It's Red Sox Home Opener Day in Boston. Have you got your tickets yet?! I didn't think so! Here in Boston tickets to our historic ball park for a big game are a tough to score and often well out of budget! But for a sports fan, young or old, did you know Boston has many wonderful sports tourist spots commemorating it's legendary athletes and sports teams that are free or cheap (er). So how can you soak in a little of that sports "cultcha" while you are here even if you won't be in the park on opening day?
There are plenty of historic and cultural sights to see in Boston that are probably already on every visitor's list; the Boston Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, the North End, Newbury Street. But you've also probably heard about the unparalleled popularity of our sports franchises here; nearly every third year a victory parade for one team or another rolls through town and a million people turn out to cheer. And even when they aren't holding parades, there are world class signature sporting events like the Boston Marathon and the Head of the Charles Regatta. All that success means some of the steepest ticket prices for sporting events in the country, if you can even score seat! Even the free events like the Boston Marathon and Head of the Charles come with pumped up hotel rates that make visiting to see those events during those spring and fall weekends pricey. But I've got a few sure fire ways for any visitor (or staycationer) to soak up some Boston sports culture without breaking the bank! Most of these suggestions are near those other major attractions a new visitor would already have on their itinerary!
Click on any item for a link to how to visit!
The Boston Red Sox
- Take a tour Fenway Park: Boston's historic ballpark isn't a particularly pleasant place to see a game with it's old seats, some facing the wrong way or behind a pole. But it is a genuine tourist attraction and a great way to get into the ballpark even on days when the tickets are sold out.
- Hang out on Yawkey Way before a game: It's a little like a pedestrian street festival right near the entrances to Fenway. You'll see plenty of Boston Red Sox caps streaming into the game and food and souvenir vendors. Once the game starts head to Game On or Cask and Flagon or any one of the other many bars where fans hang out to cheer on the team when they don't have tickets.
The Boston Celtics
- Sit with the Red Auerbach statue: At historic Faneuil Hall Market there is a bench with a statue of the Celtics legendary general manager with his famous cigar. It's fun for tourists to plop down next to Red and take a selfie!
- While you are there visit Faneuil Hall Market Place : you'll find no less than 7 sports themed shops with a wide variety of Boston sports team paraFANalia.
- Visit the Bill Russell statue at City Hall Plaza: Bill Russell was one of the most famous and ground breaking athletes in Boston and played for the Boston Celtics winning 11 NBA championships. His statue is in a popular spot that tourists often pass while heading along the Freedom Trail to Faneuil Hall.
- Go see the Bobby Orr statue: Near the TD Bank Boston Garden on Causeway Street there is a statue of Bobby Orr flying through the air after making a game winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Championship game. If you want to sound like a local, just ask which way to the "gahden" and the locals will know what you mean!
- Hang out with fans and see memorabilia at The Fours or other sports bar: This area isn't quite as "chahming" as Fenway, but there are no lack of sports bars to hang out on Causeway street during a game and watch the team on tv.
- Have a nice dinner in the North End: If the area around the Boston Garden, isn't the most charming area, the North End is very charming, and the walk there through the North End Park on a strip of the Rose Kennedy Greenway is pleasant for people watching. To find the best places to eat, line up behind the folks in their Bruin's (or Celtics) jerseys before a game. The best spots often have lines, but there is always a place to find a sandwich or a pastry to go!
- Take a peek into Gillette Stadium: The Pats don't play in Boston, both they and the NE Revolution MLS soccer team play in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium about a 45 minute drive out of Boston. Don't drive down on a game day without a ticket though- in addition to ridiculous traffic, you can only park in the retail parking lots for 2 hours before being charged a hefty fee!! But once you are there on a non game day, you can easily see into the open end of the modern stadium. The stadium is integrated into Patriots Place, a shopping mall with all the usual stores, a huge cinema complex and a pro shop full of Patriots and Revs gear. In the winter, there is even ice skating.
- Visit the Hall at Patriots Place: Tickets to the Hall allow you to not only see memorabilia from all the championships and Patriots hall of fame players, but there are several interactive exhibits including one that literally puts you in the huddle with Tom Brady.
- Visit the location of the Boston Marathon finish line : Even if you can't run a marathon or attend the big event on Patriot's day each spring, you can still cross the finish line! It' repainted each year onto Boylston street right in front of the Boston Public Library, and it's visible throughout the year. During Boston's record breaking 2015 snowfall, it was covered by snow for a short while until a local bartender made an effort to shovel the painted finish line after a big storm... the news reported at the time that the Boston marathon finish line has become a symbol of more than just the end of a road race. In addition to being the finish to one of the world's most famous marathons, it also has become a place to honor and remember the victims and survivors of the Marathon bombing that occurred at the finish in 2013. After seeing the finish line you aren't too far from the scenic Back Bay shopping area of Newbury St with its unique and upscale shops and cafes.
- Plan a stop in the newly opened Boston Marathon RunBase on 855 Boylston St. A partnership between the Boston Athletic Association (which runs the Boston Marathon) and Adidas, it's part retail store, part museum, part locker room for visiting runners without a local gym membership. As a visiting runner you can use the free locker room anytime of year to stash your things while you head out on a run...could be just the perfect thing to do between hotel check out and late flight!
Head of the Charles Regatta
The Head of the Charles Regatta gathers rowers from all over the world. Visit in the late spring or early fall, for a walk along the Esplanade on the Charles River on the Boston side. You will still see plenty of local rowers out on the river and be able to see the famed college boathouses on both sides of the river.
For Fans of All Sports
1. Visit the Boston Sports Museum : which also located in the Boston Garden. Check the website first for the dates it's closed for events and private functions.
2. Take a duck boat tour of Boston: If your visit will be in the spring, summer or fall months, it's a kitschy good fun way to get an overview of the city, both on land and (weather permitting) right on the Charles river! These are the same Duck Boats used by Boston's Championship teams during the many championship parades that are held in Boston. While you won't have millions of screaming fans cheering as you go by, you might just be in the same boat that Big Papi or Tom Brady rode in during their championship parades.
Last of all, if you come to town as the fan of an out of town team, feel free to wear your own local teams logo and don't be surprised if knowledgeable fans comment on your team, Boston fans love to talk sports. Many times you'll find the Boston fans will know your teams stars or want to relive a particularly great match up with your hometown team. Unless of course your are a Yankees , Canadiens or Jets fan, then be prepared for more than a little trash talk! But if you are a Yankee or Jets or Canadiens fan, you probably didn't read this far into this article!