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beacon hill
Photograph: Sarah Bentivegna Acorn Street

Beacon Hill neighborhood guide

Discover the charms of historic Beacon Hill with our guide to the best of the neighborhood

By Eric Grossman and Time Out contributors

Boston’s most exclusive niche, Beacon Hill is synonymous with wealth, lineage, and old Boston Brahmin. The area is almost unbearably picturesque, with its red-brick row houses and mansions, gas lanterns, and steep, narrow streets—some still cobbled. A short stroll unveils centuries-old architectural treasures that are nearly worth their weight in gold. You can, however, tour a couple of historic houses—and the sumptuous private library of the Boston Athenæum—to get a sense of how the other half lived during the 18th and 19th centuries. Once you’ve exhausted this tony neighborhood, find more to do around town by checking out our guides to the best restaurants in Bostonbest live music in Boston, and best museums in Boston. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

Where to go in Beacon Hill

No.9 Park, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy ©

1. No. 9 Park

Restaurants French Beacon Hill

What was a Beacon Hill mansion in the shadow of the State House houses Barbara Lynch’s flagship restaurant. An expert staff—including talented bartenders and the splendid sommelier, Cat Silirie—hits the heights of professionalism. The pricey, French/Italian-inspired cuisine is rarely less than luscious, especially the finely wrought pastas.

Boston Athenæum, Things to Do, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy © Rlbberlin

2. Boston Athenæum

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Beacon Hill

Founded in 1807 as a literary society, the Boston Athenæum published Americas first literary magazine and acquired an extensive library of books and works of art. It moved to its current home, an imposing purpose-built structure, in 1847. Although much of the library is accessible only to members or scholars, the ground floor gallery is open to the public, and free guided tours are conducted three times a week (call in advance to reserve a place).

Massachusetts State House, Things to Do, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy © Shutterstock

3. Massachusetts State House

Attractions Civic buildings Beacon Hill

Designed by Bulfinch and completed in 1798, this magnificent structure—whose dome, originally covered in copper by Paul Revere and sons, was later sheathed in 23-carat gold—remains one of Bostons best-known landmarks. Among the rooms covered by the tours (call ahead to reserve a place), are the Doric Hall, with its portraits and sculptures of historical politicos, and the House of Representatives and the Senate Chamber—in the public gallery of the House, look out for the Sacred Cod, an 18th-century carved wooden fish symbolizing the importance of the countrys first industry. Visitors can also conduct the tour unaccompanied, and sit in on meetings in the public galleries of the legislative chambers.

Paramount, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy © Chris Bourn

4. Paramount

Restaurants American Beacon Hill

Admittedly greater than the sum of its parts, this once-classic greasy spoon (established in 1937) is now a knowingly jazzy version of its original self. The old stainless steel grill, Formica tabletops, and cafeteria-style service at breakfast and lunch proudly advertize its blue-collar roots. The dinner menu opens things up to include chicken tinga nachos, housemade turkey burgers, and other upscale treats. Either way, people-watching during Sunday brunch remains the biggest treat of all.

Black Ink
Photograph: Credit Yelp/Winnie L.

5. Black Ink

Shopping Gifts and stationery Beacon Hill

The flagship location of this local gift emporium may have more quirk per square foot than anywhere else in the city. The tagline ("unexplained necessities") may offer cold comfort as you stagger home laden with art papers, hilarious hipster stationery, colorful reusable bags, a log-shaped book on contemporary Japanese forest culture, and a vegetable peeler in the shape of the Kraken.

Beacon Hill Bistro
Photograph: Courtesy Beacon Hill Bistro

6. Beacon Hill Bistro

Restaurants Bistros Beacon Hill

This bustling French-style bistro and bursting corner bar sit in the ground floor of the charming Beacon Hill Hotel. Hotel guests and locals alike go gaga for the the early morning options (such as eggs with crispy chicken hash, a smoked salmon omelet or vanilla pancakes), but the duck and the burger are can't-miss items for later in the day.

The Sevens
Photograph: Credit Yelp/Rory C.

7. The Sevens Ale House

Bars Dive bars Beacon Hill

Though often prohibitively crowded, this unpretentious little Beacon Hill pub is a good spot to seek respite from a hard day of relentless sightseeing and antiques-hunting. The Sevens provides some welcome knuckle and grit to the relative daintiness of the area. Find a booth in the corner, settle down with a Guinness or a Bass and you might just make friends with some locals.

21st Amendment
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

8. 21st Amendment

Bars Pubs Beacon Hill

On the surface, there's nothing too notable about this small, low-ceilinged bar. Just across the way, however, is the State House, which leads to the happy spectacle of power brokers, legislators, journalists, tourists and local ne'er-do-wells sharing a drink together after-work. The 21st is the ultimate off-hour politico bar; you may well spot some local power brokers in there on "business lunches."

Carrie Nation Cocktail Club
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

9. Carrie Nation Cocktail Club

4 out of 5 stars
Bars Cocktail bars Beacon Hill

If Carrie Nation’s main bar is too full—which it often is, especially when the nearby State House lets out for the day—head past the shoeshine stand and up the back stairs to the “speakeasy,” home to pool tables and intimate seating. No matter which corner you choose to imbibe, you can select from offerings ranging from punches and barrel aged cocktails to well-crafted classics.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ashley G.

10. Pressed

Restaurants Vegetarian Beacon Hill

Situated in the heart of Beacon Hill, Pressed is geared towards on-the-go vegetarians and the health-conscious. Fresh-pressed juices and shakes are featured, and the “Greens” menu offers creative, clean, healthy meal choices including “superfood sushi” with ingredients such as sweet potato and burdock, root vegetable pad thai, roasted beets, and lentils. Finish up with an icy cool paleta—flavors include avocado tangerine and raspberry hibiscus.

Grotto, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: © Elan Fleisher

11. Grotto

Restaurants Italian Beacon Hill

Sink below street level in Beacon Hill for a cozy Italian meal surrounded by exposed brick, shelves of wine and locally sourced artwork. The menu is classic Italian with a creative twist. Ask the friendly, knowledgeable staff for suggested wine pairings.  

Dress Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Dress Boston

12. Dress Boston

Shopping Designer Beacon Hill

This cutting-edge women’s boutique thrills wealthy locals seeking to stay on-trend. More rack space means more styles from the likes of Ace & Jig, Current/Elliott, Rachel Comey, and others. Capsule collections of shoes, jewelry and accessories are also on display, as are home goods like candles and fragrances. You’ll even take inspiration from the interior design of the boutique, which feels as much like a beautiful Beacon Hill studio apartment as a retail space.


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