As it may become obvious with these upcoming blogs, I really, really love Boston. I have been a couple times now and I can not wait to go back and explore even more of its neighbourhoods in-depth.
Boston played a huge role in early American history from the moment pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Rock and settled surrounding towns, to becoming the birthplace of the American Revolution. The USA’s first church, cemetery, tavern, and college all began in Boston.
Downtown Boston is situated between the North End District to the north, and Chinatown at its southern edge. West End and Boston Common define its western border, while its eastern side is outlined by the 43-mile scenic Boston Harbor Walk leading down to Dorchester Avenue and the South Boston waterfront.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Quincy Market, and the Boston Public Market are three of the most famous spots here, as well as several stops along the Freedom Trail for American Revolutionary War history.
There are countless ways to explore the area, this is just the route we took.
After spending the morning in the North End District and Little Italy, we walked down Hanover Street, crossed the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and made a beeline for the Boston Public Market.
The Boston Public Market is a mega food hall with over 30 produce vendors, restaurants, and specialty goods stores. You can also buy produce in bulk from some of the vendors outside the market too.
From the Boston Public Market, walk down Union Street to see some of the city’s oldest and most popular institutions like Bell in Hand Tavern, Union Oyster House, Hennessey’s Bar, and the more modern White Bull Tavern, all along the New England Holocaust Memorial and Union Street Park.
Bell in Hand Tavern has been around since 1795, making it the oldest standing tavern in the USA. Stepping inside will take you to another world.
Union Oyster House has been serving up fresh seafood since 1826, making it the oldest restaurant in the USA. Like Bell in Hand, it is a National Historic Landmark, and any sort of walking tour around Boston will lead you past it.
The shiny wood interior and maritime artifacts were really cool, and they have a great gift shop.
Walking south, Faneuil Hall Marketplace will be to your left. First time visitors usually get confused about Faneuil Hall Marketplace versus Quincy Market.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace refers to the large square and all the buildings within, and Quincy Market is one of those buildings just like the North Market and South Market.
The marketplace’s wealthy namesake, Peter Faneuil, had it built as a gift to the city of Boston in the 1740s. Since then it has served as a meeting place for provisions, protests, entertainment, and festivals alike.
Some of the most notorious events here include a celebration of independence led by Samuel Adams, another led by George Washington, Sons of Liberty meetings, and the first rally against Taxation Without Representation.
Quincy Market and the other markets are packed full of restaurants, bars, cafés, boutiques, and gift shops at every turn.
Street performers regularly set up outside of Quincy Market, and it is considered to be one of the top alternative entertainment venues in the USA. This spot is a mecca for street performers of all types, rivaling NYC and New Orleans.
Sometimes there is a live band, a magician, dancing, or a dude riding a stretch unicycle with a unicorn buddy while juggling sharp things after doing a semi-strip tease. It really is a mixed bag.
My favourite attraction here is obviously the lobster rolls.
Take your pick between Wicked Lobsta, Boston Chowda, and whoever might be serving up Boston’s most famous dishes, the lobster roll and clam chowder.
The tree-lined courtyard is my favourite place to hang out. I am not really a shopper but I sometimes enjoy people watching, and this is a great place for it.
Seating is a little hard to come by during peak hours, but we did not mind sitting on the ground.
Make your way down State Street and look for the Faneuil Hall Visitors Center and the Samuel Adams Taproom ahead on the right.
Sitting inside the cool taproom was a welcome retreat from the sun and hot weather, and we had the place to ourselves.
Samuel Adams was the prominent leader of Sons of Liberty, rallies against Taxation without Representation, and the success of the Boston Tea Party. We poured out some of our tea in his honour.
I have had plenty of Samuel Adams beer before, but it was fun to knock one back in the city where it started.
Both the Black Rose and the Bostonia Public House on State Street were impressive.
From the taproom, continue down State Street to visit the Boston Massacre Site and the Old State House.
The Town House, as it was first called, was built in 1713 to house the British government and many significant events passed here leading up to, during, and after the Revolutionary War. Post-war, the building was called the Old State House.
The Bostonian Society converted the space into a museum of Boston history and later merged with the Old South Association to become Revolutionary Spaces in 2020.
It looks so strange sitting between its modern, skyscraping neighbours.
From the Old State House, walk south on Washington Street to the Old Corner Bookstore, pay respects at the Boston Irish Famine Memorial, then visit the Old South Meeting House.
Old Corner Bookstore is Boston’s oldest commercial building, but is currently being leased by Chipotle. City officials and residents want to convert the space into a museum once the Chipotle lease ends, but they are not budging any time soon.
The Boston Irish Famine Memorial in front of the Old Corner Bookstore, across the street from the Old South Meeting House, has two opposing sculptures depicting Irish people starving to death during Ireland’s Great Famine in the 1840-50s versus those who immigrated and thrived in America.
It is part of Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail and has been on display since 1998.
The Old South Meeting House is a historic church from 1729, known to be the literal place where the American Revolution began. Back then, it was the largest building of colonial Boston and was used to hold crowds too bustling for the much smaller town hall.
It is a museum now, and you can pop in to mosey around most days for five bucks.
After soaking in some history, we made our way to the super snazzy Cannabist dispensary on Milk Street. Cannabist is a chain company with one location in Boston’s Financial District, and we definitely found some interesting things inside.
Afterward, we strolled around the Norman B. Leventhal Park in Post Office Square. It was a surprise to find such a lovely green space surrounded by all the glass, steel, and pavement of downtown.
Boston actually has a really beautiful park system called the Emerald Necklace, seven miles of greenways and trails spanning almost 1200 acres throughout Boston.
Join the Emerald Necklace Conservancy or follow their media to learn about the ongoing projects, nature walks, environmental education outreaches, cleanups, and more.
There is so much to see downtown, this was really just the start of it.
Museum, art, nature, and history lovers must visit the Boston Tea Party & Ships Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Museum of Fine Art, Museum of Science, the USS Constitution Museum, Museum of Bad Art, Skywalk Observatory, the Isabella Stewart Gardner House/Museum, the New England Aquarium, the Warren Anatomical Museum, and the Boston Athenaeum library that showcases a real human skin book.
You can book the usual types of walking tours of Boston based on American Revolutionary War history & Freedom Trail, Irish Heritage, Black Heritage, Ghost walks, and general Boston history including the abandoned tunnels under City Hall Plaza on Tremont Street and other landmarks.
Kate Burke’s Boston Bricks is a cool installation on Winthrop Lane where it runs between Otis Street and Arch Street, a few blocks from Boston Common. You can learn a lot of new things about Boston’s history via nearly one hundred bronze relief brick panels as you follow each one down the street.
Boston’s MBTA Silver Line will take you to South Station for free, any time. You can hop on directly from the Boston airport and be there in no time. Save your money for those lobster rolls, friends.
In the area for a while? Follow me to Boston’s North End District & Little Italy and Chinatown!
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