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Boston’s Beacon Hill Neighborhood

What makes Beacon Hill one of the most desirable and expensive neighborhoods in Boston?

We are going to explore this great area of Boston and find out. Be sure to visit Beacon Hill, or stay in this neighborhood the next time you visit.

Related: Short-term apartment rentals in Beacon Hill

Historic Beacon Hill

A walk through Beacon Hill is like a walk back in time with its Federal-style rowhouses, narrow, gaslit streets and brick sidewalks. The name, “Beacon Hill” is derived from the location of a former beacon atop the highest point in central Boston.

The area, approximately one-half to three quarters of a mile square, is bounded by Cambridge Street on the north, Somerset Street on the east, Beacon Street on the south, and Storrow Drive on the west.

In 1955 Beacon Hill was made the Historic Beacon Hill District and it was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1962.

The neighborhood consists of three sections:

  • South slope
  • Flat of the Hill
  • North slope

State House in Beacon HillThe Massachusetts State House is located on Beacon Street and is the home of the Commonwealth’s government. This building has a magnificent gilded dome and is pen to the public. Free tours are offered Monday through Friday between 10am and 3:30pm (reservation is requested.)

The Boston Common is a popular park enjoyed by residents and tourists. It is located just across from the State House.

The Charles Street Meeting House in Beacon Hill is a historic church that was built in 1807. This building was the site for many famous speeches by Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth. Currently is being used for commercial purposes.

The Nichols House Museum was built in 1805 and renovated in 1830 and is perfect example of a  four-story row house decorated in original furnishings. It was built by architect Charles Bulfinch and gets its name from Rose Standish Nichols, who lived in the house between 1885 and 1960.

Beacon Hill Shopping

Beacon Hill’s main drag, Charles Street, is the best place to start your shopping experience. Many antique stores, unique boutiques, and things you can’t find at big box stores.

Beacon Hill Dining

Some well established anchor restaurants in this area include The Paramount, Tatte Bakery & Cafe, and Ristorante Toscano. But you will find hidden gems, the perfect cup of coffee, breakfast and more.

Related: OpenTable Beacon Hill Restaurants

As you can see, a visit to Boston isn’t complete without a stop in Beacon Hill. There are so many things to do and historical sites it is definitely worthwhile.

Shopping in Boston

Shopping in Boston is like no other place on earth. There are so many different areas in Boston that have their own unique shopping experience. No matter what you are looking for you can find it in Boston, and will be sure to have a good time and be entertained along the way.

Newberry StreetNewbury Street Shopping

The rich and famous shop here, so why shouldn’t you? You never know what hidden gem you will find along these eight blocks filled with salons, boutiques, and fabulous dining.  You may even spot a celebrity. The most “high-end boutiques” are located near the Boston Public Garden end of Newbury Street and is considered one of the most expensive streets in the world.

Related: Boston’s Amazing Back Bay

Harvard Square ShoppingHarvard Square

Harvard Square is famous for many things and it is so popular it even has it’s own website. According to the site, Harvard Square has been a home and a gathering place for authors, poets, publishers, printers, teachers students and booksellers. It also has excellent shopping. Harvard Square is indeed located near Harvard University and includes:

The Garage“, a renovated parking garage turned into a mini-shopping center and home to many merchants.

The Coop, Harvard University’s bookstore.

Out of Town News, located at the center of the square and which stocks newspapers, magazines, and other reading material from all around the world.

Prudential Center MallThe Prudential Center Mall & Copley Place

For an indoor shopping experience head over to this section of Boston and spend the whole day meandering in and out of shops, out of the elements. The two shopping centers are connected by a covered bridge and contain big name retailers that will provide everything you ever wanted while shopping in Boston.

Downtown Crossingdowtown crossing

Downtown Crossing is near Boston Common located at the intersection of Washington, Winter, and Summer Streets. Washington Street, from Temple Place to Franklin Street, is a pedestrian mall (no cars allowed) and at noon-time thousands of people cross Washington Street headed toward restaurants, stores, service businesses, or to the State House or City Hall. You can do as much people watching as you can do shopping here.

Faneuil Hall MarketplaceFaneuil Hall Marketplace

Faneuil Hall is located near the waterfront and is considered Boston’s Government Center. It has been a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1743. The main complex is comprised of a South Building, central Quincy Market Building, and North Building. The shopping area was renovated in 1975 and has been used as a model in other cities for urban renewal projects.

The Quincy Market building is located In the center of this area and contains restaurants, bars, and push-cart vendors. There is a large food court located under the dome in the center of the building. You can also often find artists and entertainers in this area.

South End Open Market (SoWa)

SoWa is the creative center of Boston’s South End and is short for “South of Washington. ” USA Today named it the #2 Best Art District in the country.  You can find the SoWa Open Market and the SoWa Vintage Market there as well.

Related: Boston’s South End: Everything You Need to Know

More Shopping in Boston

No matter which Boston Neighborhoods are your favorite, you can find shopping and entertainment just about anywhere in the city. Have fun exploring!

Boston’s Amazing Back Bay

Boston’s Back Bay is chock full of amazing architecture, restaurants, shopping, art galleries, and more. Today, along with neighboring Beacon Hill, it is one of Boston’s two most expensive residential neighborhoods.

Learn more about this popular area of Boston and why you should visit!

Back Bay Architecture

Victorian Brownstones. The rows and rows of Victorian brownstone homes are considered one of the best preserved examples of 19th-century urban design in the United States. These regal sentries make the Back Bay famous, and create the vision most people imagine Boston to be.

Boston Public back bay boson libraryLibrary. An architecture marvel in its own right, the Library stands tall on the corner of Dartmouth and Boylston Streets. According to its website, the Boston Public Library has a collection of over 23.7 million items, which makes it one of the largest (and the first) municipal public library systems in the United States.



Back bay hancock tower200 Clarendon. Previously known as the John Hancock Tower, it is the tallest building in Boston and all of New England. The tower was designed by Henry N. Cobb of the firm I. M. Pei & Partners and was completed in 1976. The next year the American Institute of Architects presented the firm with a National Honor Award for the building.





Prudential Tower. This is the second tallest building in Boston and is also known as the Prudential Building or, as locals call it, “The Pru.” It has a 50th-floor observation deck, called the Skywalk Observatory, which is currently the highest observation deck in New England that is open to the public. Definitely worth the elevator trip up!

skywalk observatory back bay

Newbury StreetBack Bay Shopping

Back Bay has one of THE BEST shopping districts in Boston. Newbury Street, Boylston Street and Commonwealth Avenue are lined with unique shops. Keep your eyes open because you may spot a celebrity shopping on these picturesque streets.

Most famous perhaps is Newbury Street, with its numerous chic boutiques and galleries it is a must for anyone new to Boston.

Back Bay Dining

Since Back Bay is one of the most expensive places in Boston, there are many fine dining experiences to splurge on. But the more thrifty traveler can take heart and find reasonable options as well.

Cheap Restaurants in Back Bay

Best Fine Dining in Back Bay

Cafes in Back Bay

Bars in Back Bay

Back Bay Accommodations

The best way to see Boston is to live like a Bostonian. Short-term Apartment rentals are extremely popular in this area and with so many of them nestled in this historical neighborhood you can’t go wrong. In this high-rent district you get more bang for your buck in a furnished apartment. 

Check out these Boston short-term rental options and experience the Back Bay like a local.

Free Things to Do in Boston

Free equals good! Grab your walking shoes and get out and explore Boston with these FREE options. Time your exhibits and exploring right, and you could do it all for free. Have fun!

Related: Your Next Outdoor Adventure in Boston

Free Museums in Boston

The Institute of Contemporary Art, BostonInstitute for Contemporary Art.  The ICA is located in South Boston and features contemporary art and emerging new artists. It is very family friendly.  Admission is FREE for all every Thursday from 5 to 9 PM during ICA Free Thursday Nights.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The MFA has one of the largest collections in the world with nearly 500,000 works of art. They have art from ancient Egyptian to contemporary, special exhibitions, and innovative educational programs. Admission is FREE Wednesday nights after 4 pm (voluntary donations is suggested). Also, for youths ages 7–17, admission is free during weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and Boston public school holidays; otherwise admission for youths is $10.

Commonwealth Museum. This museum has state of the art interactive exhibits. Its dramatic “treasures gallery” holds the great historic documents that protect our liberties. Admission and parking is always FREE to this museum.

Boston Fire Museum. This museum is located in an old firehouse at 344 Congress Street.  You will find fire fighting memorabilia from the Greater Boston area as well as information on fire safety. The museum is open on Saturdays from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM and admission is FREE (donations accepted).

Boston Parksswan boats at boston common

The following list if from the Boston Parks Department website and includes all the Boston Parks that make up what is called the Emerald Necklace–an 1,100-acre chain of nine parks linked by parkways and waterways. Download a map here.

From Boston Common to Franklin Park it is approximately 7 miles by foot through the parks.

freedom trail emblemBoston Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile, red-lined route that includes 16 historically significant sites. Explore museums and meetinghouses, churches, and burying grounds. You can pay for a tour or complete a FREE self-guided one.

 Self Guided Walk to the Sea

According to their website, “The Walk to the Sea encompasses four centuries of Boston history.” It begins at the State House on Beacon Hill and passes many historic landmarks and skyscrapers. The Walk from summit to sea is only one mile but brings the history of Boston to life.

Shopping and People WatchingFree in Boston

Markets are great places to find unique items and equally unique people. Boston has some of the best markets in the world. Check them out.

  • The SoWa Open Market. A community of artisans, entrepreneurs, and creative minds that believe in crafting quality hand-made goods you won’t find anywhere else.
  • The SoWa Vintage Market. Boston’s weekly go-to destination for antiques, vintage, collectibles, art and many other one-of-a-kind curiosities.
  • Faneuil Hall. This marketing place is known for its world famous street performers.  Jaw-dropping stunts, musical acts, and mind-boggling balance routines will keep you entertained.

Planning a Trip to Boston

Since we are already talking about saving money, check out a great way to stay in Boston in one of several historical neighborhoods at a short-term apartment rental instead of an expensive hotel. We have several locations to fit your schedule. Call us! 877-795-4387

36 Hours in Boston- Your Weekend Guide!

Boston is the “little big town that offers a lively mix of cultural experiences plus an exploding food scene!”

You’re Weekend of Fun is HERE!

History Buff? Couture Shopper? Foodie? Sports Fanatic? BOSTON HAS YOU COVERED!

The New York Times Travel Contributor, 

Get Energized! Start the day on the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, winding your way through Revolutionary-era sites.

Find that Perfect Outfit! Shop the designer and funky boutiques in the Back Bay.

36 hours in Boston 3A Night Out! Tons of restaurants for every taste and live music featuring Jazz, Alternative and Indie Bands.

By Land & Sea! Ride the ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands, and grab a bite at a scenic waterfront cafe.  

Finish Strong! Grab the trolley to Fenway Park for a behind-the-scenes guided tour- then stop in a local pub for a pint!


Want longer than 36 hours?  Check out our Short-Term-Stay locations.

What did YOU discover in 36 hours- add your favorites in the comments!