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Mint Julep
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero Mint Julep

The best shopping in Boston

Find the best of everything from fashion and gifts to home decor and local goods at the best places to go shopping in Boston

By Time Out Boston Staff and Gerrish Lopez

When it comes to shopping, Boston has it all. The city has a wealth of notable shops offering high end fashion, quirky gifts, cutting edge shoes, home and garden decor, quality vintage, locally-made products, gourmet specialty items, and more. Whether you’re looking for the perfect outfit for a dinner at one of Boston’s best restaurants or a good book to read while enjoying a hot drink at one of the best coffee shops in Boston, there’s a store for you. Shop til you drop with our guide to the best shopping in Boston, then rejuvenate at one of Boston’s best spas.

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

The best shopping in Boston

Black Ink
Photograph: Sarah Bentivegna

1. Black Ink

Shopping Gifts and stationery Beacon Hill

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

Mint Julep
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

2. Mint Julep

Shopping Harvard Sq

The first branch of this women's boutique was launched by two Harvard graduates in Brookline in 2004, swiftly followed by a larger Harvard Square shop. Mint Julep offers an appealing melange of labels (both European and American), styles, prints and prices—the only unifying factor is an underlying postmodern country-club aura. You'll find lots of retro-influenced dresses, cool T-shirts and colorful accessories.

Formaggio Kitchen
Photograph: Sarah Bentivegna

3. Formaggio Kitchen

Shopping Specialist food and drink South End

Among the nation‘s top gourmet shops, Formaggio Kitchen continues to dazzle connoisseurs with its vast, gem-studded collection of artisanal cheeses from the world over—as well as its cornucopia of accoutrements. You‘ll find condiments, charcuterie, confectionery and speciality ingredients, ranging from flowering teas and heirloom cattle beans to Hawaiian red sea salt and Piedmontese chickpea flour. 

Harvard Book Store
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Harvard Book Store

4. Harvard Book Store

Shopping Bookstores Harvard Sq

This independent bookseller in Harvard Square works hard to rival the larger chain stores with its varied selection of general-interest books and helpful staff, always ready to recommend a title or two. Students crowd the substantial philosophy and cultural theory sections. Bibliophiles make a beeline for the basement, where the used and remainder book shelves are packed with everything from dog-eared cookbooks to gorgeous art books, all at a hefty discount.

Polkadog Bakery
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Polkadog Bakery

5. Polkadog Bakery

Shopping South End

Treat your canine buddies to the best treats ever at this local chain. Polkadog’s natural, handcrafted treats run the gamut from nuggets and sticks to cute cookies and birthday cakes. Pups go wild for their dried cod skins and clam sticks, two of the goods made with local products. Polkadog has multiple locations around the city, the original location is in the South End.

Mr. Sid
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mr. Sid

6. Mr. Sid

Shopping Menswear Seaport District

A longtime fixture in Newton Center providing custom-tailored menswear for more than 50 years, Mr. Sid now offers the same high quality services in the Seaport. The shop carries or custom-orders suits, shirts, and shoes from luxury brands as well as its own chic line. Don’t feel like shopping? Mr. Sid will come to you, with in-home fittings and even closet consultations.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Michael S.

7. Bodega

Shopping Shoes Fenway/Kenmore

At first glance, it looks like any other convenience store, the window lined with faded bleach bottles and paper towels. Step in front of the faux Snapple vending machine to activate the hidden sliding door and reveal the secret store within a store. Inside is the ultra-modern interior of Boston's flyest sneaker shop—carrying rare kicks from Nike Tier Zero and Adidas Consortium—as well as deluxe streetwear and books on art and design.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Flock

8. Flock

Shopping Womenswear South End

Opened by a mother-daughter duo, this South End boutique is the perfect place for ladies of all ages to try on girly wares from hard-to-find designers, with an emphasis on proprietor favorites like Lauren Moffatt. Tucked away just off the main drag of Tremont Street, the shop's rustic, whimsical decor is positively enthralling.

Trident Booksellers
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jenna M.

9. Trident Booksellers & Café

Restaurants Coffee shops Back Bay

In a sea of chains, Trident remains a tried-and-true standby for the more indie-minded of Boston’s over-caffeinated literary nerds. The magazine selection is peerless—art zines, obscure trade publications, and is that a Spanish edition of Foreign Affairs? The food and drink is solid; if you’re bummed about not being able to order a single-origin pour-over, the atmosphere will make up for it.

Alan Bilzerian
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Al V.

10. Alan Bilzerian

Shopping Designer Back Bay

The patriarch of Boston’s fashion scene, Alan Bilzerian has outfitted the city’s most stylish denizens, men and women alike, in styles from Issey Miyake, Isabel Marant, Rick Owens and more. This is not a boutique for the student set—prices regularly run into the four figures—but for those with money and a dedication to style, this is only indie boutique to visit.

Table & Tulip
Photograph: Courtesy Table & Tulip

11. Table & Tulip

Shopping Flower shops South End

A visit to this tucked-away gem will transport you to Notting Hill. Andrea Halliday’s full-service floral enclave charms with seasonal arrangements (flowering branches, fringed poppies, peonies) as well as vertical planters and flower chandeliers. Weekly house deliveries carry SAD sufferers through the winter months, while brides revel in Halliday’s passion and attention to detail. 

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sault

12. Sault New England

Shopping South End

Area men seeking a casual yet put-together aesthetic can hit up the collections at Sault and then call it a day. Owner Philip Saul stocks his store with rugged, stylish closet staples, from eco-friendly henleys to Jake Spade sweaters and Penfield jackets. Accessories include messenger bags, embossed leather wallets and skinny ties. Sault is also the perfect gift-shopping spot for that enigmatic male relative in your life, offering home items like vintage boat models and woven rope doormats.

All Too Human
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Samantha D.

13. All Too Human

Shopping Back Bay

Native Bostonians Jessica Knez and Joseph Morrissey combined their retail acumen (both have worked as buyers) to unveil what’s new and next in fashion. The three-floor Back Bay space displays the sculptural works of burgeoning and cult designers like Proenza Schouler, Alyx, Ports 1961 and Jacquemus. Men get fair play here too, with street styles from Comme de Garcons, APC and Visvim.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Johonna C.

14. Dress Boston

Shopping Designer Beacon Hill

This leading-edge women’s boutique carries 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.

The Boston Shaker
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/The Boston Shaker

15. The Boston Shaker

Shopping Somerville

This carefully-curated shop is a cocktail enthusiasts dream. Outfit your bar with cocktail-making supplies ranging from glassware, tools, kits, shrubs, tonics, books, and more. Visit the Bitters Tasting Bar to find the perfect ingredient for your creations. The Boston Shaker offers cocktail technique classes too, plus class gift cards that are great for mixology mates.

Niche Urban Garden Supply
Photograph: Courtesy Niche Urban Garden Supply

16. Niche Urban Garden Supply

Shopping Flower shops South End

Landscape architect Lindsey Swett will inspire your inner gardener. Her South End store stocks not just cut and potted flowers, but seeds, succulents, hanging moss, outdoor decor and all the tools necessary to cultivate your own city plot. Floral arranging and terrarium classes assure your home a sophisticated horticultural pastiche; Swett will also help you propagate the perfect window box.

eataly boston
Photograph: Sarah Bentivegna

17. Eataly Boston

Shopping Grocery stores Back Bay

This massive food and drink complex takes up a grand, multi-floor space in the Prudential Center. Enjoy a stroll through the retail maze, stopping to look at surprisingly affordable luxuries from near (local cheesemakers) and far (every Italian product imaginable). There are multiple places to eat and drink; from full-service, high-end dining to quick sandwiches and gelato. On street level, Caffé Lavazza serves up gourmet Italian coffee drinks.

SoWa Open Market
Photograph: Courtesy SoWa Open Market

18. SoWa Open Market

Shopping Markets and fairs South End

As part of SoWa's transformation into a hip art destination, artists and vendors set up stalls in a parking lot every Sunday during the warmer months to sell their work. Antiques, art, handmade jewelry and other accessories are among the mix, along with makers, bakers, and other food vendors.


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