Since Boston’s most popular attraction opened in 1976, cities all over the country have imitated the “festival market” concept. Each complex of shops, food counters, restaurants, bars, and public spaces reflects its city, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace is no exception. Its popularity with visitors and suburbanites is so great that you might think that the only Bostonians here are employees.
The marketplace includes five buildings—the central three-building complex is on the National Register of Historic Places—on brick and stone plazas that teem with crowds shopping, eating, performing, cheering for the performers, and people-watching. In warm weather, it’s busy from early morning until well past dark. Quincy Market (you’ll also hear the whole complex called by that name) is the Greek revival–style building at the center of the marketplace.
The central corridor of Quincy Market is the food court, where you can find anything from a fresh-shucked oyster to a full Greek dinner to sweets of all sorts. On either side of this building, under glass canopies, are full-service restaurants and bars—including one made to look like the one on the TV show “Cheers”—as well as pushcarts that sell everything crafts created by New England artisans as well as lots of hokey souvenirs. In the plaza between the South Canopy and the South Market building is an information kiosk, and throughout the complex you’ll find numerous outlets of retail chains. On warm evenings, the tables that spill outdoors from the restaurants and bars fill with people.
The original Faneuil Hall ★ gets lost in the shuffle, but it’s worth a visit. The first floor holds a National Park Service Visitor Center.