Boston
Boston

Boston

Massachusetts, United States
American revolutions and witch hunts happened here first, as historical sites ringing Boston Commons are sure to remind you. But down at the "bah" (Boston-speak for bar) the current talk is what's on at the Boston symphony or Isabella Stewart Gardener museum, what scientific breakthrough happened today at MIT, which band playing TD Garden got its start playing for change in Harvard Square, and when the Red Sox will ever win another World Series (sore subject).
Getting Around Boston
The easist way to get around Boston is the subway. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Agency (MBTA; http://www.mbta.com/) operates the Silver Line SL1 to and from Logan Airport for the best direct connection to and from the Red Line at South Station. This is the best option for transportation to Cambridge, Downtown Boston, MIT and Harvard. Service from Logan on the Silver Line SL1 runs from 5:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m. every day. MBTA operates 5 subway lines which operate Monday-Saturday 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.; Sundays 6 a.m. to midnight. Fare on all lines is $2.50 regardless of distance. Passes are available: $11/Day or $18/Week; Children under 12 are free. Boston features a bicycle sharing program, The Hubway (http://www.thehubway.com/), which offers a 24-hour pass for $5 and a 3-day pass for $12.
Nearby Airports
  • Boston Logan International Airport-BOS
Airport Taxis
  • $25-$45
Things to Do and See in Boston
Government CenterSouth BostonFenway-KenmoreChestnut HillEast BostonNorth EndJamaica PlainWest EndDowntownTheater DistrictSouth EndBrooklineNewtonChinatownBoston CommonBeacon HillBack BayCharlestown
No politics at the dinner table is one rule made to be broken in Boston. Fanueil Hall has been a shopping and dining destination since 1742, while the upstairs meeting hall made American history. This is where Sons of Liberty complained about British "taxation without representation," 19th century abolitionists made their case against slavery, and young Bostonian John Fitzgerald Kennedy made a powerful pitch for the presidency. Bostonians have talked politics over drinks at neighboring Bell in Hand Tavern since 1795, and argued constitutional amendments over Durgin Park's pot roasts and baked beans since 1827. Differences are always forgivable, as long as you root for the NHL Bruins and NBA Celtics at nearby TD Gardens. Power politicking moved inside the brutalist concrete fortress of Boston's Government Center in the 1960s, but friendly debates still add spice to chowder lunches at colonial Quincy Market. Work up an appetite for more along Charles River Esplanade's three-mile trails, and unwind in the rehabbed warehouse splendor of Harborside Inn.
Star attractions steal the Atlantic's thunder along Boston's southern waterfront. The New England Aquarium lets visitors explore four stories of giant sea turtles and deadly sharks without even getting wet. During April-October whale-watching season, Aquarium cruises head to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to spot migrating humpbacks. Kids with energy and ingenuity to spare will feel right at home in the Boston Children's Museum's Bubble Room, Recycle Shop and Science Playground. Art prodigies and shy daters prefer the Institute of Contemporary Art for its conversation-starting shows and cantilevered wall of windows hovering over the Boston Harbor. Fishermen haul their catch directly to Seaport Piers, where hungry Boston Convention & Exhibition Center visitors await at Legal Seafood Test Kitchen, No Name, and Barking Crab. For an honest beer among actual Bostonians, head inland to South Boston, better known locally as Southie. This working class neighborhood deserved its own Oscar for its breakout role in Good Will Hunting, with scenes shot at divey L Street Tavern by then-unknown Boston screenwriters Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. But for undeniable star power, no Southie landmark outshines I.M. Pei's classic black-and-white JFK Library and Museum.
Greetings, sports fans and hello, arts aficionados: you've come to the right place. The Red Sox have played Fenway Park since 1912, with mixed results. Loyal fans saw the Sox through a 86-year dry spell to their 2004 victory, commemorated in the Farrelly Brothers' baseball rom-com Fever Pitch. Between games, Sox fans flirt on the Cask n' Flagon patio and at Game On! trivia nights. World-class neighborhood "cultchah" attractions prove there's more to Boston than baseball and beer, at least between World Series. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a splendid Italianate courtyard mansion packed with priceless art treasures—with 13 notable exceptions stolen in a 1990 heist. Until the $50 million worth of Vermeer, Degas, and Rembrant paintings are recovered, empty frames mark their places on the Gardener's gallery walls. The Museum of Fine Art is flaunting a new Art of the Americas wing, with 53 galleries packed with jade Olmec masks, Eames chairs, and Georgia O'Keefe's sexy flowers. If you're not in the mood for Grammy-winning symphony performances, Berklee Performance Center showcases virtuosos from banjo sensation Bela Fleck to punk pioneer Henry Rollins. For serious beats, hit hiphop Mondays at Church or the House of Blues' gay-friendly Epic Saturdays with DJs in drag.
This suburban enclave is roughly seven miles, a couple tax brackets and a hundred SAT points removed from downtown Boston. Newton is an independent city comprised of 13 linked villages, including swanky Chestnut Hill and several villages that confusingly share the Newtown name (Newtown Center, -Corner, -Highlands, -Upper Falls, -Lower Falls). Not surprisingly, Newton tends to confound newcomers. One wrong turn off the Massachusetts Turnpike could send you meandering down lanes lined with 17th century stone fences, manicured lawns, boarding schools, and sprawling single-family homesteads. Neighborly Newtonians might point you toward beloved local landmarks, including Bulloughs Pond for ice skating, the aptly named Newton Commonwealth Golf Course, and the Jackson Homestead, a historic stop on the Underground Railroad. After making his reputation with Manhattan's Central Park, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead lavished his attention on Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Runners hit the Reservoir's waterfront trails, training to take on Newtown's Heartbreak Hill during the Boston Marathon. Newtonian teens get their exercise trolling The Mall at Chestnut Hill for collegiate staples from J. Crew and Brooks Brothers to Apple and Tiffany.
Landfill seems like a shaky foundation for Logan Airport landing strips, let alone a family neighborhood. Yet generations of immigrants have called "Eastie" home, including Boston's first family. Eastie has evolved since the Kennedy boys roamed Meridian Street, and fresh-faced JFK posed for 1954 campaign photos at Santarpio's Pizza. Today Eastie remains working class, with more Latino families than Irish or Italian. Some things never change: Santarpio's still serves wicked thin-crust pie and Meridian Market does a brisk business in chicken parm and trippa (tripe). Instead of leaving lunch to Logan Airport concessions, detour from the Massachusetts Turnpike after the Ted Williams Tunnel for a proper "Eastie dinnah." Walk it off at waterfront Piers Park down historic Cottage Street, where the Albert Einstein Institution quietly advises presidents and activists on dismantling dictatorships through non-violent social change.
Gorging on pasta is positively patriotic in Boston's North End. Paul Revere left his North End home late at night on April 18, 1775 to warn Colonial militia in the towns of Concord and Lexington that "the British are coming!" In the Old North Church tower, lanterns were hung to warn patriots across the Charles River of the British attack: "One if by land, two if by sea." Today university history majors lead summer tours into Old North's crypt and tower, and MIT students create compositions for Old North's bells. Even if you came to North End for the history, you'll stay for the food. Generations of Italian immigration have earned it the nickname "Little Italy," and pack its one-third-mile area with Old Country flavor. With some 100 eateries clustered around Hanover Street, dinner is a serious dilemma: Giacomo's Ristorante for ravioli, shrimp linguini at Pomodoro, or homemade fusilli with vodka sauce at Al Dente? Bostonian loyalties are also sharply divided among three North End bakeries: Mike's for traditional ricotta cannoli, Maria's for cream-filled "lobster tail" pastry, and Modern Bakery for chocolate custard cannoli. Dessert debates can get heated, but the North End has survived its share of controversy—the funeral procession for anarchists and accused bank robbers Sacco and Vanzetti was held here.
On the flipside of Franklin Park, Jamaica Plain is a crossover indie hit. South Street galleries like The Hallway are magnets for talent fresh from the Museum School, Mass Art and Northeastern. Skip dubious wine at First Friday openings, but don't miss JP's historic craft beer. Pioneering 1871 Haffenreffer Brewery now houses Sam Adams HQ. Legendary Washington Street pub crawls begin with neighborly pints at Doyle's taproom, and graduate to raucous folk-rock and gay karaoke at Midway Café. If walking a block seems like exceptional effort for a change of happy hour scenery, Sam Adams Trolley Tours depart from Doyle's five days a week. As you might guess from local menus, JP is mostly white and Latino, 20 percent African American, 6 percent Asian and 100 percent new-New England. For a taste of JP's pan-Atlantic authenticity, try roast pork Cuban sandwiches at El Oriental de Cuba and genuine Scotch eggs at The Haven. JP's latest crossover gourmet success is Ten Tables bistro, starting with wicked craft cocktails and ending with Thai basil ice cream. Pack picnics from City Feed & Supply's deli for lazy days boating at Jamaica Pond or reading JP poet Sylvia Plath's melancholy "Bell Jar" amid cheerful lilacs in Arnold Arboretum.
No politics at the dinner table is one rule made to be broken in Boston. Fanueil Hall has been a shopping and dining destination since 1742, while the upstairs meeting hall made American history. This is where Sons of Liberty complained about British "taxation without representation," 19th century abolitionists made their case against slavery, and young Bostonian John Fitzgerald Kennedy made a powerful pitch for the presidency. Bostonians have talked politics over drinks at neighboring Bell in Hand Tavern since 1795, and argued constitutional amendments over Durgin Park's pot roasts and baked beans since 1827. Differences are always forgivable, as long as you root for the NHL Bruins and NBA Celtics at nearby TD Gardens. Power politicking moved inside the brutalist concrete fortress of Boston's Government Center in the 1960s, but friendly debates still add spice to chowder lunches at colonial Quincy Market. Work up an appetite for more along Charles River Esplanade's three-mile trails, and unwind in the rehabbed warehouse splendor of Harborside Inn.
At the heart of Boston is a cow pasture that made U.S history. Early colonists used Boston Common for grazing cattle until 1640, when it became America's first public green space. The Puritans cast a long shadow over the Common, erecting a public gallows for hanging accused witches and hapless Quakers. Today, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Lyric Opera perform tragic deaths on the Common strictly for entertainment. Kids play epic games of tag across the Common's 50 acres of history, from the Puritans' spooky Central Burying Ground to the lawn where Dr. Martin Luther King led 1960s civil rights protests. Bostonians have skated across frozen Frog Pond each winter for centuries, and couples have sweated out first dates in pedal-powered Swan Boats on the Public Gardens Lagoon since 1877. Tricorn-hatted docents from the Common Visitors Center lead visitors along the Freedom Trail, in the footsteps of revolutionaries who plotted the Boston Tea Party at Old South Meeting House and were buried in Granary Burying Grounds. Sleek downtown buildings rub shoulders with colonial brick landmarks on School Street, where a mosaic marks the site of America's first school around 1635. Charles Dickens was a regular at downtown's historic Omni Parker House—but he probably would have enjoyed a drink in the Clink, the new Liberty Hotel bar inside the former Charles Street Jail.
Boston's most action-packed neighborhood slices, dices, spins and stomps with finesse. Once garment and leather factories moved into the neighborhood in the 19th century, many immigrants vacated the noisy transport and entertainment hub. But with anti-Asian sentiment codified in the 1882 U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese Bostonians were left with few alternatives. Today Chinatown remains a key entry point for new arrivals, and some 70 percent of its current residents claim Asian heritage. Chinatown provided a buffer between the PG-rated Theater District and the XXX Combat Zone until the 1990s, when redevelopment and online porn ousted the downtown sex trade. But Chinatown diners still stay open late to serve crowds fresh from Boston Ballet at the Wang Theatre, Stomp at the historic Culter Majestic Theatre, and too-close-for-comfort comedy shows at tiny Wilbur Theatre. Chinatown has become a dining destination in its own right, from traditional fresh-from-the-aquarium family feasts at New Jumbo Seafood to creative pan-seared, pan-Asian dumplings at Myers+Chang. Watch late-night rap battles unfold at Good Life, and greet the new day with dumplings at Winsor Dum Sum Café.
Where starchy old Boston ends, the South End begins. South of upright Back Bay brownstones are undulating rows of red-brick Victorians, with generous Bay windows and sociable stoops. New England neighborhoods can seem standoffish, but the South End embraces its historic multi-racial and openly gay communities. New arrivals have lodged in South End rooming houses and mingled at local cafés and clubs since the 1880s. Gays, lesbians and Latinos moved into tenements vacated by middle-class Irish, Jewish and African-American families after World War II, and today the South End hosts block parties for Boston Pride (mid-June) and Hispanic Heritage Month (October). South End nights are full of surprises: Mother's Ruin (gin and pickle juice) at Gallows, real Venezuelan arepas (cornbread pockets) at Orinoco, scorching jazz at historic Wally's Café and chill DJ sets at GLBT-central Club Café.
When Boston cramps your style, slip into something more comfortable—like Brookline. This suburb rebelled against urban development schemes, and broke away from Boston in 1873 to preserve its country-village character. Brookline got top-notch professional help from Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, who moved his landscape architecture practice to Brookline in 1883. Today Olmsted's office is a national park, and Brookline remains a pleasant seven-mile patchwork of tree-shaded town squares, flowering neighborhood parks and sociable pedestrian zones. On the south side, 250-year-old Allandale farm still sells Brookline-grown organic tomatoes at its urban farm stand, while on the north end, Zaftigs Delicatessen piles pastrami onto pumpernickel. Art-house movies screen nightly in the 1933 art deco Coolidge Corner Theatre, and Washington Square's Café Fixe keeps Boston University faculty steadily caffeinated. Although best known as the birthplace of John F. Kennedy, today's Brookline isn't an Irish-Catholic enclave. A third of Brookline's residents are Jewish and a sixth are Asian, and nearly a third of Brookline's schoolchildren speak English as a second language.
This suburban enclave is roughly seven miles, a couple tax brackets and a hundred SAT points removed from downtown Boston. Newton is an independent city comprised of 13 linked villages, including swanky Chestnut Hill and several villages that confusingly share the Newtown name (Newtown Center, -Corner, -Highlands, -Upper Falls, -Lower Falls). Not surprisingly, Newton tends to confound newcomers. One wrong turn off the Massachusetts Turnpike could send you meandering down lanes lined with 17th century stone fences, manicured lawns, boarding schools and sprawling single-family homesteads. Neighborly Newtonians might point you toward beloved local landmarks, including Bulloughs Pond for ice-skating, the aptly named Newton Commonwealth Golf Course, and the Jackson Homestead, a historic stop on the Underground Railroad. After making his reputation with Manhattan's Central Park, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead lavished his attention on Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Runners hit the Reservoir's waterfront trails, training to take on Newtown's Heartbreak Hill during the Boston Marathon. Newtonian teens get their exercise trolling The Mall at Chestnut Hill for collegiate staples from J. Crew and Brooks Brothers to Apple and Tiffany's.
Boston's most action-packed neighborhood slices, dices, spins, and stomps with finesse. Once garment and leather factories moved into the neighborhood in the 19th century, many immigrants vacated the noisy transport and entertainment hub. But with anti-Asian sentiment codified in the 1882 U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese Bostonians were left with few alternatives. Today Chinatown remains a key entry point for new arrivals, and some 70 percent of its current residents claim Asian heritage. Chinatown provided a buffer between the PG-rated Theater District and the XXX Combat Zone until the 1990s, when redevelopment and online porn ousted the downtown sex trade. But Chinatown diners still stay open late to serve crowds fresh from Boston Ballet at the Wang Theatre, Stomp at the historic Culter Majestic Theatre, and too-close-for-comfort comedy shows at tiny Wilbur Theatre. Chinatown has become a dining destination in its own right, from traditional fresh-from-the-aquarium family feasts at New Jumbo Seafood to creative pan-seared, pan-Asian dumplings at Myers+Chang. Watch late-night rap battles unfold at Good Life, and greet the new day with dumplings at Winsor Dum Sum Café.
At the heart of Boston is a cow pasture that made U.S. history. Early colonists used Boston Common for grazing cattle until 1640, when it became America's first public green space. The Puritans cast a long shadow over the Common, erecting a public gallows for hanging accused witches and hapless Quakers. Today, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Lyric Opera perform tragic deaths on the Common strictly for entertainment. Kids play epic games of tag across the Common's 50 acres of history, from the Puritans' spooky Central Burying Ground to the lawn where Dr. Martin Luther King led 1960s civil rights protests. Bostonians have skated across frozen Frog Pond each winter for centuries, and couples have sweated out first dates in pedal-powered Swan Boats on the Public Gardens Lagoon since 1877. Tricorn-hatted docents from the Common Visitors Center lead visitors along the Freedom Trail, in the footsteps of revolutionaries who plotted the Boston Tea Party at Old South Meeting House and were buried in Granary Burying Grounds. Sleek downtown buildings rub shoulders with colonial brick landmarks on School Street, where a mosaic marks the site of America's first school around 1635. Charles Dickens was a regular at downtown's historic Omni Parker House—but he probably would have enjoyed a drink in the Clink, the new Liberty Hotel bar inside the former Charles Street Jail.
Boston's picturesque brick-paved gaslight district was built around one slippery fish. When Massachusetts outgrew its old colonial meeting house, a new state house was built in John Hancock's backyard along Beacon Street. For luck, a replica of the carved pine codfish that disappeared from the old state house during the Revolutionary War was installed in the new gold-domed state house. The neighborhood that sprang up around the Sacred Cod earned its name as a beacon of freedom during the Civil War, when Frederick Douglass recruited an African American regiment to join the Union fight against slavery at the African Meeting House. The historic event is recounted in the film Glory, and at the Museum of Afro-American History on Joy St. Today Beacon Hill is known for mood lighting at cozy bistros like Grotto, 75 Chestnut, Figs and The Paramount. One lamp-lit sign may look especially familiar: Beacon Hill's former Bull & Finch pub was the model for Sam's bar in the TV show Cheers. Fish and chips are on the menu here, but the Sacred Cod is off limits at the State House. After Harvard Lampoon pranksters "cod-napped" it in 1933, police dredged the Charles River, searched the airport and chased the cod-nappers to Roxbury to recover Beacon Hill's favorite fish.
Swampland on the Charles River was Boston's best investment. Native Americans fished Back Bay mudflats for 5,000 years before 19th century developers lined it with landfill and plotted tree-lined avenues to rival Paris. Two hundred years later, Back Bay's stately brownstones are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the upper-crust Boston Brahmins who inhabit them have cultivated a distinctive accent ("Hahvahd Yahd"). In Copley Square, the 1852 Boston Public Library showcases John Adams' private library, mural-lined John Singer Sargent Gallery, and elegant Map Room CafŽ. To see how the world looked circa 1935, step inside the Mapparium's dazzling stained glass globe at the neighboring Christian Science library. Bland modern skyscrapers now overlook Back Bay's oxidized copper roofs, but Hynes Convention Center hosts the annual Anime Boston and Prudential Center's Top of the Hub piano bar offers panoramic views over Boston Marathon's finish line. Boston Duck Tours depart near Prudential Center on vintage WWII amphibious boats. Newbury Street is lined with retail temptations, including indie music at Newbury Comics and Massachusetts' own Madewell jeans. Sonsie is a must for happy hour with a side of Newbury street fashion, while dinner is a tossup between The Salty Pig's charcuterie and classic Boston "chowdah" at Atlantic Fish Company.
Colonial row houses make Charlestown look like the long-lost twin of Beacon Hill across the Charles River, but this neighborhood has survived epic trials. Bunker Hill's 221-foot granite obelisk commemorates the long odds faced by ragtag revolutionaries in 1775, when they battled 4,000 British troops with scant ammunition. Worried about gunpowder shortage, American Colonel William Prescott legendarily ordered, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." Another local war hero is moored at Charlestown's Navy Yard: the USS Constitution, the 1797 ship that survived cannon fire to earn the nickname "Old Ironsides." Today the warship is open to visitors, while kids dress up as sailors in the dockside museum. Survivors of the 1840s Irish potato famine found safe harbor in Charlestown, and the neighborhood's mostly Irish population still frequents the local St. Mary Catholic church, Emmons Horrigan O'Neil Memorial Rink and Tavern at the End of the World. This seemingly innocent neighborhood has earned quite a rap sheet for bank robberies, inspiring the Ben Affleck heist movie The Town.
Our friends at Eater.com pick the city's best restaurants each quarter, and we trust their opinion. See full list »
Neptune Oyster
The North End is generally known for Italian, which makes it all the more impressive that a seafood restaurant has made its name as one of the neighborhood's best places to eat.
Quattro
Neapolitan pizza (made in an actual Neapolitan oven), rotisserie and other menu highlights drawing on the existing North End venues also owned DePasquale Ventures. [Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal]
jm Curley
This instant industry-approved classic has helped revitalize Downtown Crossing dining with its small, meaty menu, adult milkshakes, late-night dining and blunt rules for patrons.
Trade
This followup to Jody Adams' Rialto quickly became a favorite for its flatbreads and other oven-blasted main plates with Mediterranean accents.
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