Boston/Back Bay

Back Bay along the Charles River
View of Back Bay's skyline from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Back Bay was once a stagnant pool of water behind the Public Garden. It now holds some of the most exclusive real estate in Boston. The streets between Commonwealth Avenue and the Charles River are almost entirely residential. Newbury St was once all stables to support these homes, it is now a shopping district that has been compared to Rodeo Drive in LA and 5th Avenue in New York. On the other side of Newbury is Boylston St, which on one side contains numerous bars and restaurants, and on the other several city landmarks, most notably Copley Square and the Prudential Center.

Get in

The Back Bay is bordered by the Charles River to the north, the Public Garden to the east, Fenway-Kenmore to the west, and the South End to the (you guessed it) south.

By car

Like most of downtown Boston, driving in the Back Bay is a terrible idea. While, unlike the rest of the city, the streets are laid out in a grid, the traffic tends to be bad to terrible. Newbury is the worst, as trucks frequently double park and pedestrians brazenly walk in front of cars. Boylston and Mass Ave are also frequently congested. If you must drive there are several parking garages in the area, and Exit 22 off I-90 East (only) serves the area. Storrow Drive is also another point of egress, although during rush hour it is often gridlocked.

By subway

Orange Line: the Back Bay station is near the border of the South End, near the Copley Place mall and the Prudential Center. Also served by the 10 and 39 buses.

Green Line: Several stations on the Green Line are located within Back Bay. The Green Line splits into multiple branches here: the following listings will indicate which branches serve which stations.

By train

The Back Bay station is served by Amtrak trains, and by MBTA commuter rail (Attleboro/Providence, Framinghham/Worcester, Needham, and Franklin lines).

By bus

Routes CT1, 1, 9, 10, 39 and 55 service the area. The 1 bus is the most useful to tourists, as it runs on Mass Ave and connects the Back Bay with Central and Harvard Square in Cambridge.


With no specific destination, the best way to explore the Back Bay is to start at the Public Garden and walk up Newbury St. The shops slowly change from extremely high end to more bohemian. At Mass Ave, going to the right will bring you to Commonwealth Ave; a split road with a tree-lined pedestrian mall in the center. Bordering Commonwealth Ave are some of the most elegant townhouses in the city, rivaled only by those on Beacon Hill. Going left as Mass Ave will bring you into the Berklee College of Music, many more shops and eventually Symphony Hall. Left off Mass Ave is Boylston Street, a vibrant avenue that has many bars and restaurants on the one side, and many popular Boston attractions such as the Prudential Center, Copley Square, and Hynes Convention Center on the other.











Go next

Routes through Back Bay

Splits into "B", "C", and "D" Branches Fenway-Kenmore  W  E  Downtown Cambridge
Jamaica Plain Fenway-Kenmore  SW  NE  Merges with main Green Line
Downtown Chinatown  N  S  South End Jamaica Plain
Needham Mission Hill  W  E  Downtown END

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 18, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.