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Boston

Updated: March 16, 2012 03:23 PM EDT


By Marie Morris

Boston offers residents and visitors an irresistible blend of past, present, and future. History and innovation combine to create a small-scale destination that's easy to explore yet always surprising. One of the oldest American cities, Boston is known around the world for high tech and hospitals, arts and music, and dozens of excellent colleges. With its fascinating attractions, excellent shopping, lovely scenery, and terrific restaurants, the Boston area is perfect for both a quick visit and a longer stay.

Things to Do

Bostonians walk everywhere. One top historic attraction is a walking tour -- the Freedom Trail -- and two favorite neighborhoods are pedestrian-friendly Beacon Hill and the North End. They walk the galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art, the banks of the Charles River, and the lively streets of Harvard Square. Then they take a break in the Public Garden for a ride on a Swan Boat, at Fenway Park for a Red Sox game, or at a restaurant for local seafood.

Shopping

The most interesting shopping in New England is the shops, boutiques, galleries, markets, and malls of the Boston area. Newbury Street is a walkable destination that's perfect for window-shopping as well as the real thing; it's the heart of the Back Bay, where high-profile chains thrive alongside only-in-Boston merchandise. Faneuil Hall Marketplace boasts a similar blend, but the real gems are the neighborhoods, including Beacon Hill and the South End in Boston, and Harvard Square and Porter Square in Cambridge.

Restaurants & Dining

Familiar favorites such as New England clam chowder, Boston baked beans, Boston cream pie, and Samuel Adams beer are just part of the dynamic dining scene. Trends are less significant than seafood from nearby waters, local produce (organic more often than not), and price points fit for both students and special occasions. Head to the North End for Italian, to the South End for the hottest bistros, and to Cambridge for a mix of upscale, ethnic, and budget-friendly options.

Nightlife & Entertainment

Classical music is the headliner, but Boston and Cambridge are also famed for rock, folk, and jazz. The legendary Boston Symphony Orchestra and beloved Boston Pops play at landmark Symphony Hall; across the river, Cambridge's Central Square boasts the best live-music scene in New England. Add top-notch comedy and improv, throw in the wild variety of student performances, and you may not even notice that local nightlife -- thanks largely to the 2am curfew for clubs -- leaves something to be desired.

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