City Slicker: Boston - 'A place that's for ever reinterpreting itself'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

This historic city is always turning over a new leaf, especially in the autumn. Kate Simon has ideas for new and returning visitors

Why visit?

Who needs a better reason to visit this gateway to New England than the extraordinary sight of North America's trees in all their colourful autumn glory.

Though the annual pre-Christmas shop – the Thanksgiving sales offer huge discounts – will prove just as persuasive for some, especially with the weak dollar giving a welcome boost to the value of the shopper's pound these days.

Most of all, there's the plain fact that Boston is one of the most delightful cities in the States. It has a depth that most American metropolises can only dream of, expressed in fine historic buildings and sights, while the carefully preserved green spaces and well-planned street network, from Commonwealth Avenue to Beacon Hill, make it eminently walkable.

Yet, Boston isn't just a scenic place in which to wallow in the past. This vital city is ever reinterpreting its landscape – currently best seen in the huge regeneration of the waterfront – and its restaurants, hotels, museums and galleries reveal an eye for the latest trends.

Don't miss...

A drink in the bar Top of the Hub (, on the 52nd storey of the Prudential Center (prudential, for great city views.

A trip across to Cambridge, home of Harvard University.

Top-class non-mall shopping in the traditional brownstones on pretty Newbury Street.

Strolling around the cobbled streets of the city's historic neighbourhood Beacon Hill.

Following a history trail to uncover this city's revolutionary age ( Also, check out Mytown (, which offers inspiring tours of the South End led by teenage guides.

Taking in the green heart of the city with a stroll along Commonwealth Avenue to the Public Gardens and historic Boston Common.

More wandering, along the HarborWalk (, a public path that will eventually meander around the wharfs, piers, bridges and beaches for almost 47 linear miles from Chelsea Creek to Neponset River.

Watching Liverpool FC's new owners, the Red Sox, at Fenway Park (, the oldest major league baseball park still in use.

What's new


The American love of creating communities out of acronyms is alive and well in Boston's SoWa (South of Washington Street). This former industrial neighbourhood in the South End, centring on Harrison Avenue, is putting old warehouses to renewed use as galleries, artists' studios, restaurants, creative businesses and loft apartments. Visitors can see the work of local artists at the SoWa Artists Guild & South End Open Studios ( and alongside the wares of craftspeople and food producers at the SoWa Open Market (, which ends for the season in October but revives for Christmas on 11 and 12 December. New restaurants here include gastropub The Gallows (001 617 451 0077) and Asian eatery Ginger Park (

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Check out the new Art of the Americas wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Opening on 20 November, the $465m (£296m) addition was designed by Sir Norman Foster. As well as new space to exhibit the museum's collection of 450,000 works, it aims to re-orientate the experience for visitors to one of the world's largest museums. The new wing will have 53 galleries over four floors with more than 5,000 works on display, double the previous number. A calendar of special exhibitions is also promised.



The transformation of Boston's Seaport district is currently in slow motion thanks to the financial crisis, but a few new features have sprung up to make a trip to the historic harbour front an interesting diversion. Louis (say Looeez) is one of the most interesting newcomers on Fan Pier. The venerable clothing retailer, which has been in business in the city since the late 1800s, has moved from its home in Back Bay to these new shores. Within the modern metal box that is its new premises, designer devotees will find plenty to delight them among its racks of clothes and counters full of luxury accessories. Upstairs, Sam's melds American diner with French bistro, using produce from New England's farms, which customers enjoy alongside great harbour views.


The Ames

This new property from the Morgans Hotel Group is a slick addition to the city's accommodation. The building may date from the 19th century, but the interiors are strictly modernist. Its 114 rooms follow minimalist design principles with dark tile and light timber floors, and a colour scheme dominated by white, grey and black. The high-quality furnishings keep the experience comfortable. Other facilities include the restaurant and bar, Woodwards, and a fitness centre. The hotel's downtown setting puts Boston at your feet.


Grand Circle Gallery

Seaport has been a favourite location for artists since the Seventies and, despite the regeneration, the industrial buildings that lie just inland from the harbour still provide a home for this community. You can catch up with them in their live-work spaces twice a year on Open Studios weekends (, the next of which will be in the spring. Meanwhile, stop by an intriguing little gallery in one of the old wool warehouses showcasing vintage travel posters and a selection of photography. The tour operator Grand Circle Corporation created this space, which is free to enter.


Insider's Secret

Steve Jermanok, writer

"One of my favourite new sculptures on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, not far from the Institute of Contemporary Arts, is an oversized hammock where strangers can relax and lie down together. Also, Flour is a wonderful bakery, featuring muffins, cookies and sandwiches on fresh baked bread in the Fort Point neighbourhood."


Compact Facts

How to get there

Kate Simon travelled to Boston with British Airways (0844 493 0758;, which offers a three-night room-only stay at the Back Bay Hotel from £539 per person in November, including return flights from London Heathrow.

Further information

Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (

One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballLive! Sanchez makes up for penalty miss to put Arsenal ahead
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all