In truth, this edition of the ESPN SportsTravel Power Weekend is actually more of a Power Day. There are few traditions in sports to match Patriots Day in Boston, when the world's elite runners and the Red Sox provide the region with an annual sports doubleheader -- and day-long party -- that dates back to 1903. This year, the Cavaliers and Celtics will augment the proceedings with a star-powered NBA nightcap.
Patriots Day is celebrated on the third Monday of each April to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which began the Revolutionary War. Alternately, according to ESPN.com's Bill Simmons, "it's an excuse for college students, state workers and people who don't care about their jobs to take the day off and get hammered." Whatever floats your boat.
Regardless, if you're not in one of three states (Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin (!?)) that recognizes Patriots Day, use a couple personal days and spend a long weekend in one of the nation's most historic cities, and a town seeping in sports tradition.
FRIDAY, APRIL 14
The tunnel from Logan Airport into downtown Boston is named after none other than Ted Williams, which should tell you a little bit about Boston's passion for sports. The tunnel runs through the harbor so, like its namesake, it is perpetually immersed in H20.
|Power Weekend: Boston|
The ESPN SportsTravel Power Weekend is meant to give you inspiration to go on a sports-centric getaway of your own.
We select dream weekends when the sports schedule in a given city lines up just so.
You can use the home-team schedule grids in our City Guides to find the weekend that's right for you.
Sports events proposed for this Boston dream weekend are:
By all means, pass on the rental car, as it's best to explore this compact city on foot or via the extensive subway system known as the "T" (Web site). The Blue Line is accessible via a shuttle service from Logan.
Taking a water taxi across Boston Harbor is perhaps the most appropriate way to get to downtown. After all, it's the eve of tax day, and you're traversing the same waters tainted by 45 tons of tea in 1773 in that infamous tax protestation known as The Boston Tea Party.
No matter how you get there, check into your hotel and rest up for the big weekend ahead. ( Look for available hotels)
SATURDAY, APRIL 15
What better way to begin your Boston sports weekend than with a tour of Fenway Park (T stop: Kenmore, Web site). Tours are offered year-round, but end three hours before game time, so you'll have to go at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. today. Tour begins at the Souvenir Store (of course) across Yawkey Way. If there's no batting practice or grounds-crew work going on, you might even get a chance to walk the warning track and cozy up to the Green Monster.
And if you love baseball too much to wait for Patriots Day, just hang around for the Red Sox' 1:20 start vs. Seattle. If you've never been to Fenway, it's worth seeing twice: once to take in its considerable charms, a second time to be convinced it was for real. (Note to fans of Twins, Devil Rays, Mets, Blue Jays, Marlins and Nationals: once you get home, it's quite possible you'll never want to attend another home game, so proceed at your own risk.)
Get into the Patriots Day spirit with one of the quintessential experiences for fans of American history: Boston's famed Freedom Trail (Web site). You begin at Boston Common (T stop: Park St.), and are literally guided by a painted red line through many of the city's historic Revolutionary-era sites in Beacon Hill, downtown, the North End and Charlestown. The trail is 2.5 miles long, so put aside at least 90 minutes, longer if you're a lollygagger.
File away this variety of costumed guided tour for a later trip: the Freedom Trail Pub Crawl (Story). It's a tour of historic pubs found along the red brick path ($39, including food and drink). Unfortunately for this particular Power Weekend, this popular new alternative is held biweekly on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., though there's nothing to stop you from embarking on the Crawl yourself.
Along the Freedom Trail, you'll hit Faneuil Hall (T: Government Center or Haymarket), a spot that requires a little more time to peruse, eat and drink. Since 1742, Faneuil Hall has been a marketplace and meeting hall, a site where Samuel Adams and fellow patriots passionately encouraged independence from England. Of more recent vintage, it was where John Kerry delivered his concession speech in 2004.
For your dining pleasure, the Quincy Mall Colonnade is the mother of all food courts, offering nearly every cuisine imaginable at more than 40 upscale eateries. If you prefer table service, head to Durgin-Park Restaurant (340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Web site) and eat like a yankee (of the Revolutionary kind, rather than Steinbrennerian, of course). Durgin-Park has been satisfying customers since the Revolutionary days, with traditional dishes like chowder, pot pie and pot roast.
Another option nearby for a meal immersed in history is Ye Olde Union Oyster House (41 Union St., Web site), billed as America's Oldest Restaurant. Established in 1826, the Oyster House is designated a National Historic Landmark.
Before you depart, don't miss Faneuil Hall's dual homage to the 16-time NBA champion Boston Celtics. A statue of legendary coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach (cigar in hand, of course), adorns the plaza, accompanied by a bronzed pair of Converse sneakers worn by Larry Legend.
Had enough of this American history talk? Just want some pop culture on your leisure time? Just want to go, dare we say it, where everybody knows your name? OK, then scrap the Freedom Trail and go to Cheers (84 Beacon St., Web site), formerly known as the Bull & Finch Pub, the inspiration for NBC's long-running sitcom.
You'll recognize the exterior, but contrary to popular belief, the interior is quite different. If you prefer to sip your suds in a bar more reminiscent of the one built on stage 25 at Paramount, the Faneuil Hall location of Cheers was built as a replica of the interior... minus, Norm, Cliff and Carla, of course.
Just a few blocks from the Cheers location on Beacon Hill, you can get a look at the Real World house -- now a community center -- that housed the cast of the MTV show in 1997 (127 Mount Vernon St., Web site).
Let's assume you stayed on the Freedom Trail. As you worked your way through the North End, hopefully you let your eyes gaze into the many outstanding Italian restaurants. Even if you're not running, there's no reason you can't carbo-load anyway, so circle back and sample one.
If you can handle the wait, you'll enjoy the great food and casual atmosphere at Giacomo's (355 Hanover St., (617) 523-9026) -- look for the line out the door. If you want to splurge, Mamma Maria (3 North Square, Web site) is considered by many to be the best Italian restaurant in Boston. If you're not feeling upscale, visit legendary Pizzeria Regina (11 ½ Thatcher St., Web site) for Boston's best pie.
If he's good enough for HBO, maybe you should give comedian Dane Cook (Web site) a look. The Boston native has two shows (7:00 & 10:30) at TD Banknorth Garden (T stop: North Station), during which his HBO special will be filmed. Warning: he works blue.
Afterward (or instead), cab down to Lansdowne Street (T stop: Kenmore), behind Fenway, for some of Boston's most inspired nightlife. You'll be sharing the dance floor with students in America's largest college town; Northeastern and Boston University are a short walk away. Jake Ivory's Piano Bar (9 Landsdowne St., Web site) should yield a few bachelorette parties, always a people-watcher's delight.
SUNDAY, APRIL 16
Get in the Marathon spirit with a run along the Charles River, which flows between Boston and Cambridge into the Boston Harbor. There are trails on both banks of the river, along with several bridges which allow you to create loops of variable lengths. With any luck, you'll have the trail all to yourself, what with the professionals resting up for Monday's Marathon.
Oh, by the way, it's Easter Sunday. Since you're not with Mom, you're free to go for some quality cheap eats around Harvard Square in Cambridge (T stop: Harvard). Mix things up a little with some Indian: Bombay Club (57 JFK Street, Web site) is a popular restaurant which overlooks Harvard Square and offers a lunch buffet for just $11.95 on weekends. Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage (1246 Mass. Ave., (617) 354-6559) is an institution known for celebrity-named burgers and highly-recommended onion rings. Pick up a gourmet sandwich at Darwin's Ltd. (148 Mt. Auburn St. or 1629 Cambridge St., Web site), or grab a cheesesteak or a slice at Pinocchio's Pizza and Subs (74 Winthrop St., (617) 876-4897).
Head toward the Garden and drop in on the Sports Museum (Web site), a vast collection of artifacts that showcase New England's rich sports history. The museum is open until 5 p.m.
A seafood dinner is a must and Legal Sea Foods (multiple locations, Web site) is a favorite of both locals and visitors. Enjoy the market-fresh fish and don't forget to try the chowdah. If you're at the Copley Square location, you can take a peek at the finish line for the Marathon at in front of the Public Library on Bolyston Street.
To get ready for the huge day of sports and revelry ahead, we'll call it a night early. If you must immerse yourself in Patriots Day history, there's an 8:00 reenactment at the Old North Church (193 Salem St., Web site), where two lanterns were hung (one if by land, two if by sea) on April 18, 1775, to signal Paul Revere that the British invasion had begun.
MONDAY, APRIL 17
Patriots Day is here: a celebration of baseball, endurance and, lest we forget, freedom. That translates literally for many Bostonians, who have the day off (though that's changing for an increasing number of businesses).
The Patriots Day trifecta for the locals: a pregame bloody mary party, the Sox game, and a rooftop party on the marathon route. This is a race that requires as much endurance from the spectators as it does the runners.
Start your morning early at the Cask 'n Flagon (corner of Brookline and Landsdowne, Web site), a Lansdowne Street bar synonymous with Fenway and the Sox. Gates open at 10 a.m. for the 11:05 start at Fenway: Red Sox vs. Mariners. Before you enter the gates, sample the wares of the Italian sausage vendors outside the ballpark.
Fenway Park remains much as it did when it opened in 1912, a link to legendary players like Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Yaz, and Teddy Ballgame. There have been some facelifts, notably the addition of bleachers above the Green Monster in 2003.
While you're munching your Fenway Frank (About), the first wave of Boston Marathon runners will leave the rural town of Hopkinton at 11:30 a.m., proceeding north and east to Copley Square in downtown Boston.
If you are skipping the game, Bill Simmons provided some spectating advice in his 2003 "Idiot's Guide to the Boston Marathon" : "Definitely check out that Wellesley College area, just because everyone in the all-female school comes out in droves (right around the 10-mile mark). Also, the Coolidge Corner area can get pretty lively (quality bars galore, especially if you walk down to Allston), plus, you can hop right onto the Mass Pike or Storrow Drive after the runners cruise though. And Heartbreak Hill -- a punishing uphill climb near the Boston College campus, kicking off the final six miles of the race -- is appealing if you want to watch exhausted runners throwing up and defecating on themselves."
The race enters Boston at about 2:00. The famed Citgo sign (atop the Boston University bookstore) represents the one-mile-to-go mark. If the Sox and M's cooperate, the game will be over and thousands of additional fans will line the streets and bars of Kenmore Square and Boylston Street as the runners complete their grueling test.
Afterward, it's not uncommon to find the marathoners among the crowd, reveling in their accomplishment with food and drink, easily recognizable wrapped in their metallic blankets.
Migrate your way back across town toward the TD Banknorth Garden (T stop: North Station, Web site). You'll have a little time to kill before the 7:30 start, so visit The Four's (166 Canal St., Web site) , recently dubbed "The No. 1 Sports Bar in America" by Sports Illustrated. It's right across the street from the Garden. The menu includes a collection of "Hall-of-Famer" sandwiches such as the Bobby Orr Steak and Cheese and the K.C. Jones Sante Fe Wrap.
Conclude your rigorous day by watching the 16-time NBA champion Celtics battle the Cavaliers. The game might be a little anticlimactic unless the Celtics can somehow vault into the playoff picture, but the individual matchup of LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce is tough to beat. If you're prone to nodding off, a delicious piping hot cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee awaits you at concession stands.
After the game, enjoy a nightcap at The Four's with the postgame crowd to conclude your own three-day marathon.
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