Unfortunately, the Boston College Eagles will not be in this weekend's Frozen Four (why couldn't the NCAA have scheduled Boston in an even-numbered year???). But that doesn't mean it won't be an exciting weekend, as college hockey fans flock to Boston for the final weekend of the 2014-2015 season.
The Eastern Bias podcast will be releasing a new show soon previewing the Frozen Four matchups: Nebraska-Omaha vs. Providence and BU vs. North Dakota. A number of special guests are lined up to join the show and offer their expertise on the Frozen Four field, so keep your eye on Eastern Bias on Twitter or subscribe on iTunes.
Are you trekking to Boston for the games this weekend? Looking for some things to do? We're here to help.
Eastern Bias/BCI Meetups
BCI & Eastern Bias are excited to be co-hosting a series of get-togethers over the weekend for any college hockey fans who want to get together and enjoy the camaraderie of Frozen Four weekend:
Friday: Post-Hobey Ceremony meetup at Punter's Pub near Northeastern University (approx. 7 PM).
Saturday: Meetup at The Dugout Cafe at BU at about 1 PM. If you've never been to The Dugout, bring like $10 cash and enjoy.
Sunday: The "Farewell, College Hockey" Brunch at 10 AM. Let us all be sad as we mourn the end of another college hockey season and begin counting down the days to October by drowning our sorrows in maple syrup at Boston's iconic South Street Diner, just around the corner from South Station.
All college hockey fans (even from that other part of the country) are welcome to join. We are probably going to record a semi-live show over the course of the weekend to document all the festivities.
Other Stuff You Probably Want To Know About Boston
Bars near the Garden: There are quite a few options for where to go right before/after the games but honestly, most of the bars near TD Garden suck. One of them is great, though: The Four's on Canal Street. Even if it weren't one of America's best sports bars, it would stand on its own as a very good restaurant, with a range of delicious menu items. They've got an awesome collection of Boston sports memorabilia, probably the best in the city, including some pieces of local college hockey lore.
Other options include Sullivan's Tap (if dive bars are more your thing) or Halftime Pizza, right across from TD Garden, where you can get giant pizza slices and huge draft beers. Beyond these spots I find everywhere else around the Garden to be pretty hit or miss, with emphasis on the miss.
Where to spend your hockey-free time (other than at our meetups, obviously):
Boston is a great walking city and if you're staying downtown right near TD Garden, you'll be theoretically able to walk to a number of outstanding attractions without ever having to get on the T. (Or in the case of North Dakota fans, without having to park your home somewhere else. Get it? Because they live in mobile homes. Just kidding North Dakota. We love you. At least until very late on Thursday night.)
While you certainly can plan specific itineraries like walking the Freedom Trail or hitting the off/on tourist trolley, just going for a walk on approximately this path (definitely take detours and follow what looks interesting!) should allow you to see a lot of what downtown Boston has to offer:
It's impossible to hit everything in one sort of walking loop (if you have time, you'll want to check out Fenway Park and the Harvard University area, and maybe enjoy a walk along the Charles River if the weather is nice). But this is a decent start.
Walking from TD Garden you'll enter my neck of the woods in the North End where, in addition to eating delicious Italian food (pro tip: Bova's Bakery is open 24 hours a day if you're having a late night cannoli craving), you can enjoy the history of Boston's oldest neighborhood. Before it became Boston's Italian neighborhood, it was home to Paul Revere.
Unlike, say, Philadelphia, where the obvious tourist cukinary choice is cheesesteaks, or Chicago, where you have to try deep dish or a hot dog, there's really no one "go to" dish here. The closest thing is probably going for Italian somewhere on Hanover Street, or picking your favorite of the neighborhood's pastry shops. If you like pizza, you can't go wrong with either Ernesto's on Salem Street or the famous Pizzeria Regina on Thacher Street.
Continuing on this walk will take you approximately past Faneuil Hall, so take a detour in that direction if you're looking to check it out. (Yes, it is a tourist trap, but the target audience of this piece is tourists. So it's all good.) Ignore how ugly Boston City Hall is, or at least admire it for its ode to the Brutalist period in architecture. Don't linger too long because most of the city is actually nice looking.
The next steps in this path take you up toward the Boston Common. Walk through the common and enjoy the nearly 400-year-old park, which will be lively and fun if the weather is nice. Adjacent to the Common is the Public Garden, a beautiful place for a stroll near a variety of trees and flowers from around the region.
Exit the Public Garden on to Boylston Street and walk up toward the Back Bay (the only part of downtown Boston where the streets are organized vaguely like a grid...don't get used to it). Walking up Boylston will take you past a number of shops, bars and restaurants, the Boston Marathon finish line (freshly painted for 2015), and the Boston Public Library. Loop over to Newbury Street to see what passes as a "high end shopping district" in Boston (New Yorkers will laugh, but then again, North Dakotans maybe not so much). (Just kidding again, North Dakota. We love you.)
A Few Completely Random Suggestions
1. If you're in the back bay, check out Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury Street, which is a great and way too uncommon combination of an excellent cafe for breakfast or coffee any time and one of Boston's best independent bookstores. There's also a bar upstairs, though I've never been able to figure out when it's open and when it's not. Anyway, it's not "hidden," so I won't call it a hidden gem, but it's definitely not one of the normal tourist attractions...but worth a visit if you like that sort of thing.
2. At the far end of the map above (though not on the path I outlined) is the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge/Harvard Bridge/Smoot Bridge (it is a bridge of many names). For my money this is one of the most visually stunning walks in the entire city as you stand over the Charles River with Boston on one side and Cambridge on the other, with a gorgeous view of the entire skyline and cityscape ranging from Kenmore all the way down to the golden dome of the State House.
3. If you're off the beaten path a little bit, another random suggestion I have is to visit South Boston Candlepin in (obviously) South Boston, near-ish Broadway Station on the red line. If you want to know what a classic New England candlepin bowling experience is, this is where to go in the city. Cheap bowling, cheap beer, a random assortment of Boston sports memorabilia on the walls (including a "locked up" Aaron Hernandez Fathead), and keeping score by yourself on a paper scoresheet.
I knew it would be hard for me to write some sort of visitor's guide to Boston, because I'd want to write too many words. I'm already at 1300 and feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. On the one hand, I want to encourage you to get out of the well-trodden sites and see more of the city; on the other hand, the well-trodden places are pretty great too. Have fun, and if you're looking for more tips or suggestions hit us up on twitter: @joegrav, @bcinterruption and @easternbias.
And go North Dakota. At least on Thursday night. I'd like to see Providence win the whole thing though; that'd be fun.