Boston has an affinity for salt: the sea-breeze wafts thick between the downtown high-rises, the seafood bites with freshness that only a cold ale can tame, and the local color tends to be decidedly coarse and down to earth. While much of this saltiness comes from the city’s maritime-steeped past and its proximity to the ocean, not all does: here are five of Boston’s most expected and unexpected salty experiences.
Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships
It may not be apparent today, but Boston was built on salt water. While today the streets of the Financial District course with an unbroken flow of gray suits and clicking heels, for most of Boston’s history that commercial bustle revolved around the waterfront. There, cargo-laden schooners sailed through Boston Harbor thicker than traffic down Storrow Drive, bringing in and out the goods that kept the city churning. That way of life and its towering tall ships are all but gone—but the Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships gives visitors an opportunity to experience the brine-bound way of life that built Boston into the city it is today. By day the fleet’s two tall-ships take passengers on cruises throughout the harbor, calling on visitors to help raise and lower the massive sails, then by night the boats' cabins and bunks become the saltiest hostel in the city.
If the sight of tinned anchovies—brown, pungent, oily small fry stewing in salty brine—triggers a gag reflex, we understand, but suppress it this one time and maybe Saltie Girl will change your mind. Located just off Newbury Street in Back Bay, Saltie Girl is a seafood restaurant specializing in tinned fish. These aren’t your grandpa’s canned oysters; Saltie Girl’s menu is a carefully cultivated collection of the finest tinned, jarred, and canned seafood found across New England and the world. Pair these preserved specialties with one of their fried, raw or boiled seafood staples and you have one of the most unique—and truly saltiest—dining experiences in Boston.
Salt and the sea don’t always go hand-in-hand, even in Boston. On the border of Back Bay and the South End, where the city begins to retreat from the seaside, a rusting, pig shaped sign beckons the passerby into a haven of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and salted Charcuterie. Though distinctly land-bound, The Salty Pig is no less salty than the best the Massachusetts Bay has to offer.
G20 Spa Himalayan Salt Massage
Though Boston is the heart of New England, not all of the city’s salt comes from the Massachusetts Bay, or the Vineyard and Nantucket sounds. Visitors to Newbury Street’s G20 Spa & Salon have the opportunity for an intimate meeting with some 250 million year old salt from Punjab, Pakistan: you might know it as Himalayan Sea Salt. With the Himalayan Salt massage, heated rocks of pink Himalayan Salt are placed strategically across the body to give visitors a deeply relaxing, and decidedly salted, experience.
The Sevens Ale House
One of the best places to interact with Boston’s local salts, the backbone of the city, is the Sevens Ale House on Charles Street. This Beacon Hill institution has long been a place where Boston's saints and scoundrels alike have indulged in a few too many repasts together; smile and you’ll be treated like a regular, cause a scene and they'll show you the door. Order any salt drenched sandwich, opt for a slop of baked beans on the side, pair with a Sevens Dark Ale and strike up a conversation, any conversation... and you’ll become one of the true salts of Boston.