Puritans settled here, revolutionaries chased freedom here and intellectuals founded Harvard not here -- but in nearby Cambridge. Boston is also home to the first public library, the first subway system, the first public school and the first public park. To say it’s historic would be an understatement, but this city isn’t stuck in the past either. A lively population of youngish professionals catches up in Euro-type cafés, dines amid a burgeoning restaurant ... continue»
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The best times to visit Boston is from June to November. Mild fall weather makes touring around on foot a joy. And even though summer brings in swarms of tourists and expensive hotel rates, the sidewalk cafés, the baseball games and the outdoor concerts make it worth it. Winter is chilly, so pack a warm coat and a pair of boots if you decide to see Beantown sprinkled (or immersed) with snow. Another incentive: you might catch a great deal on a hotel.Best Times to Visit Boston»
As the largest city in New England, Boston neighborhoods have names and identities still strongly tied to their colonial beginnings. Most neighborhoods began as cities of their own before they were incorporated as one. Therefore, many streets may have a duplicate in other parts of town.
Accessible via South Station, Courthouse, Government Center, Aquarium, State Street and Downtown Crossing subway stations.
Downtown Boston is the most tourist-heavy area, with most of the city's highlights, including the start of the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail and the Boston Tea Party Site (which is now closed until summer 2010). Families should start their city tour here for the Children's Museum and the New England Aquarium alone. Downtown is also the commercial heart of the city, so modern offices share blocks with historic buildings and colonial sites. Decent restaurants and luxury hotels run along downtown's Atlantic Avenue on the Boston Harbor Waterfront.
Accessible via the North and Haymarket subway stations.
Boston's Little Italy can be found in the North End neighborhood (which, as the name suggests, is just north of downtown). The Freedom Trail winds through the North End past historic sites like the Old North Church and the Paul Revere House. However, be sure to step off and explore the neighborhoods outside of the colonial buildings for the area's Old World feel.
Accessible via the Back Bay and Prudential subway stations.
The South End is Boston's most recent up-and-coming area and the heart of the city's gay community. Recently renovated with an artsy and cultural twist, this diverse and stylish neighborhood is home to beautiful homes from the 19th century. If you love your Visa, show it a good time among South End's wide variety of furniture and handmade craft stores. There are also plenty of restaurants here to satisfy your hunger after a long day of walking.
Accessible via the Chinatown and Park Street subway stations.
For a taste of Boston life in the old days, writers say you should not miss the chance to visit the charming Beacon Hill area, located west of downtown. Largely residential, the area's cobblestone streets and homes date back to the early 19th century. Writers call it the most scenic part of Boston and suggest simply walking through.
Beacon Hill's portion of the Freedom Trail includes the oldest public park in the country, Boston Common. Simply referred to as "the Common," it was originally created in the 1600s. Southeast of the Common, the small but lively Chinatown is packed with restaurants and grocery stores.
Accessible via the Back Bay and Copley subway stations.
Sitting just off the Charles River Basin southwest of downtown, the Back Bay features some of the most expensive properties in Boston. At one point in its history, it was a sign of wealth and social standing to live here. Today, you will find both residents and tourists admiring Back Bay's architecture. Shopaholics flock to this neighborhood, home to well-known Newbury Street, lined with boutiques, galleries and national brands.
Accessible via the Museum of Fine Arts, Kenmore, Fenway, Ruggles and Massachusetts Avenue subway stations.
West of downtown is Kenmore Square. The scenic area consists of trees and colorful flowers as well as a good deal of stores and bars geared toward the Boston University students that often fill the area. The area's main feature is Fenway Park, the adored home of the Boston Red Sox. Writers and recent visitors suggest trying to catch a game while you're in town. Other major attractions here include the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Accessible via the Harvard Square subway station.
Although not in Boston proper, Cambridge is only a short ride northwest on the subway "T" train. The heart of this separate city is Harvard Square, which sits next to prestigious Harvard University and northwest of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Academia-themed cafes and shops fill out the area. There are also a good number of museums here including the highly-recommended Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum and the Peabody Museum.
You probably won't run into any major crime in the touristy parts of Boston, but you should use common sense. Like in any other large city, keep track of your belongings and stick to well-lit and crowded streets, especially at night. Experts say you should particularly avoid areas like Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, which are all south of Boston proper, in the evenings.
The best way to get around in Boston is walking. And when your itinerary takes you out of the city center, the second best mode is the "T" or subway system, which you can also catch from Boston Logan Airport (BOS). If you don't mind dealing with a bit of traffic, buses and trams are an above ground alternative. Cabs are another option: Boston isn't a huge taxi town, but you can find them at several cabstands throughout the city and lining up outside of major hotels. However, we do not suggest renting a car and driving yourself: Narrow, one-way roads and expensive parking make driving an avoidable hassle.Getting Around Boston»