- For other places with the same name, see Boston (disambiguation).
A city of history and tradition, Boston offers a proud legacy of culture, education, and numerous sporting championships. Boston's independent spirit has been proudly displayed to the world ever since colonists angry over a British tax on their beloved tea dumped shiploads of it into the harbor in protest.
No American city has made more of an effort to preserve its history, and you'll find buildings that pre-date the republic dotted throughout the region. But Boston isn't a city to dwell on the past: in recent decades it has renovated and revitalized, in the process shedding its once deservedly parochial reputation. And its culture is refreshed every fall by an influx of freshmen pouring into its constellation of powerful universities, magnetically attracting great minds from around the globe.
Visiting will reveal a distinct mix of puritanical ideals and liberal politics — the former responsible for the first public school in the Americas, the latter spurring Massachusetts to become the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. Don't believe everything you've heard about the gruff demeanor of locals. Bostonians are often friendlier than the unacquainted might expect... just don't call it "Beantown" to their face.
New England's love of towns (Massachusetts alone has 351) and town governance, has created hundreds of smaller, closer knit communities than is common elsewhere in the United States. Even a large city like Boston found it difficult to annex surrounding areas as it grew. When independent towns were absorbed, they retained their unique culture, which modern residents remain fiercely proud of today. What does this mean for the traveller? You'll find most every district goes by more than one name, with a full count exceeding 110 distinct squares, circles, and points. Don't worry about remembering all the names, just remember Boston is a very compact city. When you're ready to move on, the next block is bound to engage.
|Central (Downtown, North End, West End, Chinatown, Bay Village)
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 cities finest restaurants to recharge your tired legs.
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.
A high end shopping, dining and art scene has coalesced around the South End and SoWa Market. Watch out, its renowned Victorian brownstone buildings and gas lit cobblestone streets can charm at any time of year.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
A one time 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 Neighborhoods (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.
Many sights visitors expect to see are not actually within the city limits. Politically distinct from Boston, these three cities are bound together by their shared borders, transit options, and cultural values. The mayors meet often to plan and discuss long-term developments, and citizens travel between them daily. Casual visitors may not realize they are leaving Boston at all.
- Cambridge: "The People's Republic of Cambridge" is most famous for the prestigious Harvard University and MIT. Many stunning museums, architecture, and events belonging to these schools are well worth a visit. Cambridge also has The Longfellow House among other colonial sites.
- Somerville: Though this is a mostly residential neighborhood, you may find yourself here nonetheless exploring the many restaurants and quirky shops in Davis Square. In the warmer months, independent musicians and artists hold festivals, overtaking Union Square and beyond.
- Brookline: The greenest neighborhood by far, Brookline is home to Frederick Law Olmsted's Fairsted, the first landscape design office. The Larz Anderson Park and Auto Museum is also nearby. Additionally many shopping and dining options can be found in Coolidge Corner and Washington Square.
The first people to arrive here discovered an archipelago of islands and isthmuses, filled with fruits of the land and sea. They called the land Shawmut, and would use fishweirs and tidal flows to catch their dinners. Calling themselves Massachusett, meaning "people of the great hills" they chased the seasons, heading inland to hunker down in winter hunting camps, while fishing and foraging by the coast during summer. These eponymous great hills are today known as the Blue Hills, located in nearby Milton.
The first European immigrant to appear was William Blaxton, an English priest who began living alone atop Beacon Hill in 1629. The following year the flagship Arbella and her fleet sailed from England, bringing hundreds of Puritan families across the Atlantic. Designated governor by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop quickly acquired Blaxton's land. He dubbed the area Boston after his boyhood home. Winthrop then delivered a powerful speech to his fellow settlers—one of the first examples of American Exceptionalism—proclaiming Boston to be "as a city upon a hill". This sermon would inspire those seeking to live life as "a model of Christian charity", and over the next decade close to 10,000 additional Puritans would reach the Colony.
Differing somewhat from the English, the new Puritan arrivals to Boston placed an extreme value on literacy. Legislation was drafted during town meetings, requiring residents to be able to read and understand not only the Bible, but the laws of the land as well. Boston Latin School and Harvard College were established early on as means to that end. This early commitment to education and system of small town governance are values that continue to endure throughout the Commonwealth today.
While forward thinking in some ways, Puritans were exceedingly intolerant in other aspects of life. Anne Hutchinson, a charismatic Puritan, was banished and excommunicated in 1637 for her strong anti-establishment religious convictions. Mary Dyer was less fortunate, and in 1660 was hanged in Boston Common for the "crime" of being a Quaker. And yes, Christmas celebrations really were banned in Boston from 1659-1681 for being "satanical" and "sacrilegious".
Over the following 100 years, the New England colonists would war with remaining native Indian tribes, suffer deadly bouts of smallpox, and choose to rebuild after devastating fires and earthquakes. When in 1691 the colony expanded into the Province of Massachusetts Bay, Boston remained the capital of the region. Its position as the closest American city to England coupled with a high birth rate ushered in a boom time for both the population and the economy.
In direct competition with New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, Boston spent years improving its infrastructure. Investing in wharves, storage houses and lighthouses helped Boston to become one of the world's wealthiest port cities. The trade in slaves, rum, salted cod, and tobacco were particularly important over the years. When, in the mid 1760s, taxes were levied on items Bostonians held most dear, the colonists' shared experiences and common religious background fostered a resistance unexpected to the far-off British Parliament.
Resistance came to a boiling point March 5th, 1770 when Redcoats out on patrol shot Crispus Attucks dead on the steps of the Old State House. An illustration by Paul Revere of what would become known as The Boston Massacre called American colonists up and down the coast to throw off the yoke of colonial oppression. On the night of April 18, 1775, Revere rode out of Boston famously yelling: "The British are coming, the British are coming!", helping to raise the alarm of British attack throughout the countryside. After victories at Lexington and Concord, General George Washington arrived on the scene to help the Continental Army break the siege of Boston. The British were finally expelled in 1776, when after an overnight flurry of activity, cannons were fortified atop a hill and trained on the Crown's ships. For these pivotal events in American history Boston is often referred to as The Cradle of Liberty.
Now unencumbered by a foreign power and boasting a successful economy, Boston grew quickly, becoming a city in 1822. An elite class of community leaders developed, calling themselves Boston Brahmins. Families with the names Delano, Revere, and Adams would prize the arts; and became widely known for their rarefied literary culture and lavish patronage. Other contemporary Bostonians, no less privileged but with an alternative outlook on life, called themselves Transcendentalists. They belived in the inherent goodness of people and nature.
These groups would work together with Abolitionists to shape American liberal thought throughout the century. Calling Boston "The Athens of America", they helped drive unprecedented scientific, educational and social change that would soon sweep the country. Bostonians still think of the city as Brahmin Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. once put it, The Hub of the Universe. This half-serious term is all you need to know to understand Boston's complicated self-image.
One of the most visible historical events to shape the city of Boston was the Irish potato famine during the late 1840s. A massive number of Irish escaped their homeland and found quarters in a new city. The Boston Irish would go on to reshape the city, building Catholic Boston College and giving birth to a powerful political dynasty, the Kennedys. Even the local basketball team is named "The Celtics". Today, imagining the city of Boston without the Irish is an impossible task.
Immigrants kept on arriving throughout the 1800s, not only from Ireland, but from Italy, eastern Europe, and beyond. The city needed space to put them all, so it began annexing nearby towns and undertaking land reclamation projects. Boston would eventually grow to become over 20 times its original size! Boston's economy would continue to expand along with its landmass, but not as quickly, and profits would not be distributed evenly.
By the close of WWII, Boston was on the decline. Poorly though out urban renewal policies demolished hundreds of acres of ethnic neighborhoods. Factories were closing, no large buildings were under construction, and anti-Jewish and anti-black violence was on the rise. A court order forced Boston Public Schools to integrate, flaring racial tensions throughout the city. White flight was in full swing, as wealthier white Bostonians fled the city. A widely circulated photograph, The Soiling of Old Glory, depicted a young white student thrusting a flagpole at a restrained black man, reinforcing Boston's reputation for discrimination. But there were seeds of hope planted during the 1970s as well.
As the market began to open up in the 70s, Boston did well in the mutual fund and financial industries. The healthcare sector grew, and many hospitals in Boston began to lead the nation in medical innovation and patient care. Higher education also became more expensive, and the best and brightest were attracted to Boston's powerful universities. Graduates from MIT in particular founded many profitable high-tech and bio-tech companies.
After the Big Dig was completed in 2007, Boston began to step back into the spotlight on the national stage. Racial tensions have eased dramatically, and city streets once again echo with the sounds of activity and construction not seen for decades. Other cities look to Boston for how they handle health care, police violence, and civil rights. In the new millennium Boston is once again becoming a "hub" of intellectual, technological, and political thought.
|Daily highs (°F)||36||38||45||56||67||77||82||80||73||63||52||41|
|Nightly lows (°F)||22||23||31||40||50||59||65||64||57||47||38||27|
Almost any time of the year is a good time to visit Boston. The springtime offers a window into renewal. Especially during May, blooms and blossoms are out and colors are at their brightest. Summer is summer of course, and June to September is the height of the tourist season. Every corner of the city takes advantage of the warm weather and is packed with festivals and special events. During fall, mother nature is on full display. She puts on such a show during October and November, many visitors choose this time to holiday over all others. If you are a snow lover, winter could be the season for you. Most residents, however, dread the cold temps and scant daylight hours found from December through March, sometimes extending into April.
Although far north for an American city, the nearby Atlantic Ocean offers a moderating effect. Winters are slow to take hold, while conversely, spring is slow to take root. One thing about the North Atlantic, it never really gets warm. Never. No matter how hot it is at the beach, you can bet that ocean water will be cold! The Atlantic also has the unlikely potential to create a Nor'easter, kind of a less powerful hurricane. Nor'easter's generally happen from September to April, when the cold Arctic air meets with warmer air over the Atlantic. Boston might get anywhere from 0-2 of these events a year, and is well prepared for them. So just hunker down for the day while the windy deluge passes by.
When the snow comes, and it will come, it alters the rhythm of life in the city. Sidewalks become slippery and narrow. The sun sets at 4PM. The mercury drops below freezing and can stay there for months. It can dip even lower to 0°F (-18°C) for weeks at a time. For a few days each winter, however, warm Caribbean air pushes up into the Bay State, bringing with it a much welcomed respite from the cold. This helps keep the snow from piling up, so seeing more than a foot of accumulation is rare. The 2014-15 winter was an incredible exception, when over 110 inches of snow fell on Boston that year. The city dumped it in piles as high as 75 feet, waiting until July 14th for the last of it to finally melt away. Boston is not really equipped to handle snowfall to that degree, so expect similar extensive transit disruptions if that amount drops again.
- The Thomas Crown Affair (Norman Jewison, 1968)
- Glory (Edward Zwick, 1989).
- Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant, 1996).
- Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, 2003).
- The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006). For a more biographical take on the mobster, don't miss Black Mass directed by Scott Cooper in 2015.
- Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015).
- Patriots Day (Peter Berg, 2017).
Often, Boston isn't at the center of a novel, but repeatedly makes memorable cameo appearances. Perhaps owing to the academic magnet effect that attracts bright minds here for a few short years. See David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest or Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury for examples. Another masterwork, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, is also set in Boston.
- The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850).
- Make Way for Ducklings (Robert McCloskey, 1941).
- The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath, 1963).
- Common Ground (J. Anthony Lukas, 1985).
- The Rascal King (Jack Beatty, 2000).
- Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (Nick Flynn, 2004).
- The Given Day (Dennis Lehane, 2008). A historical novel set in Boston during the turn of the last century. One of the story's main characters is Aiden "Danny" Coughlin, an ethnic Irish Boston Police patrolman. Lehane is also the author of other Boston based books frequently turned into films. You may have heard of Shutter Island, Gone, Baby, Gone, Mystic River, and many others.
- The Gardner Heist (Ulrich Boser, 2010).
As of 2003, there is no smoking in any restaurant or bar in the metro Boston area.
The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau maintains two visitor centers:
- Boston Common Visitor Information Center, 148 Tremont St (at Winter; T: Park Street), ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 8:30AM-5PM, Su 10AM-6PM.
- Shops at Prudential Visitor Information Center, 800 Boylston St (Center Court; T: Prudential or Back Bay), ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. 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), ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily.
- , Navy Yard Pier 1 (next to the USS Constitution), ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily.
- See also: Air travel in the United States
Boston Logan International Airport, +1-800-23-LOGAN (56426), (IATA: BOS) is the main gateway to Boston and New England. It is in East Boston a few miles from downtown. Logan is a modern, relatively clean, and easy to get around airport, with terminals directly connected: A and B are fairly close to each other, it is possible to walk from C to E, and all are connected by above-ground enclosed walkways like spokes to the hub of the central parking garage. Free MassPort shuttle buses do the loop around the terminals (number 11) and also go to the Airport subway station on the MBTA Blue Line (number 55; in peak hours two shortened routes, 22 and 33, connect the station with terminals A-B and C-E respectively). The same shuttle buses bring you to the new Rental Car Center, which houses all the auto rental companies that serve the airport. Don't wait for a van from the company where you made your reservation; there are no individual company vans.
Logan has a bevy of dining options considering its size, although they're typically expensive, even for Boston. It also has limited shopping facilities. Security is typically tight, as is true at most major American airports, and you can expect the TSA to be thorough, although reasonably efficient and quick, especially compared to other airports such as New York's JFK.
It is the major airport for New England and provides frequent non-stop service to most major cities in the United States and almost all major European airports. Boston is a focus city for low cost carrier JetBlue Airways, and is also served domestically by Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, and United. There is a wide choice of flights to Canada (both Canadian and domestic carriers) and Caribbean (Delta, JetBlue). The European carriers that fly to Boston from their hubs include British Airways and Virgin Atlantic (London-Heathrow), Air France/KLM (Paris, Amsterdam), Alitalia (Rome), Lufthansa (Frankfurt, Munich), Aer Lingus (Dublin, Shannon), Swiss (Zürich), Icelandair (Reykjavík), SATA (Azores, Lisbon) and Iberia (Madrid). Getting to Boston from Asia used to require at least a one stop connection, but JAL now flies non-stop from Tokyo-Narita, and both Turkish Airlines and Emirates announced plans to start direct service to Logan from Istanbul and Dubai respectively in the spring of 2014. Central America is represented by Copa Airlines (Panama City), and Africa by TACV (Cabo Verde).
|A||Delta (domestic), Southwest|
|B||Air Canada, American Airlines (domestic), Pen Air, Spirit, United, Virgin America|
|C||Aer Lingus, Alaska, Cape Air, Emirates (departures only), JetBlue (all departures), Sun Country|
|E International||American Airlines (international), Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Copa Airlines, Delta (international), El Al, Emirates (arrivals only), JetBlue (international arrivals), Lufthansa, Hainan, Iberia, Icelandair, JAL, Porter, Qatar Airways, SATA, SWISS, Turkish, Virgin Atlantic|
International arrivals (apart from most flights from Canada, Ireland, and some Caribbean destinations) arrive at Terminal E, even if the airline uses another terminal for departing flights.
Public Airport Transportation
The MBTA Blue Line and one of the two branches of the Silver Line go to Logan. The Silver Line is a BRT, or Bus Rapid Transit system, that stops at each terminal every 10 to 15 minutes, from 6AM-12:45AM every day (5:35AM start M-Sa). It looks like a bus and has a Diesel engine, but also draws power from overhead wires for part of its run. From the airport, the Silver Line 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.
To go between the Blue Line Airport station and the airport itself, you need to take a free Massport shuttle (check the signs outside the terminals to see which ones to take). The last Blue Line train leaves Airport station shortly after about 12:30AM. The subway service is more frequent than buses, but both the Silver Line and the Blue Line will get you to the city center.
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. It could be about $25-50 for fares into Boston, depending on your final destination. 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. There is no one livery for Boston taxis, although they are predominantly white (hence the local name "White Cabs") - the two most common are green and white or blue and white . Cab models also vary, but the two most common for official companies are Ford Crown Victorias and Toyota Camry hybrids.
- Ride-hailing services such as Uber X and Lyft can drop off at Logan. Uber X vehicles with livery plates may also pick up at Logan. All UberBlack vehicles can both pick up and drop off.
Other shuttle services that go to the airport include:
- Airporter, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Between Logan and the suburbs, door to door.
- Airport Limos Axis Coach, LLC 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 routes are well marked, but the airport road system is complex. Read the signs carefully and be sure you're in the correct lane. If an unexpected off-ramp sneaks up on you, don't panic, you can just drive around the airport loop again.
Many smaller airports in Eastern New England are starting to add "Boston" to their name, even if they're located in another state or have little or no practical means of reaching the city on public transportation. The cost of getting from these airports into central Boston often negates any savings on lower airfares, and Logan is the only airport in the region which offers frequent service to essentially any destination.
- Boston-Hanscom Field (IATA: BED), off Interstate 95 near Bedford, Lexington and Burlington, northwest of Boston no longer has commercial service as of 2014. Hanscom is most useful for general aviation and charters, and if you fly your own plane to Boston you'll most likely be landing here.
- Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (IATA: MHT) (50 miles north of Boston, accessible via Interstate 93). Mainline service offered by Southwest Airlines, along with flights operated by the regional arms of American, Delta, and United.
- T.F. Green Airport (IATA: PVD) (60 miles south of Boston, accessible via Interstate 93 then Interstate 95) - T.F. Green is a stop on MBTA's Providence/ Stoughton commuter rail line, although only a handful of rush-hour trains stop at this station each day. At other times, you'll need to take a Providence city bus or cab to the train station downtown to get a train to Boston.
- Worcester-Boston Regional Airport (IATA: ORH), 40 miles west of Boston. Served by JetBlue, with daily service to Orlando (IATA: MCO) and Fort Lauderdale (IATA: FLL) in Florida.
Flights to other New England airports such as Portland, Maine IATA: PWM and Hartford IATA: BDL occasionally appear in searches on travel consolidator websites but are nearly 100 miles from Boston! If you're originating internationally, it may be cheaper to fly into one of the New York City airports - IATA: JFK or IATA: EWR (which have the widest range of flight options in the Northeast), and reach Boston via frequent bus or rail service (see below).
- See also: Rail travel in the United States
Unsurprisingly, the national passenger rail service Amtrak ☎ +1-800 872-7245, serves Boston as well. All their long-distance routes end at South Station, along with the majority of suburban Commuter Rail trains. Boston's other main station is helpfully, if uncreatively, named North Station. It handles all northbound Commuter Rail traffic as well as the Amtrak route to Maine. It takes about 15-30 stressful minutes to transfer between the two stations.
All heavy gauge Commuter Rail trains (called the T, or purple line) terminate in either North or South Station. Once in town, you will find a variety of stations where switching to the light rail (or T) is quick and easy. They run as far as Worcester, Lowell, and Providence, RI, and are significantly cheaper than Amtrak trains. Unfortunately, trains don't run out to Cape Cod, the furthest they go is Plymouth.
- Acela Express the fastest train in America, and slowest fast train in the world runs multiple times a day to: New Haven (2h), New York (3h45m), Philadelphia (5h), and Washington D.C. (6h). Expensive yes, but trains are luxurious, with great wi-fi and power outlets. You also won't have to go through airport security, or worry about traffic delays.
- Northeast Regional a cheaper train running multiples times daily along the eastern seaboard. Similar to the Acela, but with local stops including: New Haven (3h), New York (5h), Philadelphia (7h), Washington D.C. (9h), Richmond, VA (12h).
- Downeaster runs multiple times daily to Brunswick, ME (3h20m) via Portland, ME (2h30m).
- Lake Shore Limited runs daily to Chicago via Albany (5h), and scores of other stops throughout upstate New York and Ohio. The full trip is about 19 hours, so bring a book!
Almost every bus departing or arriving to Boston does so at South Station. The bus terminal is just a few hundred feet south of the train terminal. If you're arriving by T, walk upstairs and outside. Then keep the trains on your left, and follow the signs to get to the bus station. You should arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled departure, especially if your carrier doesn't assign seats. If you need food, try to arrive a little earlier to buy it near the trains. The train station has a variety of food options, while only the most basic facilities will be available near the busses.
Many bus fares can be fairly reasonable if you book at least a week or two in advance (since pricing is demand based), although routes served by Greyhound/ Peter Pan can range from pricey to outright extortion. Some companies offer teaser fares as low as $1, but you'd need to book almost a year in advance and get lucky. The New York City route is very popular, taking about 5 hours on average. However, it could take less than 4 if you leave in the dead of night, or over 8 hours if you get unlucky with traffic. If you're going anywhere other than NYC, typically only a single bus company serves the route. If you're facing bus rides of 10 hours or more, it's probably worth looking into the cost of flying, plane tickets may be comparable or even cheaper than traveling by bus.
- BoltBus, South Station, toll-free: . Another option connecting Boston with New York City, Newark, and Philadelphia. This was one of the first companies to offer passengers Wi-Fi and power outlets on board. Today you will find these amenities on almost every intercity bus.
- C & J, South Station and Logan Airport, ☎ , toll-free: . Connecting Boston to Newburyport, MA, Portsmouth, NH, and Dover, NH.
- Concord Coach Lines, South Station and Logan Airport, ☎ , toll-free: . Serving Maine with Portland, Augusta, Bangor, and many smaller communities along ocean and highway routes. Also serving New Hampshire with Manchester and Concord, before branching into two routes. Each branch serves little villages along the way to Littleton, NH and Berlin, NH.
- Go Bus, 11 Cambridgepark West, Cambridge (Alewife Station). Not actually in Boston, this newer company connects Cambridge (Alewife Station) and Newton (Riverside Station) with New York City.
- Greyhound Bus Lines, South Station, ☎ . If you can find it on a map, Greyhound probably runs a bus there. Not always the best option, but sometimes the only one. For example, this is the only carrier connecting Boston with Montréal.
- LimoLiner, 39 Dalton Street, Sheraton Back Bay, ☎ . A luxury bus transportation offering professionals business services between New York City and Boston. They may offer hot meals, waitstaff and wood paneling, but you'll have to sit in traffic like everyone else. $99 one way.
- Lucky Star Bus, South Station, ☎ . Between Boston's South Station and New York's Chinatown. Busses are nice and run every 30 minutes. You can buy tickets 24-1 hours before departure only. $25 one way.
- Megabus, South Station, toll-free: . Connecting Boston with the larger cities in the region. New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. Also serving Secaucus, NJ, Portland, ME, Burlington, VT, New Haven and Hartford, CT.
- Peter Pan Bus Lines, South Station, toll-free: . Kind of like Greyhound, but for New England. Serves almost every town in the region, as well as the the big boys: New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
- Plymouth & Brockton (Street Railway Co), South Station and Logan Airport and 200 Stuart St., ☎ . This bus company serves Cape Cod. Going from Boston to Rockland, Plymouth, Sagamore, Barnstable and Hyannis. The route then continues from Hyannis up the Cape, makng several stops on the way to Provincetown.
- See also: Driving in the USA
I-90 is how most motorists will enter the city. Officially called The Massachusetts Turnpike, locals call it "The Mass Pike", or simply "The Pike". Running east/west, the road is over 3,000 miles long and can take you as far as Seattle, if you've got time. I-90 ends (or does it begin?) with the Ted Williams Tunnel. Built during the Big Dig, it burrows under Boston Harbor to connect East Boston and Logan Airport with the rest of the city. The Pike is a toll road without toll booths, so cash transactions are not allowed. The tolls are paid automatically by E-ZPass (car mounted transponders) that communicate with sensors installed along the road. If you're missing a transponder, don't worry. Overhead cameras will snap a picture of your license plate and mail you a bill. In general, tolls are inexpensive. Less than 2 bucks to get out of the city, and $1.50 for the Ted Williams Tunnel.
I-93 is the other major highway in Boston. This north/south road is toll free, and like everything else in Boston it has several names no one quite seems to agree on. The Expressway is most common, usually referring to the section of I-93 within the Boston metro area. Another name for the road is "The Central Artery", or "The "Tip" O'Neill Tunnel", referring to the bit which runs beneath the core of the city. This stretch was built during the Big Dig and connects I-93 with I-90, and US-1. Crossing the mouth of the Charles River, you will drive over The Zakim, or Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. Visually striking, it was designed to echo the Bunker Hill Monument next door.
US-1 is another major road heading north/south. It connects with I-93 just north of the Zakim, taking you across the Mystic River over the Tobin Bridge. This is a toll bridge, operating with the same E-ZPass system installed on the Pike. In downtown Boston, along Route 1A, you will find two more tunnels sunk beneath the harbor, The Callahan Tunnel and The Sumner Tunnel. These tunnels are smaller and poorly located, and you still need to pay a toll to use them. Only use them if you are in the area anyway, or there is a problem with the Ted Williams Tunnel.
Other notable roads include Route 2, sweeping in from the northeastern suburbs and dumping you into Cambridge. While Route 9 parallels the Pike and is toll free. With all the stop lights and traffic, however, I-90 is always the better bet for distance travel. Finally I-95 rings the metro area, tying all the above roads together into a satisfying half moon. Old timers may still refer to it as "Route 128", just smile and nod.
For a city on the ocean, there are surprisingly few options to arrive by ship. For in-state voyages, head to Long Wharf, located downtown next to the aquarium. From here MBTA ferries depart to Provincetown, Lynn, and Salem seasonally; while Hingham and Hull are served year round. If you're looking to spend a little more time at sea, head to Black Falcon Cruise Terminal (☎ +1 617 330-1500). From here cruise ships depart to Ft. Lauderdale, Montréal, and Quebec City. Some ships travel as far as Bermuda, the Netherlands, or even San Diego via the Panama Canal!
Distinct from other large American cities, Boston is not laid out on a grid. Folklore purports modern streets were designed by wandering cows, which is a myth to be sure. What's more likely, is that existing Native American trails were reused and extended over the years. New paths were cut around hills and streams, and shallow marshes were hastily infilled wherever the force of commerce demanded. Even the most recent burning of the city—in 1872—wasn't widespread enough to trigger a comprehensive urban update.
With a compact and walkable central core, Boston is more similar to a European city than to its American counterparts. The narrow, winding streets can sometimes make getting around a bit of a challenge, but with a good map and a sense of adventure anyone can find their way. Most streets are clearly labeled, especially in the more touristic areas. Don't be surprised by streets' frequent name changes and name reuse. Many Boston neighborhoods were independent cities 100 years ago, and as they were annexed, so were their naming conventions. It's why a road might have a different name at every stop light, and why Tremont st. intersects with a different Tremont st. Keep your eyes peeled for more of these quirks while you're in town.
Both the slowest and most expensive way to get around, driving in Boston is strongly discouraged. Traffic is a mess, drivers are aggressive, and construction is a way of life. The jaywalkers alone will give you a heart-attack. But if you insist, here are a few helpful tips. Local drivers frequently run yellow (even red!) lights, so be careful accelerating when your light changes to green. Be prepared to change lanes at any time. Some travel lanes become right turn only lanes, or parking lanes, or simply cease to exist. Drivers double park wherever they please, so prepare to stop at any time. Do not try to squeeze past a bus or cut off a trolley, they are much bigger than you and you will lose. If you encounter a rotary you should yield, remember the right of way belongs to traffic in the rotary. Don't stop in a rotary! Some streets are two ways, but are only wide enough for one car. Don't panic, just pull into the parking lane while the other guy passes by.
Garaged parking is expensive, around $12-15/hour and $40-50/day, assuming spaces are available. Garages are located near Quincy Market, the Aquarium, State Street Financial Center, the Theater District and Boston Common. Remember to factor in the 30 minutes or so it will take to get the half a mile from the highway to one of these garages. On street parking is usually resident only, which requires a special sticker. So no parking for you. What's left is metered, and will have a time limit. The city is rolling out high tech parking meters and even experimenting with "surge pricing" in some neighborhoods. Many parking meters are digital kiosks that print a receipt for you to display on your windshield, while a few remain the old school quarter gobblers. As a rule, if you think you are parked illegally, you probably are.
If you're heading into Boston for a day trip, consider dropping your car at a lot and taking the "T" in. Parking at MBTA locations is cheaper than parking in the city, and you don't have to deal with driving there. These stations do have large parking lots, but on weekdays they'll fill up by 9:30 AM.
- Alewife ($7/day, $8 overnight)
- Braintree ($7/day, $8 overnight)
- Riverside($6/day, $7 overnight)
- Quincy Adams ($7/day, $8 overnight)
- Wellington ($6/day, $7 overnight)
By public transit
Public transit in Boston is plentiful for an American city of its size, and is useful in getting around the city, especially considering the issues with driving. A single public transit agency serves the Boston metropolitan 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.
The T is also the oldest rapid transit system in the country, and it shows. The trains generally come when the signs say they will, but they break down very frequently. Bus timing is unreliable, and often you'll wait 15 extra minutes only to see three buses right behind each other. They'll all get you where you need to go eventually, but leave 20-30 extra minutes in case of delays. (That said, it's still better than trying to drive.)
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, credit cards, and 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 T 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 $11.00 and $18.00, 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 (but not one and seven day passes) can be loaded onto a CharlieCard. Unfortunately, CharlieCards are oftentimes not available at stations. However, almost all 7-11 convenience stores in the Boston area sell them, and you can find other places to buy CharlieCards on the MBTA's website.
It is sometimes possible to transport bicycles on the MBTA. Bikes are allowed on the Blue, Red, and Orange T 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 MBTA system consists of several components: T, 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 make one yourself by printing the PDF version online. (Front, back.)
The T is composed of four color-coded rail lines: the Red Line, Orange Line, Blue Line, and Green Line. The Green Line is technically an above ground streetcar system, although downtown the stops are often underground. It uses light-rail or streetcar/trolley rolling stock, stops frequently, is powered using overhead lines, and never goes above 45 miles an hour. Despite this, it carries a surprising number of passengers and is without a doubt the most useful T line for tourists. The newer Silver Line is technically part of the subway system, but in reality is comprised of dual mode diesel-electric buses with the ability to draw power from overhead wires like a trolley. Despite the higher subway fare, most Bostonians consider the Silver Line to be a bus, not rapid transit.
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, the other three split at Kenmore Square station. Just after the lines split, these lines all run above ground, the B and C lines run in the medians of Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street respectively, the D line runs on the Highland Branch, an old railway line through forests, parks, and town squares out to Newton, and the E line runs in mixed traffic along Huntington Avenue. 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 Park St. If you are traveling farther than Park St, your best bet is to get on the first train that comes, and then wait on the platform at the stop where you are forced to leave the train until the next Lechmere or North Station train arrives. (Depending where you are, Lechmere trains might not stop there.) Only trains coming from the E Branch will proceed to Lechmere, unless otherwise noted. From North Station or Haymarket, it's a fairly short walk to Lechmere.
The T 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.
T service stops around 12:30am. (The last outbound commuter rail train on each line is around midnight, and may be earlier on weekends.) 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 2:30am when most of the bars close, especially in touristy areas such as Fanueil Hall.
If using a CharlieCard, the cost of a one-way ride on the T is $2.10 plus free T and local bus transfers. Otherwise, it costs $2.65 per ride if done on a Charlie Ticket or paying by cash. This will get you to most destinations.
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.
By water shuttle
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 $1.70. 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. The Boston Harbor Islands, an interesting destination for wildlife and scenery, are primarily accessed through private water shuttles which run every 30 minutes out of a stretch of the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
By commuter rail
Commuter rail in Boston is primarily used for traveling to towns outside of the city. Due to its limited frequency compared to the T, 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 $1.70 to $7.75 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 T: 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 T ride in-between train trips to make the connection.
Although there is no one official livery, taxis in Boston are predominantly white in color (hence called "white cabs" by locals) and can be hailed along any street so far as the driver can safely pull over (much like in any major city). 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.
As of 2014, Uber X and Lyft are both available in Boston and may be cheaper than taking a white cab, especially for longer trips. Note that both services sometimes increase fares during periods of high demand that may negate the savings over a traditional taxi.
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.
For an idea of how compact Boston is, one can easily walk from Downtown Crossing to Harvard Square in less than an hour.
The climate is cold from December to April, and the city is the most windy 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.
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 illegal in the city of Cambridge, and frowned upon in 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.
In 2011, Boston launched Hubway, a bike sharing system very similar to those in Washington D.C. and New York City. As of 2014, there are 140 stations and 1,300 bicycles; visitors can purchase a pass for one day or three days, or those staying longer can purchase a monthly or annual membership. Pick up a bike at any station and return it to any other station. Each pass offers unlimited 30-minute rides; longer rides incur expensive extra fees, making renting a bike a better option for long rides.
- Boston Bicycle (Cambridge Bicycle), ☎ . $25/day.
- Urban AdvenTours, 103 Atlantic Ave, ☎ . Offers guided bicycle tours for various skill levels. Also provides bike rentals and bike deliveries.
- Hubway, toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. A bike sharing service that offers use of 1,300 bikes from 140 kiosks around Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. Visitors can purchase a 24-hour ($6) or 72-hour ($12) pass with a credit or debit card; both offer unlimited trips under 30 minutes (longer trips incur expensive extra charges).
- Individual listings can be found in Boston's district articles
There are several visitor pass programs that offer discounted or free admission to a number of the sites listed below, among them the GoBoston 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). The Boston Children's Museum is a large, modern museum recently built out of an industrial building along the Boston waterfront and relatively close to the Tea Party museum and the ICA. The quickest way to get there using mass transit is probably by walking from South Station, which is a large station on the Red Line. It has a variety of interactive exhibits about a considerable number of topics, as well as a reproduction of a traditionally Japanese house called the Kyoto House. It is also regularly host to a travelling exhibit from somewhere else in the country, which does not incur an additional admissions charge. It's suitable for children of ages ranging from newborn to about 9. One of the most interesting things about the museum, particularly for children, is a 3-story climbing structure that lets the kids climb up from the ground floor to the third floor, in lieu of elevator or stairs. They support fitness and environmental sustainability programs, and they even have a green roof. It's worthwhile if you're bringing young children to Boston. $12, Ages 2–15 $12, Age 1 free.
- Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave (Museum of Fine Arts Station, Green Line, E Train or Ruggles Station, Orange Line), ☎ . Boston's largest and most comprehensive art museum, and also one of the pricier museums in the US. Having recently completed a well-known expansion of the American wing with the architect Norman Foster, it is also known for its impressive assortment of French Impressionist paintings, among other things. The MFA also has one of the largest collections of Japanese art outside of Japan, an extraordinary collection of Egyptian, ancient Greek, and Roman art, one of the most comprehensive collections of American art, and a considerable print collection in the United States. It contains sculpture, prints, photography, and painting, although the vast majority of its collection was created before the 20th century. That said, they sometimes have exhibits of contemporary art, and parts of the building have permanent contemporary pieces. The MFA building consists of several wings showcasing both newer and older styles of architecture, and, from the right angle, it can be very attractive from the outside. For those interested in art, it's the foremost museum in Boston. $22, Free for ages 7–17 after 3PM weekdays, all weekend, and public school holidays; entrance fees are optional on W from 4PM-9:45PM.
- The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, 1 Oxford St, Cambridge (T stop: Red Line to "Harvard Square"), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-4PM, F 11AM-3PM. Closed on university holidays. Has over 20,000 objects dating from 1400 to present day. Free and open to the public (despite at least one Web page that can be misread to indicate that it is by appointment only).
- Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St, Cambridge (Harvard Square Station, Red Line), ☎ . T-Sa 10AM-5PM. The Harvard Art Museums, commonly known as "the Fogg" due to the name of one of its constituent galleries, is a group of art museums with a diverse and interesting collection. Check the website of the Harvard Art Museums for updates. $9, $6 students.
- Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St, Cambridge (Harvard Square Station, Red Line), ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily. Its amazing "Glass Flowers" collection has been a major tourist attraction for nearly 100 years. It also has a very large collection of rocks and minerals. Although fairly compact, its collection is fascinating and makes it well worth a visit. $12, students $10.
- Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave (Courthouse Station, Silver Line or South Station, Red Line), ☎ . 10AM-5PM Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10AM-9PM Thursday-Friday, closed Monday. The much-anticipated new building designed by starchitects Diller+Scofidio, the ICA is on Fan Pier on the South Boston Waterfront. The ICA is a very new museum of contemporary art with an interesting, if small collection. The building is large on the outside, but in fact has only one floor of gallery space. They regularly have one to two medium-sized temporary exhibitions and then a longer-term exhibition comprised of items from the collection, but the space is constantly in flux. The ICA also regularly has social events and screenings in the theatre room. It's not worth transferring from the Red to the Silver line in order to get here, it's much better to simply walk from South Station. $15, free for those 17 and under.
- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway (MFA Station, Green Line, E Branch or Ruggles Station, Orange Line), ☎ . 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. It's an exotic villa beladen with valuable art. However, they recently completed a glassy I.M. Pei designed expansion, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum now has a courtyard cafe and more temporary exhibition space. $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"), ☎ . 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. It's a fairly small museum, and the collection doesn't change much, but even if you've been once or twice before, let alone never, it's well worth a visit. That said, it's much less "interactive" than most modern American science museums, such as Boston's large but much more crowded Museum of Science. One of the best things about the MIT museum is that it offers visitors air-conditioned serenity in a not-very-crowded museum directly next to what the New York Times called "the best ice cream in the world."
- Museum of African American History, 46 Joy St, Beacon Hill (Red Line or Green Line to "Park. St."), ☎ . Mondays-Saturdays 10AM-4PM, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century.
- Museum of Science, Science Park (Science Park Station, Lechmere-bound Green Line trains. You can also just walk from North Station), ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily (Summer until 7PM). The Museum of Science is colossal - easily one of the biggest in North America. It has IMAX theatres, separate 3D theatres, a separate planetarium, and what seems like an endless row of opportunities for wallet gouging. Unlike most science museums it has not one restaurant but 3. It has not one theatre/planetarium but 6. It has not one gift shop but at least 4, depending on the temporary exhibition currently there. The Museum of Science not only has an enormous permanent collection spanning several stories, but it has the largest Van de Graff generator in the world, which produces frequent electricity shows, a weather generator, many multimedia presentation areas, and at least 2 temporary exhibitions at any given time. It's magnificent, but expensive, loud, crowded despite the gargantuan size, and spectacularly headache inducing. The theatres are excellent, as are the many daily events going on concurrently in the museum. The roster of events changes daily, and is distributed upon entry. It's worth a visit as long as you are all right with the possibility of getting a migraine. That said, it's quite something. $21 plus à la carte menu of attractions.
- New England Aquarium, Central Wharf (Blue Line to Aquarium), ☎ . 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, the New England Aquarium offers a riveting museum experience which showcases an incredible variety of fish and other types of animals. After recent expansions, it now also has a humongous IMAX theatre, whale-watching tours operating from its pier, and a marine mammal arena out back. It is also known for its penguins, which are a fascinating experience even on their own. It's well worth a visit. $24.95, Students $18.95, Senior 60+ $18.95, Ages 3–11 $12.95.
- [dead link]Mapparium, 175 Huntington Ave (Green Line to the Prudential, Symphony, or Hynes stop), toll-free: . Tu-Su 10AM-4PM. 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. The effect is made particularly interesting by the fact the gigantic glass globe hasn't changed since it was built; the Soviet Union may be no more, but the Church of Christian Science is alive and well. Unfortunately for visitors hostile to proselytization, outside the breathtaking globe is a series of propaganda explaining the virtue of Mary Baker Eddy and her church. $6.
- Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, 11 Divinity Ave, Cambridge (Red Line to "Harvard Square"), ☎ . 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"), ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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), ☎ . M-F 9AM-5PM, except Harvard University holidays. See an extensive collection of distinct and pathological examples in anatomy including the actual skull of Phineas Gage.
- Panopticon Gallery, inside the Hotel Commonwealth, 502c Commonwealth Ave (T stop: Green Line to "Kenmore Square"), ☎ . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 11AM-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."), ☎ . 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.
- First Night: 31 December - 01 January 2017/2018 . Boston's New Year's Eve celebration is the oldest public New Year's Eve party in America, and has been copied by cities around the world. It's 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 appropriately!
- Evacuation Day (St. Patrick's Day): 17 March 2017 . What the rest of America calls St. Patrick's Day, Boston calls Evacuation Day; a local holiday marking the expulsion of occupying British forces from the city. Remember to wear green, drink a beer, and wear something that says "Kiss Me I'm Irish!". Join the celebration at the huge parade held in Southie the closest Sunday. (date needs updating)
- Patriot's Day (The Boston Marathon): 17 April 2017 . The third Monday in April, or "Marathon Monday" as locals call it, is the oldest marathon in the world. The race started in 1897 and is run on the holiday commemorating Paul Revere's famous ride in 1775. Running from Hopkinton 26.2 miles to the finish line in Copley Square, the race draws crowds of over half a million spectators. Huge parts of the city are closed for the race, so don't plan on moving around too much. The Red Sox also play a home game on Patriot's Day; ensuring every bar, pub, and watering hole is filled to capacity by noon.
- Boston Pride Parade: 10 June 2017 . 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.
- Harborfest: 30 June - 04 July 2017 . A family friendly oceanfront festival during the runup to Independence Day. Check out presentations on musket technology, 18th century chocolate making, or even argue the Stamp Act! OK, but there are pub crawls too and it's cooler than it sounds. Several specialized historical, architectural, wildlife and sightseeing tours also available by land and sea.
- Independence Day: 04 July 2017 . A host of events occur throughout the day culminating in fireworks and a Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade. Many roads close and trains are packed to bursting, as close to a million spectators try to squeeze along the banks of the Charles River. For a "Boston" take on this national holiday, head over to the Old State House during the day. Here you can listen as the Declaration of Independence is read in its entirety from the main balcony, just as it has been every year since 1776.
- St. Anthony's Feast: 24-27 August 2017 . A religious festival taking place in the Italian North End neighborhood. Patron Saint of the poor, St Anthony is also known as the "Saint of Miracles" and the finder of lost articles. This feast includes plenty of food, games, music, and of course a parade down Hanover Street.
- Allston Christmas: 01 September 2017 . This very unofficial holiday commemorates the annual "changing of the leases", as students across the city switch apartments. Picture tens of thousands of young people simultaneously renting moving trucks, and carting everything they own a half mile. Whatever didn't fit in the truck goes on the street. Check out the curbs in densely populated student neighborhoods to find everything from furniture and kitchenware, to clothing or even food! The city's DPW works all day and night to keep up with the chaos.
- Head of the Charles Regatta: 21-22 October 2017 . Thousands of rowers come together from around the globe for two days of competition in one of the world's largest regattas. Get there before 8AM to see the first sculls run. The course is on the Charles River between Cambridge and Allston, it can take about an hour to walk the three mile course. Take the T to Harvard, Central, or any Boston University stop.
- The Freedom Trail — A major tourist draw of significant historical sites in Boston. These 17 locations spread over two and a half miles are crucial to understanding revolutionary era America.
- Black Heritage Trail — This less touristed trail covers ten sites important in American black history scattered throughout Beacon Hill.
- Individual listings can be found in Boston's district articles
A good resource for daily and nightly event listings of all sizes and interests can be found by picking up a free Weekly Dig from one of the many free newspaper vending boxes located at most major busy intersections.
- 1 Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway (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. Free.
- Boston Whale Watch, toll-free: . Whale Watching in Boston, Massachusetts was voted one of the "Top 5 Whale Watching Destinations in the World" by the World Wildlife Fund. Cape Ann Whale Watch is one of the best whale watching tours in Boston, Massachusetts sailing from historic Gloucester, Massachusetts twice daily. Gloucester has recently been made famous from the 1991 movie "The Perfect Storm" starring George Clooney and Boston native, Mark Wahlberg. Climb aboard "The Hurricane II", the largest, fastest and most luxurious whale watching vessel north of Boston. The Hurricane II has been utilized and featured in several Hollywood movies including Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and many other full length feature films.
- Boston Harbor Islands State Park, ☎ . Take a ferry (Long Wharf: Blue line to Aquarium) 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., and Aquarium stations, on the Orange Line at State St. station, and on the Green Line at Haymarket station.
- Boston Public Market, 100 Hanover Street (By Haymarket Station). W–Su 8:00–20:00. A permanent, year-round market featuring fresh, locally sourced food. Includes many organic, prepared meals and treats.
- 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, 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, ☎ , e-mail: 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 [dead link] 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.
- Bicycle — the Minuteman Bikeway is one of the most heavily-used rail trails in the United States. This ten-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.
- Hike trails in parks of metro Boston, many of which are accessible by public transport and stretch for several miles, such as Middlesex Fells and Blue Hills.
- 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., 30 Germania St (Orange line to "Stonybrook"), ☎ . Take a tour of the Sam Adams brewery located in Jamaica Plan. Free samples of beer at the end.
- Harpoon Brewery Tour (Silver line Waterfront, fourth stop from South Station), ☎ . "After taking countless Brewery tours from around the world, we decided to focus our tours on what we feel is the best part of any brewery tour - the sampling." Free sampling after tour.
- The Mary Baker Eddy Library-Mapparium, 200 Massachusetts Avenue Boston, MA 02115, ☎ . 10AM-4PM 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.
- Boston's HarborWalk is an inviting public walkway along the waterfront, with parks, public art, seating areas, cafes, exhibit areas, interpretive signage, water transportation facilities, and a wide range of other amenities.
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 excitement 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. Tickets are very difficult to attain; see the Fenway article for details.
- 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. Since 2012, Gillette Stadium has been either a full-time or part-time football home of the UMass Minutemen—the team of the University of Massachusetts Amherst—following 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 arena is home to two of Boston’s most historic sports teams, the Boston Celtics and 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 to catch a game. Whether you're sitting up high or down low finding a bad seat in the Garden is pretty hard for any sport; even in the 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 14 other schools, mostly in states 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. Nearby is Jordan Field, home to the area's newest professional team, the Boston Breakers of the National Women's Soccer League. The Breakers, like the Revolution, play from spring to fall.
The Greater Boston area has some 65 accredited institutions of higher learning, including many world-renowned colleges, universities, conservatories, and seminaries. The metro Boston area has something of around 250,000 students living in the area at any given time. The most famous institutions in the area are undoubtedly Harvard University, the oldest university in the United States, as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Both universities have among the most competitive admissions process in the world, and are considered by many to be the two most prestigious universities in the world, and as such draw top quality students and faculty from far and wide.
- Berklee College of Music
- Boston Architectural College
- Boston Conservatory
- Boston University (BU) 
- Emerson College
- Emmanuel College
- Fisher College
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) 
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) 
- Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP)  [dead link]
- New England Conservatory of Music [dead link]
- New England School of Law
- New England School of Acupuncture
- Northeastern University
- School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) 
- Simmons College
- Suffolk University
- Tufts University School of Medicine
- University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston; "UMass" by itself usually refers to the system's main campus in Amherst) 
- Wentworth Institute of Technology
- Wheelock College (Partially in Brookline)
- Boston Language Institute
- Harvard University – Mostly in Boston, but the academic core is in Cambridge.
- Lesley University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 
- The New England Institute of Art (NEiA) 
- Boston College (BC) 
- Tufts University (partially in Somerville)
- Individual listings can be found in Boston's district articles
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, 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, 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 a 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.
- Individual listings can be found in Boston's district articles
Boston has excellent seafood from the nearby New England coast. Local specialties include baked beans, cod, lobster rolls, 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.
- Individual listings can be found in Boston's district articles
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.
Places densest in bars include:
- Canal Street (just south of TD BankNorth Garden)
- Boylston Street
- Landsdowne Street and Fenway area
- Harvard Ave/Brighton Ave in Allston
- Central Square in Cambridge and Harvard Square in Cambridge
- 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
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.
GrandTen Distilling in South Boston and "Bully Boy Distillers" offer tours and tastings.
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. Also, Pavement Cafe.
- Individual listings can be found in Boston's district articles
As a college town, any Boston-area hotels fill up quickly around graduation and in early September. Book well in advance.
In Boston, like the rest of the country dial 911 if there is an emergency. This free call will summon police, medical, and fire services to assist you.
Violent crime and other hazards are low for a major American city and incidents have been declining for years. Still, Boston is a big city so take normal city precautions. Big tourist attractions draw crowds, and the crowds draw thieves. So keep your eye on more than just that entertaining street performer! The same rules apply if you plan on enjoying Boston's nightlife. Watch out late at night when bars and clubs are emptying of drunken revelers.
As of 2017 the only area that should be avoided by tourists can be found in the extreme southeast corner of the South End. Known as The Methadone Mile, or Boston Medical Center; this area is right next to the Route 93 ramps. New England is experiencing something of an opiate epidemic, and all the services that exist to assist these people are densely packed into a small area. There are a mixture of addicts trying to recover, dealers trying to sell, and police trying to keep order.
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, especially in the Fenway area, is invitation to be verbally harassed by the locals. Although generally harmless and in good fun, as the night wears on and inhibitions are lowered, these encounters could become physical.
On the train know your stop. Try not to get too absorbed by your personal device, and look around. Take your headphones off. Use extra caution when exiting the train at night. Boston doesn't have too much of a problem with busking on the trains themselves, yet. Most T stations are staffed while open, so ask an attendant for help if you feel uncomfortable. As a very general rule of thumb, any place within a half a mile of a train station is likely to have undergone renovations in the past 10 years, and is probably fine.
The area a few blocks to the north and to the east of Franklin Park in Roxbury should be avoided, there is some lingering gang activity in that area. There are a few sporadic incidents of gang violence dotted around the city, but it is usually retaliatory in nature and tourists are not targeted.
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 Boston Globe. The Boston Globe is the biggest daily publication around. It is the most respectable of the daily broadsheets.
- The Boston Herald. The Herald is more of a tabloid style publication.
- The Boston Metro. Published in many cities, The Boston Metro is free, filled with ads and designed to be read on the train in about 10-15 minutes.
- DigBoston. Free alternative weekly publication.
- Bay State Banner. The Banner is an independent newspaper geared toward the African-American community.
- Bay Windows. Bay Windows is an LGBT-oriented newspaper, published weekly.
- Sampan Newspaper. Pick up a copy of the Sampan to learn more about the history of Chinatown.
- Spare Change. This biweekly paper contains alternative news, arts features, interviews, fiction and poetry that are written by staff writers and journalists, as well as by people who are homeless. Copies of Spare Change are purchased by the homeless, who sell them to passerby for $2.
Here is the quick rundown of consular services in Boston and Cambridge. This list isn't definitive, there are some consulates just a bit outside of the city.
Boston is uniquely located at the northern tip of the most densely populated area in the United States. From here it's easy to explore picturesque New England towns, charming seaside villages, and historic and natural parks galore.
- Mostly, but not entirely within the city, visiting the Boston Harbor Islands offers a completely different take on life in the city If you have the time.
- You didn't miss Cambridge, right? Not technically part of Boston; its museums, architecture, history, restaurants and shopping are not to be missed.
- Hop the Red line to Adams National Historical Park in neighboring Quincy. This was the family home of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the 2nd and 4th presidents of the United States.
- Plenty of hiking and biking opportunities can be found near the city. To the north you'll find Middlesex Fells Reservation in Stoneham, while the Blue Hills Reservation is located to the south in Milton.
- Speaking of cycling, pick up the Minuteman Bike Trail—a converted railroad track—and follow it out to Bedford. Once you arrive, let your legs decide if you should keep going or turn back to Cambridge.
- Head west to Concord to find Walden Pond, a kettle pond once owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here his friend and author, Henry David Thoreau penned his book Walden; or, Life in the Woods.
- Next, visit the site where "the shot heard 'round the world" was fired from the North Bridge in the Minute Man National Historical Park. It's located in Lexington, where travelers will find a wealth of historical sites and small town charm.
- Right next door in Lincoln, you'll find the DeCordova Museum. It showcases modern art, with a focus on its many large outdoor sculptures. While the nearby Gropius House was designed by Walter Gropius, father of the iconic Bauhaus art movement.
- Site of the famous Salem Witch Trials, Salem has done a fantastic job holding on to its historical roots. Walking through the historic district it's easy to imagine how a life controlled by the tides might have been lived. It's also a very modern city, bursting with many new shops and restaurants. Salem gets bonkers during October, and is a complete madhouse on Halloween.
- The North Shore is always a fantastic little getaway. Seaside villages like Glouster and Rockport (among several others) are well known for their charm, art, and fresh seafood.
- If you're driving south, stop by Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth; an hour by car. A living museum featuring a replica of the Mayflower, and dedicated to showcasing the manner in which the first Pilgrim colonists would have lived.
- Bring the kids out to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge. Another living museum, this time re-creating life in rural New England as it was lived after the revolutionary war. One hour fifteen minutes from Boston by car.
- Head south to New Bedford for a sort of less touristed version of Salem. Learn about how the lucrative whaling industry forged the area's strong Portuguese and Cape Verdean connections. Filled with great museums and history, it's also famous as the location of Melville's classic novel, Moby Dick. 1h 30m drive.
- Follow the crowd over the Sagamore bridge and "Escape to the Cape". Take as much time as you need to soak up the breathtaking Cape Cod National Seashore.
- King of the Cape, Provincetown is achingly beautiful, easily accessible from Boston, and the perfect jump off for the rest of your Cape Cod explorations.
- If life on the ocean is more your style, don't miss Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The former is closer to the mainland, flashier and more built up. The latter is slightly smaller and more remote, often making for a more peaceful stay.
- During the summer months, the Boston Symphony Orchestra makes its home in Lenox at Tanglewood, which hosts classical music as well as some contemporary acts. Two and a half hours by car.
- If you're in the Berkshires any time of year do not miss the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Called Mass MoCA for short, there are always fresh exhibits rotating through their colossal gallery spaces. Three hours away by car in North Adams, the museum's presence is slowly dragging this old factory town back to life, with new restaurants, shops and breweries opening.
- Drive or take the train to Providence, RI. Home to its own share of art and culture, excellent Italian food, and a charming downtown area.
- Get a load of the jaw-dropping mansions in Newport, RI. Walk by the beach to see estates so grand, they're basically why Americans have to pay income tax now.
- Another ocean town, Portsmouth, NH is a historic seaport bursting at the seams with charm, restaurants and shopping.
- Keep heading north to find Portland. The largest city in Maine also offers some of its best options for dining, drinking, and dancing.
- Feeling a little more active? Hike the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The 8.9 mile "Franconia Ridge Traverse" takes all day and is one of the areas most popular treks. About 4 hours by car, Mount Washington State Park is another great option.
- Vermont is filled with covered bridges and charming towns like Woodstock. But really, any rustic town makes the perfect base to take in the dramatic fall foliage as seasons change.
- During winter, Ski the East at a over a dozen mountains including Killington VT, Bretton Woods NH, and Sunday River ME.
- Sample some of the finest brews in America in Burlington, Vermont's largest town. Many other fine brewers are located in the countryside nearby. 3h 30m by car.
- Spend a day or a week at Acadia National Park. This superlative park boasts some of the most spectacular coastal landscapes in all New England. A 5 hour drive from Boston without traffic.
- Travel by bus, plane, or train to arrive at the greatest American city, New York.
- If you're instead looking for towers of green, just a three hour drive from Boston will place you within the Hudson Valley and Catskills.
- Drive north into Canadian province Quebec. The province's biggest city, Montreal is 5 hours away by car, while the regions capital Quebec City is only 6.5 hours distant.
- If you prefer to travel the slow way, start (or finish) hiking the Appalachian Trail in Baxter State Park, Maine.
|Routes through Boston (by long-distance rail)|
|New York City ← Westwood ←||SW NE||→ END|
|Portland ← Woburn ←||N S||→ END|
|Albany (Rensselaer) ← Framingham ←||W E||→ END|
|Providence ← Westwood ←||SW NE||→ END|
|Routes through Boston (by car)|
|Worcester ← Newton ←||W E||→ END|
|Manchester ← Somerville ←||N S||→ Milton → Canton|
|Newburyport ← Chelsea ←||N S||→ Milton → Providence|
|Worcester ← Watertown ←||W E||→ END|
|Concord ← Cambridge ←||W E||→ END|
|Lowell via ← Cambridge ←||N S||→ Milton → Plymouth|
|Worcester ← Brookline ←||W E||→ END|
|Lawrence ← Cambridge ←||N S||→ Milton → Wareham|
|Routes through Boston (by commuter/regional rail)|
|END ←||N S||→ Braintree → Hyannis|
|Fitchburg ← Cambridge ←||NW SE||→ END|
|Worcester ← Newton ←||W E||→ END|
|Franklin ← Dedham ←||SW NE||→ END|
|END ←||NW SE||→ Quincy → Scituate|
|Reading ← Malden ←||N S||→ END|
|Wilmington ← Medford ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||NW SE||→ Quincy → Lakeville|
|END ←||SW NE||→ Chelsea → Beverly|
|END ←||NW SE||→ Quincy → Halifax|