Much of Boston still reflects the city’s original 17th-century layout, a seemingly haphazard plan that can disorient even longtime residents. You’ll see alleys, one-way streets, streets that change names, and streets named after extinct geographical features. Major geographical points of reference include the waterfront, at the city’s east end; Boston Common and the adjoining Boston Public Gardens, which separate Beacon Hill from downtown; and the Charles River, which divides Boston from its neighboring town to the north, Cambridge. Storrow Drive runs along the Boston side of the Charles; Memorial Drive runs along the Cambridge side. A handful of bridges span the river, connecting the two cities.
The Waterfront - The area along Atlantic Avenue and Commercial Street, once filled with wharves and warehouses, now boasts luxury condos, tourist-friendly marinas, restaurants, and hotels. Here you’ll find the Rose Kennedy Greenway walking path, the New England Aquarium, and docks for harbor cruises and whale watches. Just a block inland from Long Wharf, Faneuil Hall Marketplace/Quincy Market is the city’s most popular attraction, a cluster of restored market buildings. A block west of Faneuil Hall, Government Center is a wide plaza surrounded by state and federal office towers, Boston City Hall, and a central T stop.
The North End - Adjacent to the northern end of the waterfront, this is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and an immigrant stronghold for much of its history. It’s still heavily Italian-American, with Italian spoken at many of its restaurants, caffès, and shops. Hanover Street and Salem Street are the main streets. Bars and restaurants cluster on and near Causeway Street in the North Station area, across from the TD Garden sports and performance stadium.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace & Financial District - This area of the city includes the waterfront and harbor, where some of the city’s most desirable properties are, and Downtown Crossing, just east of the Boston Common. It also extends north to the newly revitalizing West End, which includes North Station and the TD Garden, where the Boston Celtics basketball team and Boston Bruins hockey team both play.
Downtown Crossing - The Freedom Trail runs through this bustling shopping and business district a few blocks east of Boston Common. The central Downtown Crossing intersection is where Winter Street becomes Summer Street at Washington Street, the most “main” street downtown.
Seaport District - Across Fort Point Channel from downtown, this hot neighborhood is booming with new restaurants, bars, and hotels. The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is here, along with the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Chinatown - Tucked between Downtown Crossing and the Seaport District is one of the largest Chinese communities in the country, abounding with Asian restaurants and other businesses. Its main street is Beach Street. At its western end, Boston’s Theater District extends about 2 blocks in each direction from the intersection of Tremont and Stuart streets. What’s left of Boston’s red-light district is also here; be careful in this area at night.
Beacon Hill - Narrow, tree-lined streets and architectural showpieces make up this largely residential area near the State House and Boston Common. Charles Street is the neighborhood’s commercial street.
Back Bay - Created out of landfill in the mid–19th century, fashionable Back Bay extends from Arlington Street, near the Boston Public Garden, to the student-dominated sections near Massachusetts Avenue, or Mass Ave. Main streets include the retail meccas Boylston and Newbury streets and the largely residential Commonwealth Avenue, or Comm Ave, and Beacon Street. Unlike downtown, Back Bay is laid out in a grid; its cross streets go in alphabetical order.
South End - South of Back Bay, this landmark district, packed with Victorian row houses, has a large gay community and some of the city’s best restaurants. Main thoroughfares include Tremont and Washington streets and Harrison and Columbus avenues. Tucked within it is the SoWa Art + Design District (SoWa is short for “south of Washington street”), with art galleries, boutiques, and design showrooms. Note: The South End is not South Boston—”Southie” lies east of highway I-93, near the Seaport District.
Charlestown - Across Boston Harbor from the North End is one of the oldest areas of Boston. The Bunker Hill Monument is here, along with the celebrated tall ship the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”). To get here from the North End, follow North Washington Street.
Kenmore Square - A landmark white-and-red Citgo sign marks the intersection of Comm Ave, Beacon Street, and Brookline Avenue at Kenmore Square. Boston University students throng its shops, bars, restaurants, and clubs. Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is 3 short blocks away.
The Fenway - South and west of Kenmore Square, The Fenway surrounds the parklands of the Back Bay Fens. Here you’ll find the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Symphony Hall, as well as several colleges and world-class medical facilities.
Cambridge - Across the Charles River from Boston, Cambridge is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its backbone, Mass Ave, runs from Boston across the Mass Ave Bridge river over the Charles River into Cambridge and beyond.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.