Boston, one of the oldest cities in America, evokes a distinct European feel, which is evident in the city's culture. The city's role in the American Revolution has led to the nickname, the "Cradle of Liberty."
Once considered ultra-conservative, Boston has developed a progressive culture and attitude. It has become one of the most exciting places in New England, with excellent culinary hotspots and an abundance of attractions and sights. Historical buildings, parks and cemeteries are national landmarks, and the city boasts the birthplaces of many famous patriots, presidents and politicians. The city's architectural treasures include lovely brownstones and cobblestone streets, and gas-lamps light the way in many neighborhoods.
Each of Boston's neighborhoods has unique characteristics and reasons to be explored. Beacon Hill , or "the flat on the hill," is where Boston's elite resides. With its impressive row houses and gas-lit cobblestone streets, it is still one of the more exclusive neighborhoods in town.
The South End is home to the city's gay-friendly community and is filled with art galleries and excellent bistros. The North End offers a dizzying array of authentic Italian eateries and is home to several summertime Italian festivals.
Popular Newbury Street is a swanky, upscale stretch filled with shops, restaurants and cafes. At the end of Newbury, you can people-watch in the Public Garden and "make way for ducklings" on the Swan Boats .
Newbury Street runs through the heart of the Back Bay , where you will find opulent brownstones. Stroll down the grassy mall on Commonwealth Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and the Public Garden to get a feel for the way Bostonians lived in the 18th Century. Bordering Back Bay is the Charles River, and the parkland along its banks, called the Esplanade , where you can roller-blade, bike or run to your heart's content.
Near the Boston Harbor waterfront is Faneuil Hall Marketplace , which is an important stop along the Freedom Trail . It is a great place for souvenir shopping and photo opportunities. Or you can shop where locals shop, in Downtown Crossing , which has several blocks of department stores, jewelers and tiny shops.
Jamaica Plain has been described as a suburban neighborhood inside the city. Have a picnic at Jamaica Pond or wander through botanical gardens at the Arnold Arboretum . Old and rambling Victorian houses of wealthy Bostonians who wished to escape the grime and crime of downtown, are being renovated to their former splendor as this vibrant and diverse area is rediscovered.
Brookline is a wealthy suburb just to the west of Boston. The bars, movie theaters, shops, Jewish delicatessens and restaurants attract families, students, and professionals who enjoy the area's friendly urbanity. The Coolidge Corner area, at the intersection of Harvard Avenue and Beacon Street, is the town's liveliest and most rewarding area to visit.
Somerville is located to the north of Cambridge and home to Tufts University. The lively bars and restaurants here are frequented by young, hard-working professionals who cannot afford to live downtown, as well as by older residents who enjoy Somerville's funky mix of urban sophistication with a suburban pace and attitude.
Cambridge is a city unto itself, located opposite Boston along the Charles River. It is best known as the home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two of the most prestigious universities in the United States. The city is more colorful, liberal and funky than staid Boston, perhaps because of the large population of students and alumni. Central Square in Cambridge is a lively area with cheap ethnic cuisine and perhaps the highest concentration of music clubs and bars in the greater Boston area. Harvard Square is the area just outside of famed Harvard Yard. It is home to many fine restaurants that are beyond the budget of any college student, along with unique shops including several specialty bookstores and funky clothing stores. Another great attraction is the Harvard Museum of Natural History . Any warm weekend evening is a mini-carnival, as street performers compete for loose change from passersby on almost every street corner.
Seafood is a Boston favorite, as is the traditional Yankee boiled supper, but this ethnic melting pot has an eclectic selection of menus.
Seafood rules the dining scene here, enticing visitors with clam chowder and lobster. Anthony's Pier 4 on Northern Avenue is a popular and well-established spot. Legal Sea Foods is a local chain that is popular with residents and tourists alike, and has served their clam chowder at several recent presidential inaugurations. The Barking Crab has beer and crab cakes galore, and the Daily Catch will entice you with its specialties from the sea.
You can find Yankee suppers, Irish fare, seafood and pub grub in this historic downtown marketplace . Durgin-Park has pot roast and boiled dinners. The Black Rose is a good spot for a pint of Guinness. There are also food courts for a quick bite.
This beautiful, old-fashioned neighborhood is known for its intimate and romantic places, including The Hungry I and Todd English's famous Figs Although there is often a wait for a table, the inviting cobblestone streets and gas-lit alleyways are perfect for a pre-dinner walk.
The North End is home to historic landmarks and the best Italian food in Boston and perhaps in all of New England. Hanover Street is packed with such popular establishments as Pomodoro , Mamma Maria , Mike's Pastry and Caffe Vittoria .
With the highest concentration of late-night dining options in the city, Chinatown eateries are crowded well into the night. Among the best are Chau Chow City and East Ocean City .
Fusion restaurants and countless cafes line this busy Back Bay street . Stephanie's on Newbury and Sonsie Bistro & Cafe are swank spots for the dining elite. Davio's has great Italian food and a cozy atmosphere. 29 Newbury is known for celebrity spotting and chic dining in a intimate setting. For special occasions, L'Espalier is a truly romantic French restaurant.
The South End , with its quaint row houses and manicured buildings, has a variety of dining options to choose from. On a walk along Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street in this neighborhood, you will encounter restaurants offering modern French and American food, Ethiopian cuisine and down-home southern cooking. Tremont 647 and Mistral are two hotspots in this area.
On the other side of the Charles River, Cambridge has many hidden jewels, many of which are priced out of the student budget range and offer a fine dining experience in this cosmopolitan little city. Casablanca is an obvious choice for Humphrey Bogart fans, and Chez Henri serves French cuisine with a South American twist. The Border Cafe is the place for margaritas and quesadillas.
Often the best way to find a good meal in Boston is by exploring on foot. Every neighborhood in Boston has interesting choices, from gourmet to pub grub.