Boston — or “Bahston,” as the locals say — is not only a hub for baseball, brownstones and bookish collegiate types. It’s also home to America’s first large free municipal public library, the first subway system, the first public school and the first public park. To say the city is historic would be an understatement, but this wicked-smart college town doesn’t linger in the past, either. A well-rounded trip to Boston integrates the classic with the contemporary: Split your time between cherished sites like the Paul Revere Houseand Faneuil Hall and cutting-edge attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts. Venture to Beacon Hill and you’ll stumble upon the graceful mansions of yore juxtaposed with chic boutiques and innovative hotels. So, yes, comefirst for the history, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to sample the unmistakable Beantown flavor.
The city’s darker side has garnered a rough-and-tumble reputation thanks to Hollywood appearances in gritty films like “American Hustle” and “The Town,” but Boston’s cool, cosmopolitan personality pervades its trendy restaurants, urban parks and modern museums. Passionate residents are still rooting for their beloved Red Sox, but they’re also venturing to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway for a free yoga class or meandering to the edgy SoWa Open Market for some antique shopping. So, grab a stool and join them at their favorite pub to chow down on oyster shooters and New England clam chowder, or venture to the Back End to try imaginative sushi creations at restaurants cropping up around town. You’ll need more than a few days to experience the city’s wealth of cultural and historical offerings, but meandering along Boston’s cobblestone streets is a great way to start your exploration.
How To Save Money in Boston
- Arrive in winterPack the parka and visit in the cooler months. Hotel rates offer the steepest discounts between January and March.
- Glide on a Swan BoatTaking a swan-shaped boat ride along the picturesque Public Garden lagoon is as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the wallet. (Rides cost $3 for adults and $1.50 for kids).
- Invest in a CityPASSPurchasing a Boston CityPASS will save you big bucks on some of the city’s top attractions. CityPASS costs $54 for adults and $39 for kids.
Boston Culture & Customs
One of the most distinct parts of Boston is what is sometimes referred to as “Boston English,” a dialect heard in countless movies and TV shows. The “r” sound is often dropped from words, so “car” becomes “cah” and “Harvard” becomes “Hah-vahd.”
Boston is also a well-known sports city, as the home of the Boston Red Sox (it would be best to avoid wearing any Yankees paraphernalia here), the New England Patriots, the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics. While you’re in the city, be sure to indulge in this culture by catching a game or at least taking a tour of Fenway Park.
Beantown also takes pride in its intellectual and academic roots with around 100 colleges and universities, including some of the most prestigious, situated here. After the American Revolution, the city’s leaders were determined to make Boston the world’s new Cradle of Civilization. They invested money and brought in scholars to create a city of educated citizens that studied at Harvard University, Boston University, Boston College, Emerson College, Tufts University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to name a few. Today, this impressive collection of schools also keeps the area young and forward-thinking, as Boston has one of the largest student populations in the country.
Bostonian cuisine has undergone a gastronomical revolution, with a steady stream of new chefs putting their own spin on tried-and-true city classics like baked beans, fresh seafood and clam “chowdah.”
The city’s growing immigrant population has ushered in another component to the burgeoning culinary scene. Cobblestone streets are now increasingly lined with Thai and Ethiopian restaurants; check out the North End for delicious Italian dishes and Cambridge for everything from French dishes to Moroccan fare. For a sampling of the zesty tapas, make your way to the artsy South End neighborhood, where spots like Toro are debuting Spanish-inspired dishes like mussels with chorizo. Another popular stop in South End is The Butcher Shopwhere meat-centric entrees, like steak tartare, steal the spotlight. Or, for a taste of the inventive sushi entrees being rolled across the city, venture to O Ya, where scarlet sea scallops and fried Kumamoto oysters are just the beginning of the menu offerings.
Should you crave more traditional New England fare, make your way toDurgin-Park in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Here you’ll find local favorites like corned beef sandwiches, shepherd’s pie and clam chowder. Another beloved establishment is Union Oyster House near Haymarket, where — you guessed it — freshly-shucked oysters have hooked patrons since the restaurant opened its doors in 1826.