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.
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.
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.
- Arlington [all branches]: In the far corner of the Public Garden, by the more 'ritzy' end of Newbury St. Also served by the 9 and 55 buses.
- Copley [all branches]: Near Copley Square, the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church and The John Hancock Tower. The last stop before the E branch forks off. Also serviced by the 9, 39, and 55 bus. There is no crossover (or transfer) between the inbound and outbound platforms: to transfer between inbound and outbound trains, ride to Arlington and transfer there.
- Hynes Convention Center [B, C and D branches]: Actually on Mass Ave, the Convention Center from which it takes its name is a few blocks away on Boylston St. It serves the more 'artsy' end of Newbury st, as well as the Prudential Center, Boston Architectural College and the Berklee School of Music. Also served by the 1 and CT1 bus.
- Prudential [E branch]: Next after Copley going outbound. Connects directly into the Prudential Center, but for convenience most residents use nearby Hynes and walk, as the E has the most infrequent service and it is easier to get to most destinations on the other lines. Also served by the 39 and 55 bus.
The Back Bay station is served by Amtrak trains, and by MBTA commuter rail (Attleboro/Providence, Framinghham/Worcester, Needham, and Franklin lines).
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.
- The Boston Public Garden. [T: Arlington]. The Boston Public Garden is a large park located in the heart of Boston, in the Back Bay region of the city. It is the largest and oldest botanical garden in the United States. Established in 1837 by Horace Gray, the 24-acre garden was formerly an enormous salt marsh, and was designed by George F. Meacham. The Public Garden is a great starting point for any tourist or person who finds themselves in Back Bay. The Garden features a plethora of diverse plant life, including a wide variety of native and foreign trees, and a rotating arrangement of flowers that changes with the seasons. The Garden also features numerous statues and fountains. In the center of the rectangular-shaped garden is a 4 acre pond, which in the spring and summer seasons is home to 1-2 swans, along with multiple other bird species such as ducks, comorants, and herons. Multiple turtles also live in the pond. From April–September, this large pond is also the home site of the Swan Boats, a famous Boston Tourist destination (See "Do" section for further detail on the Swan Boats). In the center of this pond stands the world's smallest suspension bridge, built over 100 years ago. In the corner of the park closest to Charles Street, tourists can view the famous duckling statues, based on Robert McCloskey's famous children's book, "Make Way For Ducklings." In 1987, the Boston Public Garden was declared a national historical landmark.
- The Old South Church, [T: Copley]. The Old South Church is one of the most prominent, noticeable, and stunning aesthetic landmarks in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Located at the North point of Copley Square, the massive church is an astounding example of classic Northern Italian gothic architecture. The Church also has a rich history. It served as one of the original meeting places of the Sons of Liberty during the Revolutionary War period.
- Boston Duck Tours. An institution in their own right, these modified WWII DUKWs give a great tour of the city from both land and sea, in the same vehicle. Easily one of the best all-around tours in Boston. Schedules and ticket information available at /
- Boston By Foot. Guided walking tours highlighting the architecture and history of Back Bay including Trinity Church, the Boston Public Library, New Old South Church, and the grand rows of Back Bay townhouses.
- Urban AdvenTours. Urban AdvenTours offers environmentally-friendly and exciting bicycle tours of Boston - from historic landmarks to quaint neighborhood streets of Boston and Cambridge - for families, students and visitors. Ride with us and see Boston the way it was meant to be seen - on two wheels! New location at 103 Atlantic Avenue in the North End.
- Mary Baker Eddy Library. [T: Prudential or Symphony]. Don't be fooled into thinking that this is just a library. The archives of Mary Baker Eddy; one of the most famous women of the early 20th century are found here, as is the Mapparium; a three-story stained glass globe depicting the world as it was in 1935 that you can actually walk through! While waiting for the twenty minute tour to commence, you can explore the Hall of Ideas and literally find the thoughts of some of the world's greatest thinkers at your feet! $4.
- The Swan Boats, [T: Arlington]. Located in the 4-acre pond sitting in the center of the Boston Public Garden, the Boston Swan Boats are one of the most famous and traditional icons of the city of Boston. Founded in 1877 by British immigrant and engineer Robert Paget, the Swan Boats have been preserved for over 130 years by the Paget family for tourist pleasure and enjoyment. There are six swan boats in total, which can carry the weight of 15-20 adults each. Each boat is pedaled by a Swan Boat worker (usually a high school-college aged student) who sits behind a large, white swan made of fiberglass located in the rear of the boat. For a small fee ($1.50 for children, $2.75 for adults, $1.70 for seniors), anyone can enjoy a relaxing 15-minute trip around the pond and take in a beautiful tour of the Boston Public Garden.
- Anime Boston. This event usually takes place over one weekend in April or March in the Hynes Convention Center. Anime Boston has been an ongoing yearly convention of people from around the east coast who love Anime and Videogames. Anime Boston has been occurring since 2003, and is going as strong as ever with as many as 17,236 people attending during their 2010 convention. There are many things to do during this convention, such as attending artist workshops, attend events based around your favorite anime, visit the giant dealers room and buy memorabilia, watch cosplayers act out skits, or one of many events that are held throughout the weekend long convention. For adults, a weekend pass is $55, for children between the ages of 6 and 12 it is $45 and for children 5 and under it is free. A one day pass for adults is $35, for children between 6 and 12 it is $25, and for children under 5 it is free. Their hours of operation for the upcoming convention are; Friday April 6, 8AM-8PM; Saturday, April 7, 8AM–8PM; and Sunday, April 8, 8AM-12PM.
- Boston Strolls, ☎ +1 617-383-9255. Boston Strolls offers a guided walking tour of the Back Bay focusing on the unprecedented social and civil engineering project undertaken in the 19th century that filled the Back Bay and created an elite neighborhood. Tours are available Saturday and Sunday at 1PM. Reservations are required. 15.
- Newbury St. runs the length of the Back Bay neighborhood. Often called "the Rodeo Drive of the East," Newbury St is a wonderfully dense avenue colored by historic brownstones and lots of shops and restaurants. These are extremely expensive near Boston Common, but gradually become more affordable as you move toward Massachusetts Avenue. During the day, the street is lined with all sorts of interesting characters including buskers. Vehicular traffic can be very slow on Newbury St itself; take parallel streets unless you have time to see the sights from your car.
- B. Good, 131 Dartmouth St, ☎ +1 617 424-5252. M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Vegetarian Offers health-conscious veggie burgers with great fixings, like salsa and guacamole, and sides of tasty steamed veggies. The fries are air-baked and taste like real potatoes!
- Cafeteria Boston, 279a Newbury Street, ☎ +1 617 536-2233. A casual, contemporary atmosphere where the comfort food of "yesterday" gets modernized by the flavors of "today." American cuisine, weekend brunch, full bar/late-night dining.
- Herrera's Mexican Grill, ☎ +1 617-426-2350. 8 Park Plaza Transportation Building. Authentic Mexican dishes at cheap prices made quickly with fresh ingredients.
- Fire and Ice, 205 Berkeley St, ☎ +1 617-482-FIRE (3473). You get to pick your own food and sauces, and they cook it right in front of you on a large communal grill. $16.95, all you can eat. Rather touristy.
- The Upper Crust Pizzeria, 222 Newbury Street, ☎ +1 617 262-0090. Located in the midst of Newbury Street, one of the countries best shopping destinations, the Upper Crust Pizzeria sits high above Newbury Street with great views of the bustling network of shops and restaurants. Founded in 2001, the Upper crust menu operates of the simple concept based on traditional Neapolitan style pizza, which is characterized by a thin crust and chunky sauce. Since 2001, Upper Crust has been awarded "Best Pizza in Boston" multiple times by the annual "Best In Boston" magazine issue. With fresh ingredients and a diverse menu of specialty pizzas, the Upper Crust is one of the top pizza destinations in Boston.
- Hsin Hsin Café, 25 Massachusetts Ave. A very cheap and fast Chinese food joint, popular among students living in the area.
- Noodle St., 627 Commonwealth Ave (near BU East T), ☎ +1 617 536-3100. 11:30AM-10:30PM. This newer establishment has been a hit with the student crowd with its complex menu of create-it-yourself Thai fusion at reasonable, if not quite insanely cheap prices. Try the special buckwheat noodles or the Noodle St. soup.
- Nud Pob, 708 Commonwealth Ave, ☎ +1 617 536-8676. M-F 11:30AM-11PM, S+S 12PM-10:30PM. A student favorite for years, this little Thai jewel is cheap and delicious. Tucked away below street level this place is easy to miss but worth searching for. The food is fast, cheap, and some of the best in Boston. Their pad thai is perfect and their yellow and green curry dishes are to die for.
- The Parish Cafe, 361 Boylston Street. A casual place with a moderate side walk cafe. Their specialty is sandwiches designed by some of the best chefs in Boston.
- Pour House, 907 Boylston St (across the street from Hynes Convention Center and The Prudential Center), ☎ +1 617 236-1767. Specific Day Specials. Cheap eats. Check it out. Oh and it's seat yourself.
- Summer Shack Restaurant, 50 Dalton St (across from the Hynes Auditorium), ☎ +1 617 867-9955. Wonderful selections of seafood which change on a daily basis. The Summer Shack has a rotating selection of oysters and clams, and always have fresh lobsters for boiling or grilling on a wood flame. In addition, their fried seafood is great. Try their raspberry mojitos from $15-40. Also, this is where you can try the famous Pan Roasted Lobster (one of Julia Child's all time favorite dish) by the Chef-Owner Jasper White.
- Teriyaki House, 1110 Bolyston St, ☎ +1 617-236-1008. Traditional Japanese Tappanyaki cooking, fresh Sushi, and bubble Tea. $10-15
- Abe and Louie's, 793 Boylston St, ☎ +1 617 536-6300. Su-Th 11:30AM-11PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-midnight. A happening steakhouse with some of the best cuts in town. Make sure to get reservations or come in on off hours.
- Grill 23 & Bar, 161 Berkeley St, ☎ +1 617 542-2255. Certainly a contender for the best steaks in Boston. Also serves excellent seafood entrees. Private dining rooms available. Make sure to make weekend reservations at least a week in advance.
- L'Espalier, 774 Boylston St, ☎ +1 617 262-3023. The flagship French restaurant in Boston headed by award-winning chef Frank McClelland. Impeccable service and memorable cuisine make this a top choice for special occasions. Choose from several fix-priced multi-course menus (no a la carte menu available). Make reservations way in advance. (Note: L'Espalier would move from its current location to a new place near the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel in September 2008. The new location is only a couple minutes' walk from the old one, but given the complex nature of moving a restaurant, do call ahead and ask.)
- Top of the Hub, ☎ +1 617 859-0648. Prudential Center. Dine in luxury at the top of the Prudential Building, the second tallest building in the city. Light jazz, good food, and high prices accompany a view of the city and everything around. On a clear day, you can see Maine and Cape Cod. $40/person, $60-80 with drinks at dinner.
- Sonsie, 327 Newbury St. Extremely trendy and somewhat expensive, Sonsie is known as a place for beautiful people. Multiple celebrities have dined here, and a few movies have been filmed within. There is reason for this, the food is excellent, the atmosphere serene and the downstairs wine bar is to die for.
- The Pour House, 907 Boylston St. A favorite with locals, the Pour House offers cheap food and drinks in a fun atmosphere. Weekends tend to be crowded, but during the day it is a great place for a cold brew and gigantic plate of nachos.
- Cottonwood Cafe, 222 Berkley Street. Cottonwood has a tequila menu to rival many restaurant's wine lists. Their margaritas are the best in town. They also carry a respectable wine list and a good selection of regional and national micro brews.
- Charley's Eating and Drinking Saloon, 284 Newbury Street. One of the most popular bars in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. Good food and good drinks, all at affordable prices.
- Daisy Buchanan's, 240 Newbury Street, ☎ +1 617 247-8516. One of the most popular nightlife spots in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, particularly for college age students. A great drinking atmosphere, but beware of moderately expensive prices for drinks.
- The Tam, 222 Tremont Street. For anyone visiting the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston and looking for a good night that is light on the wallet, The Tam is the best "dive-bar" experience around. Friendly bartenders, cheap prices for beer, and an all around fantastic atmosphere complete with video games, karaoke, trivia, and old-style jukeboxes make for an enjoyable night for drinkers of all ages.
- Espresso Royale Caffe, 288 Newbury St, ☎ +1 617-859-9515. Located a few steps down below Newbury Street, Espresso Royale serves up its coffee and snacks with unique style. A small patio lets you enjoy your drink outside in the warmed months, while the interior, complete with cool art, music and wood tables is inviting and cozy. The tempo here is slower than that outside on the street, so you'll feel comfortable slowing down a bit and maybe even engaging in a board game.
- Pavement Coffeehouse, 1096 Boylston St, ☎ +1 617-236-1500. Combination of Expresso Royale and Bagel Rising. They sell single origin coffees instead of blends. Offer a variety of selections on the menu from coffee, bagels, and sandwiches. All entrees are under $10.
- 463 Beacon Street Guest House, 463 Beacon St, ☎ +1 617 536-1302. Budget accommodations near Newbury, Hynes Convention Center, etc. Just a few blocks from the MBTA Hynes stop. Not fancy, not especially clean, but it is worth considering. $79-169.
- Midtown Hotel, 220 Huntington Ave, ☎ +1 617 262-1000, fax: +1 617 262-8739. Budget hotel/motel within walking distance of Symphony Hall, First Church of Christ Scientist, Prudential Mall and Copley Place Mall. Close to Fenway Park, The Museum of Fine Arts, Newbury Street, Copley Library, and Esplanade July 4th Celebration. Across the street from Prudential MBTA stop on the Green Line. Free parking. $89-239.
- The College Club of Boston, 44 Commonwealth Ave, ☎ +1 617 536-9510, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The oldest women's college club in the nation is also a reasonably priced B&B next to the Boston Public Garden. Small historic brownstone overlooking Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Eleven newly renovated and individually decorated rooms furnished with antiques. $79-239.
- The Colonnade Boston Hotel, 120 Huntington Ave, ☎ +1 617 424-7000, fax: +1 617 424-1717. This hotel is great for business and leisure travelers who are looking for a unique experience. The hotel offers 13,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and has the city's only rooftop pool. $220+ ($169 with 7-night stay).
- The Eliot Hotel, 370 Commonwealth Ave (at Massachusetts Ave), toll-free: +1-800-443-5468, fax: +1 617 536-9114, e-mail: email@example.com. $195.
- Boston Marriott Copley Place, 110 Huntington Ave, ☎ +1 617 236-5800. This hotel is great for business and leisure travel and offers 65,000 sq ft of flexible meeting & event space.
- Marriott Courtyard Copley Square, 88 Exeter St, ☎ +1 617 437-9300. Every room in the hotel has been professionally designed to create an atmosphere of serenity and comfort, while maintaining the state-of-the-art amenities you've come to expect from a Marriott.
- Charlesmark Hotel, 655 Boylston St (Across from the Library, near Copley Square), ☎ +1 617 247-1212. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. In some ways, the Charlesmark resembles what the W chain would be, if it had taste. Rooms are generally quite small, but comfortable: so efficiently designed, they seem far more spacious than they actually are. Complimentary Continental breakfast is limited, but a 7-Eleven around the corner can fill in any gaps, and there are plenty of good restaurants nearby. Half a block from the nearest Westbound Green Line station (Eastbound is directly across the street), and the Orange Line, and Back Bay Amtrak are within easy walking distance, even with luggage. Nice people. Complimentary Internet-connected computer carrels available in lobby; complimentary WiFi throughout. $99-269.
- The Copley Square Hotel, 47 Huntington Ave. Located in historic Copley Square, walking distance to Fenway Park, Newbury Street and Boston Common. This Boston hotel features 143 hotel rooms and suites. The Copley Square Hotel offers on-site dining and entertainment at its restaurant, XHale Restaurant, and music lounge, Saint. XHale Restaurant is a casual meeting place for breakfast, dinner or cocktails; Saint is a boutique music lounge which serves drinks and provides live music.
- Courtyard Boston Tremont Hotel, 275 Tremont St, ☎ +1 617 426-1400, fax: +1 617 482-6730. This 4 star hotel is across the street from the Wang Theatre.
- The Fairmont Copley Plaza, 138 St James Ave, toll-free: +1-866-540-4417. Recently renovated and restored, this Boston hotel features 383 rooms including 17 elegant suites. The Fairmont is located near historic Beacon Hill, Copley Place, the Hynes Convention Center and the Freedom Trail.
- Four Seasons Hotel Boston, 200 Boylston St, ☎ +1 617 338-4400, fax: +1 617 423-0154. This is New England's only AAA Five Diamond and Mobil Five Star hotel and it is located right across from the Public Garden. The Four Seasons Hotel provides unbeatable views and close proximity to all major attractions. The lobby lounge (Bristol Lounge) has an excellent post-theatre dessert buffet during weekends.
- Hilton Boston Back Bay, 40 Dalton St, ☎ +1 617 236-1100. The Hilton Boston Back Bay hotel offers boutique-style lodging situated just steps away from all the excitement Boston has to offer. Walk from the hotel to fashionable Newbury Street and Copley Square for fabulous shopping and dining or make the short walk to historic Fenway Park.
- The Lenox Hotel, 61 Exeter St, ☎ +1 617 536-5300. A 214-room boutique hotel offers the historic charm, personalized service and modern technology. U.S. News & World Report chose it as "1 of the 5 Greenest Luxury Hotels in America".
- Loews Boston Hotel, 350 Stuart St, ☎ +1 617 266-7200, toll-free: +1-855-495-6397, fax: +1 617 423-0154. Loews Boston Hotel is a city landmark boasting 225 elegantly appointed guest rooms, a collection of spacious suites and a host of luxury perks for the modern traveler—all in the heart of the ultra-exclusive Back Bay neighborhood. Housed in the former Boston Police Headquarters, which was built in 1924, this luxury Boston hotel is a unique blend of historic charm and contemporary comfort.
- Sheraton Boston Hotel, 39 Dalton St, ☎ +1 617 236-2000. Sheraton Boston is located in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood and is connected to the Hynes Convention Center and the Prudential and Copley malls. All rooms are recently renovated and feature flat-screen televisions, Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bedding and work-stations. The hotel features 70,000 square feet of meeting space on-property, with 175,000 square feet available at the Hynes Convention Center.
- The Westin Copley Place, 10 Huntington Ave, ☎ +1 617 262-9600. The Westin Copley Place is located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood at Copley Square. The hotel is also connected to the Copley Place and Prudential Center Malls. This AAA Four Diamond-rated hotel features the Westin Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath products, a WestinWORKOUT gym, and high-speed internet access.
- W Boston, 100 Stuart St, ☎ +1 617 261-8700. Located near Boston’s theatre district, the W Boston has 235 modern guest rooms all with the signature W bed. The hotel also features the restaurant Market, from celebrity-chef Jean-Georges and the W lounge in the lobby.
|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|