Boston is as stylish as it is smart. Home to intellectual elite, this vibrant city is steeped in tradition, higher learning and culture. We spent a week in the historic city and returned richer for it. -- Amanda Lee
Stay: There's no shortage of well-appointed hotels in this city. But for something different, spend a night in a former jail at The Liberty. What was once the storied Charles Street Jail has been transformed into a luxurious 298-room hotel, set in the old colonial neighbourhood of Beacon Hill.
Sip: After check-in, head to the Liberty Bar in the stunning lobby rotunda for an 1851 cocktail (named after the year the jail was built; made with bourbon, ice wine, ginger and Malbec). You can always sweat it out with the complimentary yoga classes offered on Saturdays. www.libertyhotel.com
Do: Created and named after Boston's foremost female patron of the arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a joy. The museum is housed in a Venetian-style palazzo with a sensual garden courtyard (foliage depends on the season and resides in a greenhouse by the entrance). Set out as a series of rooms (including the Little Salon and the Cloisters), the museum contains more than 2,500 pieces of art, including works by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Degas. (FYI: You get in free if your name is Isabella.) www.gardnermuseum.org
The ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) is housed in a stunning glass building by the waterfront and boasts a robust permanent collection, including works by Cindy Sherman, and showcases exhibitions exploring social issues. www.icaboston.org
Shop: Skip the touristy Quincy Market and head to the nearby Boston Public Market, a year-round affair featuring locally sourced items from across Massachusetts. There you can pick up everything from locally produced honey, to Vineland Wild oysters at Red's Best, and fluffy maple bacon confections from Union Square Donuts. Check out Hopsters Alley, showcasing a vast array of locally curated beers and ciders. www.bostonpublicmarket.org
Savour: Erbaluce [air-bah loo-chay] is consistently recognized as Boston's best Italian restaurant. The menu changes regularly, depending on the season. The surroundings are rustic, but the food is superb. We loved the al dente cavatelli with tomato and creamy ricotta, as well as the hearty lamb shank braised in blackberry juice with juniper and lavender, served with roasted turnips. Wait staff will guide you through the well priced Italian wine list. www.erbaluce-boston.com
A recent addition to South Boston, Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar serves a mean brunch with potent mid-morning drinks to match (after all, you're a Southie now). Tuck into a hearty plate of Omlet con Carnitas (carnitas, black beans, pico de gallo, Monterey Jack with a side of warm tortillas) with a Michelada cocktail (a variation of a Bloody Mary, made with tequila). www.locosouthboston.com