A few months ago, I got the ok from my boss to go to a conference in Boston. Being the good little scientist/traveler that I am, I decided that I will make the best of my short trip to eat and drink my way around such a beautiful city (amid the networking and learning at the conference). Here are a few tips that I use:
First, when planning a business trip, be reasonable about the amount of free time you have. Usually, I overestimate and end up scrambling during the last few days to fit in what I’ve missed. At conferences, I get stuck going to many very interesting talks and then suddenly the day is gone. Take advantage of breaks and early free afternoons, etc.!
Second, try to get to the conference site early enough or stay long enough to have a full day to explore the city.
Third (and the most important), make a prioritized list of the places you want to visit and get to it!
My lists consisted almost completely of restaurants/bars…I kid you not.
I love me some good food and drink.
I did a little research on a few of my favorite sites (google, yelp, reddit, tripadviser, etc) and compiled a list that seemed manageable for one day and four evenings. For this trip to Boston, I stayed at the Westin Boston Waterfront, and then in Cambridge at a friends’s house (hint: moneysaver). I arrived a day early, and literally walked around most of the city. This was an excellent choice, as Boston is a VERY walkable city.
So…..here’s my “list”:
- Legal Seafood
- Harpoon Brewery
- Freedom Trail (I mean, who wouldn’t want to walk a 3-mile tourist trap? I’ll comment on this later)
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- Union Oyster House
- Publick House
- The Boston Common
- Lord Hobo
- Mike’s Pastry
- Faneuil Hall
- The Bull and Finch
- and basically walk around the North End, Beacon Hill, Cambridge and Downtown areas.
Mind you, I made this list in full knowledge that I would likely not do EVERYTHING on the list. And so I was just fine with doing as many as I could, just making sure that I just enjoy my free time! I did a lot on the list, and had a FANTASTIC time.
The day I had “free”, I visited to as many places farther from the conference and where I was staying as I could. I left easy places (around the corner from the hotel, etc) for lunch and “coffee” breaks as well as the “free” evenings (which I found out were infrequent). The next few nights I went to the closer places, and even brought colleagues (they were impressed!). Simple planning…perfect outcome!
A quick aside…. I like reddit because there are multiple threads guiding you to rather good parts of the city. For the most part, there aren’t trolls in the travel threads, and if there are, they are quickly called out. I find that the food and sights recommended by redditors are in line with my tastes, mostly. Nerdy, yet refined (and centered around good food and great beer!) 😛