Walk the Neighborhoods
Back Bay, Beacon Hill and Beyond
Back Bay and Beacon Hill are filled with charming alleys and twisty hills. British-style brownstones and red-brick townhouses line boulevards and narrow, sometimes cobble-stoned streets. Have your cameras ready: lead-glass windows turned purple with age, the gold-domed Massachusetts State House, and the springtime daffodils and tulips on Boston Common are ready to be memorialized. Pause and drink in the beauty of the Public Garden with its graceful swan boats and weeping willows.
Bustling Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market stand along the history-filled Freedom Trail marked by the red brick line on the sidewalk. You’ll be tempted by vendors hawking all manner of Boston souvenirs from lobster key chains to kitschy T-shirts with witty Boston sayings, but your focus should really be on the market’s photo-worthy seafood selections. Or continue on the Freedom Trail around the corner to The Union Oyster House for an oyster fix that’s truly historic. The tavern is America’s oldest restaurant and a must for a taste of pre-Revolutionary Boston.
From the North End to the Seaport
A short walk to the North End follows the Freedom Trail to Paul Revere’s House and Old North Church past a variety of Italian eateries overflowing with la dolce vita. You can pretend you’re on a Roman holiday as you savor an espresso and cannoli from The Modern or Mike’s pastry shops, a worthy prelude to dinner at a romantic trattoria like Mamma Maria’s.
The North End is the start of a beautiful walk along the Greenway, passing by Chinatown and leading to the dynamic Seaport District and Fort Point. A magnet for outdoor dining and exploring, this somewhat industrial and increasingly residential area offers a taste of old Boston with the vibrancy of today. The touristy but endearing Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum sits at the entry, an 18th-century contrast to the cool restaurants and cultural happenings just beyond. This is Boston’s newest art-focused area and a beautiful place to mingle with the many locals who walk and cycle along the linear Harborwalk.
Occupying an industrial space that formerly housed a steel company, Row 34 has some of the best oysters in town and an outdoor patio that lends itself to social distancing without effort. At the marina nearby, the Barking Crab is a local hangout for whiling away the afternoon over a draft and clams on the half.
Museums and More
Boston has more than its fair share of great museums to give you a heady dose of culture.
A landmark overlooking Boston Harbor in the Seaport District, The ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) is an impressive cantilevered building designed by award-winning architects Diller Scofidio+Renfro. In addition to its many visual arts exhibits, the ICA has a two-story education center and an outdoor patio offering fabulous views of the waterfront.
At South Station, give your feet a rest and take the T past Kenmore Square to The Museum of Fine Arts. One of the country’s art jewels, The MFA has a permanent collection of more than 450,000 objects that span the globe and cover antiquity to the present. Timed-entry tickets are required.
For a more intimate art immersion, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum displays the private collection of art visionary Isabella Gardner in a Venetian-style palazzo with a wing designed by Pritzker Prize-wining architect Renzo Piano. The museum takes its tony Frederick Law Olmsted-designed location on the Fens seriously, paying homage to the landscape architect with gardens both inside and out.
And, while you’re in the neighborhood, book a tour of Boston’s hallowed Fenway Park, the home of Red Sox Nation. Try to score tickets to a game if you’re visiting after Opening Day. Adorable, original Fenway -- the oldest baseball stadium in the US -- is baseball history at its best.
Where to Stay
The Lenox Hotel offers classic accommodations and a popular bar near Copley Square. The gracious hotel is well located for exploring beautiful Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street, Marlborough Street and Newbury Street, where you’ll find Boston’s best boutique shopping.
Funkier but equally luxe, The Liberty Hotel was built in the former Charles Street Jail. The historic building dates from 1851 and has sweeping views of the Charles River. The hotel plays up its murky past with the aptly-named Alibi bar, set in the jail’s old "drunk tank,” and the Clink restaurant.
Steps from the Barking Crab and Fort Point Channel, The Envoy is a design-forward boutique hotel with a buzzy roof deck bar with killer skyline views. For spring travel, they’re offering the “experience whenever weekends” package which includes a food and beverage credit.