From airport to city
Boston Logan International Airport
Boston Logan International Airport +1 800-23-LOGAN (56426), is the main gateway to Boston and New England. It is in East Boston, 3 miles from downtown. Free buses operate to all terminals and connect the airport with the MBTA Blue Line Airport Station. Terminals A, B, and C are mainly domestic; Terminal E is international and Southwest/AirTran. There is no Terminal D.
Public Airport Transportation
The MBTA Blue Line Subway and the Silver Line Bus go to Logan. The Silver Line is a low-floor articulated bus that stops at each terminal every 10 to 15 minutes, from 6AM to 12:45AM every day (5:35AM start M-Sa). From the airport, the bus travels along the South Boston waterfront and terminates at South Station. Convenient transfers are available to the Red Line, south-side commuter rail trains, and southwesterly Amtrak trains. The Silver Line is free FROM Logan and allows free transfer to the Red Line at South Station. For inbound Red Line service with lots of luggage, you may want to use the elevator to the right as you exit the Silver Line bus. There is no escalator down.
To get to/from the Blue Line Airport station from the airport itself, you need to take a free Massport shuttle (check the signs outside the terminals to see which ones to take). Tickets are $2.50: tickets can be purchased using the machines at the station. The last Blue Line train leaves Airport station shortly after about 12:30AM. To connect to the Red Line, use the Silver Line instead.
Private Airport Transportation
Taxis are more expensive than in many other cities. Fortunately, the airport is very near the city so the fare is not extremely expensive, if your driver is honest. It would be about $25 for fares to Boston, and less if you are staying downtown in the financial district. If you're not driving or being picked up, you'll need to take a taxi if you are at the airport when the T is not running. A number of travelers have reported taxi drivers taking longer routes on purpose, falsely claiming a $40 flat fare to downtown Boston (there are no flat fares from the airport -- insist on the meter), or falsely claiming the often more-direct Sumner Tunnel to be closed and taking the much longer Williams Tunnel route instead. You should research your route and inform your driver what route you want to go, or look up the traffic conditions on your smartphone if possible, to avoid being cheated. Note that a $7.50 origination surcharge from the airport is lawful and permissible (including tolls).
Other shuttle services that go to the airport include:
Airporter, Phone: +1 781-899-6161, toll free: +1 877-899-6161 email@example.com . Between Logan and the suburbs, door to door.
Airport Limos Axis Coach, LLC [www.axiscoachusa.com] is a great choice for travel to and from Logan airport or Manchester airport. They have reasonable rates from $79 one way. They are also a good choice for nights out and their knowledgeable chauffeurs also double as tour-guides. They show you the local flavor of Boston.
If you're driving to Logan from the north, take the Callahan Tunnel; from the south or the west, take the Ted Williams Tunnel. Routes are well marked, and there is no toll in this direction. Driving from the airport to downtown Boston or to points north, including Interstate 93 northbound, take the Sumner Tunnel; for points south and west, including Interstate 93 southbound and Interstate 90, take the Ted Williams Tunnel. There is a $3.50 toll for either tunnel. Routes are well marked, but the airport road system is complex. Read the signs carefully and be sure you're in the correct lane, or you may be forced to swerve across several lanes of traffic to catch an unexpected off-ramp.
If your final destination is a point outside of Boston, you may be better off flying into Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (50 miles north of Boston) or T.F. Green Airport (60 miles south of Boston). Public transportation from these airports to Boston is infrequent, so if your final destination is Boston, renting a car is the best option.
General Aviation traffic is mostly served by Hanscom Field ( off Route 128/I-95 near Bedford, Lexinton and Burlington northwest of Boston.
Navigating the streets of Boston is difficult if you are not familiar with the area. While other American cities have their streets laid out in a grid (New York, Chicago, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix), or along a river, lake, or other geographical feature (New Orleans, Cleveland), the modern streets of Boston are a twisty and seemingly incomprehensible maze. Boston in the 1600s was a narrow peninsula surrounded by farmland and distant settlements. Landfill, urban expansion, waves of radical economic change, and new technologies have seen sensible street patterns added on to and collide in less sensible ways. Due to dense development, the older street patterns have largely remained in place without being adapted to their modern surroundings. In this way, Boston is more similar to old European cities than most typical large American cities that were geometrically planned, expanded into unsettled land, or were mainly settled in the late 20th century.
Driving is to be avoided if possible, due to traffic congestion, poor parking options, high driving-associated costs, the complexity of navigation, notoriously aggressive drivers, difficult-to-follow city rules and signage, and police that will gladly write you a ticket for even the most minor traffic violations.
As an alternative (in fair weather), walking is usually preferable in terms of ease, cost, and comfort. Boston is known as an excellent walking city, since it is clean, historic, and generally-safe. It also has excellent public transportation available in the metropolitan area and suburbs, to complement foot travel. Most tourist attractions are readily accessible by foot from the "subway" (the inter-connected, color-coded subway/trolley and hybrid-electric bus lines of the MBTA). Transfers between lines at connecting stations within the "subway" system are free.
Signage is generally poor, and the names of major streets are usually unmarked when crossing minor streets. There are many one-way streets, which may be difficult to identify when turning. Street names are duplicated in different neighborhoods (due to municipal consolidations in the 1800s and early 1900s). Even Bostonians who lived there all their life can easily get lost. Navigating from "square" to "square" (major intersections but rarely actually square or really any consistent shape) is one navigational technique. Some parts of the city are difficult to reach from other nearby parts, prompting the local expression, "Ya cain't get theyah from hee-ah!" ("You can't get there from here!")
Avoid driving at morning or evening rush hour; highways and streets can become quite congested. Peak times vary, depending on relative distance from downtown. Public transit also becomes very crowded during rush hour, and just before and after major sporting events and public celebrations. Baseball games, other major sporting events, and graduations may also cause significant driving congestion.
If you do choose to drive, be prepared to avoid double-parked vehicles or poorly parked vehicles blocking lanes, and be wary of lanes which may suddenly become parking lanes or shift or disappear entirely as you cross intersections. "Left lane must turn" and other traffic directions are often written only on the road itself and therefore may be routinely blocked from sight by other vehicles in heavy traffic, thus last-second lane changes are unavoidable without foreknowledge of the roads. Such changes may be the cause of anger or disputes, so it may be good to wave or request a lane change politely.
When changing lanes, be wary of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as other drivers, since they may cross, split lanes, or even run lights unexpectedly. Massachusetts law requires vehicles to yield to pedestrians, whether or not they're crossing legally. Bicycles are treated as vehicles, and may occupy an entire lane if there is no bike lane. As in any city, be prepared to stop when following a taxi driver, and look for pedestrians to anticipate taxi behavior: taxis will not only stop at fares but also stop at nothing to get to them first. When stopping yourself, use your hazards to clearly indicate that you are stopping as a courtesy to other drivers, many of whom are young students and may be inexperienced with city driving themselves. In terms of the law: if you encounter a rotary, remember that Massachusetts state law gives the right of way to traffic in a rotary, also known as a roundabout in other parts in the world.
Do not pass stopped trolleys on the right; do not try to squeeze past a bus without changing lanes entirely to avoid sharing their lane (you should not pass any vehicle while sharing a lane and buses have large blind spots); and be wary that the law may require you to come to a complete stop and wait for the pedestrian to finish crossing entirely. Be careful also not to pass a yellow school bus with red flashing lights as passing before or after may still draw you a citation (this rule may be ignored, even by police, if due caution is observed by the driver, but those who ignore it may still draw a serious citation). Finally, since you may cross train tracks in Boston, be aware that they may be particularly slippery and icy, possibly dragging you off course as you cross them if you do not grip the steering wheel firmly.
The only toll road in the area is the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90), with various prices depending on entrance and exit points. Other tolls include the Ted Williams and Sumner Tunnels, each of which charges $3.50 when coming back from Logan Airport into downtown. The Tobin Bridge on Route 1 headed southbound toward downtown charges $3. Have cash on hand for these roads as checks and credit card are not accepted there. FastLane and E-Z Pass are also accepted.
Parking can be expensive, up to $40/day downtown on a weekday, though $20 and $7 deals can be found if you are willing to walk. Most cheap or free street parking is permitted as resident only and requires a special sticker, or is metered and has a 2-hour time limit.
Parallel parking is a necessary skill for street parking. Believe it or not, you can park in a space that is only a few inches larger than your car, if you don't mind scrapes on your bumpers and take advantages of the bounciness of cars' suspensions.
Garages are located at Quincy Market, the Aquarium, the new State Street Financial Center, the Theater District and the Boston Common. There are three levels of parking under the Common. The garage is very clean and its central location makes it a good starting point for a day trip in the city. To get in and out of the garage, there are four pavilions on the Common; each has stairs and an elevator. Once out of the garage, the Park Street and Boylston Street subway stops are only a two or three minute walk away.
As a rule, if you think you may be illegally parked, you probably are. Read the street signs very carefully. Watch for street cleaning, resident-only parking zones, and commercial parking zones - all of which will vary depending on the day and time. Parking meters are enforced heavily throughout the city. Meters in different parts of the city will turn off at different times (ie. 8PM downtown or 6PM in many other neighborhoods). A broken meter entitles you to the posted time limit without having to pay.
The rapid transit lines of the MBTA system. (Bus, commuter rail, and boat not shown.)
Public transit in Boston is convenient and relatively inexpensive, and can take you directly to almost everything. A single public transit agency serves the Boston Metro area, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ("MBTA", or "the T" for short). The MBTA is the fourth-largest transit system in the U.S. For complete schedules, maps, and other information, see their official website at.
It is important to note that "Inbound" means toward Park Street or State and "Outbound" means away from Park Street or State.
After decades of using tokens for fare payment, the entire MBTA system was converted in 2007 to an electronic CharlieCard and CharlieTicket system. Dispensing machines at all stations accept cash (max. 20 dollars bills), credit cards, and debit cards (but not foreign credit/debit cards). If you go straight to a dispensing machine, you'll get a paper CharlieTicket with magnetic stripe. If you have time, first ask an attendant at any underground station for a plastic CharlieCard, which is a contactless "smart card". The Card is free and will give you a discount on all subway and bus fares, and it's the only way to get free transfers to and from buses. If you think you'll be boarding the T many times you may wish to purchase a day or week LinkPass (Sold at standard machines for $12.00 and $19.00, respectively). Note that these do not allow rapid repeated use at the same station, for a group, for instance. In general, a CharlieCard should be considered a must for its convenience (you can leave it in your wallet), decreased fares, and free or discounted transfers. Most passes can be loaded onto a CharlieCard.
Bicycles are sometimes welcome on the MBTA. Bikes are allowed on the Blue, Red, and Orange subway lines except at peak hours, but are not allowed on the Green and Silver lines. Bikes are always allowed on MBTA buses that are equipped with bike racks. The MBTA is currently installing bike racks on many bus routes - check the MBTA website for the latest updates. Bikes are allowed on MBTA boats and ferries at any time. On commuter rail trains, they are allowed anytime except weekday rush hours, as noted on individual train line schedules.
The T consists of several components: subway, bus, water shuttles, and commuter rail.
Full-color system maps are available at major stations; you may need to ask an agent if you would like one. They are extremely useful for locals and travelers getting a bit off the beaten track, because they show all bus, rapid transit, commuter rail, and boat lines. Most of the T maps you will see only show the rapid transit lines, which are identified by color. If you have a color printer, you can even make one yourself by printing the PDF version online.
Subway (or "the T")
The subway is composed of four color-coded rail lines, the Red Line, Orange Line, Green Line, and Blue Line. Short of particular non-touristy spots in the suburbs, the subway can get you anywhere. Transit buffs take note: the Boston Subway is the oldest in America; the first segment opened on what is now the Green Line between Park Street and Boylston Street. This segment opened on September 1st, 1897. Photography of the MBTA is allowed now, until recently a photo permit was required. However there is the occasional employee who still did not get the memo.
The Green Line splits into four branches going west that are known as the B, C, D and E lines (from north to south). Going west on the Green Line, the E line branches off at Copley Square station while the other three split at Kenmore Square station. Just after the lines split, these lines all run above ground and become "streetcar" lines.
The B branch is a service to Boston College via Commonwealth Avenue (locally referred to and sometimes marked as Comm Ave). It services Boston College and Boston University along with the neighborhoods of Allston and Brighton. Many of the stops are dangerously close to the road; some are just painted yellow lines in the middle of Comm Ave and the right of way. Its long distance and frequent grade crossings cause dispatchers to express trains frequently. Make sure to press the stop tape to request a stop as many drivers won't automatically stop unless they are requested past Boston University or even past Kenmore.
The C branch is a service to Cleveland Circle via Beacon Street. This line is primarily in Brookline, MA. Its right-of-way is mainly surrounded by local businesses and residential structures. It should be noted a few reasonable accommodations can be found along this line which may be an alternative to expensive downtown hotels.
The D branch is a service to Riverside Station, an inter-model station in Newton, MA, via the Highland Branch, a former Boston and Albany railroad right-of-way from the 1800s that was converted in 1959. The right of way is completely grade-separated (meaning it does not intersect or run along streets), which makes transportation faster with stops being farther apart.
The E branch is a service to VA Medical Center and Heath Street, via Huntington Avenue. This line services The Prudential Center and Boston's Symphony Hall. Many universities exist along this right of way along with research centers and the world famous Longwood Medical Area, which is a commercial and education complex offering some of the most advanced health care in the world. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is accessible via the Museum of Fine Arts stop, which is sometimes announced as MFA or Museum on the trolley. The last few miles of the E branch run directly in the street so be mindful of traffic when boarding and leaving the trollies.
The letters are not assigned to coincide with any particular reference to the route of the branch. It is labeled A-E (A since disbanded, now the 57 bus) from north to south. The Cleveland Circle (C), Reservoir (D), and Chestnut Hill Ave (B) stops are all within walking distance and provide a convenient spot to switch between the lines; however, a second fare is required.
The Red Line splits in two directions going south that are known as the Braintree and Ashmont branches, the latter of which connects to a streetcar line to Mattapan. Going south, the Red Line splits at JFK/UMass station.
The Orange Line, the eldest of the heavy rail rapid transit lines in Boston, is service from Malden, MA to Jamaica Plain. It services the City of Malden, Charlestown, Bunker Hill Community College, North Station, the Haymarket area, the Financial District, Downtown Crossing, New England Medical Center, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. This line has seen the most changes over the years as it once was the "el" over Washington Street and into Charlestown so if you have not been in town for 30-40 years you will notice dramatic changes in the route.
The Blue Line, named as such because it crosses under the Boston Harbor and goes to Revere Beach, is a mostly a former narrow gauge railroad line converted to rapid transit. It services East Boston, the Airport, and Revere, with the Revere Beach stop a block from the beach.
While the MBTA refers to the Silver Line as a rapid transit line (BRT or Bus Rapid Transit) route (it appears on subway maps), most Bostonians consider it part of the bus system. The Silver Line Waterfront is in fact a great way to get to the Seaport District or the Airport with a free transfer from South Station. The Dudley branch can be ignored for tourism purposes.
When Bostonians say that they use the T, they're almost always referring to the subway, though the other modes of mass transit (bus, commuter rail, etc.) are still technically part of the T.
The subway system is slightly confusing in that directions are often marked "inbound" and "outbound", rather than with a destination. "Inbound" means "into the center of Boston", where all four lines converge at four stops: State (Blue and Orange), Park Street (Red and Green), Government Center (Blue and Green), and Downtown Crossing (Orange and Red). "Outbound" means "away from the center of Boston". Once one is in the center, signs generally give the direction ("eastbound") or the last stop on the line in that direction ("Alewife"). All trains are signed with the last stop in the direction they are headed, and this is the best way to know if you are going in the right direction.
Note that most Green Line trains do not go all the way to the end of the line at Lechmere; most turn around either at North Station or Government Center. If you are traveling farther than Government Center, your best bet is to get on the first train that comes, and then wait at the stop where you are forced to leave the train for the next Lechmere or North Station train. (Depending where you are, Lechmere trains might not stop there.) Only trains coming from the E Branch will proceed to Lechmere, unless otherwise noted.
Subway and light rail service generally does not run between 12 AM and 5AM. (The same goes for the commuter rail lines - usually midnight or before.) Each line (Green, Blue, etc.) has a "last train" time, starting at one end of the line and going to the other. Check the schedule in advance if you are going to be out late. Sometimes the last train is delayed due to passenger load or the need to wait for the last connection from another line, so you might get lucky if you are running late. Check with a T employee near the fare gates to see if you've missed the last train or not. A general rule of thumb is to be in the station by midnight to safely catch the last train. A consequence of this is that taxis can be extremely difficult to hail after 2AM when most of the bars close, especially in touristy areas such as Fanueil.
Note: the MBTA extended its hours to 2:30 on Friday and Saturday nights on a trial basis as of March 2014. As of 2015, this trial period has ended, and last trains depart at Midnight every day of the week (however some trains may still be caught 15 minutes or so after Midnight). See the MBTA site for details.
Unlimited-ride subway and bus passes are available from the T. If you're going to be riding a lot around town, these are worth investigating. See the link  for complete fare information on passes. Buy a 1 day LinkPass for $12 or a 7 day LinkPass for $21.25. The 7-Day LinkPass is valid for 7 days from the date and time of purchase. The LinkPass gives you unlimited travel on Subway, Local Bus, Inner Harbor Ferry, and Commuter Rail Zone 1A. (Note that Commuter Rail and boats do not accept CharlieCards, so you must use a CharlieTicket for these services.)
The cost of a one-way ride on the MBTA Subway is $2.00 plus FREE subway and local bus transfers (if done on a CharlieCard), or $2.50 if done on a Charlie Ticket or paying by cash. This will get you to most destinations. Parking at the Alewife station on the Red line is ample but will cost you $7 no matter when you come and go (for each 24 hour period). Riverside Station just off I-95 has plentiful parking for $5.75 all day. Additional suburban parking is available in Quincy, Braintree, and many Commuter Rail stops.
Regular bus service (the vast majority of buses) is usually slower than rapid transit, but is also cheaper and may take you closer to your final destination. Express buses are faster, more expensive, and travel longer distances. CharlieCard users get free transfers and pay $1.50 for regular bus, $3.50 for Inner Express, and $5 for Outer Express (check the schedule to know which line is which). Charlie Ticket or cash customers pay $2.00 for regular bus, $4.50 for Inner Express, and $6.50 for Outer Express, with no free transfers.
Note that the Silver Line bus rapid transit line is split into discontinuous segments. Routes SL1 and SL2, departing from South Station, are considered part of the subway system (though their vehicles are dual-mode electric/diesel buses) and have free underground transfers to the Red Line. Routes SL4 and SL5 are considered part of the bus system, and have the lower local bus fare fare. Although Route SL4 also stops at South Station, it stops outside the station complex, and transfers between SL4 and the other Silver Line routes or the Red Line are only free with a CharlieCard.
The MBTA runs a number of water shuttles, but the most useful for tourists is the shuttle from Long Wharf to Navy Yard, which costs $3.00. This provides a convenient connection between the USS Constitution Museum and the area around Faneuil Hall and the New England Aquarium. There's also a shuttle from Long Wharf to Logan Airport, but it runs relatively infrequently, so the Blue Line is your best bet for getting between these two destinations.
There are also non-MBTA public ferries available from several ports, notably the Aquarium and Long Wharf, and a water taxi service on the waterfront.
Commuter rail in Boston is primarily used for traveling to towns outside of the city. Due to its limited frequency compared to the subway, it is not generally recommended for travel within the city itself. An exception is travel between Back Bay Station and South Station, which is served by 5 commuter rail branches on weekdays and is free one way. Commuter rail fares range from $2.10-$11.50 one way, although any ticket to or from the city is at least $4.25. Tickets can be bought on board trains, but at a slight surcharge. Passengers can ride for free from Back Bay to South Station, but must buy a ticket for $1.70 to travel from South Station to Back Bay.
Trains heading north of the city leave from North Station, while those heading south or west leave from South Station. Both stations have connections to the subway: North Station is on the Green and Orange Lines, and South Station is on the Red and Silver Lines. The two stations are not directly connected: you cannot board a train north of the city and take it to a point south of the city. Such a journey will require a subway ride in-between train trips to make the connection.
Your current alternative to late-night public transit is a taxi. Taxis can be hailed at any significant street corner, such as Kenmore Square or Copley Square. Expect to spend at least $5 and possibly up to $30 in the immediate surroundings (this includes the initial fare, a small tip for the driver, small one-way streets, bad traffic, construction, tolls for bridges, tolls for tunnels, tolls for the Mass Pike, and any wait time). To get further out of Boston, expect to spend much more (for example, from the airport to Wellesley, a Boston suburb, would be around $80, which includes the actual driving and tolls along the way). Fun fact, as of summer 2009, Boston has the most expensive taxis of any major American city.
Boston's downtown core is compact and easily walkable. Most tourist attractions can be visited on foot, although some neighborhoods require rail and/or bus connections. Take note that while jaywalking is technically illegal, the fine is $1 and tickets haven't been issued for decades. However, if you cross against signals just remember to watch out for stray bikes, cars, and some unusual traffic patterns you won't be used to.
The climate is cold from December to April, and the city is the windiest in America. Snow can also be an obstacle.
If it's late at night, or you feel you cannot deal with the cost of a taxi or the wait involved with the MBTA, then Boston is a relatively small, relatively safe city and walking is an option. Just remember to use the same sense you would in any other city.
If you want to explore Boston by foot, you can find many 2 miles self guided and free treks on Urban Trekking Boston, complete with photos and maps to use on your phone, or to print beforehand
Many Boston residents use bicycling as their primary mode of transit all year round, and Boston's small size and relative flatness make biking an appealing way to get around. Boston lacks many amenities for bicyclists, however, as the roads are covered with potholes and frequently absent of designated bicycle lanes or bicycle racks, so visitors wishing to travel by bicycle should have excellent urban riding skills prior to renting a bicycle. Cambridge tends to have more bicycle lanes and racks, though many streets still lack them. Riding on the sidewalk is frowned upon in the city of Cambridge and Boston, and being well-lit in the evenings is important both for following regulations and for being safe. Recent efforts by Mayor Thomas Menino promise increased city investment in bicycling as a viable mode of transportation, and the mayor himself has taken up biking around town.
A central transit for bikers in Boston is the Southwest Corridor Bike Path, a major park/bike way placed along a route once slated for a major freeway system. This runs parallel to the T's Orange Line and connects Forest Hills to the Back Bay. This is an excellent means of transit if you intend on staying in Jamaica Plain.
On July 28, 2011, Boston launched New Balance Hubway a bike sharing system that now has 140 stations and 1300 bicycles. The cost is $6/day, $12/3 day pass, and $85 for a yearly membership. For this fare, you can make unlimited use of bikes during the period, while sticking to a maximum of 30 minutes per trip. So you take a bike and park it somewhere (else) within 30 minutes. Repeat this procedure as often as you want! 1 Hour of continuous use costs $2 extra per time of use.
Boston Bicycle (Cambridge Bicycle), 259 Mass, Ave., Cambridge MA, ☎ +1 617-236-0752. $30/day.
Urban AdvenTours, 103 Atlantic Ave, ☎ +1 617-670-0637,. Offers guided bicycle tours for various skill levels. Also provides bike rentals and bike deliveries. $35/day.
Hubway, ☎ +1 855-448-2929,. Offers use of bikes from 130 kiosks around the city.
The biggest shopping areas in the inner Metro are the Back Bay and Downtown Crossing. In addition, there are two large malls in and near the center of the city.
The Cambridgeside Galleria.This boilerplate shopping mall includes department stores, the Apple Store, a Best Buy, clothing stores, bookstores, a food court, and a Cheesecake Factory restaurant, all at mainstream retail prices. Accessible on the Green Line at Lechmere station, or the Red Line at Kendall/MIT station via a free shuttle van ("The Wave").
Copley Place and Prudential Center. These malls are connected via pedestrian walkway over Huntington Av. They house department stores, clothing stores, bookstores, upscale shopping, a food court, many restaurants, and connect to several large hotels. Accessible on the Green Line at Copley, Hynes/ICA, and Prudential stations, and on the Orange Line at Back Bay station. `Visitors and locals alike use the mall to go between the South End and Newbury/Boylston Street areas, either to take advantage of the air conditioning during the summer or the warmth during the winter.
More local color can be experienced outdoors at any of several popular commercial areas:
Newbury Street. This shopping street runs the length of the Back Bay neighborhood. Often called "the Rodeo Drive of the East," Newbury St is a wonderfully dense avenue colored by historic brownstones and lots of shops and restaurants. Extremely expensive near Boston Common, but gradually becoming more affordable as you move toward Massachusetts Avenue. One block north from Boylston St, which is similar but less so. Vehicular traffic can be very slow on Newbury St itself; take parallel streets unless you have time to see the sights from your car. Accessible on the Green Line from Arlington, Copley, and Hynes stations.
Downtown Crossing(or "DTX"), Washington St. at Winter St. area. This shopping district is in Downtown Boston, just steps from Boston Common. The building, which once housed the now-closed Filene's Department store, was knocked down and there were plans for a 38-story tower which was to include a hotel and condos to be built. However, the development has since stalled due to financial problems of the developer. To date there has been no date for redevelopment set, so the location is now most infamous as the "Filenes Basement Hole." The rest of Downtown Crossing features large Macy's, music stores, souvenirs, general retail, and lots of street vendors and quick food. Accessible on the Red and Orange Lines at Downtown Crossing station, and with a brief walk, from the Red and Green Lines at Park St. station. Be advised: During weekdays this area is a very popular hangout for inner-city youth.
Harvard Square. This historic and always-active square is located across the river in the city of Cambridge. Take a tour of Harvard University and the Yard, visit the historic cemetery, shop around. Several excellent bookstores, with plenty of restaurants and cafes to sit down and read a novel. See the famous chess tables outside Au Bon Pain where a scene in Good Will Hunting was filmed. Walk past the offices of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, and say hello to the punks. Take a short walk down to the scenic Charles River. Street musicians often play near the famous Out of Town News. For a good burger, stop in a Bartley's, a Harvard landmark. For a fantastic margarita and cheap Mexican food, be sure to hit up the Border Cafe. The nonprofit Brattle theater shows classic and independent films. Accessible on the Red Line at Harvard station.
Coolidge Corner, Harvard St. at Beacon St, Brookline. This shopping area is in the neighboring town of Brookline. A little less urban, more like your local village shops and restaurants. The Coolidge Corner Theater is known for showing interesting independent and art house films. Beacon Street has interesting shops along much of its length, generally concentrated near areas such as St. Mary's, Washington Sq., etc. One can also walk north from Coolidge Corner along Harvard St. (which becomes Harvard Av.) towards Allston-Brighton (and the B branch of the Green Line) for additional shopping and dining. Accessible on the C branch of the Green Line at the Coolidge Corner stop.
Charles St.From Beacon St. to Cambridge St. One of the more quaint shopping neighborhoods in Boston, starting just north of Boston Common. The mix of shops lends itself to window-shopping as well as ticking items off a shopping list. Multiple options for lunch or coffee make this a pleasant place to stroll for a couple hours. Accessible from the Charles St./Mass. General Hospital station on the Red Line.
There are several visitor pass programs that offer discounted or free admission to a number of the sites listed below, among them the Go Boston Card and the Boston CityPASS . Depending on the length of your stay and what you want to see, either program could potentially save you quite a bit of money.
Boston Children's Museum, 300 Congress St, 10AM-5PM daily (F until 9PM), +1 617-426-7336 . $12, Ages 2-15 $12, Age 1 free.
Boston Athenæum, 10½ Beacon Street, Mon-Thur 9AM-8PM , Fri 9AM-5:30PM, Sat 9AM-4PM, Sun 12PM-4PM, +1 617-720-0270 . The first floor is FREE and open to the public. Admission to the gallery is a suggested $5 donation. Admittance to the remaining floors is limited to members. Free and open to the public docent-led tours are held each Tuesday and Thursday at 3pm. Advance registration is required. The Boston Athenæum is a private membership Library, museum, and civic forum. Membership is open to all who apply.
Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave. (Museum of Fine Arts station, Green Line, E Train), +1 617 267-9300,. ($25, Free for ages 7-17 after 3PM weekdays, all weekend, and public school holidays; otherwise admission for youths is $10). Boston's largest and most comprehensive art museum, and also one of the pricier museums in the US. Currently undergoing an expansion project, it is also known for its impressive assortment of French Impressionist paintings, with the largest collection of Monet paintings outside of Paris; it also has the largest collection of Japanese art outside of Japan (there is also a branch of the museum in Nagoya, Japan), an extraordinary collection of Egyptian, ancient Greek, and Roman art, one of the most comprehensive collections of American art, and one of the largest and finest print collections in the United States. This Museum may be one of the best art museums in the entire country. If you’re visiting Boston and looking for a great place to bring the family the Museum of Fine Arts is a great place to go. The museum is full of great paintings and artifacts. Some of the more popular exhibits include the Egyptian exhibit that is home to multiple mummies, beautiful tombs and coffins. The paintings in the Museum are also very impressive and many of any the paintings portray famous historical American heroes like George Washington, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and much more.
The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, 1 Oxford St., Cambridge, +1 617-495-2779, . T stop: Red Line to "Harvard Square". M-R 11AM-4PM, F 11AM-3PM. Free and open to the public (despite at least one Web page that can be misread to indicate that it is by appointment only). Closed on University Holidays. Has over 20,000 objects dating from 1400 to present day.
Harvard Art Museum, 32 Quincy St, Cambridge, (Harvard Square Station, Red Line), +1 617-495-9400. T-Sa 10AM-5PM. $9, $6 students.
Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St, Cambridge, +1 617-495-3045 . T stop: Red Line to "Harvard Square". 9AM-5PM daily. As of Sept. 1, 2012: $12, students $10. Its amazing "Glass Flowers" collection has been a major tourist attraction for nearly 100 years.
Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave (Courthouse Station, Silver Line), +1 617 478-3100 . The much-anticipated new building designed by starchitects Diller+Scofidio, the ICA is on Fan Pier on the South Boston Waterfront.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway (MFA Station, Green E Line), +1 617-566-1401 . Tu-Su 11AM-5PM. The villa-turned-museum of an eccentric Bostonian, the Gardner features an eclectic collection of European objects, beautiful floral displays, and was the site of a spectacular painting heist in 1990. $15, Students $5, Free on your birthday or if you're named "Isabella".
MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, (Red Line to either "Central Square Station" or "Kendall Square/MIT"), +1 617-253-5927 10AM-5PM, closed major holidays. The MIT Museum is a place that explores invention, ideas, and innovation. Home to renowned collections in science and technology, holography, architecture and design, nautical engineering and history, the Museum features changing and ongoing exhibitions, unique hands-on activities, and engaging public programs.
Museum of Science, Science Park (Science Park Station, Lechmere-bound Green Line trains). +1 617-723-2500 . 9AM-5PM daily (Summer until 7PM). $21 plus a la carte menu of attractions.
New England Aquarium, Central Wharf (Blue Line to Aquarium), +1 617-973-5200 . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa Su 9AM-6PM. Home of what was until recently the world's largest fish tank, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Great fun for kids of all ages. Whale watching tours available, too. $20.95, Students $18.95, Senior 60+ $18.95, Ages 3-11 $12.95.
Mapparium, 175 Huntington Ave (Green Line to the Prudential, Symphony, or Hynes/ICA stop), +1 888-222-3711 . The Mary Baker Eddy Library at the world headquarters of the Christian Science Church houses a three story globe room where visitors can view a stained-glass map of the world from inside the center. Tu-Su 10AM-4PM. The $6 admission covers most of the museum and library.
Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, 11 Divinity Ave, Cambridge (Red Line to "Harvard Square"), +1 617-496-1027 . Daily 9AM-5PM. One of the oldest museums in the world devoted to anthropology and houses one of the most comprehensive records of human cultural history in the Western Hemisphere.
Semitic Museum, 6 Divinity Ave, Cambridge (T stop: Red Line to "Harvard Square"), +1 617-495-4631 . M-F 10AM-4PM, Su 1PM-4PM. See a collection of over 40,000 artifacts from the Near East across multiple ancient civilizations.
USS Constitution Museum, Charlestown Navy Yard, +1 617-426-1812 . Apr-Oct Tu-Su 10AM-6PM, Nov-Mar Th-Su 10AM-3:50PM. Tour famous Old Ironsides, enjoy all-ages hands-on exhibits on sailing skills and crafts. Freewill donation.
Warren Anatomical Museum, 10 Shattuck St, (T stop: "Brigham Circle" on Green E line), +1 617-432-6196,  See an extensive collection of distinct and pathological examples in anatomy including the actual skull of Phineas Gage. M-F 9AM-5PM, except Harvard University holidays.
Panopticon Gallery, Inside the Hotel Commonwealth 502c Commonwealth Ave, (T stop: Green Line to "Kenmore Square"), +1 617-267-8929 . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 11 AM-5PM. Founded in 1971, Panopticon Gallery is one of the oldest galleries in the United States dedicated solely to photography. The gallery specializes in 20th Century American Photography and emerging contemporary photography.
Axelle Fine Arts Galerie, 91 Newbury St, (T stop: Green Line to "Arlington St."), +1 617-450-0700 . Everyday 10AM-6PM. First established in Soho, New York, it offers the best selection of contemporary European painters to its clients. Axelle Fine Arts Galerie has an ever-evolving selection of new, museum-quality paintings and is the exclusive representative of artists such as Patrick Pietropoli, Goxwa, Albert Hadjiganev, Jivko, Philippe Jacquet, Fabienne Delacroix, André Bourrié, Jean-Daniel Bouvard, Laurent Dauptain, Philippe Vasseur, Michel Delacroix, Brian Stephens and Hollis Dunlap.
March: St. Patrick's Day, . March 17th is not celebrated officially as St. Patrick's Day, but rather as Evacuation Day, a local holiday marking the expulsion of British troops from the city on 17 March 1776. But Boston has one of the highest Irish populations outside of Ireland, and Irish pride reigns on this day. Don't forget to wear green, drink a beer, and buy something that says "Kiss Me I'm Irish!" (regardless of your ethnicity). If possible, catch the local band Dropkick Murphys (you know, the people behind "Shipping Up To Boston") at their infamous St. Patrick's Day show.
Third Monday in April: Patriot's Day/Boston Marathon . The oldest marathon in the world, the race started in 1897 and is always run on the holiday that commemorates Paul Revere's ride in 1775 and the ensuing battles at Lexington and Concord (suburbs of Boston) that started the Revolution. The race runs from Hopkinton to the finish line in Copley Square. The halfway point is the wealthy suburb of Wellesley, where students from Wellesley College (America's leading institute for all-women's education) form the "Scream Tunnel" to cheer on runners (who are in turn encouraged to "Kiss a Wellesley Girl for good luck!"). Parts of Commonwealth Avenue outbound from there and surrounding streets are closed for the race. Elsewhere, Paul Revere's ride and the battles are re-enacted each year in front of thousands of people. Arrive early to get a good spot. Finally, the Red Sox always have a home game on this date, which starts at 11AM to accommodate the crowds who watch the Marathon as it goes by Fenway Park. This is the only Major League baseball game that starts before noon local time during the season. Other than St. Patrick's/Evacuation Day this is the only time that you will find huge crowds at bars early in the morning.
June: Boston Pride The second-largest event in the city after the Fourth of July. Boston's LBGT community - and everyone else - comes out for a fabulous parade from Copley Square, through the South End, to Boston Common. Many other social events are scheduled around this weekend.
The Fourth of July: Independence Day . A host of events occur throughout the day that culminate with the Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade along the Charles river - the oldest and largest public celebration of the Fourth in the country. The concerts were started in 1929 by conductor Arthur Fiedler and were enhanced with fireworks by philanthropist David Mugar during the bicentennial celebrations in 1976. Sometimes sparsely attended in the beginning, it is televised nationally and has become the country's premier 4th of July event with hundreds of thousands squeezing along both sides of the Charles each year. This event also holds the world record for the largest crowd to ever attend a classical concert. Seats closest to the stage go to folks who show up before dawn to wait in line but there are speakers and huge TV screens posted all along the river so everybody can see the show. Parts of Storrow Drive in Boston, Memorial Drive in Cambridge, and Massachusetts Avenue on and near the Mass. Ave. bridge are closed due to extremely heavy pedestrian traffic. Note that the roads and public transit are heavily congested after the fireworks display. There are other celebrations during the day, starting with a flag-raising ceremony at City hall at 9AM. This is followed by a parade to the Granary Burial Ground which is led by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, Boston's militia, which is the 3rd-oldest military unit in the world. Honors are given at the graves of each of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who are interred there, as well as the victims of the Boston Massacre and Peter Faneuil. The parade then moves on to the Old State House where the Declaration is read in its entirety from the main balcony (which overlooks the site of the Massacre) to the crowd, just as it has been every year since 1776.
Late August: The Feast of St. Anthony. The biggest of several Feasts in the North End. This one includes lots of food vendors, games, music, and a parade on Hanover Street and environs.
October: The Head of the Charles Regatta. Over 8,000 rowers from around the globe compete in this regatta, one of the world's largest two-day rowing events. It often attracts up to 300,000 spectators along the banks of the Charles River.
31 December/1 January: First Night. Boston's New Year's Eve celebration, it is the oldest public New Year's Eve party in America and has been copied by cities all around the world. It is a city-wide, family-friendly arts and culture festival which starts in the late morning with child-centric events and continues with dozens of music, dance, poetry and other exhibitions through midnight, culminating in fireworks on the waterfront. Dress warmly.
A good resource for daily and nightly event listings of all sizes and interests can be found by picking up a free Weekly Dig or The Phoenix newspaper from one of the many free newspaper vending boxes located at most major busy intersections. Additionally, there are several free mobile applications like Hoppit and Nara to find great local restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, Phone: +1 617-524-1718. T stop: Orange Line or Needham commuter rail to "Forest Hills" (last stop on the Orange Line). Come see the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world's leading centers for the study of plants. A park with beautiful landscaping and specimens.
Boston Harbor Islands State Park, Phone: +1 617-727-5290 . Take a Ferry (Long Wharf: Blue line to Aquarium), Phone: +1 617-223-8666 ) out to Georges Island and tour Fort Warren. See why Boston was the most defensible city in the New World. Shuttles leave from there to other islands in Boston Harbor--insect repellent is recommended. Ranger-led activities, events, narrations, or just swim, picnic, camp or fish. This is a hidden jewel that is off the beaten path. Plan to bring sunscreen, water, and a snack. Also note that depending on conditions in the harbor the return schedule can be delayed. If you're tight on time, err on the side of an earlier ferry to ensure arrival.
Newbury Street Eight blocks of high-end boutiques, hair salons, and galleries. Makes for a fabulous day of shopping and dining. The shops and restaurants tend to be expensive, but one needn't spend money to enjoy the area; one of Newbury's main attractions is simply people-watching. College students, urban professionals, tourists, and street performers all mix here. Newbury Street is accessible on the Green Line from the Arlington, Copley, and Hynes stations.
Boston Common and Public Garden. A must-see for all visitors during the warmer months. The oldest public park in America. Ride the famous Swan Boats, walk across the world's shortest suspension bridge and generally enjoy the park with its shady trees, fountains, statues, sidewalk vendors, and greenery. Visit the "Cheers" bar across Beacon St, but be forewarned: only tourists go here. A great starting point for visitors interested in local historical sights, or on your way to Downtown Crossing or the Back Bay. Very nice foliage in the fall. The area east of Charles St is the Common, which is more open and less manicured. The area west of Charles St. is the Public Garden, which consists of many walking paths amid an impressive variety of well-maintained folliage. Accessible on the Green Line from Park Street, Boylston and Arlington stations, on the Red Line from Park Street station, and a short walk from any other downtown station.
Community Boating. For kids between ages 10 and 18, membership is only $1 for the entire summer. Membership includes all sorts of sailing lessons (sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, etc.) along with other benefits. Each class takes a couple of days. 2-day membership is $100; 60-day membership is $159. Accessible on the Red Line from Charles/MGH station.
Freedom Trail. A 2.5 mi (4 km) walking tour of 16 historic sites that begins at Boston Common, goes through downtown Boston, the North End and Charlestown, ending at the USS Constitution. Sites include the old State House, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere's House, and the Old North Church. The Freedom Trail connects to the Boston Harbor Walk. The Freedom Trail is marked by a line of red paint or red brick in the sidewalk. The beginning of the trail is accessible on the Green Line or the Red Line from Park St station. However, all the lines are convenient at various points along the way, via several downtown stations.
Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, downtown Boston. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, two of Boston's oldest marketplaces, contain a great set of mainly tourist-oriented shops and eateries. Since Faneuil Hall Marketplace is private property, the street performers must audition and thus are consistently entertaining. Faneuil Hall also has a historic meeting hall in its upper levels, and is just down the street from the Old State House. Quincy Market has a number of food stalls from local (delectable) providers - coffee, pastries, candy, popcorn, sushi, Italian, lobster and lobster rolls, Chinese, sandwiches, etc. No farmers' market, all food is prepared. Great place to eat a wide variety of foods for cheap, especially with kids. Tables available in covered outdoor area immediately outside. Accessible on the Blue Line at State St., Government Center, and Aquarium stations, on the Orange Line at State St. station, and on the Green Line at Government Center station.
Copley Square. Take a Duck Tour, +1 617-267-DUCK , enjoy the fountains, visit the top of the nearby Prudential building, see the Boston Public Library, visit the beautiful Trinity Church, or go shopping along Newbury Street. Accessible on the Green Line at Copley station, or on the Orange Line at Back Bay station.
Boston Symphony Orchestra. Symphony Hall, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Av, . During the fall, winter and spring, the world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra performs classical music. Tickets are available online or in the box office; they can be pricey at $29-$115. For a cheaper alternative, Tuesday and Thursday concerts have rush tickets (last-minute availability, no seat choice) which are sold starting at 5PM on the day of the concert for $9; Friday concerts start rush ticket availability at 10AM. Be sure to line up in advance for rush tickets. Weekend concerts do not sell rush tickets.
Boston Pops Orchestra. Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Av, +1 617-266-1492, CustomerService@bso.org. During the summer, the Pops perform programs of both classical and popular music, consistently pleasing audiences. Tickets can be had inexpensively and can be purchased either online or in the box office. Accessible on the E branch of the Green Line at Symphony station.
New England Conservatory. This world-famous top-notch music school and also right around the corner from the Boston Symphony, is often overlooked by tourists in Boston but well-known among local musicians. Their performances, recitals, and chamber group concerts are usually free and unticketed. See the calendar at for more information.
Theater District. Washington St, Tremont St. Broadway is the undisputed center of the theater world, but Boston's Theater District is where most Broadway shows will preview and is usually the first stop on a show's touring run. Resident shows also run.
Bicycling. 20 Park Plaza (Suite 528), +1 617-542-2453. The Minuteman Bikeway is one of the most heavily used rail trails in the United States. This eleven mile paved path is popular with walkers, cyclists, and in-line skaters. The route closely follows that taken at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Accessible on the Red Line at Davis and Alewife stations.
Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory. Prudential Center, +1 617-859-0648. Tickets: Adults $11, Seniors $9, Children under 12 $7.50, Student with college ID $9, Military with DoD ID Free. Look around Boston from the second tallest skyscraper. Open daily. Winter (Nov thru Feb) 10AM-8PM; Summer (Mar thru Oct) 10AM-10PM.
Sam Adams Brewery Tour. Phone +1 617-368-5080, 30 Germania St. (Orange line to "Stonybrook"). Take a tour of the Sam Adams brewery located in Jamaica Plain. Free samples of beer at the end.
Harpoon Brewery Tour Phone +1 888-HARPOON. (Silver line Waterfront, fourth stop from South Station) Free sampling after tour.
Mystery Cafe, Boston, ☎ 781-784-7496, . Dinner. America's Original Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. Its doors opened in 1987 to a packed house in Cambridge, MA and have been selling out the house ever since! It is a great combination of mystery, music, audience participation, food and fun. Different shows and locations for a memorable evening in Boston. $150.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library-Mapparium, 200 Massachusetts Avenue Boston, MA 02115, ☎ 1-617-450-7000, . 10 am to 4 pm Tuesday-Sunday. Since 1935, more than 10 million people have traversed the thirty-foot glass bridge that spans the Mapparium, taking visitors to a unique spot: the middle of the world. This world-famous, three-story, painted-glass globe is one of the key attractions at the Library. General Admission - $6.00.
Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Show, 30 Washington St, ☎ 866-496-0535, . America's Largest Interactive Murder Mystery Dinner Show. Includes a gourmet four-course meal.
The Murder Mystery Company in Boston, 120 Quarry Street, . Join the Experts in Mystery Entertainment for an exciting night out in Boston that is full of intrigue, deception, and delicious food!
Boston is a sports town, and its professional teams are much-loved. These include the Red Sox (baseball), Celtics (basketball), Bruins (hockey), New England Patriots (football), and New England Revolution (soccer). Another professional team, the Boston Breakers (women's soccer), is less well established.
Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way. The home of the Boston Red Sox . The oldest baseball stadium still in use by the major leagues, this brick and stone structure is named after and located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which itself takes its name from the fens, or marshes along the nearby Muddy River. Accessible on the B, C, and D branches of the Green Line at Kenmore station, or on the D branch of the Green Line at Fenway station. Visitors arriving via the T will need to walk a short distance from the station to the ballpark, but the crowds on a game day will serve to lead the way. Its worth taking the T to the game because parking is very limited (and expensive) and you get to experience the excitment of a crowded train car full of fans heading to the game. Yawkey Way is now closed off during games, and those in the stadium can walk outside to enjoy the additional refreshment stands and open area, and then return to the game. With sold-out crowds every game, getting tickets can be difficult. Street resellers will offer tickets outside the stadium, and those will get progressively cheaper as the game goes on. Buying tickets on the street bears a risk of fraud, but most of the tickets are real. More cautious visitors can take a worthwhile Fenway Park tour on non-game days or game days (leaves from the souvenir store on Yawkey Way).
Gillette Stadium . The home of the New England Patriots football team and the New England Revolution soccer team is in the town of Foxborough, about 25 miles southwest of Boston. The Revolution play from spring to fall, and the Patriots from fall through winter. Patriots games are always sold out and getting tickets will probably be impossible. Revolution tickets will be easier to come by. Starting in 2012, Gillette Stadium will also become the football home of the UMass Minutemen —the team of the University of Massachusetts Amherst—as they make their move to the top tier of NCAA college football.
TD Garden, Causeway St. The home of the Boston Celtics basketball team and Boston Bruins hockey team . The site was previously occupied by the Boston Garden, a smaller venue, and the existing structure was previously called the FleetCenter and later the TD Banknorth Garden. The arena may be called by any of these names, or simply The Garden. Accessible on the Green Line or Orange Line at North Station, which is underneath the Garden.The TD Banknorth Garden is home to two of Boston’s most historic sports team the Boston Celtics and the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions the Boston Bruins. If you’re a sports buff visiting Boston and one of these two teams is playing it is a must that you stop by a catch a game. Whether your sitting up high or down low finding a bad seat in the Garden is pretty hard for any sport even in last row you will still be able to see an exciting game in a very exciting atmosphere where history is made. Another notable annual sports event is the Beanpot college hockey tournament , held on the first two Mondays of February and featuring the men's teams of Boston College (see below), Boston University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University.
Boston College Eagles , Brighton/Newton Border in the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill. The teams representing Boston College compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in most sports alongside 11 other schools along the East Coast. The ice hockey teams for both men and women compete in Hockey East. The football team plays in the 45,000-seat Alumni Stadium. The basketball and hockey teams play in the adjacent Conte Forum (known as Kelley Rink for hockey games), which seats between 8 and 9 thousand fans. College hockey is very popular in New England, and in recent years BC has had one of the best programs in the nation. See also the hockey programs of Boston University and Northeastern University in the city proper, and rival schools in the suburbs and neighboring states.
Harvard Stadium, 95 N. Harvard St., Allston. Home to the Harvard Crimson (Harvard University) football team since 1903, it is also home to the area's newest professional team, the Boston Breakers of Women's Professional Soccer. The Breakers, like the Revolution, play from spring to fall.
Food & drinks
Boston has excellent seafood from the nearby New England coast. Local specialties include baked beans, cod, and clam chowder. For dessert you'll have no trouble finding good ice cream. Boston (and New England as a whole) are one of the top per-capita ice cream consuming regions.
A variety of excellent ethnic restaurants can be found in neighborhoods such as the North End, Chinatown, Allston, or Coolidge Corner.
The best sit-down restaurants can be quite crowded in the evenings on weekends. Unless you have a reservation, be prepared to wait anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on how refined your tastes are.
The North End is full of Italian eateries, and it's certain that you'll find something here to your liking. Take the Green or Orange Lines to the Haymarket station, cross the Greenway park(what used to be Interstate 93 pre-Big Dig), and then follow the signs to Hanover Street, the main commercial thoroughfare. Most of the good restaurants are on this street or on side streets. If you visit the North End on the weekend in the summer you may encounter one of many saint's festivals. Streets are closed off and there are music, food, and parades of the saint's statues. The Bull & Finch Pub in Beacon Hill was the inspiration for the hit television show "Cheers." Very pricey for bar fare, but an essential part of the Boston tourist experience. The Beacon Street address is the original and does not look much like the set of the show. There is another Cheers at Faneuil Hall which is more of a replica of the TV set. If you ask a local for directions to Cheers, you may be directed to Faneuil Hall. The Beacon Street bar is referred to by its original name. Both locations are very touristy complete with souvenir shops.
Legal Sea Foods is a Boston original - well, technically Cambridge, since it started as a fish market in Inman Square, Cambridge. Legal Seafood is known for its New England Clam Chowder. Expect to pay between $25-30/person at dinner at one of their multiple locations.
Despite having a huge student population, the political clout of residential neighborhood associations who value late-night peace and quiet has historically kept Boston from offering many options for late-night dining. Most restaurants close by 10 or 11pm, even in college neighborhoods such as Allston and Brookline. Bars stay open till 2am for drinking but their kitchens usually close at midnight or earlier. Exceptions are found in Chinatown, where several eateries serve their full menu till 2AM or later, and in the South End, where dining until midnight is possible even early in the week. If you're planning a long night, though, it's probably best to plan ahead and buy some snacks in advance. Boston also has a thriving food truck scene. The best way to find the food trucks and figure out where the are is your iPhone or Android.
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. Bar Hopping is very easy and commonly done.
In case you plan on taking the bus or the T back to your house or hotel be aware that the public transit system shuts down before 1am during the week and shortly after 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. If you want to go out and have people under 21 with you, you're going to have trouble finding a place that will let your group in; most clubs in and around town are 21+. During the day many bars pubs and bars serve food and therefore there is no age limit.
With a large Irish population, Boston has a number of very good Irish pubs. Irish pubs offer great food and drink and often live music in the evening. 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.
Places densest in bars include:
Canal Street (just south of TD BankNorth Garden)
Harvard Ave/Brighton Ave in Allston - Since Allston is a "College Ghetto" this is a great place to be if you're younger than say 27. There are a couple establishments worth the trip for any age, too.
Seaport/Waterfront - specifically Northern Ave, where there are now several popular new bars with roof decks and patios that are packed in good weather
Faneuil Hall - For the younger, dancier, suburban and tourist crowd.
There are multiple nightclubs and lounges near the Theatre District, Chinatown, in the Faneuil Hall area as well as in Cambridge. More nightclubs can be found in the district articles.
There are many dive bars in Boston.
If you are in the North End or near the Banknorth Garden, go to Sullivan's Tap. Ask for the Brubaker - a $2 beer in a recycled bottle (sadly, Brubaker's is no longer manufactured, try a Naragansett tall boy for $3). ESPN's Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, rated it "The most depressing bar in Boston."
In Davis Square, Somerville you can find Sligo's Pub, a similar hole in the wall serving cheap beer in plastic cups.
The Cantab Lounge near the Central Square subway station in Cambridge features local music.
If you're off the beaten path in the neighborhoods outside downtown (Dorchester, South Boston, East Boston, Hyde Park, etc.) in search of some real Bostonians, look for any tavern with a cheesy old lamp light out front. Be ready for an in-depth conversation about the "Red Sawx" or the Bruins back when Bobby Orr played.
Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain and Harpoon Brewery in South Boston both offer tours and tastings. Trillium Brewing Co. is an acclaimed craft brewery, and a short walk from Harpoon, but be aware that they do not offer tastings on site. Many other small-scale craft breweries can be found in Greater Boston cities such as Everett, Chelsea, and Somerville. Several operators run tours by vehicle between local breweries so that you may sample without the need to drive under the influence.
You should be able to stand on any corner in the city and see at least two Dunkin' Donuts stores. The commercials should really be "Boston runs on Dunkin." Every Bostonian knows that "Dunks" is for coffee, not donuts - trust us. Dunkins is very popular, but coffee aficionados will consider it little more than coffee flavored sugar water, and will want to look elsewhere. Quality and service at a Dunkin' Donuts is really hit or miss depending on the location. Au Bon Pain's 200 stores began in Boston and are also common. Starbucks are, of course, plentiful.
Boston does, however, have some outstanding independent coffee shops as well, including the Boston Common Coffee Co. with multiple locations including one near Boston Common.
Coffee shops offering finer quality coffee that is third wave and often single origin are plentiful in Boston.
Crime and other hazards in Boston are low for a major American city.
Some neighborhoods (especially Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester) are more dangerous than average, and extra care should be taken there. It is even better to avoid walking in these areas at night if possible. Still, the biggest threats for tourists in Boston are mostly pickpockets.
Dangers related to alcohol consumption are not uncommon, such as fights and drunk driving. Be especially careful when there is a Red Sox and New York Yankees baseball game in progress. Wearing Yankees gear in any part of town (even if you're not from NY), especially in the Fenway area, is invitation to be verbally harassed by the locals. Although generally harmless and in good fun, it is not unheard of for these encounters to escalate into physical altercations, especially when there is excess alcohol consumption involved. It usually takes two people to start a fight, in these cases. Just walk away.
The safest places to have a night on the town in Boston are definitely Boylston Street in the Back Bay, around the Prudential Center area, Beacon Hill, the South End and Faneuil Hall. There are plenty of bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants that cater to the college, professional, and upscale crowd, greatly reducing the likelihood of crime.
Boston's subway system, the MBTA, is generally safe compared to other major cities, but remember that it starts shutting down not long after midnight. Green Line trains and the northern half of the Red Line are mostly used by college students and young professionals moving to and from the immediate suburbs. Caution is still advisable late at night, especially when leaving the station or the train.
If there is an emergency, dial 911, a free call, from any telephone for police, medical, and fire services.
Greater Boston uses 10-digit dialing. This means you need to include the area code whenever you are making a call. The standard area code is 617, but some phone numbers, especially cell phones, use the new 857 overlay.
The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau maintains two visitor centers:
Boston Common Visitor Information Center, 148 Tremont St (at Winter; T: Park Street), ☎ +1 617 536-4100 (toll free: +1 888 733-2678, M-Sa 8:30AM-5PM, Su 10AM-6PM.
Shops at Prudential Visitor Information Center, 800 Boylston St (Center Court; T: Prudential or Back Bay), ☎ +1 617 536-4100 (toll free: +1 888 733-2678. 9AM-5PM daily.
The National Park Service also maintains two visitor centers as many of the historic sites in Boston are considered part of the Boston National Historical Park:
Downtown Visitor Center, 15 State St (behind the Old State House between Devonshire and Washington; T: State Street), ☎ +1 617 242-5642, . 9AM-5PM daily.
Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center, Navy Yard Pier 1 (next to the USS Constitution), ☎ +1 617 242-5601. 9AM-5PM daily (until 6PM in July and August).
Boston is the largest city in New England, the capital of the state of Massachusetts, and one of the most historic, wealthy and influential cities in the United States of America. Its plethora of museums, historical sights, and wealth of live performances, all explain why the city gets 16.3 million visitors a year, making it one of the ten most popular tourist locations in the country.
Although not technically in Boston, the neighboring cities of Cambridge and Brookline are functionally integrated with Boston by mass transit and effectively a part of the city. Cambridge, just across the Charles River, is home to Harvard, MIT, local galleries, restaurants, and bars and is an essential addition to any visit to Boston. Brookline is nearly surrounded by Boston and has its own array of restaurants and shopping.
Located west of Boston proper, these districts (especially Brighton) are primarily residential, and are home to many students and young professionals. Brighton is abutted Boston College, which is the terminus of the Green Line's B Branch. The border between the two is a fuzzy subject of debate, so they are often considered as one neighborhood by outsiders.
This upscale area of Boston has fine shops, fine dining, as well as sites such as the Prudential Center, Copley Square, and Hynes Convention Center.
Once the neighborhood of the Boston Brahmins. Beacon Hill has real gas-lit street lanterns on many of the streets, as well as many original bricks dating back to age of the city itself. Because the Massachusetts State House is located here, "Beacon Hill" is often used as a metonym to refer to the state government or the legislature.
Across the Charles River to the north, this is the site of the Bunker Hill Monument.
Great Asian food, great herbalists and next to downtown and the theater district. 4th largest Chinatown in the United States.
A large working class neighborhood often considered Boston's most diverse. It includes the JFK Library, UMass Boston, and many wonderful eateries.
This is the hub of tourist activity with Faneuil Hall, the Freedom Trail, Boston Public Garden, and Boston Common. It is also the center of city and state governments, businesses, and shopping.
East Boston (Eastie)
On a peninsula across Boston Harbor from the main bulk of the city and the location of Logan Airport. Several underwater tunnels connect East Boston to the rest of the city. Large Latin American population.
Fenway-Kenmore (The Fens, Kenmore Square)
Fenway Park is the home of the 2004, 2007 and 2013 world champion Boston Red Sox. This area also includes a number of Boston bars, eateries, and the "Lucky Strike" bowling alley.
Boston's business and financial center, this area has plenty of restaurants, bars, and tourist attractions such as the New England Aquarium.
Jamaica Plain (JP)
A diverse residential neighborhood and home to Samuel Adams Brewery.
A residential neighborhood, with a very large student population.
The city's Italian neighborhood with excellent restaurants. It is also the location of the Old North Church.
Roxbury (Rox,The Bury)
The historical center of Boston's African-American community.
South Boston (Southie)
This is a proud residential neighborhood with a waterfront district and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on its north side. Home to one of the largest Irish and Irish-American populations in the country.
Just south of Back Bay, has Victorian brownstones and a Bohemian atmosphere. Large gay population.
Boston is a city of diverse neighborhoods, many of which were originally towns in their own right before being annexed to the city. This contributes to a strong pride within the neighborhoods of Boston, and many people will often tell you they are from "JP" (Jamaica Plain), "Dot" (Dorchester), "Southie" (South Boston), or "Eastie" (East Boston), rather than that they are from Boston. Alternatively, people from the suburbs will tell you they are from Boston when in fact they live in one of the nearby (or even outlying) suburbs. If in doubt, you can look for "Resident Parking Only" street signs, which will identify what neighborhood you are in.
Another consequence of this expansion is that the neighborhoods, in addition to their cultural identities, also retained most of their street names, regardless of whether or not Boston -or another absorbed town- already had a street with the same name. According to a survey by The Boston Globe, there are at least 200 street names that are duplicated in one or more neighborhoods in Boston. For instance, Washington Street in Downtown Boston, is different from Washington Street in Dorchester and another Washington Street in Jamaica Plain. This can play havoc with web-based mapping and direction services.
Be aware that geographic references in district names tend to mean little. For example, South Boston is different from the South End, which is actually west of South Boston and north of Dorchester and Roxbury districts. Some other confusing notables: East Boston and Charlestown are further north than the North End. The West End is in the northern part of town (bordering the North End and Charles River).
Among Boston's many neighborhoods, the historic areas of Back Bay, Beacon Hill. Chinatown, Downtown, Fenway-Kenmore, the Financial District Government Center, the North End and the Southe End comprise the area considered "Boston Proper." It is here where most of the buildings that make up the city's skyline are located.
The Back Bay is one of the few neighborhoods with streets organized on a grid. It is so named because it used to be mud flats on the river, until the city filled in the bay in a land-making project ending in 1862. It is now one of the higher-rent neighborhoods in the city. The north-south streets crossing the axis of Back Bay are organized alphabetically. Starting from the east, at the Public Garden, and heading west, they are: Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester (pronounced 'gloster'), and Hereford. After Hereford Street is Massachusetts Avenue, more commonly known as Mass. Ave., and then Charlesgate, which marks the western boundary of Back Bay. The alphabetical street names continue a little way into the Fenway neighborhood on the other side of Charlesgate, with Ipswich, Jersey, and Kilmarnock, but the streets are no longer arranged in a grid.
There are also several "districts" you might hear mentioned. "Districts" are generally areas of common interest located within a larger neighborhood:
Leather District (sub-neighborhood of Chinatown)
SoWa District (south of Washington, South End)
Theatre District (south of Chinatown)
Waterfront District (South Boston)
Ladder District (Realtor phrase for Downtown Crossing)
We've grouped the largely unremarkable West End into Downtown; it's between Beacon Hill and the Charles River, and includes the high-rise neighborhood spanning from Charles/MGH to North Station.
Massachusetts' first governor, John Winthrop, famously called Boston a "shining city on the hill," a reference to Jerusalem and a declaration of the original settlers' intent to build a utopian Christian colony. From the very beginning, the people who lived there declared their home to be one of the most important cities in the world. Considering that the American Revolution and modern democracy got their start thanks to Bostonians, and that Winthrop’s quote is still used in modern political speech, one could argue that they were right!
The father of American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes) once called the Boston statehouse "the hub of the solar system," but common usage has expanded to the now-current Hub of the Universe. This half-serious term is all you need to know to understand Boston's complicated self-image. Vastly important in American history, and for centuries the seat of the USA's social elite, Boston lost prominence in the early twentieth century, largely to the cities of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Over the past two decades, Boston has regained political, cultural, and economic importance.
In 1629, English Reverend William Blackstone was the first English immigrant to arrive in the city. A year later, John Winthrop and the Massachusetts Bay Colony had followed. The Massachusetts Bay Colony were Puritan religious dissidents who had fled England to find freedom in the New World. At the time the city was called Shawmut, a name coined by Native American settlers, however now a new settlement, Winthrop had decided to rename the city Boston after his hometown in England. Because of its easily-defended harbor and the fact that it is the closest port to Europe it rapidly assumed a leading role in the fledging New England region, with a booming economy based on trade with the Caribbean and Europe. The devastating Fire of 1760 destroyed much of the town, but within a few years the city had bounced back.
Boston was also a city of great intellectual potential. Many statesmen had emerged in Boston along with prestigious Schools such as Harvard and the first public school in America, Boston Latin. With the founding of these schools as well as the first printing press in New England, Boston was becoming more of a colonial society.
Bostonians were the instigators of the independence movement in the 18th century and the city was the center of America's revolutionary activity during the Colonial period. Several of the first Revolutionary War skirmishes were fought there, including the Boston Massacre, The Boston Tea Party, and the battles of Lexington and Concord -which were fought nearby. Boston's direct involvement in the Revolution ended after the Battle of Bunker Hill and, soon afterwards, the ending of the Siege of Boston by George Washington. For some time afterwards the city's political leaders continued to have a leading role in developing of the new country's system of government. The residents' ardent support of independence earned the city the nickname The Cradle of Liberty.
Throughout the 19th century, Boston continued to grow rapidly, assimilating outlying towns into the metropolitan core. Its importance in American culture was inestimable, and its economic and literary elite, the so-called Boston Brahmins assumed the mantle of aristocracy in the United States. Their patronage of the arts and progressive social ideals was unprecedented in the New World, and often conflicted with the city's Puritan foundations. They helped drive unprecedented scientific, educational and social change that would soon sweep the country. The Abolitionist movement, anesthesia and the telephone are a few examples of this.
At the same time, the city's working class swelled with immigrants from Europe. The huge Irish influx made Boston one of the most important Irish cities in the world, in or out of Ireland. Gradually the Irish laborer population climbed into city's upper class, evidenced no better than by the continued importance of the Kennedy family in national politics.
From the early twentieth century until the 1970s, Boston's importance on the national stage waned. Cities in what was once the frontier, like, Chcago, San Francisco and later Los Angeles, shifted the nation's center of gravity away from liberty's cradle. In the past two decades, Boston's importance and influence has increased, due to growth in higher education, health care, high technology, and financial services. It remains America's higher educational center; during the school year, one in five Bostonians are university students. There are more college students per square foot in Boston than any other city in the Western Hemisphere.
Boston's nicknames include "Beantown", "The Hub" (shortened from Oliver Wendell Holmes' phrase 'The Hub of the Universe'), "The City of Higher Learning" (due to the plethora of universities and colleges in the Boston area) and - particularly in the 19th century - "The Athens of America," on account of its great cultural and intellectual influence. If you don't want to stand out as a tourist, don't refer to Boston by any of these nicknames. Locals generally don't use any of them, except the heavy use of "Hub" in journalism (Boston takes up more headline space).
Boston makes an excellent starting point for any tour of New England.
Take a ferry from the harbor in the summer or one of several daily Cape Air flights from Logan year-round to Provincetown (also known as P-town) to see some of the best entertainment and fun on Cape Cod.
Take a ferry from June to October 31st and visit the World Wide Capitol of Haloween in the Historic Sea Port of Salem (Massachusetts). The Salem Ferry is a 92 Foot High Speed Catermaran that travels at 32 knots. The MBTA offers train service from Boston´s North Station 12 Months a Year along with bus service from Haymarket.
Also on Cape Cod, Hyannis offers great beaches during the summer and plenty of food and nightlife year round, and is also the departure point for ferries to Nantucket. About a 90 minute drive each way, although plan extra time to account for bridge traffic on summer weekends. Hourly bus service is available 6am-Midnight from South Station to Hyannis on Plymouth & Brockton.
Drive south or take the $11.50 commuter rail (Providence/ Stoughton Line or $17 express Amtrak to Providence, Rhode Island, which is home to its own share of art and culture, excellent Italian food, and a charming downtown area.
A popular road trip is "Boston to the Bronx". The Drive is approximately 3.5 hours along US-20 or I-95. Minimum suggested time for the return trip is 2 days.
New York City can also be reached by frequent bus service from South Station on Greyhound, Peter Pan, Megabus, BoltBus, Yo! Bus, Lucky Star. Walkup fares usually $15-$25 each way, less if you book a week or two in advance or take one of the Chinatown lines. (Note that Fung Wah busses, which developed an extremely poor safety record, was permanently ordered shut down by the Commonwealth and the federal government early in 2013.) Amtrak's North East Corridor also serves New York, but expect to pay $60-$100 each way, more if you take the high speed Acela Express.
Drive south to Falmouth and Woods Hole and take the ferry to Matha's VineYard for a peaceful, scenic time on this small, charming island.
Also take a road trip to the North Shore, New Hampshire Seacoast and Southern Maine. All are easily accessible by car, and less than a 90 minute drive without the awful Cape Cod traffic in the summer months. Many destinations along the North Shore, including Rockport and Manchester-by-the-Sea are reachable by the Rockport commuter rail
Drive northwest on Route 2 or take the Fitchburg commuter rail to historic Concord, where you can visit Minuteman National Historic Park, the site of the battles of Concord and Lexington; the homes of the authors Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorn, or Louisa May Alcott; or Walden Pond, made famous by Henry David Thoreau in his book "Walden; or, Life in the Woods".
Take a day trip north to the town of Salem , the home of the infamous Salem witch trials.
Wrentham Village premium outlets. While not in Boston, a shopping trip to Boston by an international tourist is not complete without a visit to Wrentham Village. Its location off I-495, exit 15 makes it under an hour from Boston and most hotels will arrange transport. Wrentham’s stores range from the finest designer fashions and jewelry to home furnishings, housewares and electronics. You'll find all the big brands such as Hugo Boss, Adidas, Nike, DKNY, Burberry, Gap, Guess, Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Liz Claiborne, Swarovski, Royal Doulton, Calvin Klein, Benetton, Waterford Crystal, Williams-Sonoma and much much more.