Due to its shared cultural roots with greater New England, fresh local seafood dominates Boston's regional cuisine, along with a large emphasis on rum, salt, and dairy products. Tourists eating out in Boston will want to try a cannoli before leaving, with some of the best found at Mike's Pastry and Modern Pastry. Ideal for a takeaway lunch by the harbour or a quick bite to eat, Faneuil Hall still comes out tops with a fantastic cross-section of the city's cosmopolitan cuisine and manages to simultaneously be a wonderful tourist attraction.
The North End is a firm favourite with locals and features wonderfully intimate cafes, bakeries, and eateries with enough gastronomic treats to get just about everybody's mouth watering. Hanover Street also offers many good restaurant choices. The South End boasts some of the most elegant restaurants in Boston's dining scene, with bookings a priority.
Most restaurants in Boston close by 10pm or 11pm; however, those looking for late-night dining can head to Chinatown, where some eateries stay open as late as 2am.
One look at the city's boutiques, department stores, malls, and outlets, and it's no wonder why thousands flock to Boston to stock up on clothes, jewellery, and books. Visitors can take a walk down to the Downtown Crossing near Boston Common, a browser's paradise, while just around the corner Boston's Chinatown offers herbal remedies, silk slippers, and other traditional goods.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace, also known as Quincy Market, is a firm favourite, with more than 100 of Boston's finest shops and carts touting a variety of merchandise. It is also home to the Bull Market, a fleet of 43 unique pushcarts featuring New England's artisans and their wonderful wares, as well as an amazing food court where tired shoppers can stop and refuel.
Big spenders will enjoy the many designer boutiques on the renowned eight-block stretch on Newbury Street, boasting names such as Cartier, Armani, and Max Mara to name a few. History buffs will fall in love with the cobblestone streets of Charles Street on Beacon Hill, where they can browse through the cramped stores of this early Boston neighbourhood for historic photos, furniture, antique china, and intriguing architectural objects.
Shops in Boston generally open from 10am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday, with most large stores open on Sundays with reduced opening hours.
Surprisingly, considering the huge student population, Bostonians don't take their nightlife too seriously. Most clubs close by 2am and Massachusetts state law forbids smoking in all bars, nightclubs, and restaurants.
That said, Boston's entertainment and nightlife scene is still thriving with live bands, comedy acts, and shows taking centre stage in the Theater District. Contrary to popular belief, not everybody knows your name in Boston's bar scene, but a beer at the Cheers bar on 84 Beacon Street is a must for fans of the 80s TV show.
Don't be disappointed though if you don't find your friends here, they're probably hitting some of Boston's hipper nightspots. Boston's nightlife has a sophisticated edge, with a good dose of culture in the entertainment.
Popular spots to drink and mingle include venues like the Museum of Fine Arts, which often features live music, and a cash bar on summer evenings. Crowds of classy 20- to 30-somethings mingle and socialise in the galleries and museums while sipping on cocktails and wine.
Many Bostonians prefer to start off an evening with drinks in hotel lounges and bars, as patrons are able to chat more easily than in many clubs and bars. Once warmed up, the clubs are the place to be and Bostonians can party hard.
Pool and bowling are popular pastimes in Boston and visitors are spoilt for choice with the amount of bowling alleys and pool halls to choose from. Couple these activities with a few beers and you've got yourself a recipe for a more relaxed evening out.
Those looking for theatre or classical music will love the city. Both the renowned Boston Pops Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra have regular performances at Symphony Hall. The New England Conservatory is also nearby, offering top-notch student performances for no admission charge.