With record U-Haul rentals flooding Boston’s narrow one-way streets, the annual mass influx of college students each Labor Day weekend is not for the timid. Fearlessness in the face of invasionary forces is the Boston way, however, and so before braving the latest move-in, I took my two Boston collegians to Lexington and Concord, where this uniquely American courage was born.
Late on April 18, 1775, 700 British soldiers marched toward Concord, 20-plus miles from Boston, to destroy military stockpiles in the town. Alerted by Paul Revere and other midnight riders, colonial militiamen mobilized in response. The following dawn, a shot fired at Lexington Common precipitated the first volley of the American Revolution. That same morning, Captain Isaac Davis and the Minute Company of Acton faced Redcoat grenadiers across the Concord River’s Old North Bridge.
The British fired first, killing Davis and another patriot. The farmer-patriots shot back, killing several Redcoats. As the British retreated to Boston, the genesis of a nation was on.
Now an iconic feature of Minute Man National Historical Park (see below), the updated North Bridge offers a breathtaking encounter with history. From Boston’s literary legacy to revolutionary renaissance projects, this city’s spirit readies any meeting agenda for victory.
Minute Man National Historical Park
Turning 60 this year, Minute Man National Historical Park is a destination for the ages. Spanning Lexington, Concord and Lincoln, the park offers seasonal tours and educational programming. Group tie-ins include Patriot’s Day in April, an annual state holiday commemorating 1775’s events with battle reenactments and other activities.
Photo: Minute Man National Historical Park Hartwell Tavern CREDIT: Jeff Heilman
Other highlights include the historic Witness Houses along Battle Road and the stirring “Minute Man” statue marking the ground where Davis and company fought. Sculpted by Daniel Chester French, later of Lincoln Memorial fame, the figure of a farmer, rifle in one hand, plow at the other, is reputedly of Davis. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Concord Hymn adorns the base, immortalizing “the shot heard round the world.”
Among British targets was the nearby Concord’s Colonial Inn, where wounded Patriots recovered after the fight. Today, this 56-room treasure from 1716 offers six meeting rooms for 125 guests, plus historic tavern-style dining and a seasonal patio.
Boston Event Venues for Bibliophiles
Yet more pages of history were written in Concord at the Orchard House. This is the family home where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set Little Women in 1868, and it now offers tours, special events and educational programs for visiting groups.
Living at the Colonial Inn while attending Harvard, Henry David Thoreau later made Walden Pond his home. Inspiring his seminal work of the same name, the landmark birthplace of the conservation movement is an uplifting choice for hiking and tours.
Other literary greats associated with the Greater Merrimack Valley include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jack Kerouac and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Photo: Boston Public Library CREDIT: Jeff Heilman
Boston’s esteem as the “Athens of America” extends to great repositories of knowledge. Opened in 1848 as America’s first free municipal library, the Boston Public Library rents grand event spaces, including Bates Hall and its interior Courtyard.
A circa-1934 building in the Back Bay, Mary Baker Eddy Library, houses the works of the namesake founder of Christian Science and the Christian Science Monitor. Guided tours include the world-famous Mapparium, a spellbinding three-dimensional, stained-glass globe depicting the world of 1935.
Boston Sports Venues
No wonder Bostonians are sports mad. Led by the Celtics, with an NBA-best 17 crowns, Boston’s four major sports teams have won 38 titles. With six wins, defending NFL champs the Patriots are tied with Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowls. Since 1903, 2018 MLB champs the Red Sox have claimed nine World Series; since 1929, the NHL Bruins have won six Stanley Cups.
[Related: Ames Boston Hotel: Meetings Highlights Plus a Look Inside the Boston Bruins Bobby Orr Suite]
Groups can tap into this legacy with game day tickets, tours, private events and more at the city’s multipurpose stadiums and arenas. These include:
Gillette Stadium: Home of the New England Patriots.
TD Garden: Home of the Bruins and Celtics, is presently undergoing a $100 million expansion.
Fenway Park: America’s oldest and “Most Beloved” major league park, dating to 1912.
Key Meetings Hotels in Greater Boston
From strategic locations to award-winning amenities, Boston area hotels figure prominently in planning success.
Greater Boston’s current 25,000-plus room inventory continues to expand, with 35-plus projected new hotels potentially adding 5,000-plus new rooms over the next five years.
Signature developments include the June 2019 debut of the 671-room Encore Boston Harbor. Located on the Mystic River adjacent to Boston in Everett, the $2.5 billion investment is a remarkable renaissance story.
Photo: Encore Boston Harbor river view CREDIT: Barbara Kraft
The largest private development in Massachusetts began with five years of environmental remediation, reviving a blighted 33-acre former industrial site. Wynn Resorts removed enough contaminated soil to fill Fenway Park and dredged sediments from seven acres of the harbor.
Then, regeneration. Modeled after the gardens at Encore Las Vegas, Wynn’s horticulture team planted and actively maintains some 55,000 flowering annuals, 100,000-plus shrubs and 1,000 trees. Plus, vegetation was added to revive the harbor’s ecosystem.
The shoreline is now flourishing anew with wildlife after being uninhabitable for a century. The Everett community has its riverfront back, accessible via the resort’s 6.5-acre Harborwalk public park.
Groups have 50,000-plus square feet of lobby-level conference space, including a 37,000-square-foot single-span grand ballroom and event lawn, as part of 21,000 square feet of scenic seasonal outdoor space. Amenities include premier dining, nightlife, retail and wellness options, along with water shuttle service around Boston Harbor.
More Hotel Updates in Boston
The Hyatt Regency Cambridge, located along the Charles River, offers 25,000 square feet of space and recently completed a multimillion-dollar refresh in June 2019. Highlights include all 470 guest rooms and suites and the 3,000-square-foot seasonal Riverside Pavilion.
Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street is the luxury flag’s second Boston property, scheduled to open in May 2019. Housed in a new mirrored 61-story Back Bay skyscraper, the 215-room hotel offers 10,825 square feet of elegant prefunction, meeting and ballroom space.
Aiming for early 2021, the two-tower, 1,055-room Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport will reportedly offer 100,000-plus square feet of flexible space, including Boston’s largest hotel ballroom, at 25,000 square feet. The $550 million, LEED Silver project has direct access to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
Meetings Today’s readers voted three Boston hotels as “Best of the East” winners for 2019. Contemporary honorees include Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel and Boston Marriott Copley Place. Opened in 1912, Fairmont Copley Plaza was also selected by Historic Hotels of America as the 2019 Historic Hotel of the Year.
Photo: Colonial Inn
Offering 10,000 square feet of space, TripAdvisor Hall of Famer Hampton Inn Boston Natick is favored by corporate and regional association planners with delegates coming in from around New England. Located between I-95 and I-495 just 20 minutes west of downtown Boston off I-90, the 188-room hotel features the on-property SKYBOKX 109 Sports Bar & Grill, free Wi-Fi, event catering and group value dates.
These hotel updates propel Boston into the future, offering even more options to planners considering it for meetings. But the city’s history, literary legacy and sports culture help seal the deal.
No matter your group’s industry or size, Boston perennially promises inspiring, rewarding meetings.
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