Downtown Boston is really the heart of the city. Many companies and agencies have their headquarters in the area, and City Hall and the State House are also located here.
It is probably the most European-like downtown in the US, with pedestrian-ized streets, a very popular large public area near Faneuil Hall, lots of street performers, lots of historic sites, and an efficient public transit system.
Most of the subway lines in Boston meet in the downtown area, meaning the area is well served by public transportation. Stations serving this area are Park Street (Red and Green Lines), Downtown Crossing (Red and Orange Lines), Government Center (Blue and Green Lines), and State (Blue and Orange Lines). These stations are within a 5 minute walk of one another.
There are parking garages along Washington St. and underneath the Boston Common. However, these are fairly expensive. On-street parking is all but nonexistent. For most people, taking the subway is the better option.
Fanueil Hall, early morning
For the tourist, the area of downtown Boston together with its neighboring districts contains the bulk of the main attractions of Boston.
- Massachusetts State House, Beacon & Park Streets (T: Park Street), ☎ +1-617-727-3676 (fax: +1-617-973-4858), . Monday - Friday: 10:00 - 16:00. The Massachusetts State House was built in 1781 on top of land once owned by John Hancock. The dome of the State House was recently refurbished with glittering gold leaf, and makes for a spectacular view at sunset from the Massachusetts Avenue bridge.
- Boston Common, (T: Park Street or Boylston), . Founded in 1634, this is one of the oldest public parks in the United States. Over the years, many large gatherings have been held here, from British encampments in the revolutionary period to anti-war protests in the 1960s. A nice spot for walking around and people-watching at all times of year. The Frog Pond in the center of the Common has wading in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
- Park Street Church, 1 Park Street (T: Park Street), ☎ ''+1 617'' 523-3383, . Founded in 1809, and still an active house of worship, this church is known for a number of historical firsts. Among other things, William Lloyd Garrison delivered his first anti-slavery address here, and "My Country Tis of Thee" was first sung on the front steps.
- Granary Burying Ground, Tremont St. between Park and School Streets (T: Park Street or Government Center), . Many famous figures from the American Revolution are buried here, including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Crispus Attucks.
- King's Chapel, 64 Beacon St. (T: Park Street or Government Center), ☎ 617-523-1749, . Founded as an Anglican congregation in 1686. The bell in the bell tower was originally hung in 1772, cracked in 1814, and was recast by Paul Revere in 1816: this bell is still in use today.
- King's Chapel Burying Ground, (T: Park Street or Government Center). Predating King's Chapel, this cemetery was founded in 1630, and is the oldest in Boston. Notable figures buried here include John Winthrop and William Dawes.
- Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington St. (T: Downtown Crossing or State), ☎ 617-482-6439, . 9:30 AM to 5 PM (Apr-Oct), 10 AM to 4 PM (Nov-Mar). An important meeting place for centuries: currently a museum. In 1773, a group of colonists attacked a tea ship after a meeting here, in what became known as the Boston Tea Party. $5.
- Old State House, 206 Washington St. (T: State or Government Center), ☎ 617-720-1713, . 9 AM to 5 PM (4 PM in Jan, 6 PM in July and Aug). The former seat of government in Boston, and the oldest surviving building. In 1770, the Boston Massacre took place just in front of the State House, and in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians from the balcony. $7.
- Fanueil Hall (The Cradle of Liberty), (T: Government Center, State, or Aquarium), . 9AM-5PM. First built in 1742 as an old market building at the town dock. Town meetings, held here between 1764 and 1774, heard Samuel Adams and others lead cries of protest against the imposition of taxes on the colonies. The building was enlarged in 1806. Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Lucy Stone brought their struggles for freedom here in the 19th century. Market stalls on the first floor service shoppers much as they did in Paul Revere's day. Free.
- Fanueil Hall Marketplace, Faneuil Hall Market Pl (T: Government Center, State, or Aquarium), ☎ (617) 248-0399, . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. This plaza with its conglomeration of shops, a variety of restaurant types, and bars across several buildings is quite popular with tourists. Outdoor performance artists are common.
For any visitor to Boston, the Freedom Trail presents the opportunity for an enjoyable and highly informative insight into Boston’s rich history, dating back to the days of the Revolutionary War. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile redbrick walking trail that makes its way to 16 of Boston’s most historic sites. During this tour you will witness a unique collection of churches, museums, meetinghouses, burial grounds, historic ships as well as several other historical sites. Together these sites tell the story of the American Revolution as it unfolded in Boston during the 1700s. This tour is well worth the $12 price of admission for anyone looking for a comprehensive yet extremely enjoyable look into the rich history of the city of Boston. Trips of the Freedom Trail depart from the Boston Common (located directly across the street from the Public Garden) at 11, Noon, 3:30, and 4:30 Daily. For more in-depth details about each of the 16 primary sites on the Freedom Trail as well as information on how to pre-order tickets at a discounted price, visit the Freedom Trail website .
The following sites are part of the Freedom Trail:
- Boston Common
- Massachusetts State House
- Park Street Church
- Granary Burying Ground
- King's Chapel
- King's Chapel Burying Ground
- Benjamin Franklin statue and former site of the first public school, Boston Latin School
- Old Corner Bookstore
- Old South Meeting House
- Old State House
- Site of the Boston Massacre
- Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market
- Paul Revere House (North End)
- Old North Church (North End)
- Copp's Hill Burying Ground (North End)
- USS Constitution (Charlestown)
- Bunker Hill Monument (Charlestown)
- Boston National Historical Park Visitor Center, 15 State Street, 617-242-5601. Daily 9AM-5PM. National Park Service Rangers lead a free 90 minute walking tour along the heart of Boston's Freedom Trail. Discover Boston's role in the American Revolution. For more information call (617) 242-5642. Tours are offered weather permitting. Each tour is limited to 30 people: first come, first served. On day of tour, rangers will distribute free stickers 30 minutes before tour time. Reservations are not accepted. Tours fill up quickly in summer months. Tour times for 2008: Jun 21 - Aug 31: Daily at 10AM, 11AM and 2PM. Apr 19 - Jun 20; Sep 1 - Nov 30: Weekdays at 2PM only, Weekends at 10AM, 11AM and 2PM. Last day for Freedom Trail tours is Sunday, November 30.
Boston downtown has plenty of eateries to satisfy any culinary desires, from huge food courts to intimate upscale restaurants. Go to one of the Tourist Information centers and ask for your favorites.
- Quincy Market behind Faneuil Hall and across from the Government Center houses one of the best food courts in the world. The building is an old brick marketplace (~1825) restored beautifully to contain a central seating area in the midpoint of a long rectangular building. Two hallways extending left and right are completed lined with all vendors selling all varieties of food, dessert and coffees. You can find everything from the famous New England clam "chowda" in a bread bowl to swordfish kabobs to pizza to some of the very best cannolis. There is something good to eat for all, but get there before 9pm.
- Silvertone Bar and Brill, 69 Bromfield St., +1 617-338-7887. A hip afterwork hangout with very good "new American" food and the best macaroni and cheese in town, right near Tremont Street and the Boston Common.
- Durgin-Park, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, +1 617-227-2038. Famous for their service with attitude. Wholesome New England fare, especially prime rib, lobster. This place does have highly-rated meals, but can range from about $8 for a burger, to up to $25-40 for bigger meals (steak/lobster). Expect to pay at least $20 per person for dinner.
- The Hard Rock Cafe, 22-24 Clinton St., +1 617 424-7625. Open daily at 11AM, . Located near Faneuil Hall. More rock memorabilia than space allows here including stuff from The Bad Boys of Boston, Aerosmith.
- Haymarket Pizza, 106 Blackstone St., (in Boston's historic Haymarket), +1 617-723-8585. The atmosphere is like eating (standing) at a work bench in a garage, but the pizza is inexpensive and among of the best in Boston. In nice weather, tables are set up outside facing the space newly opended up when Route 93 was put underground.
- Joe's American Bar & Grill, 100 Atlantic Ave. (Waterfront), +1 617-367-8700 Right on the water at Christopher Columbus Park, with both inside and al fresco dining.
- Sorriso Italian Trattoria, 107 South St. (Leather District), +1 617-259-1560, . An Italian trattoria with great rissoto and dessert.
- Union Oyster House, 41 Union St., +1 617-227-2750. MBTA: Green or Blue Line to Government center. Oldest continuously operating restaurant in the US. Comfortable atmosphere. Raw bar. $30-50 (less expensive in bar section).
- Anthony's Pier 4, 140 Northern Av, (on the waterfront, on a Boston Harbor pier), +1 617 482-6262. A Boston institution since 1961. A great selection of seafood, famous for their clam chowder, fish chowder and lobster bisque. Their Glover salad, like a Caesar salad, is delicious. They also have Dover sole, flown in, lobster, salmon and many other offerings. They serve popovers with meals. Baked Alaska is a great desert. From $25-$60.
- Locke-Ober, 3 Winter Place (Downtown Crossing), +1 617-542-1340,  An historic Boston restaurant featuring rich continental cuisine. Formerly frequented by John F. Kennedy among other luminaries, it was recently made over by celebrity chef Lydia Shire, but still retains its stuffy Brahmin attitude.
- Radius, 8 High Street, +1 617-426-1234,  A haute cuisine restaurant in the business district. Modern decor and great food. Tasting menus available alongside a la carte dining.
- Troquet, 140 Boylston St (at Boston Common), +1 617-695-9463, . Its a wine bar serving a variety of half and full glasses along with bottles of wine paired with its french menu. The food is fabulous as its its atmosphere. Expect dinner for two people will run $100-200+.
- J.J. Foley's, 21 Kingston St., (Downtown Crossing), +1 617-338-7713. Hard-drinking Irish bar for the downtown crowd.
- Kitty O'Shea's Irish Pub and Bistro, 131 State St, ☎ ''+1'' 617-725-0100 ([email protected]), . 11:30AM-2AM. Decor includes 200 year old floorboards from and Irish church and stain glass windows depicting scenes from around Ireland.
- Good Life, 29 Kingston St, +1 617-451-2622, . The Good Life is a hidden gem, located in Boston's financial district. They offer an oft-changing menu of high quality food in their simple/chic dining room. Guests can also enjoy visiting their unique downstairs vodka lounge that features over 150 different types! Various music acts featured nightly downstairs. No Cover Charge.
- Rumor, 100 Warrenton St (in the Theatre District), +1 617-422-0045, . Easily the city's trendiest night club, with a more cosmopolitan air and well-heeled and attractive clientele than the somewhat seedier Landsdowne Street clubs. Drinks are relatively expensive; cover charge on the weekends is $20. Dress well.
Faneuil Hall Area (Government Center or Aquarium subway stop)
- The Black Rose, 160 State St (Faneuil Hall Marketplace), +1 617-742-2286. Despite its proximity to Faneuil Hall, tourists overlook this location regularly. Excellent deals on lobster too. Try the seared scallops (~$18) - plump, juicy, very fresh. Live acoustic Irish music with authentic Irish musicians. Much appreciated by the local crowd early on a Sunday evening (fathers dancing with small children, regulars calling for their favorite songs). It probably got more "adult" and less child-friendly as the evening wore on. Wait staff quite efficient and friendly.
- McCormack & Schmick's, North Market Building (Faneuil Hall Marketplace), +1 (617) 720-5522, . $1.95 bar menu during happy hour.
- Cheers Boston, 5 Faneuil Hall, (Faneuil Hall Marketplace), +1 (617) 227-0150. Not the original Cheers from the TV show which is on Beacon St., but owned by the same folks.
- Bell in Hand, 45 Union St, +1 (617) 227-2098. Established in 1795, the bar claims to be the oldest continuously operating tavern in the country, but is far more a club than a tavern. Downstairs is generally packed on weekends, upstairs is a multiroom club.
- Purple Shamrock, 1 Union St, +1 (617) 227-2060, . Great pub, often with live music.
- The Green Dragon Tavern, 11 Marshall St, +1 617-367-0055. A nice relaxing place to stop in after work or whilst walking the freedom trail. Opened in 1657 in the historic Blackstone section of Boston, this tavern was the meeting place for the Sons of Liberty as they discussed and planned political revolution. British officers also frequented the pub and were spied upon by American patriots. The Green Dragon Tavern the “Headquarters of the Revolution” was rebuilt after a major fire. Featuring lively entertainment and lovely food in an Irish pub atmosphere. Very reasonable prices. Two with drink is about $25-$30.
- Flat Black Coffee Company, 50 Broad St, +1 617-951-1440, . A great place to get fresh coffees from around the world. Most of their coffees are certified Organic, Shade Grown and Fair Trade.
- Beantown Hostel, 222 Friend St (near North Station and the TD BankNorth Garden), +1 617-723-0800. This popular spot is near lots of night spots and not too far from the North End. Watch out for the 2AM curfew.
- Doubletree Hotel Boston Downtown, 821 Washington Street+1 800-HILTON, . The newest hotel in Boston's Theatre District, the Doubletree Downtown Boston hotel is located steps away from many of the city's historical and popular attractions, offering you the ultimate Boston experience. When you stay at the Doubletree Downtown Boston hotel, you're two blocks from the famous Boston Common and Public Gardens and across the street from the New England Medical Center.
- Harborside, 185 State Street, Boston, +1 617-723-7500, Pleasant, remodeled in the boutique style (exposed brick, modern furniture without being uncomfortable). Rooms are a decent size, comfortable bed, no desk, nice TV, wireless internet free in all rooms, clean. Very quiet - no street noise at all. Coffee available in the lobby all day for free. No restaurant or room service. Basic travelers hotel - no gym. Close to Fanueil Hall, Aquarium, many restaurants within walking distance. Close to Financial District. Close to various convenience stores.
- Hilton Boston Financial District (Formerly the Wyndham Boston), 89 Broad St. Built in 1928 as Boston's first skyscraper.
- Boston Marriott Longwharf, 296 State Street, +1 617-227-0800. . Located on Boston Harbor at the historic Long Wharf in downtown Boston. This Boston, Massachusetts hotel features 400 hotel rooms, 11 hotel suites, a concierge lounge with harbor views, and Oceana Restaurant that serves fresh seafood cuisine.
- Four Seasons Hotel Boston, 200 Boylston St., Boston, Massachusetts 02116. Phone: 617-338-4400, Fax: 617-423-0154, . Most Bostonians consider this hotel to be the nicest in Boston.
- InterContinental Boston, 510 Atlantic Av. (On the Waterfront), Phone: +1 617-747-1000, . The InterContinental Boston Hotel, a new symbol of elegance and luxury on the Boston Waterfront. The 424 guest rooms & suites of this 5 star hotel are conveniently located close to the Boston Commons, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North End, Logan Airport, Boston Convention Center and other downtown Boston attractions.
- The Langham Hotel Boston, 250 Franklin Street., Phone: +1 617-451-1900, . Originally the building of the Federal Reserve Bank, this AAA four-diamond Boston hotel is now a national architectural landmark. The hotel overlooks the gardens of Post Office Square and is steps from Boston's shops, restaurants and attractions such as Faneuil Hall, Newbury Street, the Freedom Trail, and the financial district. Cafe Fleuri inside is now known as one of Boston's finest restaurants and is known for its Saturday Chocolate Bar Buffet and Sunday Jazz brunch.
- New Ritz-Carlton, 10 Avery St., Phone: +1 617-574-7100, Fax: +1 617-574-7200, . Located in the Theater District directly across the common from the original Riz-Carlton. Relatively new hotel with a very modern design.
- Nine Zero, 90 Tremont St., Phone: +1 617-772-5800, Fax: +1 617-772-5810, . Trendy boutique hotel. For a real splurge stay in the Cloud Nine Suite with views of Boston Common.
- Omni Parker House Hotel, 60 School St., Phone: +1 617-227-8600, Fax: +1 617-742-5729,  The oldest hotel in America. Located in downtown Boston on the Freedom Trail, the venerable Omni Parker House Hotel opened its doors in 1855. If you want to surround yourself in Boston history and opulence in the heart of Downtown Boston, this is THE place to stay. Ho Chi Minh & Malcom X are former employees. Bonus: If you eat in the dining room, ask to sit in the booth in which JFK asked Jackie O to marry him.
- The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, 50 Park Plaza Arlington Street, ☎ 1-617-426-5545, . A member of the Historic Hotels of America, The Boston Park Plaza has welcomed numerous U.S. presidents and foreign dignitaries. The hotel is located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood adjacent to the Boston Public Gardens. The hotel features 941 guest rooms and 38 meeting and conference rooms totaling 14,000 square feet of meeting space.
- Ritz-Carlton, 15 Arlington St., Phone: +1 617-536-5700, Fax: +1 617-536-1335, . This is the original Ritz-Carlton, and is located right in the heart of downtown Boston on the Newbury St. side.