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Boston

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Travel Guide North America USA Northeastern United States New England Massachusetts Boston

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Introduction

Massachusetts State House Boston

Massachusetts State House Boston

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Boston is the Massachusetts's capital and the largest city in New England. The city was originally settled by Puritan Christians in 1630 and quickly grew into a major trading port. The city was instrumental in the events leading up to the American Revolution such as the Boston Massacre, when British soldiers fired into a mob of civilians in self defense, and the Boston Tea Party, when colonists destroyed tea owned by the East Indian Company in protest over favored status from Britain. Boston was also the home to many famous revolutionaries, for example John Adams, John Hancock and Sam Adams.

After the revolution Boston became a major port and grew into the surrounding areas. Recently Boston has taken the lead in massive public building projects. One of the more notorious ones is the Big Dig, which is burying all the major expressways underground in order to open up more green space. Boston is also a major center for education being the home to many famous universities.

When traveling in Boston, make sure to catch a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. The Prudential Center and reflection pool at the Christian Science Center are must sees. Go for some shopping at Newbury Street, promenade. See the Boston Commons, take a view from above at the Skywalk located at the top of the Prudential building. Head over to Cambridge (be sure to check out Harvard Square) via the MBTA subway with a quick and gorgeous view of the Charles River as you cross.

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Neighborhoods

Boston

Boston

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Boston is located on a very small piece of land and when people say Boston they usually include the Greater Boston Area. The major neighborhoods in Boston are:

  • Back Bay - despite being built on landfill the Back Bay is "prime" property, with expensive shopping, dining and living.
  • Beacon Hill
  • Downtown - comprised mostly of the Financial District, Chinatown, and the Theater & Leather Districts.
  • Fenway - full of students and bars.
  • North End - the oldest neighborhood and Boston's "Little Italy," with nearly 100 Italian restaurants, and cannoli to die for
  • South Boston is a densely populated Irish Catholic working class area.
  • South End
  • Waterfront

Greater Boston Area

Are the towns that border Boston and are very easy to get to from Boston.

  • Cambridge, of Harvard fame.
  • East Boston
  • Jamaica Plain, possibly the most diverse neighborhood, with large Queer, Cuban & Dominican populations.
  • Somerville, another hip neighborhood, bordering Cambridge.

And further out:

  • Brookline
  • Canton
  • Chelsea
  • Dedham
  • Everett
  • Milton
  • Needham
  • Newton
  • Quincy
  • Revere
  • Watertown
  • Wellesley, home to the prestigious women's college.
  • Winthrop

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Sights and Activities

Museums

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The newly constructed Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) is housed in an impressive building, a work of art in and of itself, with the exhibition floor cantilevered over the Boston Harbor. The museum is free on Thursday nights with live music on a deck overlooking the water in the summer.

Boston's renowned Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) houses an impressive collection and inspiring temporary exhibits. Free admission for two can be picked up from the Boston Public Library, but some planning is required, since free tickets run out.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum boasts a lovely and eclectic collection in a gorgeous mansion.

Landmarks

  • The The New England Holocaust Memorial is between Government Center and the North End, on the Freedom Trail.
  • The John Hancock Tower in the Back Bay is Boston's tallest building, followed by the Federal Reserve Bank Building across from South Station.
Hancock Building and Trinity Church, Boston, USA

Hancock Building and Trinity Church, Boston, USA

© All Rights Reserved GregW

Sites on the Freedom Trail that are worth a visit even if you don't walk the entire way include:

The current State House and Boston Common

Every tourist visiting the North End inevitably stands in the long line for the famous Mike's Pastry on Hanover Street to try a cannoli. Truth be told, the lobster tails are more delicious! Another neighborhood staple is Bova's on the corner of Salem Street (parallel to Hanover and over one block) and Prince, open 24/7, but not the best bakery in town. The lovely smells wafting from the small shop two doors down on Prince will lead you to the true Italian delights.

Tours

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A diverse selection of Boston Harbor Cruises is available, from Salsa cruises to Whale-watching excursions. For a sedate look at the city from the sea, try a Sunset Cruise, which affords breathtaking views of the city.

Practically every tourist in Boston walks the Freedom Trail (and eats a cannoli from Mike's along the way). Equally, if not more interesting are the Black Heritage Trail and Women's Heritage Trail.

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Events and Festivals

January

(See First Night under December)

February

March

April

  • On Patriot's Day, which takes place on the Monday closest to April 19th, Paul Revere's famous ride from the North End to Lexington is reenacted!
  • The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon.

June

July

  • Naturally, Boston's historic patriotism lend itself to a smashing Independence Day Celebration as part of Harborfest. Also on 4th of July, don't miss the Boston Pops Concert in the Hatch Shell.
  • Yacht fans will want to come for the Marblehead Racing Association's Race Week.

August

  • A sight to see and hear is certainly the annual Cambridge Carnival, celebrated in true Afro-Caribbean style!

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  • In August and September, the North End comes alive with a host of Saints Day celebrations, called "Feasts," hosted by various religious societies.

September

December

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Weather

Boston is in a continental climate with winds blowing off the Atlantic. The summers are usually hot and humid while the winters are snowy and cold. In summer, temperatures usually are between 24 °C and 29 °C during the day and around 17 °C at night. Winters are slightly above zero during the day but averaging around -7 degrees at night. Absolute records are plus 40 °C in July and -28 °C in February. Precipitation is quite evenly distributed throughout the year, around 85 mm in about 10 or 11 days. May and September are pleasant months for a visit.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max2.1 °C3.1 °C7.7 °C13.3 °C19.2 °C24.6 °C27.7 °C26.6 °C22.7 °C17.1 °C11.2 °C4.7 °C
Avg Min-5.8 °C-5 °C-0.4 °C4.6 °C9.9 °C15.1 °C18.4 °C17.8 °C13.8 °C8.3 °C3.5 °C-2.9 °C
Rainfall91.2 mm91.9 mm93.7 mm91.4 mm82.6 mm78.5 mm72.1 mm82.3 mm77.7 mm83.8 mm107.2 mm101.9 mm
Rain Days97.69.18.68.98.37.27.86.76.98.99.7

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Getting There

By Plane

Logan International Airport (BOS) is located in east Boston and is one of the busiest airports in the United States with over 27 million passengers a year. It is a major hub for American Airlines, Delta Airlines, US Airways and JetBlue Airways. There are many daily international flights and all major domestic cities have direct service from Boston.
Some of the main destinations served include Dublin, Toronto, Montreal, Paris, London, New York, Seattle, Rome, Aruba, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Amsterdam, Washington, D.C., Orlando, Bermuda, Minneapolis, Detroit, Memphis, Madrid, Reykjavik, Frankfurt, Munich, Lisbon, New Orleans, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, Zürich, Cancun, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Nassau, Santo Domingo, Tampa and Philadelphia.

To/from the airport

  • Bus: The MBTA's Silver Line SL1 bus rapid transit service connects South Station (hub for Amtrak, Subway and bus) in the downtown Boston financial district, with all Logan terminals. Massport's Logan Express bus service also serves the areas of Braintree, Framingham, Peabody, and the Anderson Regional Transportation Center in Woburn
  • Subway: There is also an airport stop on the MBTA's Blue Line subway service, with free shuttle buses from the last stop before the airport to the terminals.
  • Water: The MBTA operates a water shuttle connecting Logan with downtown Boston, Quincy, and Hull. On demand service from the airport to various locations on the downtown waterfront is provided by a fleet of water taxis. A free shuttle bus ferries passengers between the airport dock and the various terminals.
  • Limousines, taxis and rental cars are all widely available at Logan Airport. By car the airport is accessible via Exit 26 on I-90 near the eastern terminus of the Massachusetts Turnpike of which I-90 transitions to Route 1A and on Interstate 93 taking exit 26 to the airport.

By Train

There are a number of trains operated by Amtrak, that travel to and from Boston.

  • The Acela Express between Boston and Washington DC, stopping in New York and Philadelphia as well.
  • The Downeaster between Boston and Portland, Maine.
  • The Lake Shore Limited between Boston and Chicago, via Cleveland.
  • The Northeast Regional between Boston and Newport News, also stopping in New York and Washington DC.

By Bus

Greyhound has buses to dozens of cities.

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Getting Around

By Car

There's a joke around Boston about GPS and Boston (you'll land in the bay). The one way streets that end abruptly and start up again somewhere else or going in a separate direction are frustrating enough to make any driver in Boston crazy, let alone those in the city for a visit. If you're visiting with a car, your best bet may be to park it at a T or commuter train stop, and take the rails into the city.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

From the T to the infamous "Duck Boats," Boston has a mode of transport for everyone! You can even take a water taxi from the airport to the waterfront, for a grand arrival. Check out the Masschusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) for commuter rail, subway (the "T"), bus and boat info. If you're into a more touristy mode of transport, there are buses and trolleys offering everything from moving parties to nighttime ghost tours.

By Foot

Boston is easily, and perhaps best, enjoyed by foot! Downtown Boston is easier to navigate and enjoy at the natural human pace. Tourist staples like the Freedom Trail are built just for walkers, and each block has history and beauty to offer the interested tourist, so why not grab a map and hit the sidewalk, or just head off!

By Bike

Bicycling magazine ranks Boston as one of the worst cities in the United States for biking. This is most likely due to the narrow and winding streets that make up most of the central Boston. At the same time Boston does have one of the highest rates for people commuting to work by bicycle in the United States.

The moral is: if you're brave, go for it! No, the true danger (and annoyance) of driving in Boston is linked to navigation, so your best bet may be taking a bike tours around the city. With a guide and a back of other bicyclists, these tours can be a fun, safe way to tour the city.

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Eat

Boston's Restaurant Week, with dozens of restaurants serving three-course prix fixe menus is reason enough for many tourists to flock to Boston, but if you're in the city the rest of the year and looking for a culinary treat, there is no shortage of delightful offerings for a range of palates.

For exquisitely rich, flavorful, aromatic and authentic North Indian cuisine, try Bhindi Bazaar at 95 Massachusetts Ave. in the Back Bay.

The best - and surprisingly reasonable for the neighborhood and quality - Thai food in Boston has to be at Thai Basil], 132 Newbury Street, the center of the Back Bay.

Flour is a superb bakery with two locations in Boston, one in the South End, and one in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood. You can't go wrong with their creative pizzas and sandwiches, lavish baked goods, aromatic breads, and the usual selection of warm drinks.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Abercrombie's Farrington Inn23 Farrington Avenue, P.O. Box #364 Allston Station,Hostel73
Backpackers Hostel & Pub13 School Street Everett/Boston MA 02149HOSTEL82
40 Berkeley Hostel40 Berkeley Street MAHostel79
Carruth House30 Beaumont StGuesthouse-
H.I. Fenway575 Commonwealth AvenueHostel-
Herbivorian House135 Eutaw Street Boston Massachusetts MA 02128Apartment84
Red Roof Inn - Boston Logan920 Broadway SaugusHOTEL78
The Prescott International Hotel and Hostel36 Church Street Everett, MassachusettsHostel-
YMCA of Greater Boston316 Huntington AvenueHostel-
The Patch Palace5 Clyde Street Apartment No. 2 SomervilleHostel-
Econo Lodge - Boston321 BroadwayHotel-
President's City Inn - Boston845 Hancock StreetHotel-
Econolodge775 Providence HighwayHotel69
Red Roof InnI-90 at Cochituate Road/SR 30 Exit #13 650 Cochituate RoadHotel-
Red Roof Inn - BostonI-495 at SR 9, Exit #23-A 367 Turnpike RoadHotel-
Nichols Guest House50 Pine Street SeekonkHostel-
Constitution Inn YMCA150 Third Avenue Charlestown Navy YardHotel79
Bedford Plaza Hotel - Bedford/Boston340 Great Road BedfordHotel-
Hotel 140140 Clarendon StreetHotel-
Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships67 Long Wharf BostonHostel77
Friend Street Hostel234 Friend StreetHostel78
Motel 6 Boston West - Framingham1668 Worcester Road I-90 at SR 9, Exit #12 FraminghamHOTEL-
Motel 6 Boston South - Braintree125 Union Street SR 3 at Union State Rotary, Exit #17 BraintreeHOTEL-
Motel 6 Boston - Danvers65 Newbury Street/US Route 1 North I-95 at US 1, Exit #47-B DanversHOTEL-
Hostelling International Boston - Chinatown19 Stuart St. Boston, MAHostel87
Embassy Suites Boston - Logan Airport207 Porter StreetHotel-
Hyatt Harborside Boston Logan Airport101 Harborside DriveHotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

Newspapers

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Quick Facts

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State
Massachusetts
Population
608,352 (City)
Time Zone
UTC -5
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 42.35888
  • Longitude: -71.05682

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This is version 60. Last edited at 11:36 on Jul 11, 13 by Utrecht. 71 articles link to this page.

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