Ritz Carlton Hotel image

Planning Your Trip

rcBreakText rcBreakWhiteText

Whether you call it Beantown or the City of Good Hearts, Boston is the metropolitan heart of New England. Full of gorgeous architecture and corner squares, it’s home to some of the nation’s top universities, which attract students and scholars from around the world. Here’s what to pack to enjoy its lovely streetscapes and beautiful campuses.

Old State House
Old State House
What to Pack

An umbrella is a local essential. Like all New England towns, the rain in Boston can come off the North Atlantic with dizzying speed. So be prepared with a sturdy, windproof umbrella.

Business Travel

Universities like Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology serve as breeding grounds for top talent. Here’s what to bring to fit in.

In winter, a long camel or khaki coat, for women and men, is a smart outerwear choice. The style might seem old school, but Boston runs at a slower pace than nearby New York (except, that is, on marathon day, also Patriots’ Day).

While ties might not be needed if you are meeting with a startup, Boston skews conservative, and formal business meetings do require a tie.

But men shouldn’t be afraid to take a cue from London and mix and match patterns in style. While Boston might have led the revolution against British taxation, it never fought against classic British fashion. 

Exploring the City

Historic trails and walking tours abound in this birthplace of America, so pack for comfort to explore — from the bars frequented by George Washington to the campus of one of America’s oldest colleges.

The neighboring cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill and brick sidewalks make Boston idyllic, but they can be tough on the ankles without proper footwear. Opt for flat footwear that will be comfortable exploring the entire two-and-a-half miles of the Freedom Trail.

No matter the season, you will want to dress in layers with a light sweater or jacket. New England weather can change quickly.

Winters are notorious to be cold and snowy in the city. Pack accordingly – Bostonians are not afraid to bundle up in gloves, hats, scarves, and knee-length jackets. 

Weekend Getaway

Cobblestone roads and narrow streets are among Boston’s charms. Don’t worry too much about packing for high style; think more about comfortable fashion that keeps you warm but still looks your best.

A versatile raincoat should definitely be on your checklist. One that is light and has a hood will go the furthest in this seaside town, where the weather can change quickly.

A stylish backpack or tote bag is essential for carrying a day’s worth of belongings or storing your new purchases from Newbury Street or Fanueil Hall.

Pack running gear. This is, after all, the home of America’s biggest marathon and you can reenact legs of it while in town. While you might not be up for a 26-miler, you might enjoy a few miles along the marathon route in Kenmore Square.  

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image
What to Reserve

Thanks to its roots, Boston boasts some of the best cultural tours the U.S. has to offer — you can truly stroll through American history. Its close proximity to Maine (and New England in general) means local seafood offerings are among the freshest in the world. Here’s what to book before you even arrive in Beantown.

Artisan Bistro, housed in The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, offers an approachable dining experience marked by forward-thinking food at all times of day — from truffle duck eggs at breakfast to lobster tacos at dinner. But visitors should also make sure to reserve a table at one of the city’s Legal Sea Foods outlets. While the once-tiny restaurant has grown into an upscale chain, its signature crab cakes and fresh fish offerings should not be missed.

Head north to the quaint town of Kennebunkport, which has streets lined with boutique shopping and must-try lobster rolls. In late spring and summer, take the 90-minute fast ferry on Boston Harbor Cruises to Provincetown, where you can rent bikes and see Cape Cod up close. Grab lunch on the island at Skipper Chowder House, an island institution that serves up award-winning clam chowder, or go upscale at Scargo, an elegant spot with lobster salad rolls and more than 20 wines served by the glass. 

The Freedom Trail is Boston’s most well-known walking tour. The 2.5-mile red-lined route leads you to 16 historically significant sites, including the Paul Revere House. You should also stop by more modern offerings, like the ICA Boston, a contemporary art museum housed within a breathtaking 65,000-square-foot, glass-encased building overlooking the Boston Harbor. If you are traveling with kids, make sure to drop by the Boston Children’s Museum, which has interactive exhibits and lots of family-friendly events.

You can tour Boston by both land and sea with Boston Duck Tours, which navigates amphibious buses that can go from street to water. The tour guides prep the group with a bit of silly fun (you will be asked to “quack”), but they are among the most knowledgeable in Boston. For a more serious outing, look into the Freedom Trail Foundation tours, which guide visitors through Boston’s historic place in the revolution — usually for free.

The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail

One of America’s oldest cities, Boston lures travelers with its historic charms and dynamic culinary and cultural scenes. Beantown, as it’s lovingly known, is a city of juxtaposition. You can wander down cobblestone streets, past Federal-style row homes in neighborhoods like Beacon Hill, then be surrounded by gleaming new skyscrapers in the up-and-coming Fort Point neighborhood. The compact city is easy to navigate on foot or bike. Every season offers something special, from iconic New England foliage and buzzing college campuses in fall to the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular and baseball at Fenway in summer.


Breakfast Institution: Blue-collar construction workers and cops sit shoulder to shoulder with politicians at Mike’s City Diner, a Boston institution in the South End neighborhood. Devotees line up at 6 a.m. to start their day with the excellent homemade corned beef hash and Mike’s Special, hand-carved ham, eggs, grits, and toast.


View the Masters: Opened in 1876, the Museum of Fine Arts has amassed nearly 500,000 works, making it one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world. You could easily spend an entire day here and not scratch the surface. In the afternoon, tackle the new Art of the Americas Wing, featuring four floors of American art or galleries devoted to greats like Kahlo, Monet, and Picasso.


See the World: Marvel at the Reflecting Pool at Christian Science Plaza before visiting the Mary Baker Eddy Library. Here, you can stand inside a three-story, stained-glass globe known as the Mapparium.


BeeHive in the South End: The Beehive offers an expansive menu and has live Jazz music most Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, as well as Sundays during brunch. Porto is only open until 10 pm on weekends and 9 pm on weeknights.

Light, Late Bite: Open until 11 p.m. on weekends and 10 p.m. on weeknights, Porto, from star chef Jody Adams, serves bright, fresh Mediterranean-inspired fare mainly featuring local seafood. Small plates, like barrel-aged Greek feta, and octopus with eggplant, chickpeas, and harissa, are perfect for sharing.


Garden of History: Caffeinate with a latte at the Thinking Cup, a popular café on Tremont Street steps from the Boston Common, America’s oldest park. Wander the grounds, cross the street to the neighboring Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in the U.S., and ride in the city’s iconic swan boats.


Walking History Lesson: The Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile stretch lined with 16 sites pertaining to the American Revolution can be experienced alone via a downloadable map or on a guided tour. Highlights include visiting the home of Paul Revere and the Old North Church, where two lanterns were hung on the steeple to warn that the British were coming.

A Taste of Italy: The Freedom Trail snakes through Boston’s North End, also known as Little Italy. Detour to Mike’s Pastry for a box of the legendary cannoli and other Italian sweets.

Rock Out: Catch a show at Paradise. This intimate Boston rock haunt features local bands in the lounge area, along with exhibits by local artists. The two-level back room hosts big-name acts, which have included the likes of R.E.M. and U2.

Izakaya Reinvented: One of Boston’s hottest new restaurants, Uni has a hip vibe and a menu of pristine sushi as well as creative Asian small plates like beef short-rib bulgogi tostadas and king crab yakitori.


Sugar High: The South End’s Blackbird Doughnuts bakes fresh batches of sweet goodness using local ingredients. If you prefer savory to sweet, try the everything “bagel,” a whipped cream cheese-stuffed brioche doughnut topped with toasted garlic and poppy seeds.


Art Heist: Famously robbed of over $500 million of artwork in 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum showcases the art patron’s collection of 15,000 objects, textiles, furniture, sculptures, paintings, and more. There is a $10 million reward for information that leads to the recovery of the 13 stolen works.

Shuck Your Lunch: Chef Barbara Lynch runs a mini restaurant empire in Boston. One of her most beloved spots, B&G Oysters, features a raw bar and a BLT with lobster that puts any lobster roll to shame.


Starchitecture: South Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art is lauded for its modern art collection, which often includes traveling big-name exhibitions like “Steve McQueen: Ashes,” and its striking, sharp-lined exterior designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.


Not Your Ordinary Orchestra: Hear the world-famous Boston Pops direct from the fabled acoustics of Boston’s Symphony Hall.

Classic Cocktails: End your evening in swanky style and sip one of the 10 signature martinis served at the 1950s-inspired Avery Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston.


Rise and Shine: Whether you prefer light and healthy or hearty and filling, it’s easy to start your day at Artisan Bistro in The Ritz-Carlton, Boston. Order the truffle duck eggs, served with wild mushrooms, aged provolone, and jumbo asparagus.

A Post-Breakfast Treat: Wander the tree-lined streets of Boston’s South End. The neighborhood boasts America’s largest intact Victorian row house district and is listed in the National Register. When you see the line at the corner of Washington and Rutland streets you’ll know you’ve arrived at Flour Bakery + Café. The straight-from-the-oven sticky buns are worth the wait.


Gallery Hop: Walk around SoWa (South of Washington) Art and Design District, home to some of the city’s top contemporary art galleries. Every weekend from April through October, the SoWa Open Market takes over the streets with stalls and stands from local artisans and farmers, food trucks, and a beer garden.

Walk in the Park: Frederick Law Olmsted transformed what was once stagnant marshland into a beloved swath of urban wild known as the Back Bay Fens. Explore its hidden treasures including a 17th-century Japanese Temple Bell and the gorgeous Kelleher Rose Garden.


See the Green Monster: Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you shouldn’t miss Fenway, America’s oldest ballpark and home to the Boston Red Sox. Take in the lore of Yawkey Way during a stadium tour or if the Sox are in town, try to score seats atop the Green Monster, the nickname for the park’s 37-foot left field wall.

Brasserie Lunch: Enjoy freshly shucked oysters, steak tartare, moules Provençale, and other French classics at Eastern Standard.


Music and Theater: Cap your evening with a performance at the Wang Theatre. Since its opening in 1925, it has morphed from a movie cathedral to a home for vaudeville musicals and big bands. Today, it hosts world-class actors and musicians on one of the most significant stages in the country.

Splurge Meal: No matter if you choose the 20-some course omakase menu or order a la carte, the exquisite sushi, and sashimi prepared by Chef Tim Cushman at O Ya is the next best thing to fly straight to Japan. The sake program is one of the best in the region.


A Vigorous Start. Begin the day with a walk or run along the Esplanade, the roughly 3-mile leafy path on the Boston side of the Charles River. You’re likely to see Boston’s famous oarsmen sculling on the river.

Locavore Brunch. Cross the river to Cambridge for a decadent brunch at Craigie on Main. Start with a made-from-scratch bloody mary and swap bites of savory (red flannel beef cheek and tongue hash) and sweet (cranberry and pecan French toast) dishes.


Harvard Yard. Walk off your food coma with a stroll around this legendary campus. Visit one of the tiny but excellent museums such as the Sackler Art Museum and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. 


Explore Chic Boutiques. Head to Newbury Street, a mile-long stretch of designer clothing stores, art galleries, high-end salons,and buzzy bistros and cafés in the center of Back Bay. You’ll find big-name brands like Patagonia and Kate Spade and indie shops like Newbury Comics. Don’t miss a scoop at local favorite J.P. Licks Homemade Ice Cream Café.

History Lesson. A well-known stop on the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall has been a marketplace and meeting hall since 1743. James Otis and Samuel Adams are just a few of the historical figures who made speeches here. Today, the area overflows with shops, restaurants and street performers.


Sunset Sail. Board Boston Harbor Cruises for a 90-minute sunset sail that circumnavigates the harbor. You’ll pass lighthouses, historic islands and witness the USS Constitution’s end-of-day ritual, as she fires her cannon and lowers her flag.

Hot Table. Make reservations in advance to enjoy a meal at the award-winning Oak + Rowan, a hip restaurant in the seaport that emphasizes prime steak, locally sourced fish and oysters, sustainable caviar, handmade pasta and alluring desserts.

Enjoy a Personalized Nightcap. Finish the evening at Chef Barbara Lynch’s aptly named Drink. You won’t find a lengthy cocktail list here. A quick conversation with the talented bartenders will help them concoct the perfect libation based on your palate.