So, you've decided to visit Dorchester. Congratulations! Boston's largest neighborhood had long been written off, dismissed as “too dangerous” by those who had never set foot here. But longtime residents — or “Dot Rats” — have always known what the rest of Boston is beginning to rediscover. An area close to downtown and the ocean, replete with beautiful parks, charming old architecture, and good public transit. An area with a diverse and inclusive population, and additionally one of the more affordable spots in Boston. When you consider these assets as a whole, it should come as no surprise that many are giving the neighborhood a second look.
Due to Dorchester's large size it can be helpful for the traveller to think of it in two halves, north and south. The northern half is more traditionally urban. Houses are packed tightly together, people walk everywhere, all accompanied by the traffic and street noise one might expect. Due to its proximity to downtown, the majority of new development is taking place here as well. A huge cineplex, mall expansion, and many new condos are under construction as of 2016. The southern half, by contrast, continues to retain a more suburban feel. City lots are a bit roomier, large condo buildings become less common while trees become more prevalent. Driving is slightly less stressful and even necessary in some areas. Stitching these two halves together is Dorchester Ave. Running from South Boston to Milton, Dot Ave is by far the neighborhood's most powerful connector of people and places. Yes, the big draw here is JFK Presidential Library, but to really experience Dorchester you should allow some time to investigate the people and places along this main street.
Again, Dorchester is huge. If it were an independent city, it would be the 4th largest in the state. Consider this a severely abridged list of just a few of the areas you may be interested in visiting. Also take these names with a pinch of salt. In a place this old, it can feel like every intersection has a special name or used to be called something else.
- Ashmont: The general area around Ashmont station has been transformed in recent years, showcasing a rebuilt train station in 2011 and several new shops and restaurants. The residential hills to the east and west of the station have deep Irish-American roots, and boast some of the finest houses anywhere in the city. The Kennedy's family home was in this area. Ashmont is also one of the few areas in the south Dorchester where some mid-rise buildings have been going up. It remains to be seen what type of impact they will have on the neighborhood. You might also hear this area called Ashmont Hill or Peabody Square. Another neighborhood, Adams Village, is very close by and has a similar Irish color.
- Fields Corner: A variety of cultures meet and shop in this bustling commercial district. Conveniently clustered shops selling a vast array of goods draw shoppers from nearby African-American, Vietnamese, and Irish enclaves. During the warmer months the community park is in almost constant use with kids playing baseball, neighborhood festivals, or families barbecuing. This area could also be considered the center of the Vietnamese community in Boston. You can find many Vietnamese restaurants, places of worship, and community centers in the vicinity.
- Lower Mills: This gateway to Boston located to the extreme south of the city, Lower Mills has been completely redeveloped. Several old factory buildings have been painstakingly restored and converted into hundreds of luxury condos. And with the arrival of new residents, new shops and restaurants have followed suit to cater to the expanding community. This is also a great area to get outdoors and pick up the Neponset trail. Bike or walk paved paths to check out some of the great green space Boston has to offer.
- South Bay: Not an official neighborhood per se, but worth noting with all the construction going on in the area. This part of Dorchester is by far its largest commercial district. Anchored by big box stores like Target, Home Depot, and Best Buy among many others. Its proximity to South Boston and the South End make it a neighborhood crossroads of sorts, and developers are pouring money in. It's surprisingly easy to drive here, due to the large parking lot and interstate highway nearby.
By public transit
The T's Red Line runs frequent service to much of Dorchester. Trains run about every 8 minutes, more during rush hour and less often at night. JFK/UMass, Savin Hill, Fields Corner, Shawmut, and Ashmont stations all provide the neighborhood with convenient links to downtown Boston. Be aware that the Red Line splits into two separate branches at JFK/UMass, so make sure you board an Ashmont bound train! JFK/UMass also provides Dorchester with its only connection to several South Shore commuter rail lines. Trains on the Greenbush, Kingston, and Middleborough/Lakeville lines stop here. On the western border with Roxbury, the Fairmount commuter rail has stations at Newmarket, Uphams Corner, Four Corners/Geneva, and Talbot Avenue. This line currently runs on an infrequent schedule, around once an hour, but the city has plans in the works to increase service by 2018.
Ashmont station is the terminus of the Red Line, as well as the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line. This is a quaint 1940's era trolly system that locals continue to use everyday as they go about their business. The trolley stops in Cedar Grove, and Butler before continuing on to Milton and Mattapan. Ashmont is also the largest bus depot in Dorchester. From here the #21, #22 and #23 busses run to different points along the Orange Line. Lines #215, #217, #240, #245 are less frequent and run to Quincy and Milton. While the #27 runs to Mattapan. There are a few other bus connections from Fields Corner and JFK/UMass that also run to the Orange Line. There is even a bus (#18) that runs up and down Dorchester Ave, but good luck with that. There are no bus connections from Savin Hill or Shamut stations.
Dorchester is generally more car friendly than other neighborhoods in Boston. Many commercial areas have free parking lots close by, and parking on street is usually not a hassle. One particular challenge here can be driving on Dorchester Avenue. This thoroughfare can be crowded at all times, and for no apparent reason. If you are aren't stopping locally consider either Morrissey Boulevard, or Route 93 as alternatives. Remember the further north you go the more congestion you face, so keep that in mind when making updates to your itinerary. In the south a car can be beneficial, as some sights are further apart and away from train stations.
- 1 JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point (T: JFK/UMass, then take the free shuttle bus), ☎ . 9AM–5PM daily. The JFK Presidential Library and Museum opened in 1979, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei who called it "the most important commission in my life". Visitors walk through exhibits in roughly chronological order. Starting with Kennedy on the campaign trail, and moving through the Cuban missile crisis, the space race, and civil rights issues. A dark claustrophobic hallway shows the events on the day of his assassination, before delivering you to a massive glass atrium of light and air. It's really quite moving. A more than worthwhile visit for those with an appreciation of American history, the museum can be toured in half a day. Adults $14, seniors and students $12, teens, $10, kids free.
- 2 Pope John Paul II Park Reservation (Neponset), ☎ . 24 hours daily. A large park on the shores of the Neponset River, it has walking trails, soccer fields, and playgrounds for kids. In the summer you can see people walking their dogs, flying kites, or kayaking in the river. It's a good place to relax or take a picnic under the shelters. Birdwatchers take note, the city has restored a large salt marsh and the area is now much more attractive to wildlife. Today it isn't uncommon to see snowy egrets and great blue herons taking advantage of "new" native trees and shrubs. Free.
- 3 James Blake House, 735 Columbia Rd (T: JFK/UMass), ☎ . 3rd Sun of Each Month: 11AM–4PM. Most locals drive right on by the James Blake House, the oldest house in Boston. Built circa 1661 and owned by the Dorchester Historical Society, the house is one of the only remaining examples of post-Medieval timber-frame construction in the United States. The home remained in the Blake family until being sold in 1825. The next family held on to the property for 70 years until selling it to the city. Shortly thereafter, the house was moved 400 yards to its current location to save it from demolition. Free.
- 4 The Pierce House, 24 Oakton Avenue (T: Ashmont), ☎ . Rarely available hour long tours, check their calendar. Ten generations of the Pierce family called this house a home, from its construction in 1683 until it was turned into a museum in 1968. This is not the house of a wealthy merchant, this is where working class colonists (and later Americans) lived out their lives. Touring the home today offers a unique journey through centuries of American history. You can see how the home was adapted over time to fit the needs of each new generation of occupants. Some original features remain, much of it wooden, surprisingly. On street parking available. $5, students $3.
- 5 Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, 210 Morrissey Blvd., ☎ . Tu- Su 10AM- 5PM.
- Commonwealth Museum, 220 Morrissey Blvd. (In Massachusetts Archives building. Free parking in Archives lot), ☎ . Free.
- Boston Harborwalk — A public walkway that follows the edge of piers, wharves, beaches, and shoreline around Boston Harbor.
- 1 Boston Bowl, 820 William T Morrissey Blvd (Neponset), ☎ . 24 hours daily. 24-hour bowling extravaganza. Deadwood Brewery and Café located on premises. They offer a fun regionalism, candlepin bowling. $$.
- 2 HallSpace, 950 Dorchester Ave (Savin Hill, T: JFK/UMass), ☎ . F–Sa: 12PM–5PM. A contemporary art gallery exhibiting work by both emerging artists and established but under-recognized artists. View the website to see the current exhibition. Free.
- 3 The Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Rd (T: Uphams Corner), ☎ . A constant stream of community programming, film, art, and dance come through this stately 100 year old building. During the day it focuses on youth arts and education. $.
- 4 Boston Winery Tour & Tasting, 26 Ericsson St (Port Norfolk / Neponset), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–F 10AM–5PM, Sa 1PM–6PM. Boston's only custom-crush-winery, come here for a wine tasting, to organize a wine social, to take wine classes, or to go through the process of making your own wine with a paid membership. Purchase Boston Winery wine right from their store in an 1800's brick and stone building on the waterfront. See wine being made with your own eyes. Before you head over, check out the website to get info on upcoming events at the winery. Tours will run every hour and aren't scheduled at specific times. Parking is plentiful. $10.00.
- 1 Greenhills Irish Bakery, 780 Adams St. (Adams Village, T: Ashmont), ☎ . 5AM–6:30PM daily. Looking for authentic Irish bread, food, and people? Look no further than Greenhills. With real Irish bakers on the premises, make sure to buy the Irish Soda Bread and local pastries. $.
- 2 The Ice Creamsmith, 2295 Dorchester Ave (Lower Mills, T: Milton), ☎ . Noon–10PM daily. Homemade ice cream is sold on the premises for over 35 years, making it a local landmark. The special flavors include peach, black raspberry, ginger, lemon custard, pumpkin, and more. Remember, in New England you want a "Frappe" if you want a milk shake. Look for a line to the door most nights, but the ice cream is worth it. $.
- 3 Lambert's Rainbow Fruit, 777 William T Morrissey Blvd (Puritan Mall / Neponset), ☎ . 7AM–9PM daily. High quality selection of fruits, veggies, meats and sundries. Big salad bar and to go hot bar as well. Seasonal plants available out front, and don't miss the tasty ice cream next door! Great old school New England feeling "Superette". $.
- 4 Banh Mi Ba Le - Boston (Ba Le), 1052 Dorchester Ave (T: Savin Hill), ☎ . 5AM–8PM daily. Great little Vietnamese carry out restaurant and grocery store. Specializing in banh mi sandwiches and bubble tea. You can find many other delicacies for takeaway too. Friendly family business with good customer service. $.
- 5 Stitch House Dorchester, 846 Dorchester Ave (Polish Triangle, T: JFK/UMass), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M 10AM–6PM, Tu–F 10AM–8PM, Sa 10AM–6PM, Su noon–6PM. If you want yarn, this is the place to go. Offers classes for sewing, knitting and other trades of the needle. $.
- 6 Daily Table, 450 Washington St (Codman Square, T: Shawmut), ☎ . 9AM–8PM daily. Community focused organic grocery store selling a selection of affordable foodstuffs. A variety of fresh produce and household basics. Fresh prepared meals to go. New selections almost everyday. They work with local growers and supermarkets to prevent waste by selling their unused inventory. $.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Mid-range||$10 - $20|
The diversity of Dorchester is clearly reflected in its restaurants. Some of the best Vietnamese in the city can be found near Fields Corner. While Dorchester's western border serves dishes from Cape Verde, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, among other island nations. Scattered throughout the neighborhood, traditional Irish pubs rest comfortably alongside recently renovated bistros. This area is often less expensive than the rest of Boston, and food prices reflect that.
- 1 Paraiso Restaurant, 750 Dudley St (T: Uphams Corner), ☎ . 11:30AM–7:30PM daily. Casual tidy restaurant focusing on Dominican cuisine. Mains $6-10, more for seafood dishes.
- 2 Borinquen Bakery & Café, 112 Stoughton St (Jones Hill, T: Savin Hill), ☎ . Small Puerto Rican café offering sandwiches and cakes among other authentic fare. Served on freshly baked bread, the Pernil in particular runs out quick. Pastries $2–3, sandwiches $6–10.
- 3 home.stead Bakery & Café, 1448 Dorchester Ave (T: Fields Corner), ☎ . 7AM–4PM daily. Delicious baked goods made daily, both the sweet and savory varieties. Also serving up high octane morning beverages and more substantial sandwiches. Free Wi-Fi. Artwork from local artists adorns the walls. $2 coffee, $8 sandwiches.
- 4 Pho So 1, 223 Adams St (T: Fields Corner), ☎ . 9AM–10PM daily. Could this little spot just off Dot Ave be the one that serves your favorite pho? Or try the Bò Né instead, a different customer favorite off their "secret" menu. Pho $7-10.
- 5 Anh Hong, 291 Adams St (T: Fields Corner), ☎ . 9AM–10PM daily. High quality traditional Vietnamese dishes served in basic surroundings. Your stomach will be impressed by the food, but your eyes will not be impressed by the decor. Pho $8-10.
- 6 Pho Hoa, 1370 Dorchester Ave (T: Fields Corner), ☎ . 9AM–10PM daily. Good quality sit down casual restaurant. The pho is excellent (of course), and so are the vermicelli bowls. Mains $8-11.
- 7 Jerk, 310 Bowdoin St (Meeting House Hill, T: Fields Corner). M–Sa 11AM-10PM. Behind a nondescript storefront in a little visited corner of Boston intrepid travelers can find some great jerk chicken and other Jamaican staples. Mains $9-11.
- 8 Eire Pub, 795 Adams St (Adams Village, T: Ashmont), ☎ . M–Sa 8AM–midnight, Su noon–midnight. Historic Irish pub in the Adams Village neighborhood. Politicians like Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and many who are lesser known have stopped by during their campaigns. You can't go wrong with corned beef and a Guinness. Mains $5-10, pints $6, and one dollar hot dogs! Cash only.
- 9 Singh's Roti Shop, 692 Columbia Rd (South Bay, T: JFK/UMass), ☎ . 9AM–9:30PM daily. An interesting and flavorful combination of West Indian and Caribbean cuisines. The owners are extremely friendly and can make suggestions and adjust spice levels to taste. Watch out, these roti's are enormous! Rotis $10-12.
- 10 Dot2Dot Café, 1739 Dorchester Ave (T: Shawmut), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu We Sa Su 8AM–2PM, Th Fr 8AM–5PM. Grab brunch make from scratch at this local fixture. Chef Karen Henry-Garrett creates the classics informed by her Le Cordon Bleu culinary school experience. Occasionally open later for special events. $8–14 for the works.
- 11 Shanti Taste of India, 1111 Dorchester Ave (T: Savin Hill), ☎ . 11:30AM–3PM and 5PM–10PM daily. Though used by most locals as the local Indian delivery restaurant, it has a great atmosphere, local artist paintings, and great authentic Indian food. Dinners are usually quiet, with about 15 tables. Two other locations in Cambridge and Roslindale. Mains $12-15.
- 12 Sweet Life Bakery & Café, 2243 Dorchester Ave (Lower Mills, T: Milton), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 7AM–4PM, Su 7:30AM–3PM. Great bakery and café serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Many flavors of macarons in addition to other little sweet treats for takeaway as well. Brunch $10–18.
- 13 Landmark Public House, 772 Adams St (T: Ashmont), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 4PM-1AM. Mains $10-16.
- 14 McKenna's Cafe, 109 Savin Hill Ave (T: Savin Hill), ☎ . M-F 5:30AM-4PM, Sa 5:30AM-3PM, Su 6:30AM-3PM. Breakfast $7-12, lunch $8-14.
- 15 Cesaria, 266 Bowdoin St (Meeting House Hill), ☎ . Su-W 11AM-10PM, Th-Sa 11AM-11PM. Traditional Cape Verdean cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere with occasional live music. Starters $4-8, mains $10-16.
- 16 Lower Mills Tavern, 2269 Dorchester Ave (Lower Mills, T: Milton), ☎ . 11AM–1AM daily. Cosy restaurant opened in 2016 serving high quality basics. Good beer & cocktails list, service, and ambiance. Menu changes seasonally, most ingredients are of course locally sourced. Starters $9-12, mains $12-20, pints $7.
- 17 The Blarney Stone, 1509 Dorchester Ave (T: Fields Corner), ☎ . 10AM–11PM daily. A large restaurant located in Fields Corner serving seasonal American cuisine, it has a good variety of delicious entrees and a nice beer and wine list. The Blarney Stone was the first bar in America to sell draft Guinness. Parking can be found on the street. Appetizers $10-14, mains $15-20.
- 18 Ashmont Grill, 555 Talbot Ave (T: Ashmont), ☎ . M–Th 5PM–10PM, Fr 11AM–11PM, Sa 10AM–11PM, Su 10AM–10PM. Art abounds in this lively restaurant with a varied menu. Featuring everything from a reasonable burger and fries, to skillfully prepared pastas and fresh fish dishes. Starters $8-12, mains $16-24.
- 19 Tavolo Ristorante, 1918 Dorchester Ave (T: Ashmont), ☎ . Su–Th 5PM–10PM, F Sa 5PM–11PM. An Italian restaurant opened by the same chef/owner as Ashmont Grill, it features good pasta, pizza, and specials along with a Wednesday Tour of Italy featuring different regions of Italian cuisine. The bar has cocktails, a good wine selection, and some excellent draft beer. Mains $12-24, drinks $7-10.
- 20 dbar, 1236 Dorchester Ave (Glover's Corner, T: Savin Hill), ☎ . M We Th 5PM–midnight, Tu Fr Sa 5PM–2AM, Su 11AM–midnight. A trendy and casual restaurant in Savin Hill, the menu by executive chef Christopher Coombs has a French twist that changes seasonally. Some entrees use ingredients grown on the rooftop garden. The bar has an extensive mixed drink menu and wine list. Dbar regularly hosts parties and late night events, including Showtunes Tuesdays. Cozy outdoor patio seating is located in back. Parking is available, however the lot can often be at capacity. Mains $16-25, cocktails $11.
- 1 Dorchester Brewing Company (DBCo), 1250 Massachusetts Ave (Edward Everett Sq / South Bay (T: JFK/UMass)), ☎ . Tu–Sa 11:30AM–11PM, Su 11:30AM–9PM. DBco has house brews on a 20-line tap system with even more fresh craft beer from local brewing partners and regional collaborators. You have the option of a tasting flight, a full pour, or crowlers to go. They contract out some of their space to other local brewers, so there is always something different to try out. The tap room offers board and party games, food trucks, free Wi-Fi, an outdoor patio, and DBco merchandise to wear out the door. This is a great space for beer lovers to hang out, meet new people, drink beer, play games, and get some work down. Brewery tours are not yet available but should be in the near future. Pints $7.
- 2 The Banshee Pub, 934 Dorchester Ave (Savin Hill (T: JFK/UMass)), ☎ . Mo–Fr 11AM–1AM, Sa Su 9AM–1AM. An Irish sports pub where the primary focus is on soccer and rugby, however all sports can be found on their televisions throughout the week. The Banshee has two floors and ten screens so that you don't need to miss a second of the action. Cheer on local soccer teams such as the U.S. National Team and the New England Revolution or watch the games of your favorite English and Scottish football clubs here. This place also happens to be the place to go on Sunday if you are a Green Bay Packers fan. Good set of beers on draft and quality food worth checking out. $.
- 3 Boston Harbor Distillery Tour & Tasting, 12R Ericsson St (Port Norfolk / Neponset), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Sa 1PM–7PM. Tours and tastings every Saturday at the Boston Harbor Distillery. An old manufacturing warehouse has been tastefully updated into a wonderful rustic waterfront drinking environment. See and learn how these spirits are made. Spirits include Putnam New England Rye Whiskey, Lawley's New England Spirit, Seymour's Local Roast Coffee Liqueur, Seymour's Boston Cream Liqueur, and the Spirit of Boston Samuel Adams collaborations. Tours run every half hour and include drink tastings at the bar. Distillery also has an exhibit on display of an old Boston map collection in the back gallery. Merchandise, cigars, and spirits can be purchased in the store. Parking is plentiful. $10.00.
- Flat Black Coffee Shop. A local coffee company with three locations in Boston - one in Lower Mills, another at the Ashmont T station, and another downtown. The owner and store managers roast their own coffee on site, producing micro batches of organic coffee. The shops regularly have local artists on the walls, with fresh pastries and bread for sale as well. Highly recommended for coffee and pastries. Coffee $2-3.
- 6 Reign Drink Lab, 1370 Dorchester Ave (T: Fields Corner), ☎ . M-Sa 9:30AM-8PM, Su 9:30AM-6PM. Artisanal coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Nitro cold brews with Vietnamese inspired condensed milk sweeteners. Several varieties of tea and boba. $4-6.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Mid-range||$175 - $250|
- 1 Comfort Inn - Boston, 900 William T Morrissey Blvd (Neponset), ☎ . Check-in: 3pm, check-out: 12pm. A somewhat more affordable option than hotels downtown, this is a convenient location for its proximity to UMass Boston and the JFK Presidential Library & Museum. Expect to drive into downtown. From $150.
- 2 Ramada - Boston, 800 William T Morrissey Blvd (Neponset), ☎ . Check-in: 3pm, check-out: 12pm. From $150.
- 3 Holiday Inn Express - Boston, 69 Boston St (South Bay), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3pm, check-out: 12pm. From $205.
- 4 DoubleTree Club by Hilton Hotel Boston Bayside, 240 Mt Vernon St (Columbia Point), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. This hotel also offers daily complimentary shuttle service to downtown Boston, South Station and the airport. From $220.
- 5 Courtyard Marriot Boston - South Boston, 63R Boston St (South Bay), ☎ . Check-in: 3pm, check-out: 12pm. From $330.
There are few chain coffee shops in Dorchester to offer free wi-fi facilities, there are however, many BPL branches here to fill that gap.
- 1 Uphams Corner Branch (Boston Public Library), 500 Columbia Rd (T: Uphams Corner), ☎ . M Th noon-8PM, Tu W 10AM-6PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- 2 Fields Corner Branch (Boston Public Library), 1520 Dorchester Ave (T: Fields Corner), ☎ . M W Th 10AM-6PM, Tu noon-8PM, F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-2PM.
- 3 Codman Square Branch (Boston Public Library), 690 Washington St (T: Ashmont), ☎ . Tu W 10AM-6PM, Th noon-8PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- 4 Adams Street Branch (Boston Public Library), 690 Adams St (T: Ashmont), ☎ . M W noon-8PM, Tu Th 10AM-6PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- 5 Lower Mills Branch (Boston Public Library), 27 Richmond St (T: Milton), ☎ . M Th noon-8PM, Tu W 10AM-6PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- Did you get on a Braintree train, instead of Ashmont? Enjoy your trip to the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy.
- Drive or cycle south into Milton for some great hiking options in the enormous Blue Hills Reservation.
- Ride the quaint "High Speed Line", a pre-war trolley connecting Dorchester with Mattapan and Milton.
- Check out Franklin Park, and several colonial sites right next door in Roxbury.
- Head for South Boston and check out all that construction going on in the Seaport.
|Routes through Dorchester|
|Downtown ← South Boston ←||N S||→ Quincy → Braintree|
|Mattapan ← Milton ←||SW NE||→ END|
|END ← Hyde Park ←||SW NE||→ Downtown → END|