The heart of Boston lies between Boston Common and the harbor. Boston has great respect for its past and there are reminders of history embedded in the center of this metropolis. The 18th-century grace of the Old State House still shines within a canyon of skyscrapers. The heroes of Boston’s early years – city founder John Winthrop, patriot Paul Revere, and revolutionary Samuel Adams – are buried just steps from sidewalks abuzz with shoppers. Rolled in to this area is the Financial District as well as Boston’s oldest commercial district, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.
The network of short streets linking Washington and Tremont streets has assumed a modern identity as the Ladder District. Once derelict and abandoned after dark, the area is now filled with bars and restaurants. Anchoring the district are the ultra-chic Millennium Tower that overlooks Boston Common, the Ritz-Carlton, and the top-of-the-line AMC Loews cineplex (175 Tremont St). A few stalwarts, such as landmark bookseller Brattle Book Shop, are holding out against the big boys.
1 Faneuil Hall Square • Open Faneuil Hall: 9am–5pm daily; Quincy Market: 10am–9pm Mon–Sat, 11am–7pm Sun • www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com
Many a fiery speech urging revolution echoed in Faneuil Hall in the late 18th century; in the 1820s it was the city’s food distribution that was revolutionized in adjacent Quincy Market. Today the buildings and surrounding plazas form a shopping and dining destination – the model for dozens of markets worldwide.
Tremont St at Park St • 617 635 4505 • Open 9am–5pm daily
Dating from 1660, the Granary contains the graves of many of Boston’s most illustrious figures, including John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere, who joined his revolutionary com-rades here in 1818. Other notables include Declaration of Independence signatory Robert Treat Paine, the parents of Benjamin Franklin, and Crispus Attucks – an escaped slave who was the first casualty of the Boston Massacre.
Junction of Summer, Winter, and Washington Sts
This pedestrian-friendly shopping area is dominated by Macy’s department store. Pushcart vendors offer more quirky goods, and food carts provide quick lunches for Downtown office workers.
Washington & State Sts • 617 720 1713 • Open 9am–5pm daily (late May–early Sep: until 6pm) • Adm • www.bostonhistory.org
Built in 1713 as the seat of colonial government, the Old State House was sited to look down State Street to the shipping hub of Long Wharf. In 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred outside its doors, and on July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians from its balcony. Today, it’s home to the Bostonian Society and Old State House Museum.
310 Washington St • 617 482 6439 • Open Apr–Oct: 9:30am–5pm daily; Nov–Mar: 10am–4pm daily • Adm • www.oldsouthmeetinghouse.org
Old South’s rafters have rung with many impassioned speeches exhorting the overthrow of the king, the abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, an end to apartheid, and many other causes. Nearly abandoned when its congregation moved to Back Bay in 1876, it was saved in one of Boston’s first acts of preservation.
1 School St
This enduring spot on the Freedom Trail remains one of the most tangible sites associated with the writers of the New England Renaissance of the last half of the 19th century. Both the Atlantic Monthly magazine and Ticknor & Fields (publishers of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau) made this modest structure their headquarters during the mid and late 19th century, when Boston was the literary, intellectual, and publishing center of the country. Saving the site from demolition in 1960 led to the formation of Historic Boston Incorporated. The building, however, is no longer connected to publishing today.
3 McKinley Sq • 617 310 6300 • Tours 2pm, 6pm Sat–Thu • Adm
When the Custom House was built in 1840, Boston was one of America’s largest overseas shipping ports, and customs fees were the mainstay of the Federal budget. The Neo-Classical structure once sat on the waterfront, but now stands two blocks inland. The 16-story Custom House tower, added in 1913, was Boston’s first skyscraper. Since the 1990s, peregrine falcons have nested in the clock tower under the watchful eyes of wildlife biologists. Tours of the tower give views of the harbor and the skyline. A bar service is available on evening tours.
On a sunny day this green oasis in the heart of the Financial District is filled with office workers who claim a bench or a spot of grass for a picnic. Surrounding the park are some of the area’s most architec-turally distinctive buildings, including the Art Deco post office (Congress St), the Renaissance Revival former Federal Reserve building (now the Langham, Boston hotel), and the Art Moderne New England Telephone building (185 Franklin St).
58 Tremont St • 617 523 1749 • Open 10am–5pm Mon–Sat, 1:30–5pm Sun; call for winter hours; recitals: 12:15pm Tue • Tours of crypt and bell tower: adm • www.kings-chapel.org
The first Anglican Church in Puritan Boston was established in 1686 to serve British Army officers. When Anglicans fled Boston along with British forces in 1776, the chapel became the first Unitarian Church in the New World. The church is known for its program of classical concerts.
The “T” will deposit you at Downtown Crossing, where you can browse the pushcart vendors and shop the fashions and accessories of Macy’s at leisure. Then proceed over to DSW Shoe Warehouse (385 Washington St) for a great selection of fashion shoes at discount prices. Make a left up Bromfield Street to peruse the fine writing implements and elegant stationery at Bromfield Pen Shop (5 Bromfield St). The walk to Quincy Market down Franklin Street will take you past the Financial District with its tall and imposing skyscrapers. Turn left at Post Office Square for lunch at Sip Café (Post Office Square Park).
Stop to enjoy a short rest outside Quincy Market before you begin your spree in earnest. Numerous name-brand shops such as Victoria’s Secret await. For a more local flavor try Newbury Comics, which carries a variety of Boston-themed gifts and paraphernalia. Then pay a visit to Local Charm for jewelry by local and national designers. Have an early dinner and make new friends at the communal tables at Durgin-Park (North Market, 617 227 2038). Order the gigantic prime rib and the Indian pudding (a cornmeal-molasses dish) for dessert. After dinner, rock out to live music at the Hard Rock Café (22–24 Clinton St, 617 424 7625).
100 Tremont St
This no-frills tourist hangout is filled with numerous pool tables and even more TVs, all of which are tuned to big sports games and events.
162 Lincoln St
This friendly Leather District bar and grill serves excellent cocktails and a wide selection of draft beers to go with good burgers.
45 Province St
This nautical-themed wine bar (see Haley.Henry Wine Bar), housed in a chic condo building, specializes in natural wines and tinned fish from Spain and Portugal. The menu also features small plates of ceviche and crudo.
48 Temple Pl
Handsome, retro-themed bar in the heart of the Ladder District. Beer aficionados choose from one of the area’s longest lists.
69 Bromfield St • Closed Sun
This surprisingly unpretentious, contemporary beer bar and casual restaurant is a great place for reasonably priced comfort food and drinks. The creamy mac and cheese is excellent.
21 Temple Pl
Named for Boston’s old-time felonious mayor, this bar has good pub victuals (served until late) and an exhaustive list of craft and mass-market beers.
222 Tremont St
A local favorite, The Tam is a cozy brightly lit dive bar. It serves cheap beer and generous pours of liquor. The bar accepts cash only.
28 Kingston St
This retro, lounge-lizard bar and club with two dance floors gets lively after work and on weekend nights. The cocktails are top notch.
60 Franklin St
This spacious American brasserie is a popular late-night venue for its huge beer list, creative cocktails, and menu of savory bar bites.
10 Bosworth St
Opened in 1885, Marliave is one of the oldest restaurants in the city. The warmly lit bar serves creative cocktails and hosts half-price oyster happy hours daily.
2 Winter Pl • 617 267 0047 • Closed L • $$$
A modern twist to the concept of a supper club, Yvonne’s dishes up contemporary American fare and a well-chosen collection of wines and cocktails.
45 School St • 617 742 8401 • Closed L Sat & Sun • $$$
Classy steak emporium located in the historic Old City Hall building. Fine service and a top-notch wine list.
4 Avery St • 617 375 8550 • $$$
Light, fresh, delicately nuanced, and artistically presented international cuisine is complemented by soaring Post-Modern architecture.
9 Park St • 617 742 9991 • $$$
Hobnob with Beacon Hill highflyers in this bold bistro overlooking Boston Common, where Mediterranean flavors meet an imaginative wine list.
9 East St • 617 654 9900 • Closed Sun & Mon • $$$
One of the city’s priciest and fanciest restaurants, serving modern Japanese creations close to South Station.
100 Oliver St • 617 867 9292 • $$$
The glamorous club-like setting here matches prime beef and top quality seafood with a broad wine list.
558 Washington St • 617 692 8888 • $$$
Yet another popular offshoot of the iconic local Legal Sea Foods empire (see Legal Harborside), serving exceptionally fresh seafood, as always, along with cool, Downtown-influenced cocktails.
177 Tremont St • 617 778 6841 • Closed L • No reservations • $$$
A glamorous hipster scene prevails at superchef Jamie Mammano’s theatrically styled trattoria, which boasts a killer wine list to go with its classic pizzas, pastas, and grills.
40 Court St • 617 742 2277 • $$$
This former bank retains its marble glamour in its current role as an outstanding seafood restaurant, with a superb raw bar and regional, seasonal dishes on the menu.
99 High St • 857 350 4555 • $$
Smart and contemporary, this bistro offers New England specialties, alongside a good choice of tapas and cocktails. The lobster poached in butter is heavenly.