Boston Travel Guide
Boston is not only one of America's oldest cities, it's also one of the most walkable, and we'd even go as far as saying it's one of the easiest to explore. From the Italian roots of the North End to Boston's quintessential brick facades and New England charm, the city has historical and cultural fascination around every corner. First-time visitors wondering what to do in Boston will be thrilled to find that there is an activity to please every kind of traveler—Red Sox games for the sports fans, oysters shucked fresh at the Boston's best restaurants for the foodies, Freedom Trail walking tours for the history buffs, and public green spaces for relaxing in the summertime.
Boston is an intimate city, but its cultural breadth makes it feel like a much larger hub. You can feast on some of the country's best dim sum in Chinatown, then walk 15 minutes and be at a brewery by the water. You can go spend an afternoon at a world-renowned art museum and wind up at a Sox game that night, or start your day strolling the Harvard University campus and end the day taking in a concert at the legendary House of Blues.
Eastern Standard Time (Daylight Savings Time, seasonal. Dates vary)
Best Time to Go
The best time to visit Boston is from May to November. The late spring and summer months bring beautiful weather (temperatures reach nearly 70 by May and hover in the low 80s by July). Fall in Boston is picturesque, with Harvard University, MIT, and Boston University's campuses trimmed in foliage and temperatures slipping into the low 70s in September and low 60s in October.
Visiting in the late spring means catching the Bruins and Celtics close to the playoffs, but you'll want to avoid the graduation weeks in May if at all possible. The summer is lovely in Boston—it's not too hot, and while tourists flock to the city in June, July, and August, the student population clears out. Fall is by no means the off-season, with tourists continuing to arrive and students moving in, but visiting in September and October affords you some of the very best Boston weather. We'd recommend avoiding Boston travel from November to April, as these are the coldest, grayest months.
Things to Know
Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States dating back to 1634.
Boston was the first U.S. city to build a subway line, the Tremont Street Subway built in 1897.
Another Boston first was Revere Beach, the first public beach in the country.
Boston baked beans, New England clam chowder, Boston cream pie, lobster rolls, and Fenway Franks are some of the foods associated with the city.
Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood is one of the city's oldest communities, named for the beacon that once warned locals about invasions. Today it's a protected historic district, and its classic homes can be admired on a self-guided walking tour.
The National Park Service manages several of Boston's popular tourist sites.
How to Get Around
Trains: Public transportation in Boston runs through Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), which offers two types of trains: the metro and the commuter rail. There are 13 commuter rail lines, all of which will take you out to various suburbs of the city. There is also a comprehensive metro—which Bostonians call "the T"—that runs throughout Boston and can easily bring you to most major attractions and neighborhoods in the city. The T has four lines—the red line, blue line, orange line, and green line—and is generally very easy to navigate. Find the subway map here.
You can purchase a CharlieCard, a reusable card to use on MBTA trains and buses.
Taxis: While taxis are not as abundant here as they are in, say, New York City, it's still simple to grab a cab at Logan Airport or at South Station (a central transportation hub where most buses and trains from other cities arrive). You can also, of course, call in advance for a taxi from a local cab company like Boston Cab Dispatch.
Car service: Uber and Lyft are available in Boston, as are black car services like Master Livery.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Back Bay: Often regarded as the ritziest neighborhood in Boston, Back Bay is home to Newbury Street, Copley Square, and the Prudential Center. Come for the classic Boston attractions, stay for the luxury, brick-facade row houses.
Cambridge: Cambridge sits directly across from Boston, with the Charles River separating the two. Cambridge is, of course, home to Harvard University and MIT. Think of it this way: Boston is to Manhattan as Cambridge is to Brooklyn. Known for more than just the ivy leagues, visitors will love poking around Harvard Square during the day, grabbing a cup of coffee from the Peet's featured in Good Will Hunting and picking out a book at The Coop, and checking out the lively scene in Central Square at night.
South End: Tucked just beyond Back Bay and Fenway/Kenmore, the South End is known for its Victorian-style row houses. It's a low-key neighborhood with residential charm, but still offers local shopping and trendy eateries.
North End: The North End is right by the water, across from East Boston, and a short walk from Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. It's the hub of Italian culture in Boston—often called Boston's Little Italy—and is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston, home to landmarks like Old North Church and Paul Revere's house.
Seaport: Southeast of downtown, nestled by the Boston waterfront is the chic yet laid-back Seaport neighborhood. The Seaport is a charming area to simply walk along the water and fantasize about living in the high-rises overlooking the harbor.
Fenway/Kenmore: In terms of hanging out in the Room Where It Happens, Fenway/Kenmore tends to be the heart of the action, especially during baseball season. Fenway/Kenmore is home to Fenway Park, the House of Blues, pub-lined Landsdowne Street, and a slew of great restaurants. It's also where you'll find the famous Boston Latin Academy, and is adjacent to the Back Bay and close to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Winter: Expect up to nine days of rain or snow in the winter months, and temperatures dipping into the low 30s. Generally, December to February is cold and snowy—with quite a bit of slush.
Spring: You'll still get about eight days of rain per month in the spring, but temperatures will start to rise by April to the mid 50s, and by May can get up to the high 60s.
Summer: If you like a warm breeze on summer evenings, you'll love Boston in June, July, and August, when temperatures are in the high 70s and low 80s. Summer is extremely pleasant (and mild compared to the Southeast), though it does get a bit humid.
Fall: September temperatures can still be in the 70s during the day, but by October, you can feel dips into the 40s at night. Nonetheless, fall brings mild temperatures and lovely foliage.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month. Average annual precipitation 21.14 inches.
January 23 - 37
February 24 - 38
March 31 - 45
April 41 - 56
May 50 - 66
June 59 - 76
July 66 - 82
August 65 - 80
September 58 - 73
October 47 - 62
November 38 - 52
December 29 - 42