America’s oldest park, Boston Common, was founded in 1634 and has, over the years, served as cow pastures, an encampment for the Redcoats before the Revolutionary War, a cemetery, a recruitment center for the Civil War, and a ’60s protest hub. Now, it’s a really great place to drink coffee and make way for ducklings. Grab a cup of Stumptown and a decadent chocolate croissant at the Thinking Cup on Tremont Street and walk under the weeping willows and past the swan boats gliding on the pond until you find a free bench to take it all in.
Hop on the T (the country’s oldest subway) for a quick ride to Cambridge, where you’ll emerge at Harvard Square and fight your way through throngs of students late for class—and buskers hoping to score some change from those students’ Starbucks orders—to get to the Fogg Museum. Renzo Piano redesigned the Harvard Art Museums (yes, plural) in 2014, putting them all under one glass roof, but the Fogg still stands out as the best. For today, just stick to the greatest hits on the first floor: a Van Gogh self-portrait, Renoir’s At the Milliner’s Paintings, Toulouse-Lautrec’s The Hangover. Speaking of a drink…
It’s lunchtime, and, well, you’re not working, so what harm can a Bloody Moira do? Settle in at Mamaleh’s—a much-celebrated one-year-old Jewish deli in Kendall Square that’s part nostalgia trip and part modern classic—for its spin on the brunch cocktail (dill Aquavit and caper berries do the trick). Add a house-cured-pastrami Reuben and an order of perfectly crisp and craggy latkes on the side. And a full sour pickle. And maybe some blintzes…
Time for a walk. The Granary Burying Ground may get all the tourists (three signers of the Constitution and Paul Revere, after all), but Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge is the real beauty. Inspired by Paris’s Père Lachaise, it’s the country’s first park cemetery, designed in the 1830s as a tranquil space to help the grieving accept death. A who’s who of 19th-century Massachusetts royalty call it (everlasting) home: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Sumner, Dorothea Dix, Winslow Homer. Famous tombstones aside, it’s simply a gorgeous park, with pink dogwoods, waterfalls of wisteria, and vivid azaleas. At the summit of the ascending grounds, a spiral staircase within the feudal Washington Tower takes you 62 feet higher, where an unparalleled 360-degree view of the region spreads out beyond the battlements.
Hop a cab back to Boston proper—and we mean proper—to your stylish Common-facing room at The Four Seasons, which received a multimillion-dollar upgrade last year (the pops of canary yellow throughout do wonders for your mood). That “Sleep Temple” bed might be calling, but so is the eighth-floor whirlpool. It being 4:30 on a weekday, you’ll likely have it all to yourself. Watching the wind blow through the willows in the Public Garden while you let all your stress melt away may be the highlight of the day.
After an invigorating shower (is it possible to live at the Four Seasons?), you’re ready for a dinner. Walk down stately Commonwealth Avenue to Uni, a contemporary izakaya from Ken Oringer and Tony Messina that scored a well-deserved 2018 James Beard nomination. Start with the Uni Spoon, a sumptuous bite of osetra caviar, quail egg yolk, and yuzu that tastes like the sea wrapped in silk (this is a bite to remember). From there, go for a mix of cold and hot small plates: a hamachi duet with the uncanny but seriously delicious pairings of banana, black truffle, and pork belly croutons; a buttery spicy tuna and foie gras tataki; cacio e pepe dumplings topped with corn and lobster; and, if you can make room, duck carnitas with green papaya salsa. Finally, be sure to put yourself in the hands of the sommelier for a customized sake flight.
But the night’s not over yet. Amble on over to Yvonne’s, an opulent restaurant and bar that has seemingly become the most Instagrammable spot in Beantown (try not to snap a picture of the vintage crystal chandeliers or the pressed tin coffered ceiling). For a drinkable piece of Boston history, order a Ward 8—rye, sherry, grenadine, lemon, and orange—a cocktail invented in 1898, in this exact location, when it was Locke-Ober, the third restaurant to open in the city. Then raise your cut-crystal glass and toast to Boston, past and future.