Every Patriots Day, on the third Monday in April, the Boston Marathon -- in its 122nd running Monday, April 16 -- passes through the seven Massachusetts towns of Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline before reaching city limits.
There are countless places for the hundreds of thousands of fans who flock Boston's streets to watch, but these five areas are standouts if you travel here to watch:
The halfway point of the race lands in the affluent Boston suburb of Wellesley, where, every year, students at Wellesley College cheer in what's come to be known as the "scream tunnel" -- college kids lining the course in support of the some 30,000 runners.
Don't be surprised if you see signs asking for kisses, either -- that's a tradition, too, harkening back to the marathon's first running in 1897 when female students supposedly cheered on a Harvard student.
The tradition took off in the '70s when women were officially allowed to enter the race.
Signs are a big deal here. The students of Munger Hall even started the Twitter account @TheScreamTunnel.
Wellesley College, 106 Central St, Wellesley, MA 02481 (781) 283-1000
The Newton Hills
Heartbreak Hill, the last of the famed Newton Hills, might be a household name, but the hard work really begins around mile 17 at the red-bricked Newton Firehouse where runners make the sharp turn onto Commonwealth Ave.
It's a crowded, popular area for good reason: From here, it's four ascents and descents through mile 21 where Boston College, atop the last hill, awaits.
At the foot of Heartbreak Hill at mile 20, you can also cheer alongside a crowd of local runners and coaches at Heartbreak Hill Running Company. Or, go over the hill, along the often quieter one-mile downhill stretch leading to Cleveland Circle.
It's known as "Cemetery Mile," both because of Brighton's Evergreen Cemetery to the right and the way runners' quads feel after the hills.
Heartbreak Hill Running Company, 638 Commonwealth Avenue, Newton, MA 02459 (617) 467-4487
Washington Square, Brookline
Calmer than college-y Cleveland Circle where drinks flow early and Coolidge Corner, the last hot spot before the Boston line, but still abuzz with energy, Brookline's Washington Square neighborhood is filled with restaurants, caf-s and shops celebrating the day.
Post up near Washington Square Tavern, which sets up an outdoor grill and serves up sausages, burgers and hot dogs from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (special race-day Bloody Marys inside, too).
Across the street, Publick House, known for its extensive list of craft beers, pours drafts all day.
Washington Square Tavern, 714 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02446 (617) 232-8989
Publick House, 1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445 (617) 277-2880
Every Patriots' Day, Boston hosts a doubleheader: the Boston Marathon and a daytime Red Sox Game played at 11:05 a.m. at Fenway Park.
Come afternoon, sports fans flood the streets of Kenmore Square in time to watch runners pass by under by the city's signature Citgo sign.
Soak up the scene over oysters along the course at Island Creek Oyster Bar or dip out of the square and into Audubon, a neighborhood joint just down Beacon after the 25-mile marker.
The crowds are smaller but the food's just as good. Even better: You can cross the street underground at the Kenmore T stop.
Island Creek Oyster Bar, 500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215 (617) 532-5300
Audubon, 838 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02215 (617) 421-1910
After runners famously go "right on Hereford, left on Boylston" come the rowdy bars -- Dillon's, Lir, McGreevy's Boston and more. Settle in for brunch and you'll have a front row seat as they cross.
All three bars -- including others along the course -- have Sam Adams' marathon-inspired 26.2 beer on tap for the day.
Just pick a side early. There's no crossing the street once the guns go off in Hopkinton.
Dillon's, 955 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02115 (617) 421-1818
Lir, 903 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02115 (617) 778-0089
McGreevy's, Boston 911 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02115 (617) 262-0911
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