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10 Best Neighborhoods in Boston, MA

December 2, 2019

Searching for the best neighborhoods in Boston comes with a wealth of history, diversity, and pub-worthy crawls attracting a mix of locals. The city was founded in the 1630s. It’s one of the oldest cities in the US. 

That makes the greater Boston neighborhoods a goldmine for dazzling architecture and historical attractions. Take your pick of urban living or quiet, historic charm from 10 of the best neighborhoods in Boston.

Robbie Shade

1. Back Bay

Boston neighborhoods are full of iconic streets and sites like Back Bay. They boast some of the best dining and shopping around Boston.  Back Bay is the place to be if you love designer boutiques, art galleries, and trendy cafes.

It's difficult to believe this affluent area was once a swampland some 200 years ago. It’s now a wildly popular destination for locals and tourists. 

Take a walk to get to know your new neighborhood. Soak up the architecture and views at the country's first botanical garden at the Public Garden

Thomas Julin

2. South End

Live in the middle of it all. You’ll have bustling pubs, restaurants, and trendy coffee shops in one of the best neighborhoods in Boston. 

Like most of the city, South End is full of historic architecture and homes. You’ll also find lively pubs and shops lining the streets. 

The neighborhood attracts millennials and new grads looking to live in a culturally rich community. Spend some time getting to know your new Boston neighborhood at the SoWa Art & Design District. From spring to fall, many residents enjoy the local farmer’s markets.

Xavier Häpe

3. Beacon Hill

Stroll through one of the best neighborhoods in Boston with picture-perfect views. It's easy to see why Beacon Hill’s world-renowned Acorn Street is one of the most photographed streets in the US. 

For antique shopping, browse Charles Street. There, you’ll find shops and boutiques offering a range of homewares and more. Beacon Hill is also the home of the famous pub, Cheers, and the Boston Commons. 

Beacon Hill is ideal if you're looking for a centrally located Boston neighborhood with urban amenities and rich history. The neighborhood is home to the Massachusetts State House and Boston Common. It also features a charming winter skating pond that attracts locals and visitors.

Ted Eyton

4. Allston-Brighton Area

Named after poet and painter Washington Allston, the Boston neighborhood of Allston features an urban enclave. It’s full of bars, restaurants, and parks that an influx of students and young professionals call home. 

There's no shortage of hip places to see and be seen. A couple of favorites are the Silhouette Lounge, or "the Sil," and the Deep Ellum gastropub. Lower Alston also is home to Harvard Stadium, so plan to see plenty of sports-crazed college students.

Pro tip: September 1st is known as "Allston Christmas." That’s when college students move in and out of apartment buildings. They leave behind discarded furniture, clothing, electronics, and more. Scour the streets for all kinds of interesting finds.

Mike Norton

5. Charlestown

With a history dating back to the Revolutionary War, Charlestown was once the meeting place for battleground leaders. Locals now consider it to be one of the best neighborhoods in Boston. 

A mix of young professionals and families spill onto the sidewalks. They enjoy the neighborhood's Freedom Trail. You’ll also find many residents enjoying green spaces and the old-world vibe. 

Spend your weekends shopping and bar hopping along Main Street and in City Square. Antique gas lamps outside illuminate the evening. For a history-rich beer with the locals, head to Warren Tavern which dates back to 1780.

Sarah Nichols

6. Jamaica Plain 

The diverse Jamaica Plain, Boston neighborhood embraces a cozy, tight-knit atmosphere. There are also plenty of green spaces. 

Locals know this neighborhood for its streetcar history, family-owned restaurants, and independent shopping along Centre Street. On weekends, stroll along Jamaica Pond and through the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

Then, grab a bite at Blue Nile Ethiopian restaurant. You may also enjoy El Oriental de Cuba for a mouth-watering Cuban sandwich.

7. North End

Wind through North End's maze of some of Boston's oldest buildings. There, you’ll find the Paul Revere House, dating back to 1680. 

North End is also one of the best neighborhoods in Boston for Italian eateries. It also features amazing old-school pastry shops with lines out the door. Mike's Pastry is a local favorite. 

The neighborhood still retains its Italian roots and charm. However, its proximity to downtown Boston and the waterfront make it popular among landlords and developers. They’re looking to attract young professionals and families alike.

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8. Brookline

Residents widely regard this as one of the best neighborhoods in Boston. Brookline is just minutes from Boston. It features eateries and pubs along Washington Square and Coolidge Corner. 

Brookline also features several historic districts. They are protected from design changes and various development. 

However, there are still a wide variety of condos and apartment buildings to choose from if you're looking beyond single-family homes. On weekends, gather up your new neighbors and head out to Coolidge Corner Theatre. It’s a cool church turned Art Deco movie theater that serves beer and wine.


9. Porter Square

Popular with Lesley University and Harvard students, Porter Square teems with students and young professionals. Residents know the area as a one-stop-shop where you’ll find trendy coffee shops, boutiques, and delicious Japanese food.

Locals listen to live music at the cozy but well-regarded Toad. Then, they head home to single-family houses, apartment buildings, and condos loaded with amenities.

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10. Cambridge

Nestled across the Charles River from Boston, the picturesque Cambridge is home to Harvard Yard. This neighborhood also boasts numerous cafes, bookstores, and more. 

Visitors come to see the MIT Museum and Harvard Square. They enjoy the area along with a mix of young professionals, faculty, and students from nearby Universities. 

After work, locals head to Harvard Square or Central Square for shopping, street performances, and a bite to eat. Take your pick of historic townhouses, condos, or apartment complexes nestled around major corridors and hubs. They mark Cambridge as one of the best neighborhoods in Boston.

Ready to make a move to historic Beantown? Learn about the average rent in Boston and the cost of living in Boston.

Check out our comprehensive guide on how to find an apartment in Boston.

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
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