Boston’s Beacon Hill is one of the most historic neighborhoods in the country, dating back to the early seventeenth century. With stoic Federal-style row houses, gas lantern-lined streets, and quaint red brick sidewalks, Beacon Hill is also one of the most stunning. It’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway: refined boutique hotels, an array of daytime activities, and plenty of evening fun all in one picturesque urban package.
Where to Stay
Beacon Hill’s luxury boutique hotels may not be cheap, but they sure are splendid. The XV Beacon Hotel, housed in an early twentieth century landmark Beaux Art building, is the definition of sophistication with a deep and earthy color palette, sleek furnishings, and grand artwork.
For something a tad more relaxed, Nine Zero Hotel is hard to beat — rooms are comfy and the location on Boston Common Park affords brilliant city views.
If both of these options look a bit too stuffy, reserve a stay at the hip Liberty Hotel, a former jail turned into a Starwood hotel complete with several stylish restaurants and bars.
What to Do
Wake up early and run along the Charles River Esplanade. The popular path is well-paved and affords stunning views of Cambridge. Yoga enthusiasts should check out Beacon Hill’s Health Yoga Life studio — though be forewarned, classes are heated, sweaty affairs!
A visit to Boston Common Park is a must. Dating from 1634, the Park is chockfull of history; there’s even a spooky central burial ground from the mid-eighteenth century. During the spring and summer, the grounds are beautiful with colorful flowers lining each pathway. Prepare to take many photos as it’s one of the city’s most picturesque spots.
Another Beacon Hill tourist highlight is the magnificently preserved Nichols House Museum. Built in 1804, the restored townhouse provides a rare glimpse into nineteenth-century life in Beacon Hill. Continuing on the neighborhood tour, stop at the Boston Athenaeum, one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States (founded in 1807). Though the library is members only, the first floor is open to visitors.
Walk the Black Heritage Trail to explore the history of Boston’s nineteenth-century African American community. Though tours are only scheduled Memorial Day through Labor Day, special tours outside of these dates can be arranged with the Museum of African American History.
Round out the afternoon with shopping on Charles Street. From chic boutiques to classic toy stores, everyone in the family will find something of interest. Certainly don’t walk past Beacon Hill Chocolates without stopping in for a treat. Prepare for a sweet flavor explosion!
Where to Eat
Historical Charles Street is the heart and soul of Beacon Hill’s dining scene. Options abound. For brunch or a casual dinner, stop in “Farm to Table” Panificio or the neighborhood’s long-standing favorite, Paramont which first opened its doors in 1937. Children and kids at heart will adore the variety of sweet pancakes and french toasts on both restaurants’ breakfast/brunch menus. Figs is THE neighborhood spot for pizza, though prepare for a crowd.
There are restaurants off of Charles Street, too. For fine dining, reserve a table at No. 9 Park. The restaurant’s seven course Chef’s Tasting Menu takes elegant, delectable dishes to a whole new level (the prune-stuffed gnocchi is simply divine). Tip Tap Room is a lively, colorful spot with a primarily local crowd. Meat eaters will delight in the restaurant’s evening “Game Specials” such as elk, antelope, or venison. Vegetarians may opt to dine elsewhere.
Where to Drink
There is a reason that Boston’s pub scene is so famous — there are characterful, charming neighborhood bars on practically every corner. Beacon Hill certainly doesn’t buck the trend.
Unpretentious Beacon Hill Pub seamlessly merges sports bar and dive bar into one, and though the crowd becomes quite young as the night wears on it’s a fun spot for an early drink. The Sevens’ central location on historic Charles Street is postcard worthy; the red brick façade gives way to a classic, masculine décor (skip the mediocre food though!). Don’t miss the famed Cheers bar — it may be touristy, but it sure is fun.
No need to fret if beer bars aren’t your thing. Bin 26 Enoteca’s wine list is superb, and the Liberty Hotel’s Clink, Alibi, and Yard bars serve delectable mixed drinks. Make sure to sample the Liberty’s Beacon Cocktail, a mixture of Grey Goose Cherry Noir, St. Germain, fresh lime, and Prosecco — you’ll be asking the bartender for tips on how to make it at home in no time.
All photos are courtesy of the author.