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Cultural Guide to Boston Today

The ghosts of America’s colonial roots—Paul Revere’s ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the infamous Tea Party—still linger among the cobblestone streets of Boston. But this is no Ye Olde Colonial Theme Park; alongside the art museums, heirloom buildings, and cultural landmarks you’ll find slick hotels, stylish shops, and cutting-edge restaurants rivaling those in New York and Chicago. Unlike those more sprawling cities, though, Boston is small enough to navigate with a pair of comfy shoes and a subway Charlie Card.

Hotels (9)

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    Clarendon Square Inn

    Tucked along a quiet row of Victorian town houses in the arty South End, this 1868 brownstone has been meticulously reinvented as a three-room B&B.

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    Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro

    Occupying two adjacent, refurbished 19th-century town houses on Beacon Hill’s best antiquing street, this hotel is a great choice if you prefer coz

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    Back Bay Hotel

    Masculine yet cozy, the 225-room Back Bay Hotel is laden with history: the 1925 limestone edifice with ornate friezes fronts one of Boston’s last I

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    Nine Zero

    With its sleek, minimalist décor, Nine Zero brings modern chic to the historic area around the Freedom Trail. Yes, connecting to Wi-Fi from your er

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    Eliot Hotel

    Small and traditional without being stuffy, this elegant Back Bay hotel welcomes guests like they were family—fitting, since it’s been owned and op

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    Four Seasons Hotel Boston

    This contemporary brick landmark offers a truly prime location: it’s literally across the street from the glittering and meandering walking paths o

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    Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common

    Boston’s only Ritz (the Taj chain bought the famous Back Bay property in 2006) is an 12-story glass-and-steel monolith that looms above the Common’

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    XV Beacon

    One of Boston’s first modern design hotels when it opened in Beacon Hill in 1999, the surprisingly homey 63-room XV (call it “Fifteen”) has stylish

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    Charles Hotel

    The hulking 294-room Charles, on the eastern edge of Harvard Square, is the best reason to stay north of the river. A low-key New England aesthetic

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Restaurants (7)

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    Santarpio's

    Since 1904, many locals have been making the trip across the Charles River to East Boston to enjoy the authentic pies at Santarpio's. The eatery is

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    Great Bay

    A showpiece of the renovated Kenmore Square, this nightclub-slick seafood palace is the latest project of local restaurateur Michael Schlow (Radius

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    East Coast Grill & Raw Bar

    The vibe at this always-packed Cambridge spot is boisterous and casual, but there’s serious food—and an ambitious mix of cuisines—being served up h

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    Craigie Street Bistrot

    Hunting for the entrance to this unpretentious French restaurant—it’s hidden in the basement of an apartment building, a 10-minute walk from Harvar

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    No. 9 Park

    The flagship eatery of famed Boston restaurateur and James Beard Award-winning chef Barbara Lynch, No. 9 Park has been a mainstay on the city’s din

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    Oleana

    This Mediterranean kitchen is helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Ana Sortun, who studied culinary arts in Paris before turning her attention

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    Clio

    Located in the Back Bay’s Eliot Hotel, this renowned French restaurant is helmed by acclaimed chef Kenneth Oringer, previously of San Francisco’s S

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Activities (20)

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    Wally's Café

    Established in 1947, Wally Walcott's live-jazz bar hosts up-and-coming performers (many of them students at the nearby Berklee College of Music and

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    OM Lounge

    Chef Rachel Klein gets a lot of attention for her global cuisine in the second-floor restaurant, but mixologist Jon Ross's herbal-infused cocktails

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    The Middle East

    Hearty platters of falafel and hummus gave this Central Square club its name, but it’s the wide variety of live music that’s made its reputation. A

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    The Enormous Room

    A rotating cast of top turntablists spins an ever-changing mix of hip-hop, rare groove, and mellow electronica in this ironically tiny space. The n

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    Club Passim

    Located in Harvard Square, this 125-seat performance venue has been hosting some of the best live folk and acoustic musicians since 1958. Back in t

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    The City Bar

    This clubby, sophisticated hotel bar is a singles hot spot—and Boston's best place to sample artisanal cocktails. Chef and sometime mixologist Robe

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    B-Side Lounge

    This kitschy, retro faux-dive, where a giant model airplane hangs from the antique tin ceiling, is hugely popular with post-college hipsters and ot

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    Brendan Behan Pub

    From the dark wood paneling to the massive beer selection (draught and bottled), Behan's is an authentic Irish pub, so it should come as no surpris

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    Louis Boston

    In an imposing Georgian mansion on Newbury Street, Louis Boston is a local institution with international import. With only four floors, the store

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    Koo de Kir

    A phonetic translation of the French phrase “coup de coeur,” which loosely means “a strike to the heart,” Koo de Kir is a modern home furnishings a

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    Globe Corner Bookstore

    This Harvard Square bookstore has sparked countless travel dreams and plans. Now located in a bright, spacious store, the Globe's vast selection of

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    Good

    This storefront on Charles Street in historic Beacon Hill has become a favorite with locals for unique jewelry, gifts, and home accessories. Hand-p

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    Formaggio Kitchen

    Foodies love this gourmet shop for its huge selection of French jams, Tuscan honeys, and Asian teas—but cheeses are the main draw. The owners seek

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    Dress

    The name doesn’t lie: this chic women’s shop is the place to find a perfect party dress—as well as comfortable but stylish T-shirts. Beautiful piec

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    Bobby From Boston

    Along an alley in South End sits Bobby From Boston, a vintage store owned by Bobby Garnett, who hand-selects men's and women's clothing from as ear

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Similar Trips (4)

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  • Christmas in Boston

    Beacon Hill

    Old-world ambience, cozy fireplaces, snow-dusted cobblestone streets and roasted lobster are a few of our favorite things that Boston offers at Christmas.

  • Green Travel in Boston

    Boston, Brookline

    This historic New England hub has undertaken some truly modern green initiatives—including hybrid-vehicle airport trams, a solar-powered visitor center, and a slew of environmentally conscious hote

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  • Design Hunting from New York to Boston

    Boston, Cambridge, New York City, Manhattan, The Bronx

    Three days is all you need to check out the contemporary design highlights of Manhattan and Boston—and to stop along the way to visit pieces of iconic modern architecture in Connecticut.

  • Mini Guide to Five Cool Hotels in Boston, MA

    Back Bay, Beacon Hill, The Fenway, North Station/TD Bank North Garden

    For ages, Boston's hotel scene called to mind that old restaurant joke: not only were the properties outdated and uninspired, there weren't enough of them. But hold up: in just six years, the city

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