Back Bay is one of Boston’s most affluent residential, commercial, and leisure neighborhoods. Within an easy stroll, the enclave offers visitors the chance to admire impressive 19th- and 20th-century architecture, enjoy cosmopolitan eateries, and wander avenues lined with Back Bay’s trademark Victorian-era brownstone homes. Aside from these residential streets, popular draws include Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, Boston Public Garden, and Copley Place mall.
While it’s easy to explore Back Bay independently, a tour lets you dig deeper into its sights with a guide for added insight. Time-crunched travelers can choose tours that combine Back Bay with tourist sites such as the Freedom Trail, or private tours that let them select it as one of the attractions they want to see in a day. Otherwise, discover it on a city bike tour, explore it by pedicab, or focus on its architecture and popular wine cellars on a wine tasting tour.
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Things to Know Before You Go
- Back Bay will appeal to history, architecture, shopping, and culinary aficionados.
- Most of the area is accessible to stroller and wheelchair users.
- Book a tour to uncover particular aspects of the bay, such as its brownstones or its wine and food scene.
How to Get There
Bounded by the Charles River to the north, Copley Place to the south, and Boston Public Park and Charlesgate Park to the east and west, Back Bay centers on Boylston Street, Newbury Street, and Copley Square. Get here by Boston’s “T” system; taking the Orange or Green subway to stops including Copley, Boylston, Prudential, and Back Bay. Heavy traffic makes driving difficult, but there are paid garages available.
When to Get There
There’s no particularly good or bad time to visit Back Bay. Summer is perfect for meandering roads such as Newbury Street, as are the evenings, when the area’s restaurants and bars come alive. Shoppers can roam Copley Place mall—typical opening hours are 10am-8pm—while sightseers can enjoy attractions such as Boston Public Library and Boston Public Garden, which are open daily.
The Backstory on Back Bay
Just 200 years ago, Back Bay consisted of the Charles River’s tidal flats. During the 1800s, the land was reclaimed and turned into a grid of Parisian-style avenues flanked by terraced brownstone mansions. These sturdy Victorian-period houses are now considered some of the US’ best examples of 19th-century urban design.
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