Dorchester is in Boston. This article also includes Mattapan, which was historically a part of Dorchester.
Dorchester (Dot) is the largest geographic and most populated neighborhood in the city of Boston. Home to Dot Ave., it is also Boston's most diverse neighborhood, with large pockets of African Americans, Irish, Vietnamese, Caribbean, and South and Central American residents. In recent years, the neighborhood has seen an influx of young working professionals, working artists (in areas like Lower Mills, Peabody Square, and Savin Hill), and a growing GLBT community along Dorchester Avenue, while it's still predominantly a working-class neighborhood and a thriving center of immigration.
Although the JFK Presidential Library is in the neighborhood, Dorchester is generally not seen as a tourist destination. But if you are adventurous and would like to see a truly authentic neighborhood of Boston, it is the place. Generally the areas along Dorchester Ave. (serviced by the Ashmont branch of the red line subway) are your best bet to experience Dorchester's multi-cultural communities. Enjoy food at one of the many Vietnamese Restaurants in Fields Corner or many of the other Haitian, Jamaican, Central American, or Soul Food eateries along Dot Ave. Later, grab a drink at Dbar, Blarney Stone, Tavola Pizza, Ashmont Grill, or C.F. Donovan's or watch your favorite Gaelic football team over a few beers at The Banshee.
Mattapan is also included in this article. Historically a section of neighboring Dorchester, Mattapan became a part of Boston when Dorchester was annexed in 1870. Predominantly residential, Mattapan is a mix of public housing, small apartment buildings, single-family houses, and two- and three-family houses (known locally as "Three-Deckers" or "Triple-Deckers"). Blue Hill Avenue and Mattapan Square, where Blue Hill Avenue, River Street, and Cummins Highway meet, are the commercial heart of the neighborhood, home to banks, law offices, restaurants, and retail shops. Mattapan now has the largest Haitian community in Massachusetts, and is also largely made up of African Americans and immigrants from other Caribbean countries.
To Mattapan: The Mattapan-Ashmont trolley line (a branch off the Red Line) of the MBTA serves Mattapan as well as several bus routes. The Fairmount Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail also serves Mattapan at Morton Street, providing service to downtown Boston and the suburbs.
Red Line: The JFK/UMass, Savin Hill, Fields Corner, Shawmut, and Ashmont stations serve Dorchester, as well as the entirety of the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line (a tramway that connects Ashmont station with other parts of the neighborhood). The Red Line splits into 2 branches south of the JFK/UMass station, so make sure you are on an Ashmount-bound train if you want to stop in Dorchester.
The Uphams Corner and Morton Street stations on the Fairmount Line of the MBTA commuter rail are located in Dorchester.
Interstate 93 runs through the neighborhood: Exits 11, 13, 14, and 15 serve Dorchester.
Dorchester Ave can be found by coming up Route 28 / Randolph Ave, south from Milton. Massachusetts Ave. also connects with Columbia Ave., which is a major road within Dorchester and connects with Dorchester Ave.
- JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point (T: JFK/UMass, then take the free shuttle bus to the museum), ☎ +1 617-514-1600. 9AM-5PM Daily. A museum dedicated to President John F. Kennedy, focusing on his 1960 presidential campaign and his time in office. A worthwhile visit for anyone with an appreciation of American history. The museum is not large: you can see the entire thing in half a day. Adults $12.00, Seniors (62 and over) and Students (with valid college ID) $10.00, Ages 13-17 $9.00, Children 12 and under are free.
- Flat Black Coffee Shop, 1170 Washington St. (Lower Mills - take Red Line to Ashmont, trolley to Lower Mills). 6AM-5PM. A local coffee company with three locations in Boston - one in Lower Mills, another at the Ashmont T station, and another downtown. The owner and store managers roast their own coffee on site, producing micro batches of organic coffee. The shops regularly have local artists on the walls, with local pastries and bread for sale as well. Highly recommended for coffee and pastries.
- Pope John Paul II Park, South-east of Dorchester (Gallivan Blvd east almost to 93 - make a right.). A large park on the shores of the Neponset River, it has walking trails, soccer fields, and playgrounds for kids. In the summer you can see people walking their dogs, flying kites, or kayaking in the river. It is a good place to relax or take a picnic under the shelters.
- U Mass Boston = JFK Library, Columbia Point (at U Mass) (Take Morrissey Blvd to U Mass, turn into U Mass), ☎ +1 617 514-1600. The reason why many people come into Dorchester. It contains everything you need to know about the history of President John F. Kennedy, from his early life, to his presidential run, to his tragic assassination and legacy. It's worth a trip for anyone interested in the history of the United States and the presidency.
- Ashmont Hill / Ashmont Adams, Ashmont Hill neighborhood (Ashmont T stop - walk along Ashmont St.). Take a driving, biking, or walking tour of some of the original "bedroom" communities of Boston. The neighborhoods are well known for the architectural styles: In addition to the early French cottages, they include fine examples of the Stick Style, notable for strong verticality and “sticks” outlining the form of the house; the Queen Anne style, with complicated roofs, turrets and asymmetrical floor plans; the Shingle style, characterized by a shingle “skin” that wraps the exterior of the house; the Colonial Revival style, with center entrances, classical detailing, and often porches with Greek columns; and from the early 20th century, the Craftsman style featuring the simpler elements of the Arts and Crafts movement.
- Greenhills Irish Bakery, 780 Adams St. (Dorchester Ave to Ashmont St., to Adams St.). For tourists looking for authentic Irish bread, food, and people, look no further than Greenhills. With real Irish bakers on the premises, make sure to buy the Irish Soda Bread and local pastries. Cheap.
- The Icecreamsmith, 2295 Dorchester Avenue (Ashmont T stop, take the rolley to Lower Mills). Homemade ice cream is sold on the premises for over 35 years, making it a local landmark. The special flavors include peach, black raspberry, ginger, lemon custard, pumpkin, and more. Remember, in New England you want a "Frappe" if you want ice cream blended with milk (what most of the US calls a milk shake). Look for a line to the door most nights, but the ice cream is worth it. Cheap.
- Ashmont Grill, 555 Talbot Ave, ☎ +1 617 825-4300. A lively restaurant with a varied menu, from a more than reasonable burger and fries to pastas or fish dishes. $15-20.
- Tavolo Pizza, 1918 DOrchester Ave (Ashmont T stop, in Carruth), ☎ +1 617 822-1918. 5PM-late. An Italian restaurant opened by the same chef/owner as Ashmont Grill, it features good pasta, pizza, and specials along with a Wednesday Tour of Italy featuring different regions of Italian cuisine. The bar has cocktails, a good wine selection, and some excellent draft beer. $10-18.
- Shanti Taste of India, 1111 Dorchester Ave (Savin Hill T stop, head towards Dorchester Ave), ☎ +1 617 929-3900. Though used by most locals as the local Indian delivery restaurant, it has a great atmosphere, local artist paintings, and great authentic Indian food. Dinners are usually quiet, with about 15 tables.
- Mrs. Jones, 2255 Dorchester Ave (Ashmont T stop, 1 mile south on Dorchester Ave, or take the Trolley to Lower Mills). 11AM-8PM. A fantastic addition to the Dorchester restaurants, Mrs. Jones specializing in southern BBQ food. With its cheap entrees ($8-12) and homemade desserts, it is a great stop for authentic southern soul food. If you want a taste of the south, come here. Cheryl and her husband are always friendly. Fried Okra, Red Velvet Cake, and BBQ Chicken are highly recommended.
- dBar, 1236 Dorchester Ave (Savin Hill T stop, then south on Dorchester Ave (walking not recommended)). A bar and restaurant located in Savin Hill, it has an extensive mixed drink menu and a vast wine list. dBar regularly hosts parties and late night events. Entrees are moderate to expensive ($16-24) but very good. Parking can be iffy.
- Blarney Stone, 1509 Dorchester Ave (Fields Corner T stop, it is at the bottom of the station). A large restaurant located in Fields Corner, it has good entrees and a nice beer and wine list. Parking can be found on the streets.
- Carruth House, 30 Beaumont St. (Ashmont T station, walk down Ashmont St., down Carruth St.). A hostel located in a good neighborhood and close to the Ashmont T station. Easy to get to both with cars and without, and located in an old house within a quiet neighborhood. 55-75 pp.
- DoubleTree Club by Hilton Hotel Boston Bayside, 240 Mt. Vernon Street, ☎ +1 617-822-3600. This hotel also offers daily complimentary shuttle service to downtown Boston, South Station and the airport.
Although the neighborhood has improved considerably in recent years, it still has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Boston. Tourists should not venture in after dark unless they're completely sure of their destination, or are with a native.
Dorchester Ave. north of Ashmont and south of Columbia Ave is regularly in the news for crime, while Blue Hill Ave and Talbot Ave are even more regulars in the news. Blue Hill Ave is one of the more dangerous streets in the city. That being said,people who have been to cities before should be fine. Just be careful after dark. Most violence comes from gangs shooting or stabbing each other, and tourists are not a major target.
Pickpockets and muggings have been reported at night near JFK / U Mass T station, robbing people of iPods and phones. Be wary at night and keep valuables out of sight.
|Routes through Dorchester|
|Downtown ← South Boston ←||N S||→ Quincy → Braintree|
|END (Mattapan) ←||SW NE||→ Milton → Dorchester → Transfer to Red Line|
|END ← Hyde Park ←||SW NE||→ Downtown → END|