My friend Zoe from home came to visit me in Boston this weekend. And due to an unfortunate non-refundable flight scheduling mishap, she was only in town for a little over a day. And Boston, being a large city, is resistant to being showcased only in a day. Boston really needs a weekend, or even one week, for a proper, full showing. I decided to take on the challenge of squeezing all of the greatest hits of Boston into one day. Here’s where we went:

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

I love the Museum of Fine Arts just as much as any other humanities major, but you have to admit that it lacks the kind of crazy individualism of the Gardner. The Gardner is essentially just Isabella Stewart Gardner’s own carefully curated doll house, with imported 12th century stained glass windows and a beautiful courtyard that seems other-worldly (especially in the middle of winter). There’s something wonderfully personal about the organization that always interests me about it.

Boston Common

After jumping on the T leaving the museum, Zoe and I got off at the Boylston stop. I tried to show her the Common, but the first thing we saw leaving the station was a graveyard. So naturally, our first instinct was to go in it. The gravestones in the graveyard were falling over and all of the squirrels in the graveyard were the size of small pumpkins and kept coming up to us on their hind legs.

If you only have 24 hours to spend in Boston, the Commons are a must-see. PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

If you only have 24 hours to spend in Boston, the Commons are a must-see. PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Chinatown

From the Common, we made our way to Chinatown. Boston’s Chinatown is very small compared to the Chinatowns of other cities, but its compactness makes it a little easier to show someone around it. It’s impossible to escape Chinatown without drinking some boba and eating some dumplings, and then scrambling to figure out what the minimum card charge is at every place you go. We ended up at the Gourmet Dumpling House, which has some seriously good “juicy” (read: soup) dumplings.

Harvard University

After a terrifying experience on the T, where a guy who looked like the Unabomber followed us through the station showing us his handcuffs, we made it to Harvard. We hid out in the Harvard COOP bookstore for 15 minutes to make sure we weren’t about to be killed, which was enough time for me to buy a book of essays. After our adrenaline subsided, we ended up walking through Harvard, which was a weird experience of class resentment and jealousy for every person who walks through the Yard. Here, we ended up finding our way into a graduate school alumni reception where we ate Harvard’s hors d’oeuvres. Gotta say, there was a little too much salt in the olive salad, guys.

Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market

Even though I’m not a massive fan of the historical-landmark-turned-tourist-mall, you have to go here if you come to Boston — you’re practically required by law to. Nothing says “respect for the historical significance of this centuries old meeting hall” like buying a lobster-shaped bottle opener that says “Boston” on it. Quincy Market is always fun to walk through even if you’re not hungry, just for the sheer variety of what is there. Also, if you like uniform, factory-manufactured clothes that are almost terrifyingly basic, UNIQLO is there, too.

North End

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Italian food is good, and if you want good Italian food in the Boston area you should go to the North End. Even just walking through the North End is a good time. I love being able to compare the size of the lines at Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry (Modern has better cannolis. You heard it here first). But it’s pretty hard to find a bad place to eat here in general. Just be prepared to pay a lot of money. No restaurant in the North End is cheap.