A Day in Dorchester

After a post on a Dorchester neighborhood gem, Banh Mi Ba Le, I received a few emails from people interested in exploring Boston’s largest neighborhood and asking if I would put together an itinerary.

The day I have outlined below highlights only a few of the fun things that are going on in Dorchester.

It is a Saturday, preferably a warm-ish one, and you are going to get started bright and early by taking the Red Line to JFK/UMASS station in Dorchester. Due to the nature of the day’s plans, you are best to not drive.

JFK Library

Stop #1 – John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

From JFK/UMASS station, take the shuttle bus marked JFK straight to the     John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, open from 9-5 daily. The bus, which runs every 20 minutes, is free and will bring you straight to the museum. Looking back, I am now wondering why the bus driver made me pay $2 each way when I took the bus to Senator Kennedy’s wake. I do believe we were taken advantage of!

The JFK Library, due to its Dorchester location, is something that many Bostonians and tourists miss, and that is an incredibly unfortunate situation. It is incredibly informative, interactive, and moving, a step back in history to a different time and a chance to see an era that shaped America. You will get chills, I promise. And once you are done touring the museum, you are right on the water for some beautiful views.

From here, it is up to you whether you take the shuttle back to the station, or you may choose to stroll along the Harbor Walk. Either way, your next destination is breakfast and sport.

Irish breakfast

Stop #2 – The Banshee

The Banshee is our local pub and the place to sit over cups of tea, an Irish breakfast, and soccer or rugby. If you get there on a Saturday over the next few weeks to catch the 6 Nations Rugby tournament matches, you are in for quite the experience. It can be loud and crowded with people happily downing pints at 11 am, but hey, it’s 5:00 where the match is taking place. . . I find it to be a total blast and something I likely wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t married to my husband and/or living in Dorchester. The Banshee whips up a great Irish breakfast with a vegetarian option for those who cast off the blood pudding (ew!), but they also have all sorts of other breakfast items like veggie omelets. You should be able to find something to please everyone in your group with their diverse menu which has been updated in recent years from really basic pub grub to a slightly more upscale offering.

Sit back, watch a match or two, listen to music, and enjoy a pint. In fact, don’t leave The Banshee until you are hungry again.

Banh Mi Ba Le

banh mi

Stop #3 Lunch at Banh Mi Ba Le

I’ll share this gem again, just because for $3 you can get a filling, interesting, delicious lunch. Still full from breakfast? Share a veggie banh mi, or check out some of the fresh juices or sweets available at Banh Mi Ba Le. If the weather outside is nice, wander down the street while you eat, and check out more of the Vietnamese stores and restaurants that line Dorchester Ave.

Or better yet, head back toward the waterfront, via Savin Hill Ave, and have a walk and a picnic on the beach. Just beware of coyotes!

Stop # 4 Drinks and dinner at dbar

I have dined at Dorchester’s dbar a million times, and would you believe I don’t have any photos. And I know why. dbar is one of those places that is close enough and while really nice, also casual enough for last minute dinners or brunches (their brunch is SO good!), that we often go there when we REALLY need to get out of the house and drop everything for a couple of hours. Their staff has always been incredibly helpful, sweet, and welcoming. dbar has a killer list of fun, seasonal cocktails, great wines and beers, and some of my favorite food in Boston. Their fries are perfection, the day boat scallops the sweetest and freshest, and the three spreads they give you for the bread basket might have you making an entire meal out of bread.

When you finish up at dbar, you might just want to head back to The Banshee for some dancing, if the day has brought enough cocktails Smile Or, be adventurous and head further into Dorchester by taking the train to Ashmont for after dinner drinks by the Ashmont Grill’s outdoor fire.

If you are in the area on a Monday night, definitely check out Ashmont Grill’s weekly wine dinner, $35 for four courses with four glasses of wine. It is an exceptional deal and a ton of fun for groups. Just make a reservation!

So, there ya go, Dorchester in a day! This post doesn’t even touch on the Polish/Eastern European corner of my neighborhood, but I will save that for another day.

Writing this post REALLY made me look forward to spring events and weekend days of wandering.

Besides the warmer weather, what excited you about spring?

Dbar on Urbanspoon The Banshee on Urbanspoon

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Tags: Boston, cocktails, dbar, Dorchester, Food, Harbor Walk, JFK Library, local travel, The Banshee, tourism

  1. Michelle’s avatar

    This is such a great crawl through your neighborhood. I’ve started running pretty regularly at the gym so I’m excited to run outdoors in the spring! I’m not brave like you to do it in the winter since I’m super clumsy. :-)


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      If I could run on the treadmill without holding on (or flying off the back!) I would! The thing terrifies me. I would love to go for runs/walks along the waterfront when it gets nice out.


    2. Elizabeth’s avatar

      Awesome, thank you Meghan! I was hoping you’d do this post. Ba Le is on my must-go-to list. My mom has been wanting to check out the JFK Library forever, but the steep admission and the distance have caused it to get nixed in the past. I really do want to go.


    3. Raija’s avatar

      Mmm…vietnamese…I want to stop there next time I visit!


    4. Beth @ The Sailing Foodie’s avatar

      That is a great list! I have been going to the Banshee since college many many years ago! It is an amazing local pub with great food, drinks and staff! I especially love it since it is just blocks from my apartment!


      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        We must live close to each other! :)


      2. alicia’s avatar

        Great post Meghan – I wish I had spent more time in Dorchester when I was in Boston! I’m really excited for our new apartment in the spring, we have a front AND back porch! yippee!


        1. traveleatlove’s avatar

          You will have to come to visit for a Dorchester day. I feel a pub crawl coming on! :)


        2. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

          Sounds like a great Saturday. The JFK Museum is one of my favorite attractions in the city.


        3. Megan’s avatar

          We keep talking about checking our dbar but haven’t been there yet. Can’t wait to hear about the Eastern European parts of the neighborhood!


        4. Bridget’s avatar

          Lived in the Greater Boston area my whole life and have never really explored Dorchester (probably just the bad stigma hearing about ti growing up) although thats where my grandfather was born and raised! I think its definintely on my list once the weather warms up!! Oh and I’m probably way behind on this…btu I love the new look!!


          1. traveleatlove’s avatar

            Thanks! I JUST launched it this morning! :)


          2. Daisy’s avatar

            I just loved this post! thank you for sharing so much great info on a great hood!!!


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