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 neighbourhoods in Boston are:

  • Central (Downtown, Chinatown, Bay Village, North End, West End) - The center of the city in so many ways, Downtown Boston is where it all begins. Perennial tourist favorites Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market are here, while most Freedom Trail sights are found nearby.
  • Back Bay-Beacon Hill - Classic Federalist architecture, The State House, America's oldest city park, and one of its most photographed streets are waiting. Later, eat at some of the city's finest restaurants to recharge your tired legs.
  • Fenway-Kenmore - Perhaps most recognized as the home of Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox; Fenway also boasts many top cultural institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts.
  • South End - A high-end shopping, dining and art scene has coalesced around the South End and SoWa Market. Its renowned Victorian brownstone buildings and gas-lit cobblestone streets can charm at any time of year.
  • South Boston - Don't let the movies fool you, South Boston is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood still holding on to its Irish Catholic working class roots. The changing times are clearest in the Seaport district, home to the Institute of Contemporary Art.
  • Charlestown - Found between the Charles and Mystic rivers, Charlestown is home to significant landmarks such as the U.S.S. Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument. The oldest neighborhood in Boston, Charlestown also has its oldest tavern.
  • East Boston - Originally a center of shipbuilding, East Boston has always been a neighborhood of immigrants. Today its population is made up largely of Italian-Americans and immigrants from Central and South America and Southeast Asia. If you arrive by air, this is the first neighborhood you'll visit.
  • Allston-Brighton - Ever-changing Allston is best known for its student population, and the shops and restaurants that cater to them. The landscape becomes more residential as you move west into Brighton.
  • Jamaica Plain-Mission Hill - Jamaica Plain is home to the Arnold Arboretum and the Sam Adams Brewery, while Mission Hill includes a healthy collection of students and medical professionals from the many nearby colleges and hospitals.
  • Dorchester - Dorchester, Boston's largest neighborhood, is also one of its most diverse. Long-time residents mingle with newer immigrants from Ireland, Vietnam, and Cape Verde. A big draw is the powerful JFK Presidential Library and Museum. While the oldest house in the city, the James Blake House can also be found here.
  • Roxbury - Once a farming community, Roxbury is the heart of Black culture in Boston. It's also home to the historic Shirley Eustis House, built by a British royal colonial governor. Franklin Park is here as well, considered the "crown jewel" of Frederick Law Olmsted's Emerald Necklace park system.
  • Outer Neighbourhoods (Roslindale, Mattapan, West Roxbury, Hyde Park) - Once considered a "garden suburb" of Boston, today's residents of Roslindale are still attracted to the neighborhood's natural beauty. Mattapan's population is largely made up of African Americans and immigrants from the Caribbean. West Roxbury, located in Boston's southwest corner, is known for its civic activism and youth programming. As Boston's southernmost neighborhood, Hyde Park offers the intangibles of city life as well as the open space more commonly associated with the suburbs.

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 andWinthrop.

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Sights and Activities

Museums

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.

If you doubt that will hold the attention of your children, take them to the Boston Children's Museum. Very interactive and engaging, look for the oversize milk bottle out front. If the "kids" are a little older, try the Museum of Science in the West End. They have an enormous Van de Graaff generator (the world's largest!), and some exhibits were designed by Charles and Ray Eames.

Right in the thick of it all downtown, you'll find the New England Aquarium. Walk around the giant cylinder simulating a coral reef, or just chill and watch the penguins doing their thing. While small, the Museum of African American History in Beacon Hill tells a big story about an often overlooked narrative in Boston's history. Finally, if you're into modern history, do not miss the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in northern Dorchester.

Just across the river, Cambridge can more than hold its own in terms of museums. Harvard University holds very impressive collections at both the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. The "glass flowers" exhibit alone has been on tourists to-do lists for over a hundred years. For strictly visual arts, explore The Fogg and The Sackler, among other museums scattered around campus. Don't forget the engaging MIT Museum! It's got a variety of great interactive exhibits and is well worth your time.

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

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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.

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 waters 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.

Tours

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.

Boston in the Movies

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:

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.

Other Events and Festivals

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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 Car

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.

By Bus

Greyhound and many other companies offer services to dozens of cities, including NYC and Montréal.

By Boat

  • MBTA ferries from Hingham, Hull, and Quincy.
  • Cruise ships dock at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, One Black Falcon Av., +1 617-330-1500. The MBTA Silver Line bus serves the port.

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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

While the first thing on most visitors minds is the excellent seafood, Boston does have other high quality options. Many travellers find sitting down to a fine Italian meal in the charming North End neighborhood an unforgettable experience. While others may prefer to explore classic dining options littered throughout the Back Bay and South End. For an evening easier on the wallet, check out the wide variety of Asian restaurants found in either Chinatown or Allston. And if you're accustomed to taking meals late, make sure you account for the fact that many restaurants here can close by 10 or 11PM.

Examples of fine Boston cuisine often pull double duty as well known New England dishes. These are often thought of as traditional Thanksgiving foods, which makes sense considering the origins of the holiday. While the varieties of these foods served in the city may be more "elevated", examples found in the countryside are no less flavorful. Also, Boston baked beans are not really a thing anymore. If you are dead set on trying them, however, inspect the menus at some of the more touristic restaurants downtown.

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 Avenue in the Back Bay.

The best, and surprisingly reasonable for the neighbourhood 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.

Seafood

  • Atlantic Codfish: This foodstuff, prized by early colonists, is closely associated with dining in Boston. Cherished for its flavor, ability to be salted, and marketable value; the cod was unfortunately overfished and stocks collapsed during the 1990s. Today you may be offered scrod instead, which could be haddock or some other white fleshed fish. They all honestly taste about the same (as long as they're fresh!), and by choosing to eat this "trash fish" you're helping to give this vulnerable animal time to recover.
  • Clam Chowder: Kind of like the New England version of Pho in that every bowl is similar, yet each shop strives to put its own little spin on this traditional dish. No matter where you get it, you'll certainly find clams swimming in a thick creme broth, diced potatoes, onions, and celery. You might also see colorful garnishes, different kinds of crackers, or even whole clams in your bowl. You can be confident you're getting the best as long as tomatoes are never added, as they blasphemously do in a certain large city to the south.
  • Fried Clams: Another iconic regional dish, here the clams have been removed from their shells, dipped in batter and deep fried. Not particularly healthy, but always quite delicious. These are pretty ubiquitous as well, but they're purported to taste best when eaten outdoors at a picnic table of questionable cleanliness. See if you can hold out until you find one.
  • Lobster Roll: Ah, the eternal argument of who has the best lobster roll. A very popular way of eating lobster, because all the work is done for you. Preferred examples will have diced lobster meat soaked in butter, and are just kissed with mayonnaise and various seasonings. They must also be served on a toasted New England style bun, split along the top, not the side. Lobster rolls are usually served cold, so don't be surprised by that. If you see a roll piled with toppings and dripping with mayo, it's likely an inferior product.
  • Oysters: Bostonians love their oysters, and they're often offered after work for cheap, especially during happy hours. These bivalves can have different flavors and textures depending on the specific bay or inlet they're from. Oysters from Duxbury and Wellfleet are often the first on the list to run out. Garnishes tend to be a variety of choices, but cocktail sauce and lemons are always present. You'll usually see a few additional toppings, often with a spicier edge.
  • Steamers: These are clams that have been steamed, unsurprisingly, in their own shells. Diners then scoop the meat out with a small fork and dip it briefly in butter before sucking them down. They'll also come with an array of other garnishes depending on where you find them.

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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 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.

Breweries and Distilleries

Undoubtably the largest, the Samuel Adams Brewery in J.P. and Harpoon Brewery in South Boston both offer tours and tastings. Trillium is also in Southie and brews some of the most acclaimed suds in the states. If you're gluten-free (or just love apples!) try out Downeast Cider House in East Boston. Heading south into Dorchester you'll find two more breweries. The Dorchester Brewing Company has 20 taps serving fresh house beer and regional partner brews. Deadwood is a respectable little brewery making their own in house beer for thirsty bowlers. One of the cities newer brewers, Turtle Swamp, opened spring 2017 in JP.

To the north you'll find the excellent Lamplighter brewery in Cambridge. While Somerville offers Aeronaut, Slumbrew, Winter Hill Brewing Company, and Bantam Cider Company to whet your whistle. For the adventurous, some of the best beer can be found to the north of the city. Real estate is a bit cheaper, so folks can afford to take a little more risk up there. For great examples, check out Idle Hands in Malden or Mystic Brewery in Chelsea. Finally, Everett has several great options with Night Shift, Bone Up, and Down the Road breweries all making their mark.

If you're looking for something a little harder, Boston's got options. GrandTen Distilling in South Boston and Bully Boy Distillers in Roxbury offer tours and tastings. Short Path Distillery, also in Everett, focuses specifically on rum and gin.

Coffee

Few people whack down as many daily cups of coffee as Bostonians. In fact a 2015 study estimated that 15% of toddlers in Boston drink a little java alongside their parents. Needless to say, expect to find a lot of options in town. With an almost Orwellian presence Dunkin' Donuts, founded in nearby Quincy, dominates. You should be able to see at least two locations from anywhere your little legs can take you. More utilitarian coffee can also be found at Starbucks and other chains, although nothing is more popular than "Dunks". Order it "regular" for cream and sugar, and "black" for without.

Looking for something a little more inspired? If you're downtown check out Gracenote or Ogawa; while Pavement Coffeehouse, Boston Common Coffee, Barrington Coffee Roasting, and Thinking Cup are great options in the Back Bay area and nearby neighborhoods. Almost every coffee shop in the North End is filled with ambiance and probably what you're expecting.

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Sleep

Boston offers a wide range of accommodations, from budget options to mid-range hotels to luxurious penthouses in the sky. Most hotels are concentrated in the Back Bay, with many more options available in neighboring districts like the South End, the Seaport and Cambridge. If you're primarily focused on the Freedom Trail, aim for as central a location as you can afford. Otherwise look for any place near a T station, once you're behind the gate you can be pretty much anywhere in a half an hour.

If anything will blow your budget it will be the accommodations. Boston has some of the most expensive real estate in the country, behind only the Bay Area and NYC. In 2016 the average room in town cost $254 a night! The city is aware of the problem and more hotels are either planned or under construction. Your best bet is to book far in advance and keep popular dates in mind. It can be especially bad during May graduations and around back-to-school in early September. Prices drop in winter, although shoulder season is probably the better compromise.

There are a few hostels in town, and you can sometimes find more affordable accommodations in student focused areas like Allston and the Fenway. Alternatively, get creative. Look up an old friend, crash someone's couch or browse your favorite room rental application. If you're staying a bit longer, a summer sublet might make a good option. Students returning home often have an extra 2-3 months on their lease that you could take over with a little paperwork.

  • Hostelling International Boston, 19 Stuart St (T: Chinatown), ☎ +1 617-536-9455, toll-free: +1-888-464-4872, fax: +1 617-426-2158, e-mail: reserve.boston@hiusa.org. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Communal kitchen, common areas, laundry facilities, meeting rooms and luggage storage. There is a maximum stay of 14 nights per calendar year. Dorms $45-70, privates from $220. $3 nightly fee for non-members.
  • Boston Furnished Apartments, 120 Milk St (T: State), ☎ +1 617 357-6900. Boston Furnished Apartments is a furnished apartment rental agency, offering an alternative to a hotel room. These rentals are private homes, condos or apartments located in residential buildings within the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, North End, South End, and Financial District neighborhoods. There are monthly, weekly and nightly rentals available. The homes range in size from smaller studios to one or two bedroom apartments, and all have fully equipped kitchens and private bathrooms. This is a unique way to experience the city like a Bostonian, in a brownstone home. Rental paperwork is required and most credit cards are accepted. From $90.
  • Found Hotel, 78 Charles Street South (T: Tufts Medical Center), ☎ +1 617 426-6220. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Built in 1877 as the Sumner Hotel, the Found Hotel continues a tradition of hospitality in this building. The previous incarnation was the Milner Hotel. Amenities include: 24-hour front desk, ticket service, luggage storage, safety deposit box. From $250.
  • Harborside Inn, 185 State St (T: Aquarium), ☎ +1 617 723-7500. Pleasant, remodeled in the boutique style (exposed brick, modern furniture without being uncomfortable). Rooms are a decent size, comfortable bed, no desk, nice TV, wireless internet free in all rooms, clean. Very quiet - no street noise at all. Coffee available in the lobby all day for free. No restaurant or room service. Basic travelers hotel - no gym. Close to Fanueil Hall, Aquarium, many restaurants within walking distance. From $300.
  • Nine Zero, 90 Tremont St (T: Park Street), ☎ +1 617 772-5800, fax: +1 617 772-5810. Trendy boutique hotel. For a real splurge stay in the Cloud Nine Suite with views of Boston Common. From $320.
  • W Boston, 100 Stuart St (T: Boylston), ☎ +1 617 261-8700. Located near Boston’s theatre district, the W Boston has 235 modern guest rooms all with the signature W bed. The hotel also features the restaurant Market, from celebrity-chef Jean-Georges and the W lounge in the lobby. From $350.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton, 821 Washington St (T: Tufts Medical Center), ☎ +1 617 956-7900. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Guests gain complimentary access to the adjoining YMCA fitness center (complete with indoor pool, basketball court and group classes). A full-service Starbucks is also located on the lower level of the hotel. From $400.
  • Hilton Boston Downtown, 89 Broad St (T: Aquarium), ☎ +1 617 556-0006. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. This accessible hotel has 403 rooms and a fitness center. From $459.
  • InterContinental Boston, 510 Atlantic Ave (T: South Station), ☎ +1 617 747-1000. The InterContinental Boston Hotel, a new symbol of elegance and luxury on the Boston Waterfront. The 424 guest rooms & suites of this 5 star hotel are conveniently located close to the Boston Commons, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North End, Logan Airport, Boston Convention Center and other downtown Boston attractions. From $520.
  • Marriott Vacation Club Pulse (Boston Custom House), 3 McKinley Square (T: Aquarium), ☎ +1 617 310-6300. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. If you're going to throw down coin, you may as well do it here. This was once the customs house for the city of Boston, where all items unloaded from the nearby docks were tracked and taxed. The building dates from the early 1800s, the tower was added about 100 years ago, and the hotel remodel happened in the 90s. It's got charm, a great location and all the modern conveniences you'd expect. From $530.
  • Courtyard Boston Tremont Hotel, 275 Tremont St (T: Tufts Medical Center), ☎ +1 617 426-1400, fax: +1 617 482-6730. This 4 star hotel is across the street from the Wang Theatre. From $600.
  • Omni Parker House Hotel, 60 School St (T: Park Street), ☎ +1 617 227-8600, fax: +1 617 742-5729. The oldest hotel in America, although the current building dates from the 20s. Located in downtown Boston on the Freedom Trail, the venerable Omni Parker House Hotel opened its doors in 1855. If you want to surround yourself in history in the heart of Downtown Boston, this is THE place to stay. However, note that many of the hotel's rooms are small and over-crowded with furniture. Ho Chi Minh & Malcolm X are former employees. Bonus: If you eat in the dining room, ask to sit in the booth in which JFK asked Jackie O to marry him. From $600.
  • New Ritz-Carlton, 10 Avery St (T: Chinatown), ☎ +1 617 574-7100, fax: +1 617 574-7200. Located in the Theater District directly across the common from the original Riz-Carlton. Relatively new hotel with a very modern design. From $645.
  • Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf (T: Aquarium), ☎ +1 617 439-7000. Wake up to the sunrise over the harbor. Big swimming pool, fitness centre. From $645.
  • Hyatt Regency Boston, 1 Ave de Lafayette (T: Downtown Crossing), ☎ +1 617 912-1234. Big luxury hotel From $650.
  • Boston Marriott Longwharf, 296 State St (T: Aquarium), ☎ +1 617 227-0800. Located on Boston Harbor at the historic Long Wharf in downtown Boston. This Boston, Massachusetts hotel features 400 hotel rooms, 11 hotel suites, a concierge lounge with harbor views, and Oceana Restaurant that serves fresh seafood cuisine. From $700.
  • The Langham Hotel Boston, 250 Franklin St (T: State), ☎ +1 617 451-1900. Originally the building of the Federal Reserve Bank, this AAA four-diamond Boston hotel is now a national architectural landmark. The hotel overlooks the gardens of Post Office Square and is steps from Boston's shops, restaurants and attractions such as Faneuil Hall, Newbury Street, the Freedom Trail, and the financial district. Cafe Fleuri inside is now known as one of Boston's finest restaurants and is known for its Saturday Chocolate Bar Buffet and Sunday Jazz brunch. From $730.

View our map of accommodation in Boston or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Work

Boston, along with New England in general, transitioned away from a manufacturing based economy to service based a long time ago. Many jobs in Boston require advanced degrees and years of specialized training. Those trying to join the workforce here will find themselves facing stiff competition for high-paying jobs. Many applicants for senior level positions will hold advanced degrees; you may find a masters degree, MBA, or even a PhD might be necessary for you to stand out. Even if you don't hold these qualifications, don't lose hope. Degrees are not universally required, and you'll find many professors and executives hiring a large support staff to assist them. Construction is also a booming business, but you'll have to somehow worm your way into a union to avail yourself of those jobs.

Higher education is unsurprisingly a major employer here, with healthcare being another of the biggest industries. See the learn section for universities that are always hiring, or look at Longwood Medical Area in the Fenway, where many of the most distinguished hospitals are found. Longwood in particular employs tens of thousands of people at dozens of hospitals including: Beth Israel Deaconess, Brigham and Women's, Dana-Farber, Children's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. Don't forget about Mass General Hospital in the West End, often ranked as the best in the country.

Often spinning out of academia; startups, high tech and bio-tech have been big business in Boston for decades. There is a huge amount of venture capital here, the most outside the Bay Area. Companies like Formlabs, Runkeeper, and Hopper are but a few of the hundreds of startups active in the city. The highest concentration of incubators can be found within South Boston's Innovation District and Cambridge's Kendall Square. Established companies like Boston Dynamics, the Broad Institute, and Akamai are a few examples of successful "startups" from years past.

As folks return to cities, multinational companies are seemingly no different. Gillette (or Procter & Gamble) has been here for years, and in 2016 they welcomed their new neighbor General Electric. Financial services like Bain Capital, Liberty Mutual, Fidelity, along with several hedge fund firms are located downtown. For unknown reasons, sneaker companies seem to love Boston. Converse, New Balance, and Reebok all have headquarters within city limits. It's also likely your favorite fortune 500 corporation has at least an outpost in Boston.

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Learn

Thinking of going to school in Boston? Join the club. Metropolitan Boston alone has some 54 institutions of higher learning, including many world-renowned colleges, universities, conservatories, and seminaries. With around a quarter-million students in town at any given time, expect to bump into someone affiliated with education while you're here. Learning is ingrained in Boston's culture, and overhearing conversations about the Planck constant or Context theory while grabbing your morning coffee is not uncommon.

Undoubtedly the most prestigious is Harvard University, where eight US presidents were educated. While the school's core is in Cambridge, many academic buildings are actually located in Boston. Barely two miles away, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is another one of the world's most prestigious universities. Not only do these two schools hold billions of dollars in endowments; they also churn out Nobel laureates, Rhodes Scholars, new companies, and patents by the wagonload. These are some of the most selective schools on earth, so if you're applying here, good luck!

There are of course other top tier research universities in Boston. Boston University is 65,000 strong and sprawls across an urban campus throughout Fenway and Allston. BU was attended by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who earned his PhD here in 1955. Boston College has a more suburban feeling, being located in Brighton and Newton. BC is a highly regarded private Jesuit Catholic research university. Over 40,000 students attend Northeastern University another widely respected liberal arts college in Fenway. Yet another great school is Tufts University, just north of the city in Medford.

Located in the Fens next to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Simmons College focuses almost entirely on women and offers a wide range of liberal arts degrees. Focusing on technical design and engineering, Wentworth Institute of Technology also calls Fenway home. While it's located just outside of Boston in Waltham, Brandeis University is very selective and known for its small class sizes.

You'll find the fine arts are also well represented in Boston. Emerson College is dedicated exclusively to communication and the arts, and it has a great radio station to boot. Berklee College of Music is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. It's often confused with the completely unrelated Berkeley in California. One of the oldest art schools, Massachusetts College of Art and Design is the only publicly funded art school in the United States.

Remember, the above is just an overview. If you're interested in pursuing higher education in the Boston area, keep digging to uncover plenty more offerings in Art, Architecture, Language, Law, Medicine, Music, Research, and Science. Don't forget about more affordable places like UMass Boston, or one of the many community colleges in town. The density of educational opportunities here work in your favor to provide big educations on small budgets.

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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.

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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

Accommodation in Boston

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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Boston Travel Helpers

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