Hometown Tourism [Saved My Sanity]

I thought I was losing my mind [and my grip on reality] when I realized I just needed to take one simple step.

Saying “I love travel” is understating the problem.

plane coming in to land at Logan Airport (over Castle Island) I’m addicted.

If I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I have the capacity to become an insufferable human being. I get anxious, irritable, lethargic, I see pictures from friend’s trips and simultaneously think “good for them” and am awash with jealousy. I’ve found a couple coping mechanisms to help me with those times when I’ve got nothing coming up (thankfully, I just booked 12 days in England in November… for (RT)Boston – Gatwick $370 #bragging). I have a pretty stable relationship with Gym (we see each other 4 mornings each week) and I throw myself into writing and editing. But… sometimes that’s not enough.

The concept of Hometown Tourism was introduced to me via my local chapter of Wanderful. The goal was to find fun and interesting things that even the Boston-natives may have never done. The first event I was able to join was a fun Sunday afternoon hanging out on Castle Island (spoiler: not really an island) watching the harbor traffic, chatting about upcoming/recently passed travel plans, and– plane-spotting. It was really fun, and in my Uber to Castle Island, I was looking out the window realizing just how little I actually knew about Boston.

So what does this all mean?

This means that I’m going to (a) have something else to focus on other than lusting after foreign places, (b) keeping my trips local will have a huge impact on my ability to save and put away for a longer trip, and (c) I’ll be able to come out with some hugely helpful Boston & ‘Burbs guides. You – all 7* of my readers – will never have to look anywhere else for the cheapest, coolest, most interesting things to do in and around Boston! [* jk, there’s more than 7 of you…. I just hit 1,000 page views for the month – my first 4-digit stat EVAR! ?]

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Let’s kick it off here with a quick look at Castle Island

Castle Island is about a 15 minute Uber ride from the center of Downtown Boston. While it’s easier to drive, it is possible to get there via public transit- there are a few lines that come close. I took the Red Line to Andrew Station, and then a $4.50 UberPool to the parking lot at the entrance of Castle Island.

There is exactly one restaurant on CI – and that’s Sullivan’s. This place has been there for 65 years and has the art of quick service down flat. I had a lobster roll and fries, and though there were probably a dozen other people waiting when I stepped away from the counter – I had my food in-hand within 3 minutes. It was tasty and reasonably priced (given what they could be charging since they’re the only food spot on CI).

This is also a great spot for a picnic, flying a kite, frisbee, glamour shoot, children’s play-date, first date, second date, “we need to talk” date (it can get kinda loud, so you won’t have to hear their sobs), or just a casual Sunday afternoon meetup with friends.

At the center of the park is Fort Independence. We would have toured the place if the line hadn’t been so long. We situated ourselves on the harbor-side of the park so we could watch the boats and the planes landing (we were there in the afternoon so we caught a good number of the huge planes for the international flights).

 – -Yah, got it. It’s a park that’s called an island. Food exists. BUT its kinda far for someone who is in town for just a few days and wants to do touristy things.- –

Ok that’s fair. BUT there is other stuff to do around there, too. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the area forms a small bay. Well, that loop is great for running, walking, and getting some really unique views of Boston. I missed it myself, but I’m gong to head back there to snag some cool shots of Boston and the harbor islands.

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ALSO, there is a pretty decent stretch of beach in that area. I guess I knew that it existed, but didn’t really realize how expansive the recreationable (yes, I made that up) waterfront area is in that part of Boston.

Lot’s of visitors think you need to go all the way to Cape Cod to get some beachy-action. False. You don’t need to rush through your Boston itinerary just because you’re wanting to squeeze in a beach day or two.

You’d be wise to:

epic door to fort independence

  • pack snacks
  • pre-plan your transportation strategy
  • bring sunblock
  • do NOT wear a Yankees hat (you’ll be too close to Southie for that to be a good idea)
  • bring a few $$ so you can check out Sullivan’s (the Lobster Roll is a must-eat in Boston)
  • if you’re driving, get there early
  • if you’re driving on a weekend, get there really early
  • do NOT try t fake a Boston accent

Quick Note: These two articles will be separated once I’ve got some meat for my Boston section. Keep that in mind if you come back… nay, when you come back… to look for the Castle Island content, it may have moved! 

Learning to discover my own city helped keep me from going coocoo!

  • Have you been to any of the fringe areas of Boston?
  • What is your favorite hometown tourisy-type spot where you’re from?
  • What is the #1 thing you consider when pulling together an itinerary for a new place?
Posted in Boston, Inspiration, Uncategorized and tagged , , .


  1. I so understand how you feel! I am a miserable person if I don’t have a trip booked in the future. Like – life is not worth living!!! I tend to throw myself into life like you do and try to keep myself occupied as much as possible if I am not traveling. Doing day trips is a great idea. I had never heard of Castle Island but it definitely sounds like a great place or a date (or a break up!). Congrats of hitting 1000 views per month too!

  2. I’ve never been to the US but I understand this post very well about hometown tourism. I’ve lived in Bangkok for like 15 years and it’s only in the last 2 years where I have really explored and found new stuff about the city. Before that it was just the same old places, go to work, bars, restaurants, etc.

    It definitely keeps that unsatiable desire to travel to distant lands at bay when you go out exploring and always on the move.

  3. I’m going to have to check out Wanderful. I have been keeping my wanderlust at bay by doing more local things but outside of Philly. Lots of hiking involved =) and then planning and knowing I have trips coming up keeps my jealousy of travelers low =P

  4. Your fellow Boston homie is saying hi! Well, I’m actually from the North Shore (Bevtownie) but I lived in Dorchester all throughout college. I think hometown tourism is a movement that best helps to reduce the restlessness inflicted by a case of wanderlust. And Castle Island is one of my favorite places, I used to walk down there on the weekends with my girlfriends since I was just at UMass Boston. I can’t wait to read more of your series 😉

    • Oh awesome!! I can’t believe it took me so long to discover Castle Island. I guess I just kinda threw myself into my job downtown and forgot that the cool fringier places even existed!

  5. So true that we often miss what’d rights under our noses. My husband and I try to explore a new suburb every weekend that we are home. Spent some time in Boston a few years back. Mostly in the city, the big park, the harbour. Also went to Harvard on a scholarship for a few weeks too. Loved the city.

    • That’s awesome that you make local exploring a priority. I work right in the downtown area near the Common, so I totally had blinders on for a while until I was forced to remember that Boston has way more to offer outside the downtown area!

  6. I can totally get the feeling of being restless when you dont travel for a while. And exploring unseen spots in the hometown seems to be the perfect way to relive travel moments!

  7. Your reasons for local tourism is perfect! I have thoroughly enjoyed traveling locally lately. Its also less stressful sometimes 🙂

  8. OMG! I thought I’m the only person that says "good for them" when I see other people travel. It makes me happy even when I’m not traveling myself, but I totally get where you’re coming from here. Castle Hill is so close to Boston, I have to tell my friends about it for my next visit.

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