Kindra Clineff

Visit one of America's most historic cities during Harborfest, when patriotism explodes.

Jacquelyne Froeber

We dare you to sleep during Boston Harborfest. The annualcelebration, which lasts seven days, features more than 200activities that will keep even early birds rockin' into the weehours.

"Harborfest is good food, great people, and maritime culturewrapped in a red, white, and blue bow," says festival presidentSusan Park. It draws more than 2 million people to Boston'swaterfront for activities that include harbor tours, aerialfireworks, and all the rich, creamy chowder you can eat.

We recommend starting out at Chowderfest, a must for souplovers. For $10 ($7 for the kids), you gain access to your fill ofNew England's finest clam chowder. Area restaurants, and sometimescrews from visiting Navy ships, set up booths to ladle out theirwinning recipes. Don't forget to vote for yourfavorite―participants determine the chowder champ. Lookingfor something a little less boisterous? Union Oyster House, knownas "America's oldest restaurant in continuous service," has beenserving chowder since it opened in 1826. With its hand-hewn beams,semicircular oyster bar, and cozy booths, it has changed littlesince Daniel Webster enjoyed his half-shells here with a tumbler ofbrandy and water.

After dining, boost your metabolism on a walking tour throughsome of the festival's venues. It's "the best way to see the city,"says Mike Fitzgerald, a guide with the nonprofit Boston By Footorganization. For solo strolling, follow the Freedom Trail, whichwinds 2.5 miles through the city. It highlights 16 significantsites, including the Paul Revere House, the site of the BostonMassacre (which helped spark the American Revolution), and the slipcontaining the U.S.S. Constitution―the oldest commissioned warship afloat inthe world―built in 1797 and still officially in U.S. Navyservice.

For an interactive blast from the past, take part in the BostonTea Party reenactment aboard the Liberty Clipper tall ship. Guides in period garb tellwide-eyed children compelling details of life in the 1700s. "It'sfun for everyone, even if you don't get into history," says Capt.Rob James. Tea party sails start in June, and are availablethroughout Harborfest and into the summer.

You won't have to travel far from the Liberty to reach a sleek, contemporary outpost ofBoston-based Legal Sea Foods. The chain's Long Wharf locationserves a fresh crab cake combo with grilled shrimp, scallops, andhunks of lump crab. Dining on the patio provides water views andgreat people-watching, and the seafaring decor inside is both chicand comfortable for drinks or dining.

Don't even think about napping yet. At the New England Aquarium,visitors surround a 250,000-gallon tank replicating a Caribbeancoral reef―home to sharks, hundreds of other fish, enormoussea turtles, and coral.

If you're in town at sunset on July 4th, join the more than300,000 festivalgoers for an annual performance by the Boston PopsOrchestra at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade overlooking theCharles River. The concert is followed by a spectacular fireworksshow that kicks off with music from the Pops and continues with a23-minute soundtrack featuring tunes from various artists.

As the final notes fade, wind down with a midnight snack orcocktail at the lavish Boston Harbor Hotel. Views of Rowes Wharfdraw guests through the Italian marble lobby to the posh IntrigueCafé overlooking the water. Settle in and relax while enjoyingscenes of the harbor. You've earned a few moments of rest.

Fourth Fun
PLAN: For more information on the city of Boston, call617/227-4500 or visit bostonchamber.com.

DO:
• For info on Harborfest, call 617/227-1528 or visit bostonharborfest.com.For info on the fireworks, call 888/484-7677 or visit july4th.org.
• Boston By Foot historic walking tours; 617/367-3766or bostonbyfoot.com.
Liberty Clipper; 617/742-0333 or libertyfleet.com.
• U.S.S. Constitution tours and museum; 617/426-1812 or ussconstitutionmuseum.org.
• New England Aquarium; 617/973-5200 or neaq.org.

EAT:
• Legal Sea Foods; 617/742-5300 (Long Wharf location)or legalseafoods.com.
• Union Oyster House; 617/227-2750 or unionoysterhouse.com.
• The Barking Crab Restaurant; 617/426-2722 or barkingcrab.com.

SLEEP:
• Rates for Boston Harbor Hotel's 230 rooms range from$480 to $650 (harbor view) and $420 to $590 (city view);617/439-7000 or bhh.com.
• Rates for Residence Inn Boston Harbor on Tudor Wharfrange from $209 to $309; the inn offers water-view rooms withkitchenettes; 866/296-2297 or marriott.com/property/propertypage/bostw.
• Rates at the Seaport Hotel, which has harbor-viewrooms, range from $229 to $489; 877/732-7678, or seaportboston.com.

Also: See a slideshow of Boston during Harborfest.

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