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Boston, MA

A city of history and tradition, Boston offers a proud legacy of culture, education, and numerous sporting championships. Boston's independent spirit has been displayed to the world ever since colonists angry over a British tax on their beloved tea dumped shiploads of it into the harbor in protest.

No American city has made more of an effort to preserve its history, and you'll find buildings that pre-date the republic dotted throughout the region. But Boston isn't a city to dwell on the past: it has renovated and revitalized, in the process shedding its once deservedly parochial reputation. And its culture is refreshed every fall by an influx of freshmen pouring into its constellation of powerful universities, which attract great minds from around the globe. Visiting will reveal a distinct mix of puritanical ideals and liberal politics — the former responsible for the first public school in... Read more

Boston, MA

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A city of history and tradition, Boston offers a proud legacy of culture, education, and numerous sporting championships. Boston's independent spirit has been displayed to the world ever since colonists angry over a British tax on their beloved tea dumped shiploads of it into the harbor in protest.

No American city has made more of an effort to preserve its history, and you'll find buildings that pre-date the republic dotted throughout the region. But Boston isn't a city to dwell on the past: it has renovated and revitalized, in the process shedding its once deservedly parochial reputation. And its culture is refreshed every fall by an influx of freshmen pouring into its constellation of powerful universities, which attract great minds from around the globe. Visiting will reveal a distinct mix of puritanical ideals and liberal politics — the former responsible for the first public school in the Americas, the latter spurring Massachusetts to become the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. Don't believe everything you've heard about the gruff demeanor of locals. Bostonians are often friendlier than the unacquainted might expect... don't call it "Beantown" to their face.

The capital of Massachusetts and de-facto capital of New England, Boston is primarily known for three things: its academics, its sports, and its history. Its plethora of museums, historical sights, live performances, and a lively dining and shopping scene make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
Boston is one of the few old American cities that has managed to preserve a respectable chunk of its history, with buildings that pre-date the republic dotted across the city. But Boston isn't a city to dwell on the past; its culture is refreshed every fall by an influx of freshmen to its many universities and colleges.

Harvard University 

(the country's first college) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sit just across the river from Boston proper.
"Beantown" is also renowned for its sports heritage, with its five major teams — the Patriots, the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Bruins, and the Revolution - all commanding die-hard fanbases and quite a few championships between them. Baseball fans should be sure to grab a ticket and enjoy the atmosphere at the shrine of baseball,

Fenway Park

.
Visiting will reveal a distinct mix of puritanical ideals and liberal politics — medical marijuana may now be legal, but buying beer before noon on Sunday certainly isn't. As you're exploring the city, feel free to stop someone on the street and ask them a question. Don't believe everything you've heard, the people of Boston are a lot friendlier than you might expect!

Climate

Like much of New England, Boston's weather is unpredictable. It's prone to bouts of humidity and some surprisingly high temperatures considering the region, often topping out in the 90s, in the summer. Boston summers are warm and humid, with sunshine 60-65% of the time and typical highs in the mid-70s to high 80s °F (mid to upper 20s °C). Winters tend to be cold and bitter, with several days of heavy snowfall expected every winter, and temperatures sometimes known to fall below 0°F (-18°C).
When the heat does start, there are some beaches within the city, and many beaches outside of it, for swimming. Beware that no matter how hot it is outside, the ocean water will not be warm, with the exception of some beaches on nearby Cape Cod.
Early and late summer tends to be nice, but this varies by year. In that time, the temperature will be perfect, and there will be no humidity. The city does have unpredictable stretches of heat between late June and early August when low 90s and high humidity are expected. All public transit options, including cabs, buses, and the public transit system (both formally and informally called the T) are air-conditioned, with the exception of some older cars on the heavy rail T lines such as the Orange Line, Blue Line, and Red Line.
Boston's fall foliage is at or near its peak beauty in mid-October, which also normally offers the advantage of many crisp sunny days (outside the city itself, peak foliage timing depends on how far north or south you venture from Boston.)
If you visit during the wintertime, the Atlantic Ocean has a large moderating effect on temperatures. The average low in January is 22°F (-5°C), so there may be snow, freezing rain, or hail. However, it doesn't snow anywhere near as much as many other cities due to the effect of the ocean (although the winter of 2014–15 was an exception, smashing all local snowfall records). There is only snowfall on 10 days or so per year, at the absolute maximum (barring freakishly snowy winters like that of 2014–15).

History

The first people to arrive here discovered an archipelago of islands and isthmuses, filled with fruits of the land and sea. They called the land Shawmut, and would use fishweirs and tidal flows to catch their dinners. Calling themselves Massachusett, meaning "people of the great hills" they chased the seasons, heading inland to hunker down in winter hunting camps, while fishing and foraging by the coast during summer. These eponymous great hills are today known as the Blue Hills, located in nearby Milton.

Massachusetts' first governor, John Winthrop, famously called Boston a "shining city on the hill," a reference to Jerusalem and a declaration of the original settlers' intent to build a utopian Christian colony. From the very beginning, the people who lived there declared their home to be one of the most important cities in the world. Considering that the American Revolution and modern democracy got their start thanks to Bostonians, and that Winthrop’s quote is still used in modern political speech, one could argue that they were right!

The father of American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes) once called the Boston statehouse "the hub of the solar system," but common usage has expanded to the now-current Hub of the Universe. This half-serious term is all you need to know to understand Boston's complicated self-image. Vastly important in American history, and for centuries the seat of the USA's social elite, Boston lost prominence in the early twentieth century, largely to the cities of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Over the past two decades, Boston has regained political, cultural, and economic importance.

In 1629, Reverend William Blackstone was the first English immigrant to arrive in the city. A year later, John Winthrop and the Massachusetts Bay Colony had followed. The Massachusetts Bay Colony were Puritan religious dissidents who had fled England to find freedom in the New World. At the time the city was called Shawmut, a name coined by Native American settlers, however now a new settlement, Winthrop had decided to rename the city Boston after his hometown in England. Because of its easily defended harbor and the fact that it is the closest port to Europe it rapidly assumed a leading role in the fledgling New England region, with a booming economy based on trade with the Caribbean and Europe. The devastating Fire of 1760 destroyed much of the town, but within a few years, the city had bounced back.
Boston was also a city of great intellectual potential. Many statesmen had emerged in Boston along with prestigious Schools such as Harvard and the first public school in America, Boston Latin. With the founding of these schools as well as the first printing press in New England, Boston was becoming more of a colonial society.
Bostonians were the instigators of the independence movement in the 18th century, and the city was the center of America's revolutionary activity during the Colonial period. Several of the first Revolutionary War skirmishes were fought there, including the Boston Massacre, The Boston Tea Party, and the battles of Lexington and Concord - which were fought nearby. Soon after the Battle of Bunker Hill, Boston's direct involvement in the Revolution ended with the success of the Siege of Boston by George Washington. For some time afterward the city's political leaders continued to have a leading role in developing the new country's system of government. The residents' ardent support of independence earned the city the nickname The Cradle of Liberty.
Throughout the 19th century, Boston continued to grow rapidly, assimilating outlying towns into the metropolitan core. Its importance in American culture was inestimable, and its economic and literary elite, the so-called Boston Brahmins assumed the mantle of aristocracy in the United States. Their patronage of the arts and progressive social ideals was unprecedented in the New World and often conflicted with the city's Puritan foundations. They helped drive unprecedented scientific, educational and social change that would soon sweep the country. The Abolitionist movement, anesthesia, and the telephone are a few examples of this.
At the same time, the city's working-class swelled with immigrants from Europe. The huge Irish influx made Boston one of the most important Irish cities in the world, in or out of Ireland. Gradually the Irish laborer population climbed into city's upper class, evidenced no better than by the continued importance of the Kennedy family in national politics.
From the early twentieth century until the 1970s, Boston's importance on the national stage waned. Cities in what was once the frontier, like Chicago, San Francisco, and later Los Angeles, shifted the nation's center of gravity away from liberty's cradle. In the past two decades, Boston's importance and influence have increased, due to growth in higher education, healthcare, high technology, and financial services. It remains America's higher educational center; during the school year, one in five Bostonians are university students. There are more college students per square foot in Boston than any other city in the Western Hemisphere.
Boston's nicknames include "Beantown", "The Hub" (shortened from Oliver Wendell Holmes' phrase 'The Hub of the Universe'), "The City of Higher Learning" (due to the plethora of universities and colleges in the Boston area) and - particularly in the 19th century - "The Athens of America," on account of its great cultural and intellectual influence. If you don't want to stand out as a tourist, don't refer to Boston by any of these nicknames. Locals don't use any of them, except the heavy use of "Hub" in journalism (Boston takes up more headline space).

Visitor information

The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau maintains two visitor centers:

  • Boston Common Visitor Information Center, 148 Tremont St (at Winter; T: Park Street), ☎ +1 617 536-4100, toll-free: +1-888-733-2678, e-mail: info@bostonusa.com. M-Sa 8:30AM-5PM, Su 10AM-6PM.
  • Shops at Prudential Visitor Information Center, 800 Boylston St (Center Court; T: Prudential or Back Bay), ☎ +1 617 536-4100, toll-free: +1-888-733-2678, e-mail: info@bostonusa.com. 9AM-5PM daily.

The National Park Service also maintains two visitor centers as many of the historic sites in Boston are considered part of the Boston National Historical Park:

  • Downtown Visitor Center, 15 State St (behind the Old State House between Devonshire and Washington; T: State Street), ☎ +1 617 242-5642. 9AM-5PM daily.
  • Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center

    , Navy Yard Pier 1 (next to the USS Constitution), ☎ +1 617 242-5601. 9AM-5PM daily.

Boston, MA: Port Information


Flynn Cruiseport Boston is located within 10-minutes from Boston Logan International Airport and less than 2 miles from Boston's neighborhoods, shopping and tourist areas. You can take a cruise ship shuttle, a bus, or a taxi to get to the city center or other places.

Get around Boston, MA


Navigating the streets of Boston is difficult if you are not familiar with the area. While many other American cities have their streets laid out in a grid (New York, Chicago, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix), or along a river, lake, or other geographical feature (New Orleans, Cleveland), the modern streets of Boston are a twisty and seemingly incomprehensible maze. Boston in the 1600s was a narrow peninsula surrounded by farmland and distant settlements. Landfill, urban expansion, waves of radical economic change, and new technologies have seen sensible street patterns added on to and collide in less sensible ways. Due to dense development, the older street patterns have largely remained in place without being adapted to their modern surroundings. In this way, Boston is more similar to old European cities than most typical large American cities that were geometrically planned, expanded into unsettled land, or were mainly settled in the late 20th century. Streets in Boston not only turn of their own volition, but often vanish for no particular reason or change names. If you intend to drive in Boston, a GPS or smartphone with GPS capabilities are essential, because Boston streets and avenues have no rhyme or reason to their layout, and signs are often conspicuously lacking.

By public transit

Public transit in Boston is plentiful for an American city of its size, and is useful in getting around the city, especially considering the issues with driving. A single public transit agency serves the Boston metropolitan area, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ("MBTA", or "the T" for short). The MBTA is the fourth-largest transit system in the U.S. For complete schedules, maps, and other information, see their official website.
After decades of using tokens for fare payment, the entire MBTA system was converted in 2007 to an electronic CharlieCard and CharlieTicket system. Dispensing machines at all stations accept cash, credit cards, and debit cards. If you go straight to a dispensing machine, you'll get a paper CharlieTicket with magnetic stripe. If you have time, first ask an attendant at any underground station for a plastic CharlieCard, which is a contactless "smart card". The Card is free and will give you a discount on all T and bus fares, and it's the only way to get free transfers to and from buses. If you think you'll be boarding the T many times you may wish to purchase a day or week LinkPass. Note that these do not allow rapid repeated use at the same station, for a group, for instance. In general, a CharlieCard should be considered a must for its convenience (you can leave it in your wallet), decreased fares, and free or discounted transfers. Most passes (but not one and seven day passes) can be loaded onto a CharlieCard. Unfortunately, CharlieCards are oftentimes not available at stations. However, almost all 7-11 convenience stores in the Boston area sell them, and you can find other places to buy CharlieCards on the MBTA's website.
Bicycles are sometimes possible to transport on the MBTA. Bikes are allowed on the Blue, Red, and Orange T lines except at peak hours, but are not allowed on the Green and Silver lines. Bikes are always allowed on MBTA buses that are equipped with bike racks. The MBTA is currently installing bike racks on many bus routes - check the MBTA website for the latest updates. Bikes are allowed on MBTA boats and ferries at any time. On commuter rail trains, they are allowed anytime except weekday rush hours, as noted on individual train line schedules.
The MBTA system consists of several components: T, bus, water shuttles, and commuter rail.
Full-color system maps are available at major stations; you may need to ask an agent if you would like one. They are extremely useful for locals and travelers getting a bit off the beaten track, because they show all bus, rapid transit, commuter rail, and boat lines. Most of the T maps you will see only show the rapid transit lines, which are identified by color. If you have a color printer, you can make one yourself by printing the PDF version online. (Front, back.)

By subway

The T is composed of four color-coded rail lines: the Red Line, Orange Line, Blue Line, and Green Line. The Green Line is technically an above ground streetcar system, although downtown the stops are often underground. It uses light-rail or streetcar/trolley rolling stock, stops frequently, is powered using overhead lines, and never goes above 45 miles an hour. Despite this, it carries a surprising amount of passengers and is without a doubt the most useful T line for tourists. The newer Silver Line is technically part of the subway system, but in reality is comprised of dual mode diesel-electric buses with the ability to draw power from overhead wires like a trolley. Despite the higher subway fare, most Bostonians consider the Silver Line to be a bus, not rapid transit.
The Green Line splits into four branches going west that are known as the B, C, D and E lines (from north to south). Going west on the Green Line, the E line branches off at Copley Square station, the other three split at Kenmore Square station. Just after the lines split, these lines all run above ground, the B and C lines run in the medians of Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street respectively, the D line runs on the Highland Branch, an old railway line through forests, parks, and town squares out to Newton, and the E line runs in mixed traffic along Huntington Avenue. Note that most Green Line trains do not go all the way to the end of the line at Lechmere; most turn around either at North Station or Park St. If you are traveling farther than Park St, your best bet is to get on the first train that comes, and then wait on the platform at the stop where you are forced to leave the train until the next Lechmere or North Station train arrives. (Depending where you are, Lechmere trains might not stop there.) Only trains coming from the E Branch will proceed to Lechmere, unless otherwise noted. From North Station or Haymarket, it's a fairly short walk to Lechmere.
The T system is slightly confusing in that directions are often marked "inbound" and "outbound", rather than with a destination. "Inbound" means "into the center of Boston", where all four lines converge at four stops: State (Blue and Orange), Park Street (Red and Green), Government Center (Blue and Green), and Downtown Crossing (Orange and Red). "Outbound" means "away from the center of Boston". Once one is in the center, signs generally give the direction ("eastbound") or the last stop on the line in that direction ("Alewife"). All trains are signed with the last stop in the direction they are headed, and this is the best way to know if you are going in the right direction.
T service stops around 12:30am. (The last outbound commuter rail train on each line is around midnight, and may be earlier on weekends.) Each line (Green, Blue, etc.) has a "last train" time, starting at one end of the line and going to the other. Check the schedule in advance if you are going to be out late. Sometimes the last train is delayed due to passenger load or the need to wait for the last connection from another line, so you might get lucky if you are running late. Check with a T employee near the fare gates to see if you've missed the last train or not. A general rule of thumb is to be in the station by midnight to safely catch the last train. A consequence of this is that taxis can be extremely difficult to hail after 2:30am when most of the bars close, especially in touristy areas such as Faneuil Hall.

By bus

Regular bus service (the vast majority of buses) is usually slower than rapid transit, but is also cheaper and may take you closer to your final destination. Express buses are faster, more expensive, and travel longer distances.

By water shuttle

The MBTA runs a number of water shuttles, but the most useful for tourists is the shuttle from Long Wharf to Navy Yard. This provides a convenient connection between the USS Constitution Museum and the area around Faneuil Hall and the New England Aquarium. There's also a shuttle from Long Wharf to Logan Airport, but it runs relatively infrequently, so the Blue Line is your best bet for getting between these two destinations.
There are also non-MBTA public ferries available from several ports, notably the Aquarium and Long Wharf, and a water taxi service on the waterfront. The Boston Harbor Islands, an interesting destination for wildlife and scenery, are primarily accessed through private water shuttles which run every 30 minutes out of a stretch of the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

By commuter rail

Commuter rail in Boston is primarily used for traveling to towns outside of the city. Due to its limited frequency compared to the T, it is not generally recommended for travel within the city itself. An exception is travel between Back Bay Station and South Station, which is served by 5 commuter rail branches on weekdays and is free one way.
Trains heading north of the city leave from North Station, while those heading south or west leave from South Station. Both stations have connections to the T: North Station is on the Green and Orange Lines, and South Station is on the Red and Silver Lines. The two stations are not directly connected: you cannot board a train north of the city and take it to a point south of the city. Such a journey will require a T ride in-between train trips to make the connection.

By taxi

Although there is no one official livery, taxis in Boston are predominantly white (hence called "white cabs" by locals) and can be hailed along any street so far as the driver can safely pull over (much like in any major city).

By rideshare

As of 2014, Uber X and Lyft are both available in Boston and may be cheaper than taking a white cab, especially for longer trips. Note that both services sometimes increase fares during periods of high demand that may negate the savings over a traditional taxi.

By foot

Boston's downtown core is compact and easily walkable. Most tourist attractions can be visited on foot, although some neighborhoods require rail and/or bus connections. Take note that while jaywalking is technically illegal, the fine is $1 and tickets haven't been issued for decades. However, if you cross against signals just remember to watch out for stray bikes, cars, and some unusual traffic patterns you won't be used to.
For an idea of how compact Boston is, one can easily walk from Downtown Crossing to Harvard Square in less than an hour.
The climate is cold from December to April, and the city is the windiest in America. Snow can also be an obstacle.
If it's late at night, or you feel you cannot deal with the cost of a taxi or the wait involved with the MBTA, then Boston is a relatively small, relatively safe city and walking is an option. Just remember to use the same sense you would in any other city.

By bicycle

Many Boston residents use bicycling as their primary mode of transit all year round, and Boston's small size and relative flatness make biking an appealing way to get around. Boston lacks many amenities for bicyclists, however, as the roads are covered with potholes and frequently absent of designated bicycle lanes or bicycle racks, so visitors wishing to travel by bicycle should have excellent urban riding skills prior to renting a bicycle. Cambridge tends to have more bicycle lanes and racks, though many streets still lack them. Riding on the sidewalk is illegal in the city of Cambridge, and frowned upon in Boston, and being well-lit in the evenings is important both for following regulations and for being safe. Recent efforts by Mayor Thomas Menino promise increased city investment in bicycling as a viable mode of transportation, and the mayor himself has taken up biking around town.
A central transit for bikers in Boston is the Southwest Corridor Bike Path, a major park/bike way placed along a route once slated for a major freeway system. This runs parallel to the T's Orange Line and connects Forest Hills to the Back Bay. This is an excellent means of transit if you intend on staying in Jamaica Plain.
In 2011, Boston launched Hubway, a bike sharing system very similar to those in Washington D.C. and New York City. As of 2014, there are 140 stations and 1,300 bicycles; visitors can purchase a pass for one day or three days, or those staying longer can purchase a monthly or annual membership. Pick up a bike at any station and return it to any other station. Each pass offers unlimited 30-minute rides; longer rides incur expensive extra fees, making renting a bike a better option for long rides.

  • Boston Bicycle (Cambridge Bicycle), ☎ +1 617 236-0752. 
  • Urban AdvenTours, 103 Atlantic Ave, ☎ +1 617 670-0637. Offers guided bicycle tours for various skill levels. Also provides bike rentals and bike deliveries.
  • Hubway, toll-free: +1-855-948-2929, e-mail: customerservice@thehubway.com. A bike sharing service that offers use of 1,300 bikes from 140 kiosks around Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. Visitors can purchase a 24-hour 72-hour pass with a credit or debit card; both offer unlimited trips under 30 minutes (longer trips incur expensive extra charges).

What to see in Boston, MA


There are several visitor pass programs that offer discounted or free admission to a number of the sites listed below, among them the GoBoston Card and the Boston CityPASS. Depending on the length of your stay and what you want to see, either program could potentially save you quite a bit of money.

Museums

  • Boston Children's Museum, 300 Congress St, ☎ +1 617 426-7336. 10AM-5PM daily (F until 9PM). The Boston Children's Museum is a large, modern museum recently built out of an industrial building along the Boston waterfront and relatively close to the Tea Party museum and the ICA. The quickest way to get there using mass transit is probably by walking from South Station, which is a large station on the Red Line. It has a variety of interactive exhibits about a considerable number of topics, as well as a reproduction of a traditionally Japanese house called the Kyoto House. It is also regularly host to a traveling exhibit from somewhere else in the country, which does not incur an additional admissions charge. It's suitable for children of ages ranging from newborn to about 9. One of the most interesting things about the museum, particularly for children, is a 3-story climbing structure that lets the kids climb up from the ground floor to the third floor, in lieu of elevator or stairs. They support fitness and environmental sustainability programs, and they even have a green roof. It's worthwhile if you're bringing young children to Boston.
  • Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave (Museum of Fine Arts Station, Green Line, E Train or Ruggles Station, Orange Line), ☎ +1 617 267-9300. Boston's largest and most comprehensive art museum, and also one of the pricier museums in the US. Having recently completed a well-known expansion of the American wing with the architect Norman Foster, it is also known for its impressive assortment of French Impressionist paintings, among other things. The MFA also has one of the largest collections of Japanese art outside of Japan, an extraordinary collection of Egyptian, ancient Greek, and Roman art, one of the most comprehensive collections of American art, and a considerable print collection in the United States. It contains sculpture, prints, photography, and painting, although the vast majority of its collection was created before the 20th century. That said, they sometimes have exhibits of contemporary art, and parts of the building have permanent contemporary pieces. The MFA building consists of several wings showcasing both newer and older styles of architecture, and, from the right angle, it can be very attractive from the outside. For those interested in art, it's the foremost museum in Boston.
  • The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, 1 Oxford St, Cambridge (T stop: Red Line to "Harvard Square"), ☎ +1 617 495-2779. M-Th 11AM-4PM, F 11AM-3PM. Closed on university holidays. Has over 20,000 objects dating from 1400 to present day. Free and open to the public (despite at least one Web page that can be misread to indicate that it is by appointment only).
  • Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St, Cambridge (Harvard Square Station, Red Line), ☎ +1 617 495-9400. T-Sa 10AM-5PM. The Harvard Art Museums, commonly known as "the Fogg" due to the name of one of its constituent galleries, is a group of art museums with a diverse and interesting collection. Check the website of the Harvard Art Museums for updates. 
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St, Cambridge (Harvard Square Station, Red Line), ☎ +1 617 495-3045. 9AM-5PM daily. Its amazing "Glass Flowers" collection has been a major tourist attraction for nearly 100 years. It also has a very large collection of rocks and minerals. Although fairly compact, its collection is fascinating and makes it well worth a visit. 
  • Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave (Courthouse Station, Silver Line or South Station, Red Line), ☎ +1 617 478-3100. 10AM-5PM Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10AM-9PM Thursday-Friday, closed Monday. The much-anticipated new building designed by starchitects Diller+Scofidio, the ICA is on Fan Pier on the South Boston Waterfront. The ICA is a very new museum of contemporary art with an interesting if small collection. The building is large on the outside, but in fact, has only one floor of gallery space. They regularly have one to two medium-sized temporary exhibitions and then a longer-term exhibition comprised of items from the collection, but space is constantly in flux. The ICA also regularly has social events and screenings in the theatre room. It's not worth transferring from the Red to the Silver line to get here; it's much better to simply walk from South Station. 
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway (MFA Station, Green Line, E Branch or Ruggles Station, Orange Line), ☎ +1 617 566-1401. Tu-Su 11AM-5PM. The villa-turned-museum of an eccentric Bostonian, the Gardner features an eclectic collection of European objects, beautiful floral displays, and was the site of a spectacular painting heist in 1990. It's an exotic villa beladen with valuable art. However, they recently completed a glassy I.M. Pei designed expansion, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum now has a courtyard cafe and more temporary exhibition space. $15, Students $5, free on your birthday or if you're named "Isabella."
  • MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge (Red Line to either "Central Square Station" or "Kendall Square/MIT"), ☎ +1 617 253-5927. 10AM-5PM, closed major holidays. The MIT Museum is a place that explores invention, ideas, and innovation. Home to renowned collections in science and technology, holography, architecture and design, nautical engineering and history, the Museum features changing and ongoing exhibitions, unique hands-on activities, and engaging public programs. It's a fairly small museum, and the collection doesn't change much, but even if you've been once or twice before, let alone never, it's well worth a visit. That said, it's much less "interactive" than most modern American science museums, such as Boston's large but much more crowded Museum of Science. One of the best things about the MIT museum is that it offers visitors air-conditioned serenity in a not-very-crowded museum directly next to what the New York Times called "the best ice cream in the world."
  • Museum of African American History, 46 Joy St, Beacon Hill (Red Line or Green Line to "Park. St."), ☎ +1 617 725-0022. Mondays-Saturdays 10AM-4PM, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century.
  • Museum of Science, Science Park (Science Park Station, Lechmere-bound Green Line trains. You can also just walk from North Station), ☎ +1 617 723-2500. 9AM-5PM daily (Summer until 7PM). The Museum of Science is colossal - easily one of the biggest in North America. It has IMAX theatres, separate 3D theatres, a separate planetarium, and what seems like an endless row of opportunities for wallet gouging. Unlike most science museums it has not one restaurant but 3. It has not one theatre/planetarium but 6. It has not one gift shop but at least 4, depending on the temporary exhibition currently there. The Museum of Science not only has an enormous permanent collection spanning several stories, but it has the largest Van de Graff generator in the world, which produces frequent electricity shows, a weather generator, many multimedia presentation areas, and at least 2 temporary exhibitions at any given time. It's magnificent but expensive, loud, crowded despite the gargantuan size, and spectacularly headache inducing. The theatres are excellent, as are the many daily events going on concurrently in the museum. The roster of events changes daily and is distributed upon entry. It's worth a visit as long as you are all right with the possibility of getting a migraine. That said, it's quite something. 
  • New England Aquarium, Central Wharf (Blue Line to Aquarium), ☎ +1 617 973-5200. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa Su 9AM-6PM. Home of what was until recently the world's largest fish tank, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the New England Aquarium offers a riveting museum experience which showcases an incredible variety of fish and other types of animals. After recent expansions, it now also has a humongous IMAX theatre, whale-watching tours operating from its pier, and a marine mammal arena out back. It is also known for its penguins, which are a fascinating experience even on their own. 
  • Mapparium, 175 Huntington Ave (Green Line to the Prudential, Symphony, or Hynes stop), toll-free: +1-888-222-3711. Tu-Su 10AM-4PM. The Mary Baker Eddy Library at the world headquarters of the Christian Science Church houses a three-story globe room where visitors can view a stained-glass map of the world from inside the center. The effect is made particularly interesting by the fact the gigantic glass globe hasn't changed since it was built; the Soviet Union may be no more, but the Church of Christian Science is alive and well. Unfortunately for visitors hostile to proselytization, outside the breathtaking globe is a series of propaganda explaining the virtue of Mary Baker Eddy and her church.
  • Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, 11 Divinity Ave, Cambridge (Red Line to "Harvard Square"), ☎ +1 617 496-1027. Daily 9AM-5PM. One of the oldest museums in the world devoted to anthropology and houses one of the most comprehensive records of human cultural history in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Semitic Museum, 6 Divinity Ave, Cambridge (T stop: Red Line to "Harvard Square"), ☎ +1 617 495-4631. M-F 10AM-4PM, Su 1PM-4PM. See a collection of over 40,000 artifacts from the Near East across multiple ancient civilizations.
  • USS Constitution Museum, Charlestown Navy Yard, ☎ +1 617 426-1812. Apr-Oct Tu-Su 10AM-6PM, Nov-Mar Th-Su 10AM-3:50PM. Tour famous Old Ironsides, enjoy all-ages hands-on exhibits on sailing skills and crafts. Freewill donation.
  • Warren Anatomical Museum, 10 Shattuck St (T stop: "Brigham Circle" on Green E line), ☎ +1 617 432-6196. M-F 9AM-5PM, except Harvard University holidays. See an extensive collection of distinct and pathological examples in anatomy including the actual skull of Phineas Gage.

Galleries

  • Panopticon Gallery, inside the Hotel Commonwealth, 502c Commonwealth Ave (T stop: Green Line to "Kenmore Square"), ☎ +1 617 267-8929. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 11AM-5PM. Founded in 1971, Panopticon Gallery is one of the oldest galleries in the United States dedicated solely to photography. The gallery specializes in 20th Century American Photography and emerging contemporary photography.
  • Axelle Fine Arts Galerie, 91 Newbury St (T stop: Green Line to "Arlington St."), ☎ +1 617 450-0700. Everyday 10AM-6PM. First established in Soho, New York, it offers the best selection of contemporary European painters to its clients. Axelle Fine Arts Galerie has an ever-evolving selection of new, museum-quality paintings and is the exclusive representative of artists such as Patrick Pietropoli, Goxwa, Albert Hadjiganev, Jivko, Philippe Jacquet, Fabienne Delacroix, André Bourrié, Jean-Daniel Bouvard, Laurent Dauptain, Philippe Vasseur, Michel Delacroix, Brian Stephens and Hollis Dunlap.

Events

  • March: St. Patrick's Day. March 17 is not celebrated officially as St. Patrick's Day, but rather as Evacuation Day, a local holiday marking the expulsion of British troops from the city on 17 March 1776. But Boston has one of the highest Irish populations outside of Ireland, and Irish pride reigns on this day. Don't forget to wear green, drink a beer, and buy something that says "Kiss Me I'm Irish!" (regardless of your ethnicity). If possible, catch the local band Dropkick Murphys (think punk rock with bagpipes) at their infamous St. Patrick's Day show.
  • Third Monday in April: Patriot's Day/Boston Marathon. The oldest marathon in the world, the race started in 1897 and is always run on the holiday that commemorates Paul Revere's ride in 1775 and the ensuing battles at Lexington and Concord (suburbs of Boston) that started the Revolution. The race runs from Hopkinton to the finish line in Copley Square. The halfway point is the wealthy suburb of Wellesley, where students from Wellesley College (America's leading institute for all-women's education) form the "Scream Tunnel" to cheer on runners (who are in turn encouraged to "Kiss a Wellesley Girl for good luck!"). Parts of Commonwealth Avenue outbound from there and surrounding streets are closed for the race. Elsewhere, Paul Revere's ride and the battles are re-enacted each year in front of thousands of people. Arrive early to get a good spot. Finally, the Red Sox always have a home game on this date, which starts at 11AM to accommodate the crowds who watch the Marathon as it goes by Fenway Park. This is the only Major League baseball game that starts at noon local time during the season. Other than St. Patrick's/Evacuation Day this is the only time that you will find huge crowds at bars early in the morning.
  • June: Boston Pride. The second-largest event in the city after the Fourth of July. Boston's LBGT community - and everyone else - come out for a fabulous parade from Copley Square, through the South End, to Boston Common. Many other social events are scheduled around this weekend.
  • The Fourth of July: Independence Day. A host of events occur throughout the day that culminates with the Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade along the Charles river - the oldest and largest public celebration of the Fourth in the country. The concerts were started in 1929 by conductor Arthur Fiedler and were enhanced with fireworks by philanthropist David Mugar during the bicentennial celebrations in 1976. Sometimes sparsely attended in the beginning, it is televised nationally and has become the country's premier 4 July event with hundreds of thousands squeezing along both sides of the Charles each year. This event also holds the world record for the largest crowd to ever attend a classical concert. Seats closest to the stage go to folks who show up before dawn to wait in line but there are speakers, and huge TV screens posted all along the river so everybody can see the show. Parts of Storrow Drive in Boston, Memorial Drive in Cambridge, and Massachusetts Avenue on and near the Mass. Ave. bridge is closed due to extremely heavy pedestrian traffic. Note that the roads and public transit are heavily congested after the fireworks display. There are other celebrations during the day, starting with a flag-raising ceremony at City hall at 9AM. This is followed by a parade to the Granary Burial Ground which is led by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, Boston's militia, which is the 3rd-oldest military unit in the world. Honors are given at the graves of each of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who are interred there, as well as the victims of the Boston Massacre and Peter Faneuil. The parade then moves on to the Old State House where the Declaration is read in its entirety from the main balcony (which overlooks the site of the Massacre) to the crowd, just as it has been every year since 1776.
  • Late August: The Feast of St. Anthony. The biggest of several Feasts in the North End. This one includes lots of food vendors, games, music, and a parade on Hanover Street and environs.
  • October: The Head of the Charles Regatta. Over 8,000 rowers from around the globe compete in this regatta, one of the world's largest two-day rowing events. It often attracts up to 300,000 spectators along the banks of the Charles River.
  • 31 December/1 January: First Night. Boston's New Year's Eve celebration, it is the oldest public New Year's Eve party in America and has been copied by cities all around the world. It is a city-wide, family-friendly arts and culture festival which starts in the late morning with child-centric events and continues with dozens of music, dance, poetry and other exhibitions through midnight, culminating in fireworks on the waterfront. Dress warmly.

Parks

Like any respectable American city, Boston has a series of parks designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmsted. Called The Emerald Necklace, these parks comprise almost half the green space in town. The oldest and most loved of these parks is Boston Common. In the center of it all, this park is always in use. Right next door you'll find the Public Garden. Although smaller, its many plantings and formal design give this park a more genteel feeling. Coming right up to the water's edge, the gorgeous Charles River Esplanade makes relaxing easy and provides a fantastic escape from city life.

If you're downtown, it's almost impossible to miss the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. This wonderful green ribbon replaced a noxious and congested expressway with art, food, and life. Its construction restored connections to neighborhoods that for decades were cut off from the rest of the city.

Further afield, the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain is officially all about the science. Although that would come as news to the crowds soaking in the grandeur of this immaculately landscaped park. No picnics please, this is serious fun. Keep exploring in Roxbury and pay a visit to Franklin Park, the biggest link in Olmsted's Emerald Necklace. Despite needing some maintenance, Franklin Park has miles of great hiking and biking trails. Not to mention a zoo and an 18-hole municipal golf course.

There are also a great many parks in East Boston. Being across the harbor, these parks and beaches are much less visited than the others in town. If you go, take the opportunity to mingle with locals as you watch the jets coming in for a landing at Logan airport.

What to do in Boston, MA


A good resource for daily and nightly event listings of all sizes and interests can be found by picking up a free Weekly Dig from one of the many free newspaper vending boxes located at most major busy intersections.

  • Arnold Arboretum, ☎ +1-617-524-1718. 125 Arborway. T stop: Orange Line or Needham commuter rail to "Forest Hills" (last stop on the Orange Line). See the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world's leading centers for the study of plants. A park with beautiful landscaping and specimens. 
  • Boston Whale Watch, toll-free: +1-800-877-5110. Whale Watching in Boston, Massachusetts was voted one of the "Top 5 Whale Watching Destinations in the World" by the World Wildlife Fund. Cape Ann Whale Watch is one of the best whale watching tours in Boston, Massachusetts sailing from historic Gloucester, Massachusetts twice daily. Gloucester has recently been made famous from the 1991 movie "The Perfect Storm" starring George Clooney and Boston native, Mark Wahlberg. Climb aboard "The Hurricane II," the largest, fastest and most luxurious whale watching vessel north of Boston. The Hurricane II has been utilized and featured in several Hollywood movies including Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and many other full-length feature films.
  • Boston Harbor Islands State Park, ☎ +1-617-727-5290. Take a ferry (Long Wharf: Blue line to Aquarium) out to Georges Island and tour Fort Warren. See why Boston was the most defensible city in the New World. Shuttles leave from there to other islands in Boston Harbor—insect repellent is recommended. Ranger-led activities, events, narrations, or just swim, picnic, camp or fish. This is a hidden jewel that is off the beaten path. Plan to bring sunscreen, water, and a snack. Also, note that depending on conditions in the harbor the return schedule can be delayed. If you're tight on time, err on the side of an earlier ferry to ensure arrival.
  • Newbury Street. Eight blocks of high-end boutiques, hair salons, and galleries. Makes for a fabulous day of shopping and dining. The shops and restaurants tend to be expensive, but one needn't spend money to enjoy the area; one of Newbury's main attractions is simply people-watching. College students, urban professionals, tourists, and street performers all mix here. Newbury Street is accessible on the Green Line from the Arlington, Copley, and Hynes stations.
  • Boston Common and Public Garden. A must-see for all visitors during the warmer months. The oldest public park in America. Ride the famous Swan Boats, walk across the world's shortest suspension bridge and enjoy the park with its shady trees, fountains, statues, sidewalk vendors, and greenery. Visit the "Cheers" bar across Beacon St, but be forewarned: only tourists go here. A great starting point for visitors interested in local historical sights, or on your way to Downtown Crossing or the Back Bay. Very nice foliage in the fall. The area east of Charles St is the Common, which is more open and less manicured. The area west of Charles St. is the Public Garden, which consists of many walking paths amid an impressive variety of well-maintained foliage. Accessible on the Green Line from Park Street, Boylston, and Arlington stations, on the Red Line from Park Street station, and a short walk from any other downtown station.
  • Community Boating. For kids between ages 10 and 18, membership is only $1 for the entire summer. Membership includes all sorts of sailing lessons (sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, etc.) along with other benefits. Each class takes a couple of days. Accessible on the Red Line from Charles/MGH station.
  • Freedom Trail. A 2.5 mi (4 km) walking tour of 16 historic sites that begins at Boston Common goes through downtown Boston, the North End, and Charlestown, ending at the USS Constitution. Sites include the old State House, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere's House, and the Old North Church. The Freedom Trail connects to the Boston Harbor Walk. The Freedom Trail is marked by a line of red paint or red brick in the sidewalk. The beginning of the trail is accessible on the Green Line or the Red Line from Park St station. However, all the lines are convenient at various points along the way, via several downtown stations.
  • Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, downtown Boston. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, two of Boston's oldest marketplaces, contain a great set of mainly tourist-oriented shops and eateries. Since Faneuil Hall Marketplace is private property, the street performers must audition and thus are consistently entertaining. Faneuil Hall also has a historic meeting hall in its upper levels and is just down the street from the Old State House. Quincy Market has some food stalls from local (delectable) providers - coffee, pastries, candy, popcorn, sushi, Italian, lobster and lobster rolls, Chinese, sandwiches, etc. No farmers' market, all food is prepared. Great place to eat a wide variety of foods for cheap, especially with kids. Tables available in the covered outdoor area immediately outside. Accessible on the Blue Line at State St., and Aquarium stations, on the Orange Line at State St. station, and on the Green Line at Haymarket station.
  • Boston Public Market, 100 Hanover Street (By Haymarket Station). W–Su 8:00–20:00. A permanent, year-round market featuring fresh, locally sourced food. Includes many organic, prepared meals and treats.
  • Copley Square. Take a Duck Tour, +1 617-267-DUCK, enjoy the fountains, visit the top of the nearby Prudential building, see the Boston Public Library, visit the beautiful Trinity Church, or go shopping along Newbury Street. Accessible on the Green Line at Copley station, or on the Orange Line at Back Bay station.
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Av. During the fall, winter and spring, the world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra performs classical music. Tickets are available online or at the box office. For a cheaper alternative, Tuesday and Thursday concerts have rush tickets (last-minute availability, no seat choice) which are sold starting at 5PM; Friday concerts start rush ticket availability at 10AM. Be sure to line up in advance for rush tickets. Weekend concerts do not sell rush tickets.
  • Boston Pops OrchestraSymphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Av, ☎ +1 617 266-1492, e-mail: CustomerService@bso.org. During the summer, the Pops perform programs of both classical and popular music, consistently pleasing audiences. Tickets can be had inexpensively and can be purchased either online or at the box office. Accessible on the E branch of the Green Line at Symphony station.
  • New England Conservatory. This world-famous top-notch music school and also right around the corner from the Boston Symphony is often overlooked by tourists in Boston but well-known among local musicians. Their performances, recitals, and chamber group concerts are usually free and unticketed. See the calendar for more information.
  • Theater District, Washington St, Tremont St. Broadway is the undisputed center of the theater world, but Boston's Theater District is where most Broadway shows will preview and is usually the first stop on a show's touring run. Resident shows also run.
  • Bicycle — the Minuteman Bikeway is one of the most heavily-used rail trails in the United States. This ten-mile paved path is popular with walkers, cyclists, and in-line skaters. The route closely follows that taken at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Accessible on the Red Line at Davis and Alewife stations.
  • Hike trails in parks of metro Boston, many of which are accessible by public transport and stretch for several miles, such as Middlesex Fells and Blue Hills.
  • Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory, Prudential Center, +1 617-859-0648.
  • Sam Adams Brewery Tour, 30 Germania St, ☎ +1 617 368-5080. (Orange line to "Stonybrook"). Take a tour of the Sam Adams brewery located in Jamaica Plan. Free samples of beer at the end.
  • Harpoon Brewery Tour, Phone +1 888-HARPOON. (Silver line Waterfront, fourth stop from South Station) "After taking countless Brewery tours from around the world, we decided to focus our tours on what we feel is the best part of any brewery tour - the sampling." 
  • Counter-Productions Theatre Company. "We are a collaborative group of imaginative and driven people passionate about Theatre. We create high-quality, thought-provoking productions in the greater Boston area and throughout New England.
  • Mystery Cafe, Boston, ☎ +1 781 784-7496. Dinner. America's Original Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. Its doors opened in 1987 to a packed house in Cambridge, MA and had been selling out the house ever since! It is a great combination of mystery, music, audience participation, food, and fun. Different shows and locations for a memorable evening in Boston. 
  • The Mary Baker Eddy Library-Mapparium, 200 Massachusetts Avenue Boston, MA 02115, ☎ +1 617 450-7000. 10AM-4PM Tuesday-Sunday. Since 1935, more than 10 million people have traversed the thirty-foot glass bridge that spans the Mapparium, taking visitors to a unique spot: the middle of the world. This world-famous, three-story, painted-glass globe is one of the key attractions at the Library. 
  • Boston's HarborWalk is an inviting public walkway along the waterfront, with parks, public art, seating areas, cafes, exhibit areas, interpretive signage, water transportation facilities, and a wide range of other amenities.

Sports

Boston is a sports town, and its professional teams are much-loved. These include the Red Sox (baseball), Celtics (basketball), Bruins (hockey), New England Patriots (football), and New England Revolution (soccer). Another professional team, the Boston Breakers (women's soccer), is less well established.

  • Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way. The home of the Boston Red Sox. The oldest baseball stadium still in use by the major leagues, this brick, and stone structure is named after and located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which itself takes its name from the fens or marshes along the nearby Muddy River. Accessible on the B, C, and D branches of the Green Line at Kenmore station, or on the D branch of the Green Line at Fenway station. Visitors arriving via the T will need to walk a short distance from the station to the ballpark, but the crowds on a game day will serve to lead the way. It's worth taking the T to the game because parking is very limited (and expensive) and you get to experience the excitement of a crowded train car full of fans heading to the game. Yawkey Way is now closed off during games, and those in the stadium can walk outside to enjoy the additional refreshment stands and open area, and then return to the game. Tickets are very difficult to attain; see the Fenway article for details.
  • Gillette Stadium. The home of the New England Patriots football team and the New England Revolution soccer team is in the town of Foxborough, about 25 miles southwest of Boston. The Revolution play from spring to fall, and the Patriots from fall through winter. Patriots games are always sold out and getting tickets will probably be impossible. Revolution tickets will be easier to come by. Since 2012, Gillette Stadium has been either a full-time or part-time football home of the UMass Minutemen—the team of the University of Massachusetts Amherst—following their move to the top tier of NCAA college football.
  • TD Garden, Causeway St. The home of the Boston Celtics basketball team and Boston Bruins hockey team. The site was previously occupied by the Boston Garden, a smaller venue, and the existing structure was previously called the FleetCenter and later the TD Banknorth Garden. The arena may be called by any of these names, or simply The Garden. Accessible on the Green Line or Orange Line at North Station, which is underneath the Garden.The TD Banknorth Garden is home to two of Boston’s most historic sports team the Boston Celtics, and the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions the Boston Bruins. If you’re a sports buff visiting Boston and one of these two teams is playing it is a must that you stop by a catch a game. Whether you're sitting up high or down low finding a bad seat in the Garden is pretty hard for any sport even in the last row you will still be able to see an exciting game in a very exciting atmosphere where history is made. Another notable annual sports event is the Beanpot college hockey tournament, held on the first two Mondays of February and featuring the men's teams of Boston College (see below), Boston University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University.
  • Boston College Eagles. Brighton/Newton Border in the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill. The teams representing Boston College compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in most sports alongside 14 other schools, mostly in states along the East Coast. The ice hockey teams for both men and women compete in Hockey East. The football team plays in the 45,000-seat Alumni Stadium. The basketball and hockey teams play in the adjacent Conte Forum (known as Kelley Rink for hockey games), which seats between 8 and 9 thousand fans. College hockey is very popular in New England, and in recent years BC has had one of the best programs in the nation. See also the hockey programs of Boston University and Northeastern University in the city proper, and rival schools in the suburbs and neighboring states.
  • Harvard Stadium, 95 N. Harvard St. Allston. Home to the Harvard Crimson (Harvard University) football team since 1903. Nearby is Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium, home to the area's newest professional team, the Boston Breakers of the National Women's Soccer League. The Breakers, like the Revolution, play from spring to fall.

Music

If you're a lover of music, you'll find yourself right at home in Boston. With an array of venues, there is bound to be someone playing in town that will suit your tastes. The large student population helps to draw a wide variety of acts year round. For mega stars and headline performers, check out TD Garden or Fenway Park. Yeah, these are normally sports arenas; but they'll also hold musical events for the right artists (think Janet Jackson, Bon Jovi or Lady Gaga). Another enormous musical attraction is Boston Calling; a multi-day festival put on at the end of May. Crowd into a field in Allston with 20,000 friends to see whichever established and up and coming artists the kids are into these days.

Speaking of Allston, you can find some of the best music venues in the city here. There's a variety of options, but if you're looking for the next Indy sensation or band that's just starting to blow up, try either the Paradise Rock Club or Great Scott. Each place commonly selects good artists, but tickets can sell out almost instantly when bigger names come to play.

There are many more great music spots across the Charles in Cambridge. Check out the Middle East (upstairs or down) for a variety of national acts. The Phoenix Landing is a forward soccer restaurant, until nighttime when it transforms itself into a dance club. For a full-on nightclub experience try the nearby Middlesex Lounge or head to The Plough & Stars instead of a solid bar with live rock acts. For a week in May, Together Boston is an electronic festival where performances incorporate elements of art and technology.

Head downtown to find the best nightclubs the city has to offer. The popular ones are always changing, but try Royale or Tunnel, or any of the others mixed in around the Theatre District. They're also packed around Faneuil Hall (like Hong Kong) or found down Boylston Place, a tiny gated alley off Boylston Street. Hosting music less often than you might think, the House of Blues on Lansdowne Street usually books very talented acts whose popularity isn't as "red hot" as it once was.

For tiny venues that offer unique experiences, your best bet will be Wally's Cafe in the South End. This Jazz club was once one of the dozens in the area and is the last one remaining today. Still, family owned and operated, you're likely to see gifted and passionate Berklee students gracing the stage. Shamble down the road to the Berklee Performance Center, another great spot for the adventurous traveler to hear accomplished yet unknown musicians.

Intrepid explorers of melody could also check out the Midway Café in Jamaica Plain. You never know what you're going to find, but there is often a Queer or Punk edge to the sound here. During the summertime, head into the neighborhoods and wander around a Porchfest or two. Homeowners allow their porches to become impromptu performance spaces for local and offbeat bands. Neighbors and visitors alike wander through city streets stopping at whatever piques their interest. The original in Somerville featuring hundreds of performers is the best, but JP has a good one too, and Roslindale is also a contender.
 

Performing arts

Head to the Theater District to find unusual cultural and entertainment programs to attend all year-round. The center of Boston's theatre scene can be found among the dozens of 19th-century buildings scattered between Washington and Tremont streets. Even if the theatre isn't for you, just taking a stroll around this historic district can be a performance in itself. If you are buying tickets; however, look into performances happening at the Emerson owned Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Theatre. Many great performers have graced the stage of the Wang Theatre over the years, another historic building with landmark status.

Using ornate Symphony Hall as their base, the world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra performs notable classical music during the fall, winter, and spring. During summertime, they mo arerph into the Boston Pops Orchestra to perform programs of light classical and popular music, consistently pleasing audiences. The first professional ballet company in New England, the Boston Ballet performs exclusively at the Boston Opera House. Their performance of The Nutcracker is particularly popular, running annually for 40+ years.

The New England Conservatory is a world-famous music school right around the corner from Symphony Hall. It's well-known among musicians but often overlooked by everyone else. The performances, recitals, and chamber group concerts found here are usually free and unticketed. Do isn't miss the Berklee Performance Center, yet another great spot in town to see talented performers (usually) on the cheap.

At the end of July, some family-friendly performers come to Copley Square to put on the Boston Summer Arts Weekend. It's supported by WGBH—the local Public Broadcasting Station—and the Boston Globe. Outside The Box is another huge performing arts festival taking place on the Common in mid-July. It's pretty corporate, but there are still a few fun, free things to do for the whole family.
 

Tours

Tours in Boston are big business. Name any conveyance, and you're likely to find a tour built around it. The widest selection of tours departs from downtown, near the Aquarium. The fact that Duck Tours navigate the city by land and sea probably put them on top, but their competitors are no slouches either. A variety of companies offer harbor cruises, a pleasant and relaxing way to see the city. If you opt for a whale watch, go with the one affiliated with the Aquarium.
You can always visit choice historical sights by bicycle, foot, skateboard or Segway; although it's much more fun when the weather is nice. Don't forget some of the more popular tour companies also offer departures from the Back Bay.
 

Events

  • First Night: 31 December – 1 January annually. Boston's New Year's Eve celebration is the oldest public New Year's Eve party in America and has been copied by cities around the world. It's a city-wide, family-friendly arts and culture festival which starts in the late morning with child-centric events and continues with dozens of music, dance, poetry and other exhibitions through midnight, culminating in fireworks on the waterfront. Dress appropriately!
  • Evacuation Day (St. Patrick's Day): 17 March annually. What the rest of America calls St. Patrick's Day, Boston calls Evacuation Day; a local holiday marking the expulsion of occupying British forces from the city. Remember to wear green, drink a beer, and wear something that says "Kiss Me I'm Irish!". Join the celebration at the huge parade held in Southie the closest Sunday.
  • Patriot's Day (The Boston Marathon): 16 April 2018. The third Monday in April, or "Marathon Monday" as locals call it, is the oldest marathon in the world. The race started in 1897 and is run on the holiday commemorating Paul Revere's famous ride in 1775. Running from Hopkinton 26.2 miles to the finish line in Copley Square, the race draws crowds of over half a million spectators. Huge parts of the city are closed for the race, so don't plan on moving around too much. The Red Sox also play a home game on Patriot's Day; ensuring every bar, pub, and watering hole are filled by noon.
  • Boston Pride Parade: 10 June 2018. The second largest event in the city after the Fourth of July. Boston's LGBT community—and everyone else—comes out for a fabulous parade from Copley Square, through the South End, to Boston Common. Many other social events are scheduled around this weekend.
  • Harborfest: 30 June – 04 July 2018. A family-friendly oceanfront festival during the runup to Independence Day. Check out presentations on musket technology, 18th-century chocolate making, or even argue the Stamp Act! OK, but there is pub crawls too, and it's cooler than it sounds. Several specialized historical, architectural, wildlife and sightseeing tours are also available by land and sea.
  • Independence Day: 4 July annually. A host of events occur throughout the day culminating in fireworks and a Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade. Many roads close and trains are packed to bursting, as close to a million spectators try to squeeze along the banks of the Charles River. For a "Boston" take on this national holiday, head over to the Old State House during the day. Here you can listen as the Declaration of Independence is read in its entirety from the main balcony, just as it has been every year since 1776.
  • St. Anthony's Feast: 24–27 August 2018. A religious festival is taking place in the Italian North End neighborhood. Patron Saint of the poor, St Anthony is also known as the "Saint of Miracles" and the finder of lost articles. This feast includes plenty of food, games, music, and of course a parade down Hanover Street.
  • Allston Christmas: 31 August – 1 September annually. This very unofficial holiday commemorates the annual "changing of the leases," as students across the city switch apartments. Picture tens of thousands of young people simultaneously renting moving trucks, and carting everything they own a half mile down the road. Whatever didn't fit in the truck goes on the street. Check out the curbs in densely populated student neighborhoods to find everything from furniture and kitchenware, to clothing or even food! The city's DPW works all day and night to keep up with the chaos.
  • Head of the Charles Regatta: 20–21 October 2018. Thousands of rowers come together from around the globe for two days of competition in one of the world's largest regattas. Get there before 8AM to see the first sculls run. The course is on the Charles River between Cambridge and Allston; it can take about an hour to walk the three-mile course. Take the T to Harvard, Central, or any Boston University stop.

What to eat and drink in Boston, MA


Eat

Boston has excellent seafood from the nearby New England coast. Local specialties include baked beans, cod, lobster rolls, and clam chowder. For dessert, you'll have no trouble finding good ice cream. Boston (and New England as a whole) is one of the top per-capita ice cream consuming regions.
A variety of excellent ethnic restaurants can be found in neighborhoods such as the North End, Chinatown, Allston, or Coolidge Corner.
The best sit-down restaurants can be quite crowded in the evenings on weekends. Unless you have a reservation, be prepared to wait anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on how refined your tastes are.
The North End is full of Italian eateries, and it's certain that you'll find something here to your liking. Take the Green or Orange Lines to the Haymarket station, cross the Greenway park(what used to be Interstate 93 pre-Big Dig), and then follow the signs to Hanover Street, the main commercial thoroughfare. Most of the good restaurants are on this street or side streets. If you visit the North End on the weekend in the summer, you may encounter one of many saint's festivals. Streets are closed off, and there are music, food, and parades of the saint's statues.
The Bull & Finch Pub in Beacon Hill was the inspiration for the hit television show "Cheers." Very pricey for bar fare, but an essential part of the Boston tourist experience. The Beacon Street address is the original and does not look much like the set of the show. There are another Cheers at Faneuil Hall which is more of a replica of the TV set. If you ask a local for directions to Cheers, you may be directed to Faneuil Hall. The Beacon Street bar is referred to by its original name. Both locations are very touristy complete with souvenir shops.
Legal Sea Foods is a Boston original - well, technically Cambridge, since it started as a fish market in Inman Square, Cambridge. Legal Seafood is known for its New England Clam Chowder.
Despite having a huge student population, the political clout of residential neighborhood associations who value late-night peace has historically kept Boston from offering many options for late-night dining. Most restaurants close by 10 or 11PM, even in college neighborhoods such as Allston and Brookline. Bars stay open until 2AM for drinking, but their kitchens usually close at midnight or earlier. Exceptions are found in Chinatown, where several eateries serve their full menu till 2AM or later, and in the South End, where dining until midnight is possible even early in the week. If you're planning a long night, though, it's probably best to plan and buy some snacks in advance.

Drink

Boston has a thriving nightlife and is known to be a 'drinking' town. There are many venues that cater to college students, businesspeople, sports fanatics, and many others. There is NO happy hour in Massachusetts. Bar Hopping is very easy and commonly done.
That said, if you're taking the subway or buses back to your hotel, you may have to call it a night early lest you miss the last train by mistake. And if you have people under 21 with you, you're going to have trouble finding a place that will let your group in; pretty much every bar/club in and around town is 21+.
With a large Irish population, Boston has some very good Irish pubs. Many tourists look for an authentic "Boston Irish Pub." A good rule of thumb is if the establishment has a neon shamrock in the window, it is not an authentic Irish pub. For nightlife and club listings look for "Stuff @ Night" or "The Weekly Dig" in the free boxes on the street. The annual "Best of Boston" issue of the free Improper Bostonian is always a good bet for finding the kind of establishment that you are in the mood for.

Places densest in bars include:

  • Canal Street (just south of TD BankNorth Garden)
  • Boylston Street
  • Landsdowne Street and Fenway area
  • Harvard Ave/Brighton Ave in Allston
  • Central Square in Cambridge and Harvard Square in Cambridge
  • Seaport/Waterfront - specifically Northern Ave, where there are now several popular new bars with roof decks and patios that are packed in good weather
  • Faneuil Hall

Dive Bars

There are many dive bars in Boston.
If you are in the North End or near the Banknorth Garden, go to Sullivan's Tap. ESPN's Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, rated it "The most depressing bar in Boston."
In Davis Square, Somerville you can find Sligo's Pub, a similar hole in the wall serving cheap beer in plastic cups.
The Cantab Lounge near the Central Square subway station in Cambridge features local music.
If you're off the beaten path in the neighborhoods outside downtown (Dorchester, South Boston, East Boston, Hyde Park, etc.) in search of some real Bostonians, look for any tavern with a cheesy old lamp light out front. Be ready for an in-depth conversation about the "Red Sawx" or the Bruins back when Bobby Orr played.

Breweries

Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain and Harpoon Brewery in South Boston both offer tours and tastings.

Distilleries

GrandTen Distilling in South Boston and "Bully Boy Distillers" offer tours and tastings.

Coffee

You should be able to stand on any corner in the city and see at least two Dunkin' Donuts stores. The commercials should be "Boston runs on Dunkin." Every Bostonian knows that "Dunks" is for coffee, not donuts - trust us. Dunkins is very popular, but coffee aficionados will consider it little more than coffee flavored sugar water and will want to look elsewhere. Quality and service at a Dunkin' Donuts are hit or miss depending on the location. Au Bon Pain's 200 stores began in Boston and are also common. Starbucks is, of course, plentiful.
Boston does, however, have some outstanding independent coffee shops as well, including the Boston Common Coffee Co. with multiple locations including one near Boston Common. Also, Pavement Cafe.

Shopping in Boston, MA


The biggest shopping areas in the inner Metro are the Back Bay and Downtown Crossing. In addition, there are two large malls in and near the center of the city.

  • The Cambridgeside Galleria.This boilerplate shopping mall includes department stores, a Best Buy, clothing stores, bookstores, a food court, and a Cheesecake Factory restaurant, all at mainstream retail prices. Accessible on the Green Line at Lechmere station, or the Red Line at Kendall/MIT station via a free shuttle van ("The Wave").
  • Copley Place and Prudential Center. These malls are connected via a pedestrian walkway over Huntington Av. They house department stores, clothing stores, bookstores, upscale shopping, a food court, many restaurants, and connect to several large hotels. Accessible on the Green Line at Copley, Hynes, and Prudential stations, and on the Orange Line at Back Bay station. Visitors and locals alike use the mall to go to the South End and Newbury/Boylston Street areas, either to take advantage of the air conditioning during the summer or the warmth during the winter.

More local color can be experienced outdoors at any of several popular commercial areas:

  • Newbury Street. This shopping street runs the length of the Back Bay neighborhood. Often called "the Rodeo Drive of the East," Newbury St is a wonderfully dense avenue colored by historic brownstones and lots of shops and restaurants. Extremely expensive near Boston Common, but gradually becoming more affordable as you move toward Massachusetts Avenue. One block north of Boylston St, which is similar but less so. Vehicular traffic can be very slow on Newbury St itself; take parallel streets unless you have time to see the sights from your car. Accessible on the Green Line from Arlington, Copley, and Hynes stations.
  • Downtown Crossing (or "DTX"), Washington St. at Winter St. area. This shopping district is in Downtown Boston, just steps from Boston Common. The building, which once housed the now-closed Filene's Department store, was knocked down and there were plans for a 38-story tower which was to include a hotel and condos to be built. However, the development has since stalled due to financial problems of the developer. To date, there has been no date for redevelopment set, so the location is now most infamous as the "Filenes Basement Hole." The rest of Downtown Crossing features a large Macy's, music stores, souvenirs, general retail, and lots of street vendors and quick food. Accessible on the Red and Orange Lines at Downtown Crossing station, and with a brief walk, from the Red and Green Lines at Park St. station. Be advised: During weekdays this area is a very popular hangout for inner-city youth.
  • Harvard Square. This historic and always-active square is located across the river in the city of Cambridge. Take a tour of Harvard University and the Yard, visit the historic cemetery, shop around. Several excellent bookstores, with plenty of restaurants and cafes to sit down and read a novel. See the famous chess tables outside Au Bon Pain where a scene in Good Will Hunting was filmed. Walk past the offices of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, and say hello to the punks. Take a short walk down to the scenic Charles River. Street musicians often play near the famous Out of Town News. For a good burger, stop in a Bartley's, a Harvard landmark. For a fantastic margarita and cheap Mexican food, be sure to hit up the Border Cafe. The nonprofit Brattle theater shows classic and independent films. Accessible on the Red Line at Harvard station.
  • Coolidge Corner, Harvard St. at Beacon St, Brookline. This shopping area is in the neighboring town of Brookline. A little less urban, more like your local village shops and restaurants. The Coolidge Corner Theater is known for showing interesting independent and art house films. Beacon Street has interesting shops along much of its length, generally concentrated near areas such as St. Mary's, Washington Sq., etc. One can also walk north from Coolidge Corner along Harvard St. (which becomes Harvard Av.) towards Allston-Brighton (and the B branch of the Green Line) for additional shopping and dining. Accessible on the C branch of the Green Line at the Coolidge Corner stop.
  • Charles St. From Beacon St. to Cambridge St. One of the more quaint shopping neighborhoods in Boston, starting north of Boston Common. The mix of shops lends itself to window-shopping as well as ticking items off a shopping list. Multiple options for lunch or coffee make this a pleasant place to stroll for a couple of hours. Accessible from the Charles St./Mass. General Hospital station on the Red Line.

Safety in Boston, MA


Crime and other hazards in Boston are low for a major American city.

Some neighborhoods (especially Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester) are more dangerous than average, and extra care should be taken there. It is even better to avoid walking in these areas at night if possible. Also avoid public parks after dark (except for special events).
Dangers related to alcohol consumption are not uncommon, such as fights and drunk driving. Be especially careful when there is a Red Sox and New York Yankees baseball game in progress. Wearing Yankees gear in any part of town (even if you're not from NY), especially in the Fenway area, is invitation to be verbally harassed by the locals. For example, instead of the usual "Yankees Suck" phrase, you might be told that you suck!. Although generally harmless and in good fun, it is not unheard of for these encounters to escalate into physical altercations, especially when there is excess alcohol consumption involved. If you find yourself in this situation, you might find it wise to walk away and/or leave the area rather than try to hold your ground.
Care should be taken as well if you decide to go clubbing on Landsdowne Street, the Theatre District, Chinatown, or Faneuil Hall. As mentioned above, the more dangerous parts of Boston are generally not visited or even seen by tourists, but there are a few mildly dangerous locales that you should be aware of if you plan on enjoying Boston's nightlife. In Kenmore Square, be especially careful on Landsdowne Street as muggers and pickpockets are becoming more common and also eat in the darker areas near Ipswich Street at the end of the strip. In Chinatown, be very careful if you wander off Kneeland Street. There are a plethora of little alleyways and inlets where muggers operate. Faneuil Hall is generally safe, but not without its share of fights and petty robberies.
The safest place to have a night on the town in Boston is definitely Boylston Street in the Back Bay, around the Prudential Center area. There are plenty of bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants that cater to the college, professional, and upscale crowd, greatly reducing the likelihood of crime. Also, this area is within short walking distance from most of the major hotels in the city.
Still, Boston is a reasonably safe city known more for its schools and history than for its crime, petty or otherwise.
Boston's subway system, the MBTA, is generally safe compared to other major cities. Green Line trains and the northern half of the Red Line are mostly used by college students and young professionals moving to and from the immediate suburbs. Caution is still advisable late at night, especially when leaving the station or the train.

If there is an emergency, dial 911, a free call, from any telephone for police, medical, and fire services.

Language spoken in Boston, MA


The English language is predominant in the city.
Although, the city's growing Latino population has given rise to a number of local and regional Spanish language newspapers and television networks.

LOCAL TIME

7:13 pm
January 18, 2019
America/New_York

CURRENT WEATHER

2.18 °C / 35.924 °F
light rain
Sat

-2.03 °C/28 °F
snow
Sun

-3.88 °C/25 °F
heavy snow
Mon

-10.08 °C/14 °F
light snow
Tue

-7.04 °C/19 °F
light snow

LOCAL CURRENCY

USD

1 EUR = 1.14 USD
1 GBP = 1.29 USD
1 AUD = 0.72 USD
1 CAD = 0.75 USD

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Best places to visit in Boston, MA by CruiseBe

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