Lonely Planet’s senior director of content and Boston native Laura Motta shared this shapshot of her hometown, Boston – and what to see, do, and eat in one of its newest and most appealing neighborhoods.
I grew up in northeastern Massachusetts and lived in Boston as a college student, and I return to my old stomping grounds often to see friends and family. Even though the city has changed so much since I moved away in the early 2000s, I love the feeling of being able to experience the city both as a local and a visitor.
One major new development – quite literally – is the emergence of Boston’s Seaport neighborhood, an area that was occupied by shipping containers and parking lots for most of my youth. Fifteen years ago, the idea of visiting this area as either a tourist or a local was ridiculous. (There wasn’t much to do, unless you were interested in hopping aboard a freighter to cross the Atlantic.) Today, it’s a busy neighborhood filled with upscale shops, acclaimed restaurants, gleaming skyscrapers and some of the most beautiful views in the city.
Here’s what I saw on my most recent visit.
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In Boston’s Seaport, I started the day with…
A latte and a walk with incredible views. When I land in a new neighborhood, the first thing I like to do is take a good look around. Here, I stopped into Tatte Bakery & Cafe for coffee (plus a breakfast sandwich or eye-catching pastry) and then headed just down the street toward Boston Harbor. From here, I followed a waterfront walking path that includes public art, posted signs with bits of history and incredible views of the Boston skyline. I suppose you could also lace on a pair of athletic shoes and jog along this path – sans pastry – but taking the time to savor a sunny New England morning is worth it.
The modern Greek fare at Committee in Boston’s Seaport area is imminently shareable © Laura Motta / Lonely Planet
A top spot for dinner in the Seaport is…
Committee. This modern Greek restaurant manages to serve top-notch fare while also offering a humming social scene, especially later in the evening. The shareable mezze plates are definitely the place to start if you’re dining with a group, especially the perfectly toasty, sesame-encrusted feta with Greek honey. I also really enjoyed the Greek-style “bao,” which pairs classic pork belly with barbecue tzatziki and slaw. If you choose to imbibe, you’ll have fun exploring a list of lesser-known Greek wines and spirits, including five kinds of ouzo. Reserve well ahead for a table, especially on weekends.
The rooms at the Seaport’s Envoy Hotel are filled with light and offer city views © Laura Motta / Lonely Planet
In the neighborhood, I stayed at…
The Envoy Hotel. This relatively compact glass box of a property offers all the consistency and comfort of a big-brand hotel (surprise: it’s a Marriott) while also offering smart, elegant design in the rooms and public spaces. I love that the beds are positioned to face the windows for dreamy skyline views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel’s rooftop space, Lookout Rooftop, also offers fabulous city views. It operates year-round, even through Boston’s challenging winters, thanks to individually heated “igloos” that can each accommodate up to 10 guests for up to two hours at a time.
You should bring back…
A souvenir from the neighborhood’s array of permanent and pop-up shops. These include many small local businesses offering unique items that you won’t easily find elsewhere. First, I headed to Brave Daughters, which sells delicate bracelets and rings that don’t have clasps, but are instead welded together at the ends to form “permanent” jewelry. I also bought colorful winter beanies at Project Paulie. This shop was founded by Massachusetts native Nicky Bandera, who spent much of the pandemic making lasagna for community members in need. To commemorate and extend the project, she designed these beanies, each stamped with a tomato. The purchase of each beanie benefits a different local charity, depending on which color you buy. And the tomato? It’s intended to be an eye-catching conversation starter. When someone asks about it, you can spread the word about Project Paulie and the charity you helped out with your purchase.
Yayoi Kusama’s “Love Is Calling” is a highlight of the Institute of Contemporary Art, one of Boston’s top museums and an anchor of the Seaport neighborhood © Laura Motta / Lonely Planet
The top spot for a dose of culture is…
The Institute of Contemporary Art, hands down. Here, can expect a visually arresting experience, whether you’re inside the building or out. The structure, created by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, has cantilevered over Boston Harbor since 2006 and one of the first signals of real change for the neighborhood. Stop in for a look at boundary-pushing work from around the world, including what’s become the museum’s most famous piece: Love Is Calling by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The largest of Kusama’s famous Infinity Rooms, it features colorful, polka-dotted stalagmites and stalactites in a mirrored box. Viewers can walk through for an immersive experience – with photos (of course) encouraged.
The best spot for lunch is…
Any of the myriad fast-casual spots that typify this work hard–play hard neighborhood. It’s no surprise that an area full of young professionals is jammed with designer salad and sandwich options, most of which you can probably enjoy in your hometown. For an option that might be new, try Miznon. This fast-casual chain serves flavorful Israeli food – think pitas, kebabs and roasted veggies. I loved the folded cheeseburger with garlic aioli and sour cream.