Feather & Flint

Downtown Boston & the Harbor: 5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods, Part II

February 7, 2017 38 Comments 23 Photos

Downtown Boston

I believe that anyone can feel at home in Boston; and to help you find a neighborhood to explore, I’ve put together this travel guide to the must-see spots in downtown Boston. In last week’s post, I showed you Back Bay; be sure to also check out my posts on Beacon Hillthe North End, and the South End!

Financial District

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods:

Downtown Boston & Boston Harbor

Downtown Boston is a difficult-to-define area that includes Boston Common, the Financial District, and Downtown Crossing. Several of Boston’s oldest buildings are located in downtown Boston, and skyscrapers now occupy the section of Boston destroyed by the 1872 fire. Walking the Freedom Trail, which connects Boston’s most historic sites, is a must-do for many tourists.

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Boylston Street

Must-See Spots in Downtown Boston

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Boston Common

Boston Common

Founded in 1634, this is the oldest city park in the United States. It’s the perfect place for a picnic in the center of downtown Boston. (By the way… This is where the Boston Women’s March was held in January. Imagine this gorgeous park filled with 175,000 people!)

  • Visitor’s Center: 139 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02111
  • Closest T stop: Park Street (Red and Green lines – all branches) or Boylston (Green line – all branches)
  • Season: All (you can ice skate on the Frog Pond in the winter)
5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Boston Common

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House

The dome was covered in copper in 1802, gold leaf in 1874, was painted black during World War II to protect Boston from attacks, and was re-gilded with 23k gold in 1997. Be sure to check out this landmark on your tour of downtown Boston!

  • 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02133
  • Closest T stop: Park Street (Red and Green lines – all branches)
  • Season: All
5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Beacon Street

Granary Burying Ground

Granary Burying Ground

Granary Burying Ground & King’s Chapel Burying Ground

Granary Burying Ground, founded in 1660, is where Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and many other notable figures were buried. It’s an enormous graveyard in the heart of downtown Boston, with a total of 2,345 gravestones. Down the street is the King’s Chapel Burying Ground, the oldest cemetery in Boston.

  • Granary Burying Ground: Intersection of Tremont Street & Bromfield Street, Boston, MA 02108
  • King’s Chapel Burying Ground: 58 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108
  • Closest T stop: Park Street (Red and Green lines – all branches)
  • Season: Spring, summer, fall
5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

King’s Chapel Burying Ground

Old State House

Old State House

Old State House

This was Boston’s State House from 1713 to 1798, making it one of the oldest buildings in the United States. I love how it’s surrounded by modern skyscrapers in the heart of downtown Boston—the contrast between history and innovation is quintessentially Boston!

  • 206 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02109
  • Closest T stop: Government Center (Blue and Green lines – all branches)
  • Season: All
Old State House

Old State House

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Old City Hall

Old City Hall

This beautiful building was home to Boston’s city council from 1865 to 1969. Definitely add it to your “must-see” list when you visit downtown Boston.

  • 45 School Street, Boston, MA 02108
  • Closest T stop: Government Center (Blue and Green lines – all branches) or Park Street (Red and Green lines – all branches)
  • Season: All
Financial District

Oliver Street

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Quincy Market

Fanueil Hall & Quincy Market

Fanueil Hall is a marketplace that’s been in existence in downtown Boston since 1743. (Bostonians pronounce it Fan-yull—it rhymes with Daniel.) Quincy Market, built in 1824, is a good (but crowded) place to grab a quick bite to eat in downtown Boston. Nearby are Union Oyster House, America’s oldest restaurant; and the Bell in Hand Tavern, the country’s oldest tavern.

  • Fanueil Hall: 4 South Market Building, Boston, MA 02109
  • Quincy Market: 206 South Market Street, Boston, MA 02109
  • Union Oyster House & the Bell in Hand Tavern: 45 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108
  • Closest T stop: State (Blue and Orange lines), Government Center (Blue and Green lines – all branches)
  • Season: All
Bell in Hand Tavern & Union Oyster House

Union Street

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Downtown Crossing

Downtown Crossing

This is a shopping district in downtown Boston that recently received a makeover, and it looks great! The juxtaposition of modern and historical buildings is neat to see.

  • Intersection of Washington Street & Summer Street, Boston, MA 02110
  • Closest T stop: Downtown Crossing (Red and Orange lines)
  • Season: All 
Downtown Crossing

Downtown Crossing

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Old South Meeting House

Old South Meeting House

This church, built in downtown Boston in 1729, was where the colonists gathered for the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The British retaliated by filling it with dirt and using it for horseback riding.

  • 310 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108
  • Closest T stop: Government Center (Blue and Green lines – all branches), Park Street (Red and Green lines – all branches), or Downtown Crossing (Red and Orange lines)
  • Season: All
Sweet Bakery

School Street

Boston Athenaeum

I haven’t actually been here yet, but the pictures I’ve seen are so stunning that I had to include it on this list of must-see sites in downtown Boston. Founded in 1807, it’s one of the country’s oldest independent libraries. You can tour the entire building for free if you make a reservation.

  • 10 ½ Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
  • Closest T stop: Park Street (Red and Green lines – all branches)
  • Season: All

Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor

Must-See Spots in the Harbor & Waterfront

The Waterfront is a strip of Boston between downtown Boston and the North End that overlooks the ocean. The Harborwalk will let you wander the entire length of the waterfront; I like the portion from Sargent’s Wharf through Columbus Waterfront Park, around Long Wharf, and ending at the New England Aquarium (where you can see the seals in an outdoor tank for free!). If you get hungry, the flagship Legal Seafoods location can be found here.

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Boston Harbor

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Columbus Waterfront Park

Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park

This waterfront park has a beautiful arbor, as well as beautiful views of the harbor and downtown Boston.

  • Intersection of Atlantic Avenue & Cross Street, Boston, MA 02110
  • Closest T stop: Aquarium (Blue line)
  • Season: Spring, summer, fall
5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Boston Harbor

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Fort Warren on Georges Island

Georges Island

On Georges Island, you can tour Fort Warren, a surprisingly beautiful Civil War prison built in 1847.

  • Ferries depart from Long Wharf North at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue & State Street, Boston, MA 02110
  • Closest T stop: Aquarium (Blue line)
  • Season: Open from May to October
5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Georges Island

Winthrop Square

Winthrop Square

Downtown Boston Streets to Wander

Broad Street
Congress Street
Freedom Trail
School Street
Washington Street

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Beacon Street

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

Boston Harbor

Waterfront Streets to Wander

The Harborwalk

5 Must-Visit Boston Neighborhoods

The Harborwalk

Downtown Boston

Liked this post on downtown Boston? Read last week’s post on Back Bay; next, check out my posts on Beacon Hillthe North End, and the South End!

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38 Comments

  1. Reply

    Lori

    February 8, 2017

    Great post! I must put Boston on my places to see list! Tons of history!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 9, 2017

      Yup, there’s ENDLESS history to discover here – it’s really a unique city! Thanks, Lori!

  2. Reply

    Creating Through Chaos

    February 8, 2017

    I grew up in Mass, Boston is so beautiful! What a great post amazing pictures!! Go Pats!!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 9, 2017

      Thank you so much!! And WOW, what a game, right?! I normally don’t watch sports, but I was glued to the screen (from a bar in Canada, nonetheless!).

  3. Reply

    David

    February 8, 2017

    I loved reading about all of these various different places, not only the history but when you can visit them so I could plan a trip.

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 9, 2017

      Awesome, David, I love hearing that my posts are helpful! Thanks!

  4. Reply

    Rose

    February 8, 2017

    I love your travel guides! I want to visit Boston again so much.

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 9, 2017

      Yay, thank you, Rose – so happy to hear that! 🙂

  5. Reply

    Kristine-Bites of Flavor

    February 8, 2017

    I’ve always wanted to go to Boston and you’ve inspired me even more!!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 9, 2017

      Thanks, Kristine – there’s really something for everyone here, definitely put it on your list!

  6. Reply

    candy

    February 9, 2017

    Boston is one place I have always wanted to visit. History is my love and any kind of history excites me. On my list hopefully soon.

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 9, 2017

      Oh wow, you would absolutely love it here! My husband is a history nerd, and I love photographing interesting architecture, so Boston has been very fun for us 🙂

  7. Reply

    Abbey

    February 9, 2017

    I’d love to visit the Old State House and Old City Hall! Really any old buildings! They’re so beautiful!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 9, 2017

      I’m the same way – I always gravitate to the “Old City” sections of cities!

  8. Reply

    Laura

    February 9, 2017

    The photos are gorgeous! Maybe I’ll go there someday.

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 9, 2017

      Thanks, Laura! Definitely add it to your list, there’s so much to see & do here!

  9. Reply

    Danielle

    February 10, 2017

    These places look so nice! If I’m ever in Boston, I’ll be sure to check them out!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Thanks, Danielle – I hope you get to visit someday!!

  10. Reply

    colleen wool

    February 10, 2017

    Boston looks so beautiful. The buildings look so majestic!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Right?! Even more so in person, if you can believe it! 🙂

  11. Reply

    Kristin

    February 10, 2017

    Old City Hall looks so gorgeous decorated for Christmas!
    I have heard that Boston is just gorgeous and you have reiterated that point here. Hopefully I’ll get to go one day.

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Doesn’t it?? I walked past it on the way to my company’s Christmas party and had to stop to snap a photo, even though it was 12 degrees!

  12. Reply

    Natalie

    February 10, 2017

    I am going to Boston for the first time in May and this post will be a great little guide for me. Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Ooh, I’m so happy to hear that! Have such a great time, it’ll be much warmer then 😉

  13. Reply

    Gennifer Rose

    February 10, 2017

    Love your photography, it really captures the details in these awesome historical buildings. I’ve visited Boston a couple times and this is exactly how I remember it 🙂

    Gennifer Rose | http://www.GenniferRose.com

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Thank you so much, Gennifer, that’s so sweet of you to say! Makes me so happy to know I capture Boston’s character well–that’s exactly what I hope to do 🙂

  14. Reply

    Julia

    February 11, 2017

    Such a beautiful area! It’s been a long time since I walked the historic trail, so I really need to do it again soon!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Thank you! I’ve actually never walked it in full all at once–I walk little pieces of it during lunch every day!

  15. Reply

    Jyo

    February 11, 2017

    I absolutely love your pictures!! I visited Boston last year and reading your lovely post brought back wonderful memories of walking down the Freedom trail and exploring the waterfont! Looking forward to your future posts!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Ahhh, thank you so much, Jyo–that means so much to me!! Would love to hear what you think about the rest of the series 🙂

  16. Reply

    Andi

    February 11, 2017

    I love this post girl. I’ve been to Boston a few times and always end up just hanging around Beacon Hill. I need to put together a new list for my next visit and you’ve just done that for me!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Thank you so much, Andi–so happy to hear that!! Beacon Hill is gorgeous and SO Bostonian, but it’s just one of many incredible places (and frankly, it’s exhausting to walk around for too long, hahah!).

  17. Reply

    Sarah

    February 12, 2017

    Now I know why my husband loves Boston! I didn’t know there’s just so much to do and see! I think I’d love to hang around at the Waterfront area. So gorgeous!

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Yesss, so glad my posts could introduce you to Boston! There really are amazing things to see around every corner–and the Waterfront is absolutely beautiful in the summer!

  18. Reply

    Laagan Kaayo

    February 12, 2017

    The pictures are soooo inviting! Can’t wait to visit Boston and see them myself <3

    • Reply

      Robin

      February 12, 2017

      Thank you so much, Laagan! I hope you get to visit someday!

  19. Reply

    Anna nuttall

    February 14, 2017

    I love the look of the building. I would love to visit Boston one day. xx

  20. Reply

    Cathy

    March 18, 2017

    I’ve lived in New England all my life and still haven’t seen all of Boston- adding George’s Island and the Athenaeum to my list. So many great spots to visit in Boston, thanks for adding a few more:)

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