. The longing to have just five minutes alone with your kid for just one night, the distant memory of shared moments of joy and peace a long, long time ago. These are all real thing that happens to real people.
All words are taken from Kip Tiernan's writings.
Boston Public Gardens Japanese Lantern
As you ride on the Swan Boats in the Boston Public Garden, you may spot a large lantern near the pond island. There's a lot of history behind the lantern.
Seven Things I learned about the Japanese Lantern
- In 1905, the Lantern was a donation by a Japanese Art Dealer name Bunkio Matsuki (1867 - 1940) as a gift to Boston.
- Bunkio Matsuki was the first Japanese person to establish a Japanese art and antique store on Boylston Street in Boston. He later built the first Japanese house in Salem, Massachusetts.
- The lantern was constructed in 1587 - Making the lantern 432 years old. It’s even older than Boston’s Fenway Japanese Temple Bell (344 years old). The Millstone by Haymarket might still hold the record as the oldest item on public display in Boston.
- The Lantern is 10 1/2 feet high, made out of heavy iron.
- It was originally made for Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. For many centuries, it stood in the gardens of Moyoma in Japan. (The garden doesn’t exist anymore)
- At one time people saw the lantern as a lighthouse on the pond in the Boston Gardens
- Tip: If you look carefully at the lantern you can see monkeys climbing trees.
Merchant Marine Monument
In Boston's North End is a small monument to the Merchant Marines that died in World War Two. The monument is located in Langone Park.
Some Notes About the Monument
- It's the first monument to Radio Officers of World War 2.
- Monument was initially dedicated 1944 in the Fenway area
- It was rededicated in November 11, 1988 (Veterans Day) by Gladys Reed a Sea Captain Widow
- The top of the monument is a small boat in an angle as if it was sinking.
- It's located in a grassy area of Langone Park with views of the USS Constitution.
- The location of the monument was once where the 1890 Massachusetts training ship Nantucket was created.
- If you look carefully at the monument you'll see a morse code signifying the the famous radio sign off.
On one of the side, where the bush is growing next to the monument, you can see a U.S. Maritime Service Logo with the slogan, "By Their Deeds Measures Yours"
Duty Done (Front Side)
Names that appear on the front side:
- Alonzo Carter
- James T. Cotton Jr.
- Richard V. Carlson
- Stone V. Lowry
- James J. Flynn
- Walter Skiba
- Milford G. Bloom
- Herman R. Mosler
- James Clark
- Edwin W. Ardzienski - Radio Officer, S.S. Paul Hamilton, U.S. Merchant Marines during World War II.
- Andrew J. Tocco
- Vincent A. Kirk
- Thomas S. Porter Jr
- George S. Hord
On the bottom it says, "Presented to the people of Boston by the U.S. Maritime Service"
Names that appear on the right side:
- Arnold L. Tangen
- Roy O. Thomas
- William H. McLaurin
- James A. McGill
- Dean H. Cook
- Martin Kuger
- John P. Leahan
- Theodore R. Scrivener
- Carl S. Dalbey Jr
- Isidore J. Weinberg
- William R. Fletcher
- Daniel P. Singer
- Andrew L McLeod
- Fred C. Handson
This past weekend we visited Happy Place in Boston. It's a temporary exhibit designed around creating interesting Instagram photos. There are various stations where you can interact with the exhibits to create interesting photos.
Happy Place opened on April 5th. It was supposed to close on June 1st, but due to popular demands, they have extended the time until the 30th.
It's a fun place to go with the whole family. It's a quick trip as the whole experience probably won't last longer than a 1/2 hour - depending on the crowd size.
Things we learned
- Recommend make a reservation and show up at least 10-minutes early.
- You can easily see the bright colorful Happy Place sign from Boylston Street.
- The Internet isn’t great by the ticketing desk - so make sure to have your digital confirmation loaded up before you get to the place.
- This is a wait and shoot event. There are some places where you'll have to wait for the party in front of you to complete their pictures.
- No matter where you are, look around as there may be interesting backdrops that you may not have thought of.
- There isn't an attendant at every station. You may need to ask someone from another group to take your group picture. (It actually would have been nice to have someone come up with creative ideas and help with group shots.)
- After seeing the giant cookie, you'll see a long hall with the words "Don't Worry Be Happy." The best pictures spot is near the cookie room exit.
- Upside Down Room - Try holding on to the lamp to make it look like your avoid falling.
- Flower Room - We found better shot opportunities with the shorter ladders. This is a hard place to shoot because other people may inadvertently get in the picture.
- Confetti Room - The air in the room doesn't move much. To get the best effects you'll have to scoop up some confetti and throw it high in the air.
- Ball Pit - There is someone there to take your picture. You will have to take your shoes off and remove any loose clothing. They will use the camera burst mode to capture you jumping into the ball pit.
- Ball Pit Area - Don't miss the unicorn near the waiting area for the ball pit. Also, the Wallpaper clouds make interesting backdrops.
Before You Go
- Make sure to have plenty of disk space of your digital camera. (You'll be surprise on how many pictures you take)
- You can bring a DSLR - it’s not just for smart phones.
- I didn’t see any charging stations. Make sure your device is well charged or bring a portable USB charger.
- Bring a selfi stick for the few room shots after the kiss couch.
Finding Happy Place
Happy Place is located at 500 Boylston Street. The nearest T stop is the Green Line Copley station. Parking is available at the Clarendon Street garage.
Symphony Community Park
Located between Berklee College of Music and Boston's Symphony Hall is a small community park. This park is mostly for the seniors that live in the near-by Morville House.
Five Things I Learned about the Park
Park has been around for many years, I wasn't able to find any history of when it started. I did find some events mentioned in the mid-1970s but overall it's not a park with a lot of history.
Since 2007, local organizations, such as the Fenway Civic Association, has been busy updating the park.
Jacob Kulin's musically-theme artwork is the largest visible artwork in the park. The design is 16-foot tall made of granite, Corten sweet, bronze and stainless steel. The design helps tie the connection of the park with nearby musical surrounding. The sculpture was unveiled on August 18, 2016.
There are free fitness classes, morning Yoga and Line Dance classes going on regularly in the park. All classes are free and open to the public. See the schedule on the plaza for today's events.
On Tuesday Evenings, Berklee College of Music takes over the park and selectively invites alumni to perform in the park. (Check out this summer's schedule.)
Finding Symphony Community Park
The park is located near the Edgerly Road and Norway Street in the Fenway section of Boston. The nearest T stop would be the Orange Line's Symphony Station.
This is a nice quiet park. If your visiting Boston, this might be a nice Tuesday stop on a nice Summer Night concert. (Not a lot of events happen on Tuesday nights.)