What are the best areas to stay in Boston for tourists? The answer depends on what you plan to do when you get to Bean Town. Do you want to dive into Revolutionary War history, check out record stores with graduate students, shop along Newbury Street, pose with the famed bronze duck sculptures at the Public Garden or watch boats rowing down the Charles River?
Where to stay in Boston? Best areas and neighborhoods to stay in Boston
This city is a college town, a startup capital, a maritime center, a hotbed of innovation and a slice of living history. It’s no wonder why so many people from around the world love to visit Boston. You’ll feel the story of Boston in your bones whether you’re gazing up at the 52-story Prudential Tower or visiting sites from the Revolutionary War.
Boston isn’t a city with a single personality. It is actually comprised of several neighborhoods that each have their own histories and vibes. Take a closer look at what’s waiting in all of the different areas of Boston to determine the best place to stay in Boston.
Downtown Boston has the vibe of a busting metropolis with a heart that loves history. One of the best things to do when exploring this portion of the city is to hop on the Freedom Trail. This historic and iconic trail will bring you to tons of important attractions that define Boston.
It takes about three hours to complete the entire trail. However, you can cover as much or as little of the trail as you want. In addition to great spots from history, you will also pass by the corporate headquarters of many global companies and financial institutions. City Hall is also located along the way.
Downtown is a great spot to stay in Boston if you’re looking for a business hotel. One of the big perks of staying here is that you will be able to use the T to easily get around. Some of the big attractions to see are Boston Common, Boston Public Garden, Quincy Market and the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
A spot called Downtown Crossing is a pedestrian-only zone at the meeting of Washington Street, Winter Street and Summer Street. This is the go-to spot in the city for fashion chains, discount chains and souvenir shops.
Keep in mind that Downtown Boston actually shares some overlap with neighborhoods like the Financial District and Beacon Hall.
2. The Theater District and Chinatown
Boston definitely holds its own against cities like New York when it comes to culture and the arts. This will be very apparent when you visit the Theater District and Chinatown. Spots like the Boston Opera House, the Shubert Theatre, the Charles Playhouse, the Colonial Theatre and the Wang Theatre always have very interesting playbills.
Boston’s Theater District is one of the best spots for shopping in the city. This is where you’ll find one-of-a-kind bookstores, jewelers and clothiers.
The bright gate that ushers you into Chinatown is a great place to stop and take a picture. You can have tons of fun browsing herb shops and Asian markets as you explore the neighborhood.
One thing that people love about staying in Chinatown is that you will find many restaurants that are open very late at night. That’s great news if you’re a night owl. The restaurants here are often filled with people looking to grab a bite after catching a show in the Theatre District. The restaurants in Chinatown are known for offering great prices.
This is a wonderful section of the city to stay in Boston if you’re looking for a vibe that’s eclectic and just a little bit funky. The hotels in this part of the city tend to be pretty reasonable.
3. The Financial District
Boston’s Financial District is the backbone of downtown. Take a moment to take in sleek high-rise condos, glossy financial offices, high-end coffee shops and manicured parks. Post Office Square offers a beautiful green lawn, fountains and gardens for when you want to enjoy some fresh air in the city.
World-renowned financial institutions like Fidelity Investments, Putnam Investments and DWS Scudder Investments all have their headquarters in the Financial District. This is a great place to grab a drink at an Irish pub during happy hour if you want to mingle with the city’s working crowd.
The streets here are peppered with business hotels that cater to elite clientele. That means you’ll pay top dollar to book a room in the Financial District.
4. Back Bay
Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood is affluent and beautiful. This neighborhood has more of a residential vibe than a spot like the Financial District. It’s not uncommon to see families strolling along with baby carriages or walking their dogs after work.
Back Bay is famous for its long rows of Victorian brownstones. It is also known for being the home of the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, the Prudential Tower and Trinity Church. Famous Newbury Street is also located in Back Bay.
This neighborhood is primarily home to boutique and high-end hotels that cater to people who want to be near the river. Back Bay has several Green Line and Orange Line stations.
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Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood stands in the shadow of famous Fenway Park. This high-energy, fun neighborhood is a great place to stay if you like to be near the action. You can even have a good time here if you know nothing about baseball or the Boston Red Sox.
Kenmore Square is where most of the restaurants, sports bars and nightclubs in this part of the city are located. The hangout spots in Kenmore Square always seem to have high concentrations of students on nights and weekends.
That’s because this neighborhood contains parts of Boston University, Northeastern University, the Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory of Music. The Museum of Fine Arts is located in Fenway-Kenmore. In addition, this is where an urban wild and parkland called the Back Bay Fens is located.
The student-centered vibe of this neighborhood helps to give it an independent feel. You’ll find tons of small, independent shops and restaurants here. This is a great part of the city to stay in if you’re looking for a young vibe and you’d like to find hotels that are slightly more affordable than what you might get in other areas.
Students who live in Fenway-Kent are often looking to rent out their apartments or rooms to guests during the summer months. This neighborhood is served by the MBTA Orange Line a handful of MBTA Green Line trolley stops.
6. The South End
South End is probably what you’re thinking of if you’re seeking authentic, old-school Boston. This culturally rich, charming neighborhood is home to tons of design galleries, jazz clubs, trendy restaurants, art shops, low-key pubs and artisan food shops.
Tremont Street is where most of the neighborhood’s best restaurants are found. The food scene in the neighborhood includes buzzed-about food trucks and cute farmers’ markets.
Most people know the South End for its beautiful rows of Victorian houses and lush parks. The entire neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The South End is especially popular with young families, working professionals and immigrant populations. It all adds up to a very fun and eclectic neighborhood.
South End is one of the better neighborhoods in Boston for backpackers or travelers hunting for cheap accommodations. The area has Red Line rapid transit stations on Broadway and Andrew.
7. The North End
Boston’s historic North End is most commonly known as Boston’s Little Italy. This is a delightful, charming neighborhood that offers peace and quiet. What’s more, it is home to some of the best bakeries and restaurants in all of New England.
You can still hear Italian being spoken through open windows on summer days or whenever you visit the restaurants in the neighborhood. The North End is comprised of a maze of narrow streets full of very old buildings.
You can follow the self-guided Freedom Trail while staying in the neighborhood to see attractions like the Old North Church and the 1680 Paul Revere House.
Of course, one of the best things to do while staying in the North End is to eat on Hanover Street! The Italian restaurants here are second to none. Iconic bakeries like Mike’s Pastry offer cake, cannoli and cappuccino. The old-school delis here will give you a taste of Boston’s true Italian side.
The North End’s narrow, dense streets make this neighborhood ideal for pedestrians. You can access the North End via mass transit using MBTA’s Orange Line and Green Line at Haymarket and North Station or the Blue Line at Aquarium Station.
There aren’t many hotels in the North End. However, you will be able to easily walk to the Financial District if you do book a room here during your stay in Boston.
8. South Boston
The working-class, Irish-American vibe of Boston that was immortalized in the movie “Good Will Hunting” can still be felt as soon as you enter South Boston. Of course, this densely populated maritime neighborhood is now a favorite spot among working professionals.
This neighborhood is home to the South Boston Waterfront. This bustling seaport area holds 78 restaurants and eight hotels. Some of the top attractions to see in the neighborhood include the South Boston Maritime Park, the Boston Children’s Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park and Castle Island Park.
You’ll notice new constructions going up all around you if you decide to stay in this neighborhood on the rise. It’s still possible to find some reasonable hotel rates here. However, more and more upscale hotels are moving in.
9. Beacon Hill
Welcome to picture-perfect Boston when you step foot in Beacon Hill. This neighborhood is characterized by its steep streets lit by antique lanterns, epic Victorian estates and Federal-style row houses. The most iconic building in Beacon Hill is the gold-domed Massachusetts State House. Beacon Hill is adjacent to Boston Common.
Things get really posh once you get to Charles Street. This is where you’ll find world-class dining, antique shops and boutiques. You will also come upon the formal Public Garden and the Charles River Esplanade. The waterfront area of Beacon Hill is a great place to catch some outdoor concerts in the summer. Boston Common features a skating pond in the winter.
This is an extremely upscale and desirable neighborhood. It’s also one of the most expensive places to stay in Boston. Visitors can choose from a wide variety of luxury and boutique hotels.
Historic Charlestown is a waterfront neighborhood with deep roots. Old homes with clapboard siding, brick townhouses and pubs where everybody knows everybody make this neighborhood feel like authentic Boston.
Tons of families and young professionals live in this neighborhood. It has a mostly residential and yuppie vibe. However, attractions like the Bunker Hill Monument attract tourists from all over the world. The scenes in Charleston are idyllic. Walk along the waterfront area to see sailboats moored on the beautiful Charles River.
Charlestown is served by the MBTA Orange Line. You’ll pay a premium to stay at the hotels in beautiful Charlestown. It is known for its posh and boutique hotels.
Where Is the Best Place to Stay in Boston?
All of the neighborhoods in Boston offer something special. One thing to keep in mind is that Boston is small and highly walkable when compared to other cities. It is worlds away from a sprawling city like New York.
That means that where you choose to stay in Boston is less important than it would be in a bigger city. You can essentially use a train or simply walk to wherever you’re going in most cases. Of course, that can be more of an issue during the winter months because New England winters are known for being a bit brutal.
The fact still remains that you’ll see everyone from men and women wearing business suits to college students wearing their school colors walking around at virtually all hours of the day and night in Boston.
Focusing your search for places to stay in Boston on Downtown is a smart choice if you’re most interested in visiting historical sites. Back Bay is a top choice if you’re more focused on shopping and visiting museums.
You may find that South Boston is one of the areas in Boston that is a little bit out of the way. That means that you could potentially find a good deal on a hotel in the neighborhood. However, you’ll need to be willing to give up the convenience of being able to get to landmarks, attractions and restaurant easily.
The bottom line is that there’s really no bad place to stay in Bean Town. All of the popular neighborhoods and areas in Boston offer their own unique charms and attractions. There’s a good chance that you’ll want to cover them all regardless of where you actually keep your luggage.