In order of the Boston Marathon Route from Start to Finish:
Hopkinton/Ashland Start Line: 2 stars
This is where the race starts, so don’t go right to the beginning but maybe a mile out at least. That means you have to get there EARLY as many roads are closed and you could take the commuter rail or purple line out to the starting area instead of driving and parking. The annoying thing is the elite runners are still in a pack at this point and hard to separate.
Natick Town Green: 4 stars
About 10 miles into the race along route 135, this is a cool area to watch because Natick really shows up for the runners, and there’s plenty of green space to relax or grab an ice cream or lunch if you want to escape the crowds. You could literally spend all day here and enjoy yourself on a nice day while being inspired by the runners. We like the Common Cafe and also Dolphin Seafood.
Wellesley College Scream Tunnel: 5 stars!!!
OMG the Wellesley students really show up and scream their hearts out for the runners. You’ll love the funny moments of high-fives and cool posters that students make directly for the runners. The only drawback is that it can be hard to squeeze in and find parking, but afterwards you can always take a break and walk around the gorgeous campus or Lake Waban. Park in the College Club parking lot or overflow parking if you can’t find a space downtown. And bring your ear plugs. Or if you’re not interested in elbowing in the college crowd, Downtown Wellesley is a bit more relaxed. There’s yummy chia pudding at nearby Cocobeet or a nice salad at Cafe Mangal.
West Newton: 3.5 stars
Since there’s about 17 miles to get to this point, this is a great place to spot your family. It’s also super convenient for grabbing lunch afterwards. Runners will turn onto Commonwealth Avenue at this point from Route 16, and it will be right before Heartbreak Hill so they’re looking for cheers. Walk down to Comella’s or Blue Ribbon BBQ if you’re hungry or head over to Newton Corner for delicious thai food at Manow Thai Kitchen.
Cleveland Circle: 3 stars
Basically Boston College, this is a fun area to be but you may not want to be around rowdy college students, and we can’t promise there won’t be any. It’s definitely a less organized and more messy area to cheer than Wellesley, but still really festive and you can see the runners really easily here. You may even hear the BC band. And we love a good rooftop afternoon at Cityside if you can get in there early.
Coolidge Corner to St. Mary’s (Beacon Street): 4 stars
We love hanging out here along the route between Coolidge Corner and St. Mary’s. In fact, it’s not too far from Comm. Ave. and BU so if you’re tired, you can walk over that way and even all the way over the BU Bridge to Cambridge if it’s as nice day and you’re so inclined. Grab a drink at Tatte’s or lunch at Cafe Landwer or wander towards BU and try Life Alive or Love Art Udon. If it’s raining, get to Audubon before 11am to try to get a window seat. But it may be hard to park because there’s often an 11:05am Red Sox game the same day.
Kenmore Square: 2 stars
Okay talk about PACKED! We love Kenmore Square which is near Fenway Park and have a Fenway Food Tour there, but it’s CROWDED with a capital C on Patriots Day. Like so much so you may not even see the runners. And if you think you can’t pack any more people into one location, you’ll be even more squished once the Red Sox game gets let out. I mean, you could get there at like 7am to grab a spot on Hotel Commonwealth’s patio, but that means one thing: C-O-F-F-E-E!
Boylston Street: 3.5 stars
Here we go mile 26! Quick, do you know someone who works in the office buildings along the route? The Boston Marathon ends at the Boylston Street Finish Line. If you’re the kind of person who ventures into the city for a Patriots Parade, then these crowds may not give you pause. Security is increasingly tight in this area of the city for good reason, and there’s a lot of commotion as runners find their families and friends. But it truly is inspiring to be there where the cheering happens and the winners kiss the ground.
Best of luck to all of the runners, and we look forward to cheering you on the route!
Off The Beaten Path Food Tours runs food and chocolate tours in Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Somerville, and Northampton with more tours on the way. Check our Tour Calendar for more information.