Boston, MA Visitor’s Guide: What to do + Where to Eat

boston guide header image 670

Boston love ~ above outfit details are in this blog post

Nick and I each moved to Boston for school thinking it’d be temporary, but the charm of this small, historic city (with no shortage of seafood…yum) grew on us tremendously over time. We often get questions on what to do and where to eat, so finally pooled our favorites into this mega post! I’ll be keeping this updated and will add any new or forgotten favorites. Let me know if you guys have any questions, and be sure to check out my map at the bottom to see where everything mentioned here is located! When traveling we like to visualize where all the places we want to hit up are located, then find somewhere to stay central to those.

Things to do

Walking

Boston is very much a walking city, so pack your flats! One of my favorite paths to walk is starting at Hynes or Copley subway station on the green line, going along Newbury Street (our biggest shopping street) all the way to the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common. There you can also have a picnic, take kids on the (very slow-moving) swan boats or merry-go-round, and eat soft serve from the Boston Frosty truck. There is a week of gorgeous tulips in mid-spring, foliage a-plenty come Fall, or you can ice skate on the “Frog Pond” in the winter. From the Boston Public Garden, you can walk to either the small boutiques in charming Beacon Hill, grab a bite in Chinatown, or follow the Freedom Trail through Quincy Market to Charlestown.

Shopping!

Clothing and shoes under $175 are exempt from sales tax in Massachusetts, so I see many visitors shopping their merry hearts out. For individual items priced over that amount, the first $175 is still tax-exempt. Newbury Street is an outdoor shopping area with a range of stores from more affordable like Zara, Uniqlo, and H&M to splurge-worthy spots like Reformation, Burberry, Chanel, and much more. There’s also a number of online brands opening up physical stores, like Allbirds and Rothy’s! I also like the Copley Place & Prudential Center malls, which are right nearby. These indoor malls have department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks, a variety of designer boutiques, and shops like Sephora, LOFT, Banana Republic, Club Monaco, Stuart Weitzman, etc.

outfits from this blog post

Picking

Fruit
We have a delicious variety of pick-your-own farms in MA, however most are a 30 minute + drive outside of Boston. If you happen to have a rental car, be sure to check out what’s in-season for picking! Berries (strawberries, blueberries, cherries) start late spring through the summer, peaches ensue in late summer, and then apples, pears, and pumpkins are in full swing come fall. Here are a few of my posts at local farms: Tougas Farms (also here), Honey Pot Hill, Parlee Farms, Verrill Farm.

Flowers
For lovers of fresh blooms, Wicked Tulips in RI can be picked April – May, Parlee Farms up north has gorgeous zinnias & dahlias in August – September, and Colby Farms has a field of sunflowers that peak briefly in September. Note though that Colby Farm’s flowers are for viewing, not for picking! Each of these farms are about an hour outside of the city, in different directions.

flower picking fields best new england parlee farm

outfit from this blog post

Boating

If the weather is nice, you can walk or run along the Charles River on the Esplanade path. You can rent kayaks or canoes from a small stand stationed near the Hatch Shell. From the river, you can see Boston on one side and Cambridge on the other. Pack some sandwiches and drinks to refuel while out on the water!

boston visitor activities_pedal boat rental charles river

H&M; sweater, Rag & Bone cropped jeans (on sale!) sz 24, Soludos striped shoes

Other Popular Activities:

– Visit Harpoon brewery for a flight of beer, or more importantly, their freshly baked soft pretzels (the cinnamon sugar one with cream cheese icing dip … droool). I also love to drink Downeast Cider but haven’t yet been to their tasting room. It’s located in East Boston, near the airport, and is open Thurs – Sun. If beer is your main objective, though, Nick’s favorite in the city is Trillium Brewing (multiple locations, all w/ outdoor seating).

boston harpoon brewery beer soft pretzels

– Stop by the Copley Square farmers market open on Tuesdays and Fridays, from Spring to Fall. Or if you’re by the south end, visit the SoWa market which is open Sundays May – October, featuring food trucks, a vintage market, and tents run by small artisans.

– Pop into the historic Boston Public Library. Pinkies up for their tea set of savory sandwiches and sweet treats, and of course your own potful of tea. The BPL is one of my most favorite spots in the city, although I’m a little biased since we got married there!

boston public library high afternoon tea catered affair

Afternoon tea set w/ matcha green tea lattes at Boston Public Library

-For the little ones: Boston has fun options for the entire family! For free family activities I recommend the children and toddler’s room at the Boston Public Library which includes a large play area. One of our favorite playgrounds for toddlers is the Carleton Street Playground right by the Copley & Prudential malls – a perfect spot for dads and little ones to hang out while mom gets in some shopping! Other family-friendly activities we always recommend are the New England Aquarium, Boston Children’s Museum and the Museum of Science.

best children's playground Boston
Boston Public Library childrens and toddler activities
left: Toddler-friendly playground near Copley Mall // right: Children’s area at the Boston Public Library

 – Take a Duck Tour which is an amphibious vehicle that hits up most of the city’s major landmarks, then plops into the Charles river to show a bit of Boston via water.

– Catch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, then chow down at one of the many nearby food options on Peterborough Street (Rod Thai Family Taste, El Pelon Mexican, Sushi Kappo) afterwards.

– Explore the Boston Harbor islands via ferry or boat tour. Recommended for history buffs (hotspots include war forts and a historic lighthouse) or hikers, not those seeking beachy sand to sunbathe on.

– Check the Boston Calendar for a list of local happenings, events, classes, or other things to do.

– Visit the Museum of Fine Arts or the Isabella Stewart Gardner art museum (indoor courtyard pictured below).

isabella stewart gardner art museum boston italian courtyard garden

Getting Around

A rental car is not necessary while in Boston unless you want to do a lot of day trips to the outer areas. In fact, finding and paying for parking is quite a burden, so I always suggest visitors take Uber, Lyft, a cab or try public transit on our MBTA train system.

Where to Eat and Drink

Breakfast & Brunch

Jugos – Tiny, tiny to-go only spot located centrally near Copley Square, so on a nice day you can enjoy your food on the benches there (they also have a slightly bigger location with more food options in the South End). I’m far from a “clean” eater but this place is tasty and fresh. My favorites are the juices, frozen acai or pitaya (dragonfruit) bowls, and their chicken salad avocado toast. I have a weakness for coconut + cacao chocolate nibs atop my bowl…tastes like dessert!

boston jugos juice acai pitaya fruit bowls

Acai bowl from Jugos

Tatte – A cute, Instagram-able local bakery/café with multiple locations, easily some of the most Instagram’d spots in town. I like the location in charming Beacon Hill, but be warned it’s a zoo at weekend brunch time! (The Seaport and South End locations are larger and usually a shorter wait).

Boston travel and food guide Tatte

– Dim Sum – for the actual “ladies wheeling around push carts full of dim sum” experience we go to Hei La Moon (good for bigger groups). If it’s just the two of us or if it’s a weekday, we usually do Great Taste, where you can order dim sum off a little checklist daily until 4pm. They also have this traditional dish we love which is braised beef brisket & tendon over seared rice noodle rolls (pictured in the iron pot below) – it’s only written in Chinese on the wall and not in the regular menu. My mom ordered it once and now we just point or pull up this pic! And if you’re in Chinatown, you’ll definitely want to stop at one of the many bakeries to pick up some buns to snack on later. Top Bread is our favorite for their red bean mochi bun and Portuguese egg tarts.

boston chinatown great taste chinese restaurant dim sum

Dim Sum faves: shrimp & chive dumplings for me, sweet custard buns for Nick

 Coppa – Italian small plates spot in the south end with an outdoor patio, and a few additions during brunch hour including “hangover” pizza and a Dutch popover style pancake.

– Cafes & Dessert – I’m more a tea person but Nick also loves his coffee! His favorite local coffee shops are George Howell in downtown crossing and the Thinking Cup on Newbury Street (right by all the shopping). For sweet treats, we like Coco Leaf for Viet-inspired desserts, or Sama for creme brulee in a jar (black sesame if they have it!), and Fomu (multiple locations) has some of the best non-dairy ice cream around – I even like it better than many regular ice creams!

Lunch & Dinner: Loosely ranked in order of a super casual to nicer ambiance

– Pho noodle soup – If you happen to be in the Allston area, my favorite spot is actually Pho Viets inside the Super 88 asian food court. There is no ambiance here so we usually just slurp with our heads down or get it to-go.

boston best vietnamese noodles banh mi_pho viets hoa

Pho Viets beef stew over egg noodles, grilled pork & cold cut banh mi sandwiches 

Chicken & Rice Guys (note: no seating. They also have several food trucks which you can track here) – a grab & go lunch spot. Modeled after NYC’s popular “Halal guys” (which is now also in the Boston area) but C&R Guys actually tastes like real meat and is way better than the Halal Guys Boston outpost, imo. A small combo (chicken & lamb gyro over rice) is usually plenty to fill me up – don’t forget to douse it in their yummy sauces!

Taiwan Cafe – Decent soup dumplings in town, which doesn’t say much if you have a Din Tai Fung near you…but most of us don’t. What to get: juicy soup dumplings (transfer to your soup spoon carefully, nibble a hole off the top, and sip the soup out slowly to avoid a traumatic mouth-scalding experience), regular pan-seared dumplings, scrambled egg with beef & tomatoes rice plate (Chinese comfort food), Szechuan style white fish in spicy broth (“shui zhu yu”).

Best Boston eats Futago
Futago Udon – One of our family FAVORITES (Nori included). Smaller but baby-friendly restaurant with a changing table. The fried chicken curry udon isn’t what I usually go for, but it is surprisingly delicious (ask for the chicken on the side to keep it crispy)!

tonys clam shop boston quincy seafood lobster roll

Lobby rolls, steamers, and fried shrimp from Tony’s Clam Shop

– For good ol’ New England seafood … there’s the fisherman shack James Hook where you can grab a roll to-go or Yankee Lobster Co (right by Harpoon Brewery), both of which are a bit toursity. If you’re in Quincy (neighboring town to Boston), Tony’s Clam Shop has lobster rolls, fried seafood & steamers right by a small strip of water. If you haven’t had steamer clams before, they are so big & tasty when in-season…our out-of-town visitors can never get enough! For a different take on the classic lobster roll, Eventide is in the Fenway Park area and serves their lobster atop a pillowy “bao” bun. Also, Luke’s Lobster is a chain but I’ve always enjoyed the seafood rolls there!

Shabu Zen (2 locations) – my weekly go-to for comfort food, especially in colder weather. If you haven’t had shabu or hot pot before, your ingredients come uncooked so you cook them quickly in a boiling pot of broth, then eat with a dipping sauce that you mix up in your little sauce cup. What to get: combos (either the pick 2 meats combo, boneless shortrib, or the tontoro pork combo) that come with veggies, rice or udon noodles; whole shrimp to add flavor to the house broth, and watermelon smoothies. If you prefer spicy (and I mean SPICY) hot pot, the very popular China-based chain Liuyishou is right around the corner, but expect long waits even at odd hours.

boston shabu hot pot restaurant chinatown

Hot pot feast

Salty Pig – Restaurant with large patio right by my aforementioned shopping malls focusing on charcuterie, pizzas, and a nice craft beer selection … aka the express path to my husband’s heart. I do appreciate that they make a lot of their own charcuterie and pasta. Sundays are “red sauce Sundays” with cute checkered table cloths.

Holly Crab – Boston isn’t known for its cajun-style seafood boils, (Houstonians, no need to come here) but if you haven’t tried it before, this place hits the spot with shellfish that comes in plastic bags smothered in garlicky, spicy, buttery and citrusy goodness. Put on the bib and rubber gloves, and leave your white silk blouse at home. Their crawfish here are very small, so our go-tos are the shrimp, mussels, and king crab legs (a splurge but so good) in holly crab medium sauce with sides of corn and sausage in the bag. Shaking Crab is a Boston chain that is also very good, with one location right by the Public Garden!

holly crab boston cajun boil seafood restaurants

Spread at Holly Crab (don’t be deceived by my staging…everything comes in bags!)

– Best oyster happy hour spots (note: these happy hours are frequently subject to change, so please call ahead to ask) – You can’t come to New England without indulging in fresh oysters, but they can add up at the usual $3+ per piece! Bar Boloud (at the Mandarin Oriental hotel) has them in the summer if you need a break from shopping on Newbury Street and Marliave in downtown Boston has $1 oysters daily at either 4 – 6PM, or 9 – 10PM. Their oysters for some reason often lose their brine (my favorite part) by the time they reach me, but on the plus side Marliave has some yummy house-made pasta dishes like their Sunday Gravy.

boston dollar oysters happy hour precinct restaurant

Precinct oyster happy hour

– The Daily Catch (multiple locations) – small, “cozy” Italian seafood pasta spots known for their lobster fra diavolo dish made for sharing. We also love the aglio olio, which is their house-made squid ink pasta (you can substitute this noodle in most of their other pasta dishes too, for a small charge) tossed with oodles of garlic and ground calamari. I keep highlighting the spots with fresh house-made pasta, as some of the most popular Italian spots here don’t make their pastas or even their sauces! We prefer the Brookline location for this restaurant, as the North End one has rushed and at times, rude service (neither take reservations).

Boston Italian Seafood Pasta Daily Catch

Daily Catch Lobster Fra Diavolo for 2; various squid ink pasta dishes

Douzo in the Back Bay is our go-to for “elevated takeout” sushi aka date night at home on the couch. There’s a decently sized dining room and the ambiance is fine, but the chef’s sushi special (a 12 piece nigiri dinner for ~$32) is as good as any of the more expensive highly rated omakase dinners we’ve had elsewhere and tastes even better in the comfort of our own home 🙂 It’s conveniently located right next to Back Bay train station, or if you happen to be traveling around by car, there are two parking garages next door.

Douzo Boston travel and food guide

Douzo Chirashi Bowl and Chef’s Special Sushi (dinner menu)

Momi NonmiCome here for the shokado bento boxes (only available at lunch) – they’re are as delicious as they are Instagrammable. The restaurant has a casual vibe despite the higher price tag, but the chef is super passionate about the food. If you are a vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions they ask that you make a reservation and let them know a couple of days in advance as many of the components of the dishes are made from scratch in-house.

Boston and Cambridge food guide

Neptune Oyster in the North End (little Italy) is the most hyped spot for a big, hot, buttered lobster roll (market price on average is $30-$35). Their food though is always yummy and I like the ambiance, but it’s a small restaurant and a wait could easily set you back a few hours, unless you line up 20 minutes before they open! I’d also recommend getting the johnnycake appetizer, which is like a cornbread-style pancake with honey butter, whitefish pate, and caviar combined in a sweet and savory perfection.

Lobster roll, oysters, littlenecks and fried clams from Neptune Oyster

Barcelona Wine Bar – tapas spot with 2 locations in Boston. This is actually a chain restaurant from CT, but they do a great job with ambiance and catering to local tastes (their bread from a local bakery is heavenly, always hot and fresh). They have a regularly changing menu and are always packed around dinner or brunch time, so make reservations. Some staples I like that are usually always on the menu: charcuterie, hanger steak w/ truffle sauce, patatas bravas (potatoes doused in garlic aioli), and wine flights.

Toro – another tapas spot, by Ken Oringer, one of my favorite chefs in town. What to get: The cheesy Mexican-style corn, seafood paella (better than others in town; half size is plenty for sharing!), roasted cauliflower, bone marrow topped with braised oxtail. It’s so yummy, we’d eat here all the time if it weren’t for the fact that they don’t accept reservations, and the wait at dinner time can be 1-3 hours (so go right when they open to put your name down)!

Island Creek Oyster Bar – I can’t speak to their other dishes, but their signature house made lobster roe noodles with braised shortrib and grilled lobster on top is scrumptious (and priced accordingly at just under $40). This is only served at dinner. Be sure to make reservations about a week in advance!

– Drinks – Nick and I have opposite tastes in alcohol (he’s a beer, whiskey and scotch man, and I prefer anything but) but one thing we can agree on is we both love the drinks at Shojo. If you don’t like strong tastes of alcohol, I’d recommend their gin gin mule with housemade ginger beer (very strong ginger flavor – you’ve been warned), reiko greene with giant cucumber ice cube, cold tea for 2 which is a bit insidious because it tastes so normal, or their “agogo” drink. Snack on their chicken & waffles (egg puff-style waffle), house-made noodle dish of the day, or mini pork belly buns in-between drinks. Nick also likes the menu-less bar Drink where you blab out what types of things you like in a beverage and the bartender makes you something, while you munch on their complimentary buttery popcorn.

If you’re visiting Boston and do check out some of the above spots, leave me a comment and let me know what you think! And for fellow Bostonians or those who have been here, I’d love to hear what some of your favorite places are!

Leave a Comment

77 Comments

  1. JIll Iro wrote:

    Hi Jean. I love your blog and I’ve been following you forever. Guess what?! We’re finally going to Boston! We’re going to spring break so my son can check out Harvard, Yale and other campuses. Any suggestions on where to stay?

    Posted 1.24.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      How fun! Honestly I am not familiar with the hotels around here since i’ve never stayed in any of them! When friends visit they often get airbnbs. You can get one in Harvard square in Cambridge so your son can get a better feel for life there, or if you want to be on the Boston side I’d recommend staying by the Copley Square area for easy walking and public transit!

      Posted 1.24.20 Reply
  2. MJ wrote:

    I’m here and excited to check out some of these places! Thanks for this guide…would be cool to see you around town!

    Posted 8.4.17 Reply
  3. sienn wrote:

    this is a wonderful guide. i cannot wait to visit!

    Posted 4.3.17 Reply
  4. Great tips, thank you. Any ideas on what to do with our 15 year old son? Anything to pry him away from his phone??

    Posted 8.4.16 Reply
  5. Thanks for these great tips. Making reservations as we travel next week. Any ideas on things to do with my 15 year old . . . that may pry him away from his phone??

    Posted 8.4.16 Reply
  6. Wentz wrote:

    Hi Jean,
    This may be a noob question, but I've always wondered how do you create the customised google map?

    Posted 8.3.16 Reply
  7. Lavender wrote:

    Thank you Jean for this post! My husband and I road tripped through all of New England and ended up in Boston for a few days. We have been doing that trip every several years since and this year we are going again. We only got lucky with the foliage once. Other times we went too early or too late. From your experience, when would you say foliage is at peak in Boston? Beginning of October, mid Oct? Thanks!

    Posted 7.27.16 Reply
  8. Thank you for this awesome tips. I will definetely bookmark this post to come back before my next trip to the US.

    Posted 7.24.16 Reply
  9. Such great tips!!

    Blonde in Cashmere

    Posted 7.17.16 Reply
  10. Di Orozco wrote:

    I was in Boston last year at about this time and it's a beautiful laidback city. I had a blast.

    Posted 7.17.16 Reply
  11. donna wrote:

    Hi Jeanette – we just returned from Boston yesterday, our first visit to this amazing city. I'm ready to go back. We used airbnb.com for lodging. 7 nights of lodging cost $968. We also took advantage of the GoBoston Card that allowed us entry to many attractions. Check out http://www.smartdestinations.com then select Boston for details. NOTE: If you are a Costco member, you can purchase these cards through Costco online at a reduced cost. I purchased the 3-day pass for $86.99 rather than the regular cost of $109. We used public transportation during our visit. The transit system, MBTA.com is wonderful and very easy to use. Their website has a "Trip Planner" that I used a lot. We purchased a "7-Day Charlie Ticket" which allowed for easy access on the subway, trolley and buses. This is the way to go. The only time the transit system did not work for us is when we had to get to the airport by 4am. So we used Uber for the very first time. I would definitely use Uber again. Very convenient. I hope some of these tips will help you in your planning. We also have to travel on a budget so I did a lot of searching prior to getting to Boston.

    Jean – I have followed your site for several years now. I truly admire you and your style. Thanks to you, I have changed, or shall I say, improved my style. Your post on visiting Boston published while I was visiting, but from your previous posts, I was able to experience many sites based on your recommendations/photos. The BPL is amazing. I enjoyed the Public Gardens and Swan Boats. And the pastries at Tatte are wonderful, to name a few. I only wish I could have run into your while enjoying this beautiful city. I hope to return someday.

    Thank you for your posts. I always look forward to them.

    Posted 7.17.16 Reply
  12. I will be visiting Boston this in August this year. Your post is pretty helpful and makes me look forward to being there.

    x https://footlooseheels.wordpress.com/

    Posted 7.16.16 Reply
  13. Margaret wrote:

    We visit Boston every year, but there's always something new to check out. Thanks for the helpful guide – will be sure to check out some of these places during the next drive up!

    Posted 7.15.16 Reply
  14. Hi Jean, Do you know the name of the nail color you are wearing in the picture with the oysters?

    Posted 7.14.16 Reply
  15. NDTran wrote:

    I didn't realize you could do that! An oyster tour sounds like a slice of heaven to me. I'd love to hear your experience of the tour.

    Posted 7.14.16 Reply
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks for this post! I'm moving back to Boston soon for b school (was there for undergrad 8 years ago) and I realized I have no idea where to eat anymore. Glad to see Shabu Zen is still a hit! Hope to bump into you one day. -minnie

    Posted 7.14.16 Reply
  17. Mao Lee wrote:

    Thanks for the detailed guide. Saving for later bc Boston has been on my list for such a long time now….

    Posted 7.14.16 Reply
  18. Carolyn wrote:

    I've lived in Boston my entire life and definitely agree on a lot of the places you listed! Some of my other favorites:

    Piattini Cafe – it's a hidden gem on Newbury St! Their lunch menu is super affordable and all of the sauces taste homemade.
    Oath Craft Pizza – 1 location in South Station and another in Chestnut Hill
    Q Restaurant – sorry Jean but I have to say that Q > Shabu Zen!
    Bottega Fiorentina – cute little Italian eatery in Coolidge Corner, an equally cute neighborhood with a great independent bookstore and theater
    Pad Thai Cafe – a hole in the wall for cheap Thai food near Hynes
    Pho Basil – another great Vietnamese/Thai place, this one is on Mass Ave across from the Christian Science Church
    Santouka Ramen – they have 2 locations now! 1 in Harvard Sq and 1 in Back Bay. worth a visit if you're craving ramen (and not from California 😉
    Sugidama – another hidden gem, they serve soba in Davis Sq!
    Tea Do – best bubble tea in Boston IMO

    I can go on but will leave it at that 🙂

    Posted 7.14.16 Reply
  19. Mary Vando wrote:

    My husband and I moved to the Cape a few years ago and the number one biggest thing I miss is a good bowl of pho! Can't wait to get to Boston and try your recommendations. Thanks!

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  20. Myers and Chang is beyond my favorite. Then Sorelina, Toscano and L'Espalier.
    My fav lunch spots: Luke's Lobster, Flour, Tatte, Sweet Green, Render Coffee and Shake Shack every now and then.

    I'm looking forward to trying more dinner spots in Cambridge. I'm in real estate in Boston so I find myself over there often during the day but then don't make it back over the river at night very much. Hopfully in the Fall when the market cools down a tad…

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  21. There is no better guide than the one coming from a local! Thanks for sharing these wonderful spots. Your post brought so many great memories! My husband and I visited Boston exactly this time last year. I fell in love with the city from day one and cannot wait to go back. It was so nice to walk around every nook and cranny of the city and stroll among quaint neighborhoods. Boston definitely has a lot of character, and very relaxed vibe, especially in summer. We covered a lot of ground, but there is still so much I didn't manage to see though and Harpoon brewery and Isabella Gardner Stewart art museum will definitely be on my priority list next time I visit. My husband and I also indulged in the local gastronomy. Loved Thinking Cup for coffee and cannot recommend The Pavement Coffeehouse in Newbury strongly enough! Their Spanish latte and bagel sandwiches were fantastic! Neptune Oyster was great (scallops as well as well as their lobster roll!), and I am still dreaming about that cheesy Mexican-style corn from Tapas. Some other spots I would encourage to try is Pho Pasteur in Chinatown for a scrumptious pho and Craigie on Main for a nice tasting menu. Also, Sacco’s Bowl-Haven by Davis Square in Cambridge is an old-school bowling alley with cool vibe with a retro restaurant with wood-fired flatbreads and beer. We had a blast there with friends one day. Hope to be back soon, will surely use your tips! 🙂 xoxo, nano | http://www.travelwithnanob.com

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  22. There is no better guide than the one coming from a local! Thanks for sharing these wonderful spots. Your post brought so many great memories! My husband and I visited Boston exactly this time last year. I fell in love with the city from day one and cannot wait to go back. It was so nice to walk around every nook and cranny of the city and stroll among quaint neighborhoods. Boston definitely has a lot of character, and very relaxed vibe, especially in summer. We covered a lot of ground, but there is still so much I didn't manage to see though and Harpoon brewery and Isabella Gardner Stewart art museum will definitely be on my priority list next time I visit. My husband and I also indulged in the local gastronomy. Loved Thinking Cup for coffee and cannot recommend The Pavement Coffeehouse in Newbury strongly enough! Their Spanish latte and bagel sandwiches were fantastic! Neptune Oyster was great (scallops as well as well as their lobster roll!), and I am still dreaming about that cheesy Mexican-style corn from Tapas. Some other spots I would encourage to try is Pho Pasteur in Chinatown for a scrumptious pho and Craigie on Main for a nice tasting menu. Also, Sacco’s Bowl-Haven by Davis Square in Cambridge is an old-school bowling alley with cool vibe with a retro restaurant with wood-fired flatbreads and beer. We had a blast there with friends one day. Hope to be back soon, will surely use your tips! 🙂 xoxo, nano | http://www.travelwithnanob.com

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  23. cinmud wrote:

    Are you really under 5 ft tall? You look so tall, like 5ft6..

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  24. Joyce Pak wrote:

    I never knew what to do in Boston when I visited a couple years ago….thanks for sharing this!

    Characters & Carry-ons

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  25. Melody wrote:

    One of my favorite restaurants and very favorite coffee roaster is in Boston! You guys should try Craigie On Main in Cambridge, and George Howell (I think there's also a location in Boston Public Market now) for coffee. Don't add anything to your pour-over or chemex and let the beans shine. I'm also a huge fan of Giacomos in Little Italy, even though the line is always long.

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  26. Col wrote:

    Try Priceline, using the "name your price" option. Boston has a ton of hotels, and the city is compact enough that it's hard to go wrong. September (but not Labor Day) is a nice time to visit.

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  27. Janet wrote:

    I moved away from Boston in January to San Francisco. Personal favs/recs in Boston = Flour, Sam Adams brewery, Blunch (omg, the chocolate chip cookie is to die for), TASTY BURGER (imo better than in-n-out… it was my last meal of Boston), mei mei food truck, Ogawa coffee (Famous latte artist from Japan), Primark (haha), walking around Boston Common and stopping by Earl's sandwich for a bite, and of course Harpoon.

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  28. Diana wrote:

    this is awesome. thank you for this! i will be referencing this whenever we finally get chance to visit!

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  29. Amy wrote:

    This blog came at the most perfect time! Going to Boston next week with my family and we are foodies!! Thank you for the customized Google Map too! I can't wait to try out some of your suggestions!

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  30. Wow, no sales tax under $175? I'd have a field day. I haven't been to Boston before, and I'd love to visit. Definitely on my travel list!
    Julia // Little Miss Haute Couture

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  31. Anonymous wrote:

    Thank you so, so much for this post! I am moving to Boston in a couple months to attend school, so this wonderful little guide is definitely making its way into my main bookmarks 🙂 On a related note, you mentioned your new hairstyle in your previous post (your hair looks gorgeous, by the way), would you mind letting me know where you get your hair cut/colored? Having a trustworthy hairstylist in the Boston area would be unbelievably helpful!

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  32. Divya wrote:

    Love these tips!

    http://www.eatwearwander.com

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  33. Bookmarking this post for when I eventually travel to Boston (it will happen one day!). What a great roundup of things to do. Tea at the library sounds amazing!

    Also, no sales tax below $175 on clothes? That's AMAZING. Living in Chicago, where everything has the highest sales tax in the country, I couldn't be more jealous!

    Lifestyle by Joules

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  34. Great recommendations! You didn't mention sushi, but I know you're a fellow Douzo fan – any other good places you've tried?

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  35. Anonymous wrote:

    Great post! As a fellow Canto (and relocated from Cali), I loved seeing your rec for Chinese and Viet dishes! However, I will have to disagree with you on Taiwan Cafe's soup dumplings. I've only had them once, but it was obvious they were not fresh (my mom taught me you can tell they've been frozen by the pink goop that appears in the dumplings). Dumpling House are still my favorite, but I like everything else at Taiwan Cafe!
    Also, have you tried Double Chin in Chinatown? I think they're fairly new, but it's a really cute HK Cafe and the food was delicious (except their cha siew… i would go across the street for that). Their desserts look amazing, but havent tried yet. Would love to hear your thoughts!

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  36. All the food here looks amazing, I really want to make a trip here now.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  37. Anonymous wrote:

    I moved away from Boston years ago and your post reminds me of how much I miss it! I'm very happy to see Shabu Zen make your list, as it is one of my comfort foods as well. I would recommend getting cannolis from the North End, at both Mike's and Modern…let the rivalry continue! 😉

    Posted 7.13.16 Reply
  38. IH wrote:

    Amazing blog!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to check out the places you recommended!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  39. Iris S wrote:

    Thanks for the recommendations Jean! Living in Cambridge, I'm sometimes not as familiar with restaurants on the Boston side of the river, so always great to hear about new places 🙂

    A few recommendations I have for the cambridge area for those who have more time to spend in the Boston area (would also like to add +1 on Flour and Giulia mentioned in above comments):
    1. Bagelsaurus (porter sq) for the sea salt bagel with honey rosemary cream cheese! I could eat that cream cheese straight out of the tub. I promise you it's worth the trip to Porter!
    2. Alden and Harlow (Harvard sq) – small plates style, excellent food, fun with a group
    3. Harvard's museum of natural history for the glass flowers

    Hope you get to try/visit if you haven't yet!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  40. Anonymous wrote:

    Going to Boston next month, this was very helpful! Love your blog btw 🙂 xx

    Sam from http://eclecticelite.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  41. sallie you wrote:

    LOVE the daily catch! This is a very thorough and helpful guide! I had no idea what I was missing. I am bookmarking it for my future trips!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  42. Love love love this post. Can't wait to check these out next time I'm in Boston. Thanks for the recommendations! 😉

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  43. Oh cherry blossoms! What a lovely roundup of spots to visit. Thanks for the visual and culinary treats! Your blog is always just what I need to start my day Jean… that and an occasional Thinking Cup Vanilla Ginger latte!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  44. HoldenTodd wrote:

    I just have one question … how do you stay so slim?

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  45. I'm visiting Boston this coming weekend so this article couldn't have been more perfectly timed! Can't wait to try out these places 🙂

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  46. My boyfriend and I were just in Boston yesterday! We visited the public library, public garden/common, stopped for a drink at a Thinking Cup, and had an early dinner at Taiwan Cafe. Guess we did pretty well! 🙂

    Jen | affecionada

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  47. Polly wrote:

    I've never been to Boston but it's definitely a city that I'd like to visit one day! It looks so beautiful and I look forward to trying the food since I love seafood so much!

    Polly
    http://gemsandjoy.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  48. Jean wrote:

    I still know it since it's the only way to communicate with my grandparents (who are pretty active on Chinese social media and write daily posts, haha). I think Chinese Sunday schools are plentiful in Cali and definitely a good option, but continuously using it at home is the best way to reinforce it. You could have your kids read fun books in Chinese geared more towards their interest, also there are fun games too for learning foreign language reading and writing that can be played on a phone or iPad.

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  49. Jean wrote:

    Hi S! Congrats again to you lovebirds and I only wish we had the chance to chat more last night! Hope you two enjoy the rest of your honeymoon! xo

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  50. Jean wrote:

    Thanks! Updated about Common and your description of Giulia had me at pasta-making. Sounds reasonably priced too for the 5 courses! I had thought Tatte entered "chain"-dom when they joined forces with Panera…it's interesting to see what they will do next!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  51. Jean wrote:

    Oleana is a good one! And Nick would definitely second Flour and their chicken avocado & jicama sandwich : )

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  52. Jean wrote:

    I would love to visit Australia some day! I hope you have an amazing time here if you do visit. xo

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  53. Jean wrote:

    Yum, I also love the Island Creek / Row 34 family! Am booking an oyster tour of their farm in Duxbury with some friends… can't wait!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  54. Jean wrote:

    Hi Jeanette – what is your budget per night for a room? Given that info, perhaps others can share lodging recommendations per their experiences. Also have you looked into Air B&B; or other similar sites? I know several friends and family members chose route that when they came for our wedding and were happy with their stays.

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  55. Grace H wrote:

    Hi Jean
    I'm pretty curious where and how you learn your Chinese? My son is fluent in both English and Mandarin, but not good at reading or writing. I need to do something so he can start learning early.

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  56. Grace H wrote:

    Jean
    Can you read Chinese? I'm from Taiwan and live in California now. Think about taking my son to Chinese School once a week so he can learn it.

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  57. I've always wanted to visit Boston, it look like such a lovely place.

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  58. I went to college in Boston, for me it was temporary. It's funny how just yesterday a couple of friends, who also went there, talked about visiting and seeing it with fresh eyes. Reading your list brings me nostalgia, reading about newbury, the walking, the boats, the southend, and the baseball games. Thankfully, you don't have one restaurant I recognize. Taste palettes should change in seven years. Now, I can't wait to go visit and taste a new side of Boston.

    http://www.convdesobremesa.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  59. Meghan wrote:

    Definitely bookmarked your guide for when I go and visit Boston!!

    Meghan | BeyondBasicBlog.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  60. BW02 wrote:

    I did not know about the sales tax exemption in MA! Good to know 🙂 Really helpful.

    http://www.dressupchowdown.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  61. As a Boston gal myself, I agree on all your recommendations! I mean how amazing is Sweet Cheeks!? I could eat those biscuits and honey butter on the daily 😉 Love this post!

    xoxo
    Tess | Sequins are the New Black

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  62. Sales-tax exempt shopping?? I'm on my way! lol

    http://www.maggiealamode.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  63. Keri H wrote:

    Boston looks so beautiful!! Looks like such a lovely time 🙂

    Enclothed Cognition

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  64. This is the best what-to-do post ever. Thank you!!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  65. food_love wrote:

    So great meeting you at Shojo last night! This guide is perfect timing for us, as we are in Boston this week for our honeymoon. We've been having a lovely time in your city! Meeting you was the cherry on top! Cheers! 🙂

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  66. Great guide! I'm originally from Connecticut and have friends/family in Boston, I would say that I have only done about half of these things! Can't wait to check out the rest!

    xoxo
    Sharan
    http://www.MyGoldenBeauty.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  67. Anonymous wrote:

    Jean – What a great compilation! I've lived in Boston my whole life (third generation French/Irish!) and was so happy to see some new spots I haven't tried on your list. If you and Nick haven't tried Giulia in Cambridge (Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter), you should! The chef owner almost makes me cry with his flavor combos (pasta making begins daily at about noon) and they have a 5-course tasting for $65. Two side-notes… Boston Common is singular, as is The Public Garden. Tatte is owned by a friend of mine – not a chain – but she has a few shops from Beacon St. to Beacon Hill! Also Joanne Chang's Flour (and her drool-worthy sticky buns) would be a great addition to the list! Can't shake my Boston love! 😉 Yaay!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  68. Sophia wrote:

    As a fellow Bay Stater living in Cambridge across the river, I'd like to recommend Oleana (amazing Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food) and Flour Bakery. There are so many great places to eat!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  69. Karri wrote:

    Amazing!! thanks so much for introducing me to Boston!! Looks like I'll be going to Boston this September. Love from Australia, Melbourne.

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  70. NDTran wrote:

    Great list! I recommend most of the places you listed. I would only add a few places.

    I recommend Row 34 in the Seaport for their oysters, burgers and lobster roll. In my opinion, it's the best lobster roll in town. More oyster options include island creek oyster and B&G; oyster. I like the selection of local and west coast oysters.

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  71. Love these outfits! Beautiful pictures!
    -Cheyanne
    http://www.lifeofcheyanne.blogspot.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  72. La Bijoux Bella | by mia wrote:

    A parfait get around guide for the city. I love the Vietnamese Pho noodles, they are the best. I think that's where I'll be for the whole duration if I visit Boston. Great post! 🙂

    La Bijoux Bella | by mia

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  73. Maine Girl wrote:

    What a timely post! I'm heading there this weekend for the Paul McCartney concert and haven't planned anything (other than a hotel) yet! Thank you!!!

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  74. Jeanette wrote:

    Thank you for this post! We are really wanting to visit Boston for the first time sometime soon, and I'm saving this for future reference. We are looking for a place to stay where we won't need a car, but is also affordable. So far, all the hotels we find are out of our price range. We are open to visiting any time of year, whatever offers the best in terms of affordability.

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  75. Joiaching wrote:

    Love that you include food for different eaters! And the blossom photo is amazing!
    xx
    Margaret

    http://www.maleemaleehong.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply
  76. Now I really want to visit Boston! Thanks for the wunderful guide <3
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    http://www.dressedwithsoul.com

    Posted 7.12.16 Reply

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