Poet and essayist Oliver Wendell Holmes called Boston “the Hub of the Universe,” and it’s easy to see why. This city serves as the culinary, sports, financial and historical center of New England. Before you visit this core city, follow our tips.
The best time to visit Boston
Any time of year that it’s not freezing or snowing (you might want to stick to April through October) is a good one to enjoy of all the great walking tours Boston has to offer.
If you go during the summer, you can take full advantage of one of the city’s most delightful destinations — the Esplanade. This swatch of green space runs along the Charles River for miles and provides jogging paths, ball fields and picnic spots. It is especially popular on the Fourth of July, when crowds gather to listen to the famed Boston Pops and watch the fireworks over the Charles.
Boston is in full bloom in spring, and it’s also a good time to visit if you don’t mind taking chances with weather. Spring is the shoulder season in this historic city, so you’ll typically find lower hotel prices and travel costs.
Of course, if you show up in Beantown and the weather is bad, you can always take shelter in the world-class restaurants, museums and shops.
What to pack for a trip to Boston
If you’re only going to pack one thing for a trip to Boston, it should be your walking shoes. The Hub is one of America’s most walkable cities, so you’ll spend a lot of time on foot exploring the winding cobblestone streets and historic landmarks.
No matter what season you go, you’ll probably end up outside quite a bit. From the Freedom Trail to the Esplanade, most of Boston’s must-see sights are out in the elements. And since New England winters are not exactly kind, you should be prepared with layers — and boots.
Next up, be sure to pack a camera, gear for a Red Sox game (Yankees fans, beware) and upscale attire to wear out to dinner or for strolling the luxury shops on Newbury Street.
Public transportation in Boston
Boston’s public transportation, better known as the “T” (short for MBTA, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority), connects all of the city’s neighborhoods as well as Cambridge, Brookline, Allston/Brighton and Logan International Airport. The organization of the subway is laid out in colors: green, red, orange, blue and silver.
Chances are, if you want to go somewhere in Boston, there is a bus that will take you there. The city has dozens of bus routes connecting any and all points of interest and neighborhoods.
The Hub also has commuter boats that offer three different routes between coastal suburbs and downtown harbors. It’s a nice way to get to work, but it’s also not a bad way to see a bit of the Massachusetts coastline.
Should visitors rent a car in Boston?
Leave the car in the parking lot when you visit Boston. If there’s one thing Beantown is good for, it’s a nice walk. The city isn’t set up on a grid like New York or Chicago, so driving around is difficult if you aren’t familiar with the streets.
Boston has a great subway system, but walking the city is really the best way to explore it.
If you want a speedier way around, try Hubway, the city’s bike-sharing system. You can pick up a Hubway bike at dozens of locations around town.