A Haute Neighborhood Guide to Boston’s Back Bay: Where to Shop, Dine and Stay

Boston is a city that boasts numerous historic firsts–the first public park, the first public garden and first major municipal public library to name a few, all of which can all be found in Back Bay. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway or a week-long escape, here’s an insider’s guide to some of the must-see sights in Boston’s Back Bay that you won’t want to miss.

What to See:

Walking through Copley Square, you can’t miss Trinity Church, which was founded in 1733 and is the only church in the United States honored as one of the 10 most architecturally significant buildings in the country by a national poll of architects. 

The Boston Public Library was the first large, free municipal library in the United States and now hosts a collection of 23 million items, including several first edition folios by William Shakespeare, original music scores from Mozart to Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf;” and, in its rare book collection, the personal library of John Adams. Be sure to visit The Courtyard Restaurant tucked inside the library for an afternoon tea or enjoy al fresco dining in the courtyard complete with a fountainside view.

Boston’s Public Garden, America’s first public botanical garden, was established in 1837 and was featured in the movie Good Will Hunting with Robin Williams and Matt Damon. Take a leisurely ride around the park in the historic Swan Boats that have been a staple here since 1877.

The adjacent 50-acre Boston Common is the country’s oldest park. It was the historic setting for public hangings in the 1800s and the camp for the British at the start of the American Revolutionary War before becoming a popular tourist stop along The Freedom Trail today.

Where to Dine:

In Back Bay during the summertime, it’s all about patio dining. From the open air Sonsie on Newbury Street for people watching to the haute al fresco patio scene at Stephanie’s on Newbury, it’s all about enjoying the sunny season outdoors.

For an unforgettable dining experience, book L’Espalier’s Chef’s Tasting Journey where you can enjoy a multi-course tasting menu at their exclusive chef’s table inside the kitchen. If you are in the mood for southern fare, head over to Buttermilk & Bourbon, one of the latest newcomers to hit Commonwealth Avenue brought to us by celebrity chef Jason Santos.

For steakhouse dining, The Capital Grille is always a classic standout along with Abe & Louie’s, which also boasts one of the hautest bar scenes in town.

Abe Louie'sPhoto Credit: Abe & Louie’s

Where to Shop:

Newbury Street is Boston’s version of New York’s Fifth Avenue. From Chanel, Cartier and Valentino to Burberry, Tiffany & Co. and Giorgio Armani, this is the hautest street in town for couture fashions. For indoor shopping, head over to the haute boutiques at Copley Place where you will find Carolina Herrera, Dior, David Yurman, Jimmy Choo and Louis Vuitton. The nearby Prudential Center is also home to some great restaurants and shopping, as well as the Skywalk Observatory on the 52nd floor where you can get a 360-degree view of Boston and beyond. Finish off your visit here with a drink at the Top of the Hub steps from the Skywalk for some of the best views of the city.

Where to Stay:

The Back Bay has so many options when it comes to hotel accommodations. Whether you are looking for a boutique stay at The Eliot Hotel, prefer the convenience of staying in the center of all of the haute activities on Boylston Street at The Charlesmark Hotel, want a luxury property like The Lenox Hotel or the Mandarin Oriental, there is something for everyone.

Mandarin Oriental, BostonPhoto Credit: Mandarin Oriental, Boston