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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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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:
Are the towns that border Boston and are very easy to get to from Boston.
And further out:
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.
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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.
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.
Before you visit Boston, you might want to get a feel for the place by watching some movies set in the city! Here are just a few:
(See First Night under December)
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.
|Avg Max||2.1 °C||3.1 °C||7.7 °C||13.3 °C||19.2 °C||24.6 °C||27.7 °C||26.6 °C||22.7 °C||17.1 °C||11.2 °C||4.7 °C|
|Avg Min||-5.8 °C||-5 °C||-0.4 °C||4.6 °C||9.9 °C||15.1 °C||18.4 °C||17.8 °C||13.8 °C||8.3 °C||3.5 °C||-2.9 °C|
|Rainfall||91.2 mm||91.9 mm||93.7 mm||91.4 mm||82.6 mm||78.5 mm||72.1 mm||82.3 mm||77.7 mm||83.8 mm||107.2 mm||101.9 mm|
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
There are a number of trains operated by Amtrak, that travel to and from Boston.
Boston has two major highways entering it, I-93 and I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike, or "Mass Pike", or just "the Pike"; locals do not usually call it "I-90", though they will typically know what you are referring to). I-93 enters the city from the north and the south; the section running from Boston southward is usually referred to as the "Southeast Expressway" (or just "the Expressway") but the northern section is just "93" (sometimes called the Northern Expressway, although this is much less frequent than I-93 south of Boston's tunnels) The Pike enters Boston from the west. The Mass Pike is a toll road - expect to pay $1.25 to enter the city via the Pike, in addition to the tolls charged when arriving at the I-90 / I-95 interchange in Weston, just outside the city (variable based on distance travelled, max price is $3.85 if you drive all the way from the automatic ticket machines near the New York border). Also, if you enter The Pike in East Boston (at Logan Airport) the toll is $3.50. There are minor roads, of course, that enter Boston as well, including Route 9 (Old Worcester Turnpike), Route 2, and US 1. Another major highway, I-95, encircles the Boston area. Be aware that the vast majority of locals refer to I-95 as "Route 128", which is I-95's former name, so they may not know what is being referred to. Route 128 is still reflected to on signs with I-95 and its signage only due to public pressure on MassDOT. It is rare for traffic reporters to not omit the I-95 and I-93 designations from this stretch. Past Canton and I-93's southern end signs no longer reflect the 128 designation, although traffic reporters and much of the public still call it 128. North of I-95's departure from the half-beltway in Peabody on the North Shore the road is still designated as 128 to its ending. Adding to this mass confusion US-1 follows the southern part of the road, and only white roadside signs indicate the old 128 designation.
Greyhound and many other companies offer services to dozens of cities, including NYC and Montréal.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 a number of 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.
|Abercrombie's Farrington Inn||23 Farrington Avenue, P.O. Box #364 Allston Station,||Hostel||75|
|Backpackers Hostel & Pub||13 School Street Everett/Boston MA 02149||HOSTEL||77|
|40 Berkeley Hostel||40 Berkeley Street MA||Hostel||67|
|Carruth House||30 Beaumont St||Guesthouse||-|
|H.I. Fenway||575 Commonwealth Avenue||Hostel||-|
|Herbivorian House||135 Eutaw Street Boston Massachusetts MA 02128||Apartment||98|
|Red Roof Inn - Boston Logan||920 Broadway Saugus||HOTEL||76|
|The Prescott International Hotel and Hostel||36 Church Street Everett, Massachusetts||Hostel||-|
|YMCA of Greater Boston||316 Huntington Avenue||Hostel||-|
|The Patch Palace||5 Clyde Street Apartment No. 2 Somerville||Hostel||-|
|Econo Lodge - Boston||321 Broadway||Hotel||-|
|President's City Inn - Boston||845 Hancock Street||Hotel||-|
|Econolodge||775 Providence Highway||Hotel||-|
|Red Roof Inn||I-90 at Cochituate Road/SR 30 Exit #13 650 Cochituate Road||Hotel||-|
|Red Roof Inn - Boston||I-495 at SR 9, Exit #23-A 367 Turnpike Road||Hotel||-|
|Nichols Guest House||50 Pine Street Seekonk||Hostel||-|
|Constitution Inn YMCA||150 Third Avenue Charlestown Navy Yard||Hotel||79|
|Bedford Plaza Hotel - Bedford/Boston||340 Great Road Bedford||Hotel||-|
|Hotel 140||140 Clarendon Street||Hotel||-|
|Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships||67 Long Wharf Boston||Hostel||75|
|Friend Street Hostel||234 Friend Street||Hostel||-|
|Motel 6 Boston West - Framingham||1668 Worcester Road I-90 at SR 9, Exit #12 Framingham||HOTEL||-|
|Motel 6 Boston South - Braintree||125 Union Street SR 3 at Union State Rotary, Exit #17 Braintree||HOTEL||-|
|Motel 6 Boston - Danvers||65 Newbury Street/US Route 1 North I-95 at US 1, Exit #47-B Danvers||HOTEL||-|
|Hostelling International Boston - Chinatown||19 Stuart St. Boston, MA||Hostel||87|
|Embassy Suites Boston - Logan Airport||207 Porter Street||Hotel||-|
|Hyatt Harborside Boston Logan Airport||101 Harborside Drive||Hotel||-|
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.
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.
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.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Boston searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Boston and areas nearby.
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