Both bound closely with Boston while remaining a bit cut off, Allston/Brighton is defined by the colleges that surround it. A visit reveals a bohemian vibe in this student village writ large. Check back often, in this neighborhood of youth and energy, the one constant is change.
Ownership of this land has been kicked around over the centuries. At first a part of Watertown, it was deeded to "Newtowne" in 1634, which you might know by its modern name, Cambridge. Just a handful of settler families lived in "Little Cambridge" and tended to their farms and livestock throughout the 18th century. In 1807, after a heated bridge dispute, Brighton would split from Cambridge to become its own independent town.
After incorporating, the area continued on with its traditions. Residents used new technologies as they became available to increase production on their farms and expand the cattle industry. Railroads were built to efficiently move the slaughterhouse beef produced here to distant markets. In 1874 Brighton was officially annexed to Boston, a decision that would see its population explode.
The railroad would keep Allston/Brighton's economy growing throughout the 20th century. When the prevailing industry shifted from livestock production to automobile sales; it was all the same to the train. The Mass Pike was built along the tracks in the 60s, as car travel became increasingly popular. Today three nearby colleges BU, BC, and Harvard all continue their expansion into the neighborhood. Dorms, research facilities, and academic high rises spring from ground like seeds. As the area's most prolific builder, Harvard acquired building rights to the once powerful railroad tracks, and plans to reshape oceans of acreage in the 21st century.
Where exactly does Brighton end and Allston begin? Your guess is as good as anyone else's. Generally, however, Allston is considered to be the eastern half of the district, and Brighton the western. Even for Boston, this area is particularly lousy with locations having additional or special names.
- Allston Village: This really is the heart of the neighborhood for many visitors. Almost any shop, restaurant, bar, club, or you-name-it can be found in this densely packed area. It's a commercial district in a rough hourglass shape, centered where Harvard and Brighton Avenues intersect. Its western edge is also called Union Square, clearly marked by the wonderfully retro neon "Twin Donuts" sign. While Packards Corner bounds the eastern edge. Check out the large glass front windows in many storefronts as a nod to the Packard cars once sold here.
- Brighton Center: Continue west along Cambridge street until it's joined by Market street, where you'll find Brighton Center. Here, just uphill from the banks of the Charles river, a respectable collection of restaurants lives to serve local residents. St Elizabeth's Hospital is an anchor here, and things begin to feel a little more like a small town square, and a little less like the big city.
- Oak Square: Further outbound from Brighton Center, things get less and less dense as you head towards Oak Square and nearby Newton. Many residents love this area which is both (relatively) green and (somewhat) quiet. The few shops and amenities here are of high quality, and the location provides quick and easy access to the Mass Pike.
- Cleveland Circle: This more urbanized area is the terminus of the C branch of the green line, and very popular among Bostonians, and BU students in particular. The commercial glamor of Beacon street is just steps to the east, in Brookline. While just west borders Newton, and is home to the reservoir with its miles of jogging paths and greenspace.
By public transit
Unlike other neighborhoods, you'll find the bus and the trolley are almost equally important here. The B branch of the Green line makes a prolific number of stops in the area. Heading outbound some of the larger stops are: BU West, Pleasant Street, Packards Corner, Harvard Ave, Washington Street, Chestnut Hill Ave, and Boston College; about 10 smaller stops are in the mix as well. Trollies come fairly often, but they must wait for red lights in traffic and can be frustratingly slow. The C branch runs mostly through Brookline, only the terminus Clevland Circle serves Brighton. Consider walking to the C branch if you're close, it can be much faster. The D branch is faster still, with a dedicated right of way it really gets cranking. The D line also primarily runs through Brookline and Longwood, with only one stop in Brighton near Cleveland Circle: Reservoir.
the #57 bus is quite popular, running alongside the B line down Comm Ave, and often passing it. It heads through Brighton and into Watertown Yard. Another popular route is the #66 bus, which makes its way through Allston Village and into Harvard Square in Cambridge. If you're in Brighton Center the #86 takes you to Harvard as well, but much less frequently. The #64, when it runs, will get you over the river and into Central Square. While the #70 and #70A cut across Western Ave and pass through Watertown Yard, eventually arriving in Waltham. For commuters the expensive express busses #501 and #503 go against traffic, taking to the Pike and arriving downtown and in Copley Square respectively.
Boston has been installing miles of bike lanes for years now, so cycling can be a good option in these neighborhoods. At least five Hubway stations can be found nearby to help you out. Sometimes your destination is too far to walk and the T doesn't really go there, so with a little pedaling you're only a few minutes away. Bikes are probably the most effective when moving around Lower Allston or heading into Cambridge. You'll find some great trails along the Charles with beautiful scenery and no cars to fight with.
While generally an unnecessary (and bad) idea, having a car in Allston/Brighton isn't always the disaster you'll find in the rest of the city. Dealing with the hassle is only worth it when headed out to Oak Square and along Western Ave, where public transit can be scarce. Driving is best avoided in the chaotic Allston Village area, although Commonwealth Ave does have some on-street parking. If you're persistent and circle around for 10-20 minutes you might find a spot.
One of the best activities in Allston-Brighton is people-watching, for whatever your motivations. You'll find an exciting mix of ethnicities and age groups, from upper middle class college kids to Vietnamese immigrants to the local Russian community. Take in the sights at the White Horse Tavern or Tavern in the Square on Brighton Avenue during summertime when the floor to ceiling windows are open, or just grab a patch of stoop and watch. Allston also has a large homeless population.
- 1 1767 Milestones (Milestone #6), 142 Harvard Ave. (T: Harvard Ave). 24 hours daily. Proclaiming six miles to Boston, this milestone was placed here in 1729 by Paul Dudley. Once a part of a colonial "superhighway" called Boston Post Road, which stretched from downtown Boston to Wall Street in New York City. The settlers copped the idea from Native Americans, who called the trail Pequot Path and had been using it long before Europeans arrived. Seven markers remain in the greater Boston area. This one has somehow escaped being mowed down by a fire truck or errant moving van over the years. Can you spot the other one nearby? Hint: check out the library in Lower Allston. Free.
- 2 Chestnut Hill Reservation, Beacon Street (T: Reservoir), ☏ . 7AM-7PM daily. Free.
- 3 Herter Park, 1175 Soldiers Field Rd (T: Harvard). 24 hours daily. Free.
- 4 McMullen Museum of Art (Devlin Hall), 2101 Commonwealth Ave (T: Boston College), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-W, F 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM, Sa Su noon-5PM. The Museum holds an extensive permanent collection, which spans the history of art from Europe, Asia and the Americas, and has significant representation of Gothic and Baroque tapestries, Italian paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries, and American paintings of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Free.
- 5 Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, 2450 Beacon St (T: Reservoir), ☏ . W 11AM-9PM, Th-Su 11AM-4PM. Free.
Things to do in Allston largely include just walking about and enjoying the area. There's a lot of little boutiques, excellent friendly coffee/tea shops, some interesting crowds, and a relatively easy-going atmosphere. It's also an excellent area for photography.
- 1 Charles River Canoe & Kayak, 1071 Soldiers Field Rd (T: Harvard), ☏ . 9AM-8PM, but varies by season. Rentals from $15/hour, $60/day.
- 2 Community Rowing, 20 Nonantum Rd (Bus to Watertown Yard and walk), ☏ . 5AM-9PM daily. $95 per class, $140 one time fee, free for accredited rowers.
- 3 Harvard Stadium (Soldiers Field), 79 N Harvard St (T: Harvard), ☏ . Gates open dawn-dusk. This historic stadium was actually where football's forward pass was invented, and modern field dimensions were defined. Buy your tickets way in advance for the big Harvard-Yale game. Root for them to lose, if only to hear the cruel Crimson chant: "It's alright, it's OK, you're gonna work for us some day!" The stadium and grounds will also occasionally play host to concerts and music festivals, like Boston Calling for example. When there aren't games or other events planned, get here early to run up and down the 1000+ steps with the rest of the post docs. Free-$50.
- 4 Alumni Stadium, 140 Commonwealth Avenue (Boston College), ☏ . Home of BC Eagles football, this stadium seats 44,500.
- 5 Conte Forum (Kelley Rink), 140 Commonwealth Avenue (Boston College), ☏ . Directly attached to Alumni Stadium and home of BC Eagles basketball and (ice) hockey, seating 8,600 for basketball and just under 7,900 for hockey. The "Kelley Rink" name is used only for hockey.
Another unofficial name for this area is "Allston Rock City", after the collection of concert halls that have taken root here. While you're not going to catch Kanye or Lady Gaga in any of these spaces, you will see up and comers playing alongside more established artists almost every night. Each club has a slightly different vibe and draws its own crowd.
- 6 Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Ave (T: Pleasant Street), ☏ . Noon-2AM daily. Arguably the best established and longest running club in the area. This is a great intimate venue with space for less than a thousand. It's relatively compact and split into two levels, so you can usually get a good look at the performer without ever being too far from the bar! $20-50.
- 7 Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . Noon-2AM daily. Another great choice for seeing established local and national acts. Brighton Music Hall is about half the size of the Paradise, and owned by the same company. The hall is basically a big box with no mezzanine, so when it gets packed sightlines to the stage are cut off for all but the tallest attendees. $20-40.
- 8 Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . Noon-2AM daily. Great Scott is a fantastic choice to check out big name acts a few years before they blow up, or hometown heros having a great year. They play host to a wide variety of genres; like indie, rock, hiphop, and dance. Voted "Best Rock Club", "Best Bar", and host of the "Best Dance Night". $10-20.
- 9 O'Briens Pub, 3 Harvard Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . Noon-2AM daily. The smallest in terms of physical size and prominence of the acts they attract. It's more likely to attract local bands new to the touring circut, but you never know. Sometimes the staff will just up and decide to grill a bunch of chicken wings for the crowd. They're not good, but they're free and you're drunk. $5-10.
- 1 Buffalo Exchange, 180 Harvard Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM.
- 2 In Your Ear Records, 957 Commonwealth Ave (T: Pleasant Street), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-8PM, Su noon-6PM.
- 3 Jack Young Co, 354 Cambridge Street (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-F 8AM-4:30PM, Sa 8AM-noon. Any truck/semi/car supplies you could ever need (as long as you know what to ask for). Great for truckers and travelers, right off the interstate. For less complicated auto-related purchases, visit AutoZone up the street.
- 4 New Balance Factory Store, 173 Market St (T: Boston Landing), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM.
- 5 Re:Generation Tattoo, 155 Harvard Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . Tu-Sa 1PM-9PM, Su M 1PM-8PM. Safe, clean, professional tattoo parlor. Used to host punk shows three or four times a month.
- 6 Ritual Arts, 153 Harvard Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM. Offers exotic gifts for women, magic supplies, and other new age stuff.
- 7 Urban Outfitters, 226 Harvard Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-8PM, F Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-7PM.
- 8 Urban Renewals, 122 Brighton Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. One of the largest thrift stores in town, a bit of a warehouse full of college kid clothing castoffs, odd toys, blankets, and a room full of spinny chairs and broken exercise equipment. Great selection and prices.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Mid-range||$15 - $25|
- 1 Brighton Cafe, 1597 Commonwealth Ave (T: Washington Street), ☏ . M-F 6AM-4PM, Sa Su 7AM-4PM.
- 2 Hi B3ar, 147 Brighton Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa Su 11AM-11PM. Thai ice cream rolls
- 3 White Mountain Creamery, 19 Commonwealth Ave (T: Boston College), ☏ . 11AM-midnight daily.
- 4 Steve’s Kitchen, 120 Harvard Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . 5AM-5PM daily. Improbably remaining open since 1984, Steve's is the perfect start to a day that hasn't quite ended yet. The cheapest, greasiest, and most filling homestyle breakfasts served all day long. Cash only.
- 5 Super 88, 1095 Commonwealth Ave (T: Packards Corner), ☏ . 9AM-10PM daily. Giant Asian supermarket in back anchors a bevy of food stalls in this indoor market. Each offers a different take on all varieties of Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, and pretty much any other asian cuisine you can think of.
- 6 Mixx Frozen Yogurt, 66 Brighton Ave (T: Packards Corner), ☏ . Noon-11PM daily. Ice Cream Shop. Boston's locally owned self serve frozen yogurt shop always offering 10 weekly flavors and over 50 toppings served fresh daily. $4-7.
- 7 Eagles Deli, 1918 Beacon St (T: Cleveland Circle), ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 7AM-9PM. Voted by the Travel Channel as #2 on their "Top 10 Places To Pig Out". This deli, located near Cleveland Circle, boasts the "Eagles Challenge Burger", which for a mere $50, you can get a cheeseburger featuring 5 pounds of beef, 20 slices of cheese, 20 pieces of bacon, 5 pounds of french fries, a pickle and a fountain soda, and it must be served to one person! Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- 8 Whole Heart Provisions, 487 Cambridge St (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 10AM-9PM. Casual counter serve spot for some of the best vegan options in Boston. Check FoMu next door for vegan dessert.
- 9 Grasshopper, 1 N Beacon St (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, Fr Sa 11AM-11PM, Su noon-10PM. Another strictly vegan Asian restaurant with a definite Vietnamese influence. Very delicious. Awesome chicken fingers and vegan cheesecake. Great Sunday buffet. Lunch $7-10, dinner $8-15.
- 10 Breakfast Club, 270 Western Ave (Lower Allston), ☏ . M-F 6AM-2PM, Sa Su 7AM-3PM. 80s themed diner serving breakfast. Very popular, be prepared to wait in line during the weekend brunch rush.
- 11 Moogy's Restaurant, 154 Chestnut Hill Ave (T: Chiswick Road), ☏ . Tu-Su 10AM-10PM, M 5PM-10PM.
- 12 Los Amigos Taqueria, 366 Washington St (Brighton Center). M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-10PM.
- 13 Totto Ramen, 169 Brighton Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . Noon-4PM, 5PM-10PM daily.
- 14 MDM Noodles, 351 Washington St (Brighton Center), ☏ . 11:30AM-9PM daily.
- 15 Azama Grill, 54 Harvard Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-F noon-2AM, Sa Su 5PM-2AM.
- 16 La Befana Pizzeria, 15 N Beacon St (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M 4PM-midnight, Tu-F 11AM-midnight, Sa 24 hours, Su midnight-11PM.
- 17 Fish Market Sushi Bar, 170 Brighton Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . Tu-F 11:30AM-3PM, 5PM-10PM, Sa 1PM-10PM, Su 1PM-9:30PM.
- 18 Dolphin Bay, 72 Brighton Ave (T: Packards Corner), ☏ . 11AM-10PM daily.
- 19 Thai North Restaurant, 433 Faneuil St (Oak Square), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight, Su noon-midnight.
- 20 YoMa, 5 N Beacon St (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . 4PM-9PM daily. Offers inexpensive, delicious Burmese food. Full vegetarian menu. Appetizers $5, salads/entrees $7-10, and family combo meals start at $25 for two. Free refills on jasmine rice. Try the hot tea and the complimentary palm sugars for dessert.
- 21 Carlo's Cucina Italiana, 131 Brighton Av (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM, Su noon-10PM. Possibly the best Italian outside of the North End. Unbelievably perfect homemade pasta in a cramped yet cozy setting. Lines out the door most nights. Full bar. $8-20.
- 22 Tasca, 1612 Commonwealth Ave (T: Washington St), ☏ . M-Th 5PM-10:30PM, F Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 4PM-10PM. Offers tapas, small, appetizer-sized dishes that you order in groups as a meal. A tasty, fun way to enjoy multiple dishes from Spanish cuisine. Tapas $3-7, entrees $14-20.
- 23 Devlin's, 332 Washington St (Brighton Center), ☏ . M-F 11AM-11PM, Sa 10AM-11PM, Su 10AM-10PM. Mixes traditional American fare with a touch of international flavor. They offer both a seasonal menu and year-round upscale comfort food. After the meal, tables are cleared away and the dance floor opens with music provided by DJs. Nice outdoor seating in the warmer months.
- 24 Holly Crab, 1098 Commonwealth Ave (T: Packards Corner), ☏ . M-F 4PM-11PM, Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-10PM.
- 25 Ariana Restaurant, 384 Western Ave (Lower Allston), ☏ . M-F 5PM-10PM, Sa Su 5PM-11PM.
- 26 Article 24 (Bandita Brighton), 458 Western Ave (Lower Allston), ☏ . M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa Su 10AM-2AM.
- 1 Deep Ellum, 477 Cambridge St (Union Square, T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 10AM-2AM, Su 10AM-midnight.
- 2 The Hopewell Bar & Kitchen, 1277 Commonwealth Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 10AM-3AM, Su 10AM-midnight.
- 3 Irish Village, 224 Market St (T: Boston Landing), ☏ . 11AM-1AM daily.
- 4 The Last Drop, 596 Washington Street (Oak Square), ☏ . Noon-2AM daily.
- 5 Mary Ann's, 1937 Beacon St (T: Cleveland Circle). M-Sa 4PM-2AM.
- 6 Porter Belly's Pub, 338 Washinton St (Brighton Center), ☏ . 10AM-1AM daily. Combination College Bar/Local Irish Pub. It's small, but there's rarely a line and there's always some music. Great burgers and some pub favorites.
- 7 The Silhouette Lounge, 200 Brighton Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-F 4PM-1AM, Sa Su noon-1AM. The ceiling tiles have grayed with age and dirt, the pool table is uneven, and the jukebox doesn't have anything recent. Free popcorn, cheap beer, and your mixed drink can be prepared small or large. Leave your license at the bar in exchange for a few darts to toss.
- 8 The Sunset Grill & Tap, 130 Brighton Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-1AM, Su 11AM-1AM. Sunset has one of the largest beer selections in the country, boasting 130 beers on tap and more than 300 bottled varieties. Get your beer passport at the door, then sample 20 different varieties to earn a "free" t-shirt. A few honored bar stools are emblazoned with name-tags, affixed once the patron has sampled every beer in the house.
- 9 Tavern In The Square (Tits), 161 Brighton Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-2AM, Su 10AM-2AM.
- 10 Blue State Coffee, 957 Commonwealth Ave (T: Pleasant Street), ☏ . M-F 7AM-10PM, Sa Su 8AM-10PM.
- 11 Cafenation, 380 Washington St (Brighton Center), ☏ . M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM.
- 12 Dolce Vita Cafe, 1698 Commonwealth Ave (T: Sutherland Road), ☏ . M-F 6AM-4PM, Sa 7AM-4PM, Su 7AM-2PM.
- 13 Energize, 618 Washington St (Oak Square), ☏ . M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa Su 9AM-7PM.
- 14 Kung Fu Tea, 131 Harvard Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . 11AM-11PM daily.
- 15 Pavement Coffeehouse, 1243 Commonwealth Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . M-Th 7:30AM-8PM, F 7:30AM-4PM.
- 16 Twin Donuts, 501 Cambridge St (Union Square, T: Allston Street), ☏ . M-Sa 4AM-4PM, Su 6AM-4PM.
- 17 Fuel America, 152 Chestnut Hill Ave., ☏ , ✉ Info.FuelAmerica@gmail.com. 7AM - 8PM, 8 AM - 8PM on weekends. Good cafe for working. Good wifi, good beverages. Arrive early on weekends during the school year.
- 1 The Farrington Inn, 23 Farrington Ave (T: Harvard Ave), ☏ . Not fancy, but has air conditioning. A few private bathrooms. Shared kitchen and living room. From $49 in the winter and from $45 in the summer, per person.
- 2 Yun's Place, 66 Hopedale St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Close to Harvard Business School. 20 min. walk to Harvard Yard. Bus 64 goes to MIT. Internet, WiFi, use of a computer, breakfast, parking (all free). Innkeepers are friendly and glad to help. Small children can not be accommodated. Cash only. From $109.
- 3 Days Hotel Boston, 1234 Soldiers Field Rd (T: Harvard), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. Note the name is Days Hotel, not Inn-- this can certainly cause confusion when getting directions. This hotel has gone through several incarnations and seen lots of wear. While not convenient for walking to popular destinations, there is plenty of parking and a large supermarket across Western Ave. From $119.
- 4 Hotel Boston (Formerly the Best Western), 1650 Comm Ave (T: Washington Street), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ hotelbostonGM@gmail.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Discount hotel on upper Commonwealth Avenue. Free continental breakfast and wireless internet. From $130.
- 5 DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Boston, 400 Soldiers Field Rd (T: Central), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. Free shuttle to downtown Boston and Harvard Square. Complimentary basic wireless Internet throughout the hotel. Parking $35. From $149.
There are three BPL branches here to offset the many coffee shops and restaurants in the area offering free wi-fi.
- 1 Honan-Allston Branch (Boston Public Library), 300 N Harvard St (T: Harvard), ☏ . M W noon-8PM, Tu Th 10AM-6PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- 2 Brighton Branch (Boston Public Library), 40 Academy Hill Rd (Brighton Center), ☏ . M Th noon-8PM, Tu W 10AM-6PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- 3 Faneuil Branch (Boston Public Library), 419 Faneuil St (Oak Square), ☏ . Tu noon-8PM, M W Th 10AM-6PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- Once the B line finally shows up, hop aboard and slowly creep Downtown. Very slowly. You'll get there.
- Walk over the Charles River via the iconic Weeks footbridge to enter Harvard Square, the center of bustling Cambridge.
- Need a break from city life? Brookline has parks galore, including the Larz Anderson Park and Lost Pond, alongside a reservoir of their own.
- Up for a challenge? See if you can memorize each of the thirteen villages within scenic, suburban Newton.
- Have a car? Head west into Watertown where you can shop the Arsenal Mall.
|Routes through Allston-Brighton|
|END ←||W E||→ Brookline → Fenway-Kenmore|