Massachusetts' capital city is one of the most vibrant meccas in northern New England, renowned throughout the world for its historic attractions, including the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail and lively marketplace Faneuil Hall. Visitors this fall can take in a variety of cultural attractions, including the renowned art collections of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the historic exhibits of the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Harvard University's most-visited tourist attraction. Upscale restaurants in classy neighborhoods like the city's Back Bay and Waterfront serve globally-inspired fare, from French bistro classics to international seafood-focused tapas. Tourists can also grab casual fare from local favorite taco shop El Pelón Taquería to take into Red Sox games at acclaimed Fenway Park.
1.The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
© The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of Boston's premiere art museums, housed within the 1903 home of prominent art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner. Throughout her life, Gardner accumulated a collection of more than 7,500 paintings, sculptures, and metal and decorative art pieces from around the world, dating back to ancient times. Today, visitors can view the collection on display within her living history home museum, including significant works by artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Claude Manet, along with the first work by Henri Matisse to be entered into a public American collection. More than 7,000 letters and archival items are also showcased, including pieces by T.S. Elliot and Sarah Bernhardt, along with horticultural and sculpture displays outside on the home's interior courtyard. Annual special events include a classic and jazz concert series and a Landscape Visions lecture series.
25 Evans Way, Boston, MA 02115, Phone: 617-566-1401
Trade is a charming restaurant in Boston's Waterfront district, owned and operated by James Beard Award-winning chef Jody Adams and restaurateurs Sean Griffing and Eric Papachristos. The restaurant, which opened to the public in 2011, is a great choice for after-work dining and cocktails, serving up globally-inspired small plates alongside excellent craft drinks. Diners can enjoy waterfront views from floor-to-ceiling windows in a dining space showcasing lovely accents like high-top tables, artistic lighting, and a spacious marble bar. Gourmet flatbreads are prepared right in front of diners, topped with prime ingredients like like hickory-smoked pepperoni, maitake mushrooms, white figs, and garlic yogurt. Classic cocktails like Moscow mules pair with an excellent selection of draft beers and wines by the glass or by the bottle.
540 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02210, Phone: 617-451-1234
3.Stoddard's Fine Food and Ale
© Stoddard's Fine Food and Ale
Stoddard's Fine Food and Ale is a beautiful Downtown Crossing restaurant housed within an historic 1868 building that previously served as a corset store, cutlery, sewing machine retailer, and bait and tackle shop. Since 2010, it has been transformed into a lively gastropub known for its vintage cocktails, extensive craft beer selection, and varied food menu. Diners can enjoy globally-inspired entrees like chimichurri-marinated Argentinian steak tips, Creole-style shrimp and grits, or Spanish rice served with chicharrones, black beans, and fried bananas. Classic New England lobster rolls are also served up, along with shareables like poutine or aged English cheddar fondue. Domestic and imported craft brews on tap run the gamut from traditional Irish stouts to experimental wild and sour ales.
48 Temple Pl, Boston, MA 02111, Phone: 617-426-0048
© Saltie Girl
Saltie Girl is a delicious new offering from executive chef Kyle McClelland and the MET Restaurant Group, opened in 2016. The restaurant focuses on seafood classics from around the world, ranging from classic New England fare to new takes on Spanish, Italian, and Japanese cuisine favorites. Diners can share massive seafood towers stocked with items like littleneck oysters, Siberian caviar, and tuna poke or split creative small plates like spicy king crab rolls or charred octopus empanadas. Unique toasts draw from global influences, ranging from boquerones-style toasts with fire-roasted tomatoes to foie gras terrine with pickled plums and raspberry jam. New York-style smoked fish platters are also served, along with fried platters of Ipswich clams or Gloucester lobster.
281 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116, Phone: 617-267-0691
Aquitaine is an award-winning Parisian restaurant on Boston's South End, opened in 1997 by executive chef Seth Woods. The charming French bistro offers seating overlooking beautiful historic Tremont Street, creating a sophisticated Parisian-style atmosphere for diners. French classics are served up throughout the day, including beloved entrees like escargots, steak frites, salmon rillette, and sole meunière. House specialties and plates du jour include unique takes like hay-smoked chicken roti with charred baby carrots and pea leaves, potato confit salmon with anise soubise and candied lemon, and pan-seared gnocchi Parisienne with gruyere Mornay and caramelized zucchini. Clever craft cocktails include The Getaway, which pairs rum and birch with maple ancho chile syrup, egg white, and chocolate bitters.
569 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118, Phone: 617-424-8577
© Bar Boulud
Bar Boulud is a French-inspired bistro and wine bar within Boston's Mandarin Oriental, owned and operated by executive chef Daniel Boulud since 2014. The Back Bay staple, which is a sister restaurant to its compatriots at New York and London, is known for its delicious New England-inspired dishes, which are crafted to showcase the region's local produce bounty. Diners can enjoy bistro classics like roasted bone marrow, foie gras, or moules frites or select from house specialties such as loup de mer with spring pea fricassee or grain-crusted duck breast with wild onions and local cherries. Steak frites are served with diners' choice of ribeye, bavette, or New York strips, while seafood selections highlight New England favorites like Gloucester lobster rolls or local haddock fish and chips. An impressive selection of housemade terrines and pâtés are crafted by charcutier Gilles Vérot, served up alongside selections from the restaurant's expansive international wine cellar.
776 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199, Phone: 617-535-8800
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© Bastille Kitchen
Bastille Kitchen is a Parisian-inspired eatery in Boston's Seaport District, opened in 2014 by executive chef Brendan Burke. The fine waterfront restaurant is known for its quintessential French classics, including standards like duck à l’orange and moules frites. Diners can select from elegant lunch and dinner entrees like summer grilled free-range poussin with brochette de ratatouille, Parisian-style gnocchi with lobster and mangelica glass, or half roasted seasonal duck with plum mostarda and carrot puree. House signature Bastille burgers are topped with applewood-smoked bacon and Tillamook cheddar, paired with truffled French fries. Dessert classics like crème brûlée are paired with high-quality craft cocktails and imported European craft brews.
49 Melcher St, Boston, MA 02210, Phone: 617-556-8000
8.El Pelon Taquería
© El Pelón Taquería
El Pelón Taquería opened its first Boston location in the city's Fenway–Kenmore neighborhood in 1998, catering to crowds looking for takeout to take into nearby Boston Red Sox games at Fenway Park. Today, the chain offers several locations helmed by owner Jim Hoben, including a location near Boston College on Comm Avenue. All menu items are prepared with fresh ingredients to maximize health and food quality. Some of Boston's best tacos are highlighted on the restaurant's menu, including the Pescado, which pairs cornmeal-encrusted cod with arbol chile mayo, pickled cabbage, and limed onions. Quesadillas and enchiladas are filled with diners' choice of chicken, pork, steak, cheese, or black beans. Hearty Mexican-style tortas are also served up, along with overstuffed burritos and specialties like chimichangas and vegan tamales.
92 Peterborough St, Boston, MA 02215, Phone: 617-262-9090
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9.The Institute of Contemporary Art
© The Institute of Contemporary Art
The Institute of Contemporary Art was originally established in 1936 as a sister museum to New York City's acclaimed Museum of Modern Art, though it quickly refocused direction and became a contemporary art museum in 1948. Today, it is located within Boston's Seaport District within a gorgeous award-winning space developed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Rotating exhibitions highlight top international contemporary artists working in a variety of media, ranging from visual art to film, video, and installation work. Throughout its lengthy tenure, the museum has highlighted the works of legendary luminaries such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Paul Gaugin, and Andy Warhol. The museum's Momentum exhibition series and biennial James and Audrey Foster Prize strive to provide a platform for emerging contemporary artists around the world. Live theatrical and dance performances are showcased throughout the year at the museum's 325-seat box-style theater.
25 Harbor Shore Dr, Boston, MA 02210, Phone: 617-478-3103
10.The Harvard Museum of Natural History
© The Harvard Museum of Natural History
The Harvard Museum of Natural History is the most-visited public attraction on the Harvard University campus, originally founded in 1998 as an exhibition space for the collections of the university's Museum of Comparative Zoology, Herbaria, and Mineralogical and Geological Museums. Today, it is part of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture consortium, home to a roster of permanent and rotating exhibits related to the ecosystems of the world and the paleontological study of prehistoric times. Visitors can explore the museum's historic Great Mammal Hall, originally developed in 1872, or view an impressive ornithology collection at the Birds Around the World Gallery, which showcases more than 200 international bird species. New England's natural habitats are also examined through exhibits such as theNew England Forests and Marine Life Galleries. The intersection of art and science is explored in several exhibits, including exhibitions by glass artisans Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka.
26 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, Phone: 617-495-3045
© Flour Bakery
Flour Bakery is a delightful bakery owned and operated by James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Joanne Chang, the 2016 recipient of the competition's Outstanding Baker title. The bakery, which opened its first location in 2000, now offers eight locations throughout the Boston and Cambridge areas, including locations in the city's Back Bay and Seaport District. All pastries are prepared in house daily by the restaurant's professional baking staff, ranging from buttery, flaky breakfast pastry favorites to homemade cookies, decadent pies, and beautiful special occasion cakes. Breakfast and lunch are served daily, highlighting made-to-order salads, sandwiches, croissants, and health-conscious grain bowls. Diners can also grab high-quality cafe beverages, including espresso-based favorites like seasonal lattes and mochas.
12 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA 02110, Phone: 617-338-4333
11 Unique Things to Do in Boston This Fall
- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Photo: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
- Trade, Photo: Trade
- Stoddard's Fine Food and Ale, Photo: Stoddard's Fine Food and Ale
- Saltie Girl, Photo: Saltie Girl
- Aquitaine, Photo: Aquitaine
- Bar Boulud, Photo: Bar Boulud
- Bastille Kitchen, Photo: Bastille Kitchen
- El Pelon Taquería, Photo: El Pelón Taquería
- The Institute of Contemporary Art, Photo: The Institute of Contemporary Art
- The Harvard Museum of Natural History, Photo: The Harvard Museum of Natural History
- Flour Bakery, Photo: Flour Bakery
- Cover Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com