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The Best Boston Neighborhoods to Visit for Food, History, and More

BY: Editors | Aug 30, 2017

For as compact as Boston proper is in comparison with other major US cities, it's also peppered with places that are totally distinct from one another. And while you're bound to find fun things to do, great spots to eat, and cool places to check out anywhere in the city, some Boston neighborhoods are more worth looking into than others for different pursuits. That's why we've created this: a guide to the best Boston neighborhoods for food, history, nature, and more.

Best Neighborhood for Foodies: North End

Cramped, cobblestone streets, tidy row homes, and—most importantly—a seemingly endless array of old-school Italian restaurants fill the small enclave that's also known as the city's Little Italy. Since it's squeezed between the O'Neill Tunnel and the Boston Harbor, the North End is easy to manage on foot, giving it a decidedly European charm.

  • What to Do: Aside from eat? Boston's iconic Freedom Trail runs right through the middle of North End, making it easy to check out historic sites like Paul Revere's house, the Old North Church, and Copp's Hill Burying Ground between meals.

  • Where to Eat: You could probably close your eyes and accidentally stumble into a great Italian restaurant in North End, but if you want the best of the best, head to Giacomo's. The wait for a table is notorious, but with good reason: a menu packed with fresh seafood pasta dishes and other customer favorites (the butternut-squash ravioli, for one) make this uber-popular, cash-only spot worth it.

  • Where to Stay: There aren't many hotels at all in North End proper, but its central location makes it an easy walk from the Wyndham in Beacon Hill (from $169/night).

Best Neighborhood for History Buffs: Charlestown

Charlestown is Boston's oldest neighborhood. That alone should be enough to get any history geek excited to stay, but throw in a handful of monuments and places of interest from the American Revolution, and you've got one of the best places to visit in Boston—and the country, for that matter—for jumping back in time.

  • What to Do: Charlestown is home to the Bunker Hill Monument, a towering obelisk honoring the fallen from the infamous battle of the same name. After walking the grounds, head down to Charlestown's waterfront, where you can check out the USS Constitution—the oldest commissioned naval vessel in the world that's still afloat—and its accompanying museum.

  • Where to Eat: Don't think twice here—go to the Warren Tavern. Paul Revere and George Washington were known to head to this cozy colonial pub for pints back in the day. But the allure here isn't purely historical: they serve some of the best clam chowder in Boston, too.

  • Where to Stay: Just steps from the USS Constitution is The Constitution Inn (from $127/night), a nautical-themed hotel where you'll get complimentary access to the adjoining Charlestown YMCA.

Best Neighborhood for Sports Fanatics: Fenway-Kenmore

Boston is known by many (okay, maybe just many Bostonians) as "the city of champions" due its pro-sports teams' recent and historical successes. The Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox have all won their respective leagues' championships over the course of the past decade. The heart of the Boston sports scene, Fenway-Kenmore is a must-visit for any die-hard fan.

  • What to Do: Duh—go to a Red Sox game. At 105 years old, Fenway Park is a baseball cathedral, and seeing a game there is unquestionably one of the most fun things to do in Boston. Its quirky setup includes the towering Green Monster in left field and the why-is-that-there center-field triangle. Oh, and the team is usually pretty good, too.

  • Where to Eat: Unsurprisingly, Fenway-Kenmore is packed with sports bars and other casual, bar-food eateries. One of the best spots for a pregame bite is Tasty Burger, home to one of the best burgers in the city.

  • Where to Stay: A stay at the Boston Hotel Buckminster (from $85/night) puts you a mere 300 feet from Fenway Park. The 120-year-old hotel is sure to be a hit with baseball fans not only for its proximity to Fenway, but also for the fact that it was where the infamous 1919 Black Sox game-fixing scandal was planned.

Best Neighborhood for Nature Lovers: Jamaica Plain

While Boston's not thought of as a destination for outdoor pursuits, neighborhoods like Jamaica Plain—or "JP," as the locals call it—are why you shouldn't overlook it if you're a lover of nature. Along with the neighborhood's tree-lined residential streets, a handful of gorgeous and spacious parks dot Jamaica Plain, making it a haven for joggers and picnickers. JP is also adjacent to the massive Franklin Park, which houses a zoo, golf course, and courts for tennis and basketball.

  • What to Do: Check out the Arnold Arboretum. Sprawling across 281 acres, the green space is home to nearly 15,000 types of plants, making it feel like a mini forest within the city. It's also free and open to the public year-round.

  • Where to Eat: In addition to being a great place to be among some greenery, JP is a low-key food paradise thanks to its diverse population. One of the best spots for a meal is Tres Gatos, a Spanish tapas bar that also houses a book and music store.

  • Where to Stay: From Jamaica Plain, the swanky Boston Park Plaza (from $135/night) is an easy, straight shot down the Orange Line on Boston's subway system, known locally as "the T."

Best Neighborhood for Intellectuals: Cambridge

Cambridge is technically its own city, but its sites and proximity to Boston—it's directly across the Charles River—make it feel more like a big neighborhood. It's home to both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (more commonly known as MIT), which gives it a fun mix of students, professionals, and janitors who are secretly geniuses. Whether it's because of its academic focus or not, Cambridge is home to several great museums, cozy bookstores, lively music and theater venues, and plenty of places to get coffee.

  • What to Do: The Harvard Museum of Natural History is a can't miss. You can scope out rocks taken from Mars, walk beneath suspended whale bones, and size up your wingspan against the skeleton of a giant swimming dinosaur. Afterward, head over to Harvard Square to stock up on supplemental reading materials and take in the enchanting scent of worn pages and paperbacks at Raven Used Books.

  • Where to Eat: Get a taste of Boston's rich Irish heritage at The Druid, a classic pub you'd be excused for mistaking as being taken directly from the Emerald Isle. Locals love the friendly Irish bartenders, who (rightfully) pour one of the best pints of Guinness in town and serve fish and chips in newspaper-lined baskets.

  • Where to Stay: The Courtyard by Marriott Cambridge (from $89/night) puts you steps away from the Charles River, where you might spot rowers from the nearby Riverside Boat Club.


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