It's not uncommon to find seasoned Bostonians gesturing in the general direction of the Seaport District and proclaiming, with a glow of civic pride: "A few years ago there was literally nothing there." Unless you count the odd dusty car park, their recollection of the void that preceded the currently bustling neighborhood is not wide of the mark. Until its recent redevelopment the Seaport hadn't seen too much action since the golden age of sail and steam—but, rest assured, the lean times are definitely over.
Now you hop can from world-class pizzeria to modern art hub to athletic clothing brand flagship in the blink of a seagull's beady eye. Swanky residential apartments have sprung up where brick warehouses used to squat, and the surviving architecture from Boston's industrial heyday has been repurposed in the service of shopping, dining, carousing and the appreciation of contemporary art.
With the briny ocean all around, it's no surprise that the Seaport excels in the competitive seafood arena. Legal Harborside is a flagship worthy of the venerable local Legal Sea Foods brand (founded in Cambridge as a market in 1950): spread over multiple levels, it offers a quintessential Boston dining experience year round. For a high-end, white tablecloth approach to the fruits of the sea (plus first-rate steaks and chops) Mastro's Ocean Club always hits the mark. Luke's Lobster is fast, casual and impressively obsessed with sourcing and sustainability. Rolls are served Maine style: cold and thoroughly delicious. Tuscan Kitchen offers fresh, artisanal Italian fare.
The influx of young, new residents to the Seaport has driven interest in Reebok's global flagship store, which offers custom-made and personalized products as well as yoga, bootcamp and crossfit classes. If you like to wear your city with pride, there's no shortage of gear designed with Boston in mind. The Boston Design Center is an interior furnishing fan's dream. An amazing selection of domestic and international furniture, antiques, fabric, fine art and more can be found under roof over 350,000 square feet.
If you like your cocktails served with Mexi-gothic flair in a lively, nightclub-adjacent space (shared with The Grand), then the Scorpion Bar will be right up your alley, whether you plan to take in a big game or groove the night away. Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall has been doing its crafty thing for way longer than many of the artisanal brew newbies: a better contemporary use for Seaport warehouse space we cannot imagine. Gather, located inside District Hall innovation center, is well worth a cocktail or two (try their Nantucket Mule) and you'll probably be tempted to stick around for some locally sourced nosh as well. When it comes to newcomers, don't overlook Hopsters, where you can brew your very own custom-designed beer.
Born in the 19th century in the design era of William Morris, the Society of Arts + Crafts is now 120 years old. A relocation from the Back Bay to the Seaport in 2016 guaranteed a stunning new space for browsing and buying works by outstanding local craftspeople. For cutting-edge contemporary art look no further than the ICA, housed in a stunning waterside building every bit the equal of its avant garde contents. And when the warmer weather rolls around, be sure to take in a summer concert at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion: big-name artists for 2018 include Jackson Browne, Barenaked Ladies and David Byrne.