Whether they are planning a trip or planning a move, people are always asking me for Boston recommendations. This has inspired me to create my own guide to all of my favorite places in the city, many of which are located in my old neighborhood of East Boston. If you are here for a weekend, these are the places that need to be on your radar or to-do list. If you are already living in the city, you are going to want to become a regular to the following.
Morning Glory’s Guide to Boston
Food + Drink
East Boston Oysters
Photo Credit: Megan Brenneck
If you are into good food and good people, but wanting to skip the traditional restaurant vibe, I have the perfect solution for you. The East Boston Oysters tagline says it all; always in a secret location, always in East Boston. Alexis Cervasio is the founder of this unique dining experience. Events are announced and tickets are purchased in advance. Guests find out the location of the event just 24 hours before the start, adding to the many mysteries and surprises EBO has to offer. With oysters always being the star of the show, EBO offers two different types of events. Guest Chef events feature a creative sit-down style supper, while Meet The Farmer events bring in various oyster farmers to showcase and shuck their bivalves. Just when you think it can’t get much better, it does. EBO is always all-you-can-eat with expertly curated drink pairings. Not only is this an amazing and fun alternative to traditional dining, but it’s also a great way to see and learn more about East Boston. Here you won’t just eat, but you will also mingle with the locals and make new friends. To learn more, visit the East Boston Oysters website and get on the mailing list to hear about upcoming events.
Photo Credit: Megan Brenneck
Downeast Cider House
Photo Credit: Grain Wood Shop
Downeast Cider is one of my favorite drinks and I was super excited when they moved into the Boston Harbor Shipyard in East Boston. On my last trip to the city, I visited the house and sampled many of the current and seasonal flavors they were offering. My favorite is the Summer Blend. The cider house has the coolest vibe with a beautiful bar and seating area crafted by Grain Wood Shop among stacks beyond stacks of cider cans. Private tours of the cider house are also available by reservation.
ReelHouse is the newest edition to the East Boston waterfront. After hearing many great things about, I finally got to try it for myself earlier this month. I was there for brunch and it was easily one of the best meals I have ever had. The Smoked Salmon Benedict is currently my favorite dish on the menu. The only thing more exceptional than the food and decor is the view of the harbor and skyline. ReelHouse also boasts a patio that is perfect for a warm summer night. Take my word for it, you need to make a reservation NOW.
With three locations in the city, Thinking Cup is a cozy place to go and relax…or think (pun intended) over a cup of coffee/tea. A few years back, one of my whale watch coworkers and I would meet here once a week to discuss and brainstorm ideas on how we could further our creative careers. Any time either one of us was feeling down or frustrated, we made it a point to help each other with advice or contacts at the Tremont Street location. He is now directing movies, and I am finally a full-time photographer, so clearly our meetings here did the trick. This place will always hold a special place in my heart.
Boston Sail Loft
The name says it all. Located on Commercial Wharf in Downtown Boston, the Sail Loft is a place where we regularly gathered after work and where I would bring out-of-town friends. The space is small, but the atmosphere and food are great. I have heard on numerous occasions that they have the best bowl of clam chowder and my husband would agree with that sentiment. This is also a great place to go that isn’t overrun by tourists.
Photo Credit: Envidem Design
I feel lucky to have many creative and talented friends. Meg Hammond, founder of Envidem Design is definitely one of those people. Meg left her corporate job this past September in order to focus on her design business. Centered around creative planning and interiors, she keeps Envidem’s focus broad on purpose. She states, “I have found that most projects evolve during the process.” In order for a project to remain cohesive, Hammond will not only select interior finishes, but will create the branding and small events for said projects as well. She is currently working on a number of small interior design projects and branding for small real estate development projects. Hammond’s work hobby is refinishing vintage furniture. The results are beautiful. She is able to bring a piece back to life by adding modern touches without losing the original charm and character of a piece. Hammond is also the curator of the East Boston Open Market, where local makers sell handcrafted goods. Hammond herself sells stunning flower arrangements that, in my opinion, blow the bigger floral corporations out of the water. The possibilities for Meg and Envidem are endless and I love watching her business grow.
Olives and Grace
Photo Credit: Olives and Grace
Olives and Grace is my favorite little shop in the South End. They feature products from some of the best food and gift makers from across the country. This isn’t your typical shop. This is a small business that has built a family-like relationship with their customers and neighborhood. Olives and Grace is the place you go to find unique gifts, inspiration and friendships. When following along on their Instagram, one of the best things to see, aside from photos of the shop, are the cameo appearances from the local mailmen! I truly believe that Olives and Grace perfectly exemplify how to run a successful small business. If you are not local to the area, or visiting anytime soon, you can shop directly from their website as well!
Ser Verde Shoes
Photo Credit: Ser Verde Shoes Facebook
I recently discovered Ser Verde Shoes on my last trip to the city and I am in love. Ser Verde sells beautiful Espadrilles and sandals that are designed in Boston and handmade in Spain. The comfort is exceptional and they are stylish too! Trust me, I have worn them myself. Aside from quality, I love finding brands that have a story behind it. Anyone can walk into a chain shoe store and buy a pair of shoes, but what is special about that? Ser Verde was started by local couple Chris and Amy Silva. They have been lifelong Boston residents and are active in their community. While you can find them at the SoWa Market on the weekends, you can also shop Ser Verde Shoes in various shops across Boston, Nantucket, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida. In fact, you can also find their shoes in various Calypso St. Barth stores…HUGE! Be sure to visit them at the SoWa Market, or schedule an appointment to visit their South End showroom.
Grain Wood Shop
Photo Credit: Grain Wood Shop
When it comes to home furnishings, I have always been a fan of custom-made pieces. Grain Wood Shop is a full-service woodworking company that focuses on those one-of-a-kind pieces. Owner Brandon Gatti’s designs are well thought out and precise. His work ranges from small interior projects to commercial build-outs throughout Boston, including the Downeast Cider House. Some of my favorite work that he produces is his custom cabinetry. It absolutely transforms a room with a design you will not find anywhere else. Gatti’s specialty woodwork portfolio includes everything from small boxes to tables and even stunning mahogany yacht steps for a boat owner’s slip. What sets Grain Wood Shop apart from the rest is their focus on sustainability. Materials used come from reclaimed timber and domestic hardwoods. For those in the Boston area who are looking to add something special to the home, skip the chain and visit Grain.
Photo Credit: Grain Wood Shop
East Boston Open Market
Photo Credit: East Boston Open Market Facebook
Curated by Meg Hammond of Envidem Design, the East Boston Open Market happens every second Sunday of the month. Located inside The Eddy, EBOM features products from local makers like Buenas, Murph & Moose, Lovebug Handmade, Grain Wood Shop, Urban Kitchen and many more! This is another great place for discovering handmade goods and gifts by local artisans. Visit the EBOM market website to learn more about upcoming events and vendors.
Photo credit: Meg Hammond
Boston Harbor Cruises Whale Watch
Alright, I know what you are thinking. I am being biased here because I obviously love whales…but who doesn’t?! Seeing as though this used to be my old job, I can tell you that these whale watch trips should be on your to-do list. The species that you can see out on Stellwagen Bank are Humpback, Minke and Fin whales. On rare occasions, you may see Atlantic White-Sided dolphins, Ocean Sunfish or even Basking sharks as well. There is no ‘perfect time’ to whale watch, as every trip is unpredictable in what behaviors or species you may see. Spring and Fall tend to be the less busy in terms of crowds. Pro tip: if you are interested in booking a trip during the summer, try to book the first morning trip out, as they tend to be less crowded than afternoon trips.
Photo Credit: Ashley Schaffert – Morning Glory Blog
Piers Park / Piers Park Sailing Center
Piers Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Boston. With stunning views of the harbor and skyline, it is one of the best places to relax on a summer day or catch a spectacular Boston sunset at dusk. I also happened to get married in this park, so it is an extra special place for me. Piers Park is also home to the Piers Park Sailing Center, a non-profit sailing center that offers affordable sailing for all. PPSC also offers an adaptive sailing program that has been nationally recognized for serving disabled sailors. I have sailed with them a few times before and the staff and volunteers have always been wonderful. If you are up for learning to sail, I highly recommend going through PPSC.
Boston Harbor Islands
I think that the Boston Harbor Islands are a gem of the city that many often miss. Some people who live in the city never even get out to see them or know much about them. The islands themselves are little pieces of history and home to one of Boston’s most historic landmarks, Boston Light. You can take a ferry easily from Downtown Boston out to Spectacle, Georges, Thomson, Lovells and Peddocks Island. The islands are the perfect place for a daytime getaway out of the city.
MG’s Top Spot
Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina
At the end of East Boston’s Jeffries Point neighborhood, the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina is my absolute favorite place in the city. BHSM is a working shipyard and marina which is also home to local businesses like Downeast Cider, Grain Wood Shop and KO Catering & Pies. Part of Boston’s Harborwalk runs through the shipyard, which also boasts a collection of outdoor public art pieces and gorgeous views of the harbor. I love the industrial grit of its buildings alongside beautiful rows of boats on the harbor. For me, this place is magical. I held many photo shoots in the shipyard and had my own wedding photos taken here as well. You get a little bit of everything when you visit the shipyard, which is why it will always be my top spot.