Face-Off: Boston versus Los Angeles

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The Hub of the Universe or  Tinsletown ? Which is the better city to visit?   It can be a hard choice!

Both Boston and Los Angeles have a tremendous number of ways of having very different travel experiences.  I am a near-native Bostonian but I visit Los Angeles frequently- at least annually for the past seven years . So here’s my take on the debate. (And yes, I know that I may be a bit biased!)


Acorn Street on Boston’s Beacon Hill

Boston: The Freedom Trail, the  2 ½ mile path through the heart of the city  that connects 16 remarkable museums, churches, burial grounds, parks and one two-century –old wood hulled war ship (the USS Constitution) has helped to tell the story of the American Revolution to generations of visitors. 

Los Angeles: Coincidetally, La La Land’s  most famous tourist attraction, the 1.3  mile “Hollywood Walk of Fame”,  is also a” trail”.

Advantage: Boston. The birth of Hollywood and the film industry is certainly significant. But,  “hear ye, year ye, ” Boston played a vital role in the nation’s independence. Enough said.


Boston:   In the early 19th century,  the civic minded citizens of Boston led to the establishment of America’s first permanent art collections.  Today, we have the Museum of Fine Arts with its encyclopedic collection of oil paintings and marbles. There is also the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; a magnificent Venetian-style palazzo. Finally, there is the top-notch Harvard Art Museums– which is actually three separate museums all in one place.

Jeff Koons at The Broad, Los Angeles

Los Angeles: LA is a city of all sorts of creative types -including artists.  It’s many museums are  diverse and exciting:  from the ancient treasures  at the Getty,  to the mammoth Los Angles County Museum of Art (LACAMA) and the dynamic exhibits at The Broad.

Advantage: A draw. Boston has more “classics” hanging on its walls, but LA more than makes up for it in its contemporary offerings



Boston: In New England we have four, gloriously distinct seasons. And although we like to complain about winter through months of bone chilling cold and piles of snow, suffering  is part of our collective psyche.

Does Los Angeles have autumn like this ? I think not !

Los Angeles: LA is constantly sunny. (It is exceedingly unnatural to my New England sensibility.)

Advantage: Los Angeles. LA’s weather is comfortable even in January.  The city really is  a  reliable destination  to  avoid bad weather year-round.

Public Transporation

Boston: Boston’s transist system, the MBTA, is troubled- the trains are old, the fares are high and service delays are crippling and remarkably common. But there is something about those dingy  trolleys, the squealing of the rails,  and ancient stations.

Los Angeles: Fun fact. LA has a subway-   and its great. The system is surprisingly extensive and the trains are  modern and new . In recent years, the system  has even  expanded to connect the city with the Pacific and Santa Monica.

Metro Los Angeles


Advantage: Boston. We may have a love/hate relationship with the T, but Boston commuters use it. Whenever I take the LA Metro, it is just me and the homeless.



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Lobster chowder

Boston: The holy trinity of  baked cod, boiled lobster and clam chowder are the city’s culinary legacy . We  also have a pizza scene that rivals New York (and we couldn’t always say that!)

Los Angeles: The Southern California climate and a focus on local farming means that the freshest ingredients always wind up on your plate no matter what you order. Then of course, California wine has a strong influences on menus all around town.  Finally, LA also does several food categories better than anywhere else-  including Mexican, Japanese and Chinese.

Advantage: Los Angeles.    It pains me to say this, but LA is the better (and cheaper) city for outstanding food and drink.


Boston: Boston fans have been spoiled by success for more than a decade, with the

Fenway Park our “lyric little bandbox of a ball park” (John Updike), photo courtesy Leise Jones

Red Sox, Pats, Celtics and Bruins cleaning up championships year-after-year.

Los Angeles:With 8 professional sports franchises, fans in Southern California certainly have a lot to choose from. Although in reality, sports in LA is all about the Lakers. As well,  the city seems to care less about trophies and more about their team’s star players .

Advantage: Boston.Winning teams, legendary sports figures (Ortiz, Brady, Bird) and strong intergenerational tradition (my Mom loves to tell my kids, “I saw Ted Williams play”) makes Boston, not only a better sports city than LA, but the country’s greatest sports city. Evah.



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