I have lived in Boston for over five years now and while I have posted many different travel articles on this beautiful city that I am currently calling home – including how to spend 48 hours in Boston, the perfect Boston weekend, 10 places I take people when they visit Boston and my favorite weekend trips from Boston. However, I just recently realized that I have never given my standard “10 things to know before you go”. I hope that you find these posts helpful. While reading a travel guide or hotel review can be fun and informative, I find that these posts hold true for years to come. I try to think of things that you may not know or things that I wish I knew prior to heading to that specific city, including travel tips, insider tricks, help with logistical planning and overall feedback and recommendations.
1. Where You Stay Matters. Similar to New York City, Boston has many different neighborhoods within the city. While Boston isn’t nearly as large as NYC (under 700,00 live here), each neighborhood is quite different. Typically, I suggest that tourists or guests stay close to Copley Square in Back Bay (either at The Fairmont, The Park Plaza or The Lowes – these are all great markers). I can’t tell you how many people have booked a hotel that “looked close” on a map but ends up being only accessible via train or car. Don’t make this mistake.
2. Leave Your Car at Home. One of the biggest adjustments that I have made since moving to Boston is not driving. As a tourist, you certainly will not want to incur the cost associated with bringing your car into the city. For starters, you can expect to shell out at least $50/night for valet and another $5-$15/hour if you try to park in any lots or garages. Not to mention that the city is 100% walkable so trust me when I say, your car will just sit in the garage. Save your $150 and put that money towards Red Sox tickets!
3. This is a Sports City. I always tells guest – regardless of age or gender – to try and coincide their trip with a Boston sporting event. Whether it’s a Red Sox game, a Bruins (hockey) match, a Celtics game or a Patriots game…there is a game happening almost every weekend of the year. Red Sox are my favorite to recommend since Fenway Park is within walking distance of most hotels and the Sox games are truly a Boston staple, but any game will do. Just don’t be that guy and come in opposing gear – Boston fans are crazy and take their pro sports very seriously.
4. Bring Your Walking Shoes. Nobody is going to judge you when you are in cute athleisure gear or sneakers walking around town. This is the walking city, y’all! One of the best features of Boston is that you can walk everywhere – to sporting events, to bars / restaurants, to other neighborhoods, to the grocery store, etc. In fact, taking a walking tour of the city is one of the most fun activities to do when you’re in town!
5. Make Reservations. Boston has an abundance of delicious, award winning restaurants of every cuisine. We especially shine in all things seafood and Italian. That being said, many of the restaurants are small (10 or less tables) and almost all of them take reservations weeks in advance. Not to say that you can’t snag a couple of seats at the bar at a great restaurants but unless you want to eat at 5pm or 10pm, I suggest doing yourself a favor and plan ahead.
6. People Are Aggressive. Being from the South, I am used to people greeting me in stores with a “hello” or “how is your day”…. here in Boston, that’s not always the case. It’s not to say that people in Boston can’t be warm and friendly. In fact, I find Boston people to be very real, smart and welcoming…most of the time. But you should expect to be honked at often (whether you’re driving or walking), to walk faster (or get run over by other pedestrians), to be ignored when you walk into a store and to come across less small talkers than normal. It is what is is!
7. It’ll Cost Ya. If there is one thing Boston is not, it is inexpensive. There’s a reason we are consistently in the top 5 of most expensive cities to live in the US. Home prices, rental prices, hotel prices, food prices, drink prices, clothes prices – it’s all expensive. Boston is about on par with New York City – especially during the peak season (May – Oct) – so just prepare yourself for that to avoid sticker shock.
8. The Charm is Next Level. Boston is one of the most underrated cities to visit, in my opinion. On a warm summer day, there isn’t anything quite like the view of the sun setting over the Charles River. Or the spring flowers blooming in Boston Commons. Or the fiery red and orange foliage that overtakes the city in September. The brownstones, the flower boxes, the gas street lanterns, the brick work…there is so much charm in Boston that you will certainly be in awe.
9. Each Neighborhood Offers Something Different. While the Back Bay is the center of Boston with its famous Newbury Street for shopping and Copley Square for history, it also offers some of the most beautiful (and expensive) brownstones with river views in the city. The South End is trendy residential meets top restaurants and beautiful parks. The North End – aka Little Italy – is the Italian food mecca of the city. The Seaport is a must visit in summer for rooftop bars and waterfront view. Head over to Cambridge to visit MIT, Harvard Square, Somerville and get skyline view of Boston from across the river. As the city grows, each neighborhood has its own identity which makes this a really special place to live.
10. Dress in layers. Like most New England towns, Boston weather shifts quickly. The temperature turns from hot to cool at the drop of a hat, especially in Fall. Needless to say, if you are here in winter – layer up big time! No matter what the season may be, there is much to offer here in Boston. The Summers are warm and best spent on the water while Fall foliage is beyond picturesque and perfect for outdoor dining.
Tell me, have you been to Boston? If not, when are you coming?!