Sunset view of the Zakim Bridge in Boston, Massachusetts

City Guide

Your Guide to the Best Neighborhoods in Boston

By Bri Hand | Jan 21, 2022

If you have your eyes on the Boston area, you’re likely trying to navigate all of the different neighborhoods in Boston and figure out which one is the right fit for you. There’s a ton of variety in the different parts of Boston, whether you’re looking to be right in the heart of the action or in the literally greener pastures surrounding the city. 

To help, we’ve compiled this guide highlighting the best neighborhoods in Boston that are worth considering. Let’s get started! 

Allston-Brighton

If you’re looking for a neighborhood with more of a younger vibe, Allston and Brighton are a good pick for you. Home to both Boston University and Boston College, these two western neighborhoods are a haven for college students and young professionals alike, with enough bars, restaurants, and music venues in the area that you don’t need to ride the Green Line all the way downtown for a great night out. 

We recommend trying Lone Star Taco Bar in Allston for some top-notch tacos, Hopewell Bar & Kitchen for tasty cocktails and indoor shuffleboard, and Lulu’s Allston for a brunch that is to die for (be sure to try the White Trash Hash and the Mimosa Bucket!). If you’re a music lover, you’ll love Brighton Music Hall and Paradise Rock Club, both of which cater to alternative, indie acts. Boston University’s Agganis Arena also features more mainstream acts that are open to the public.

If you’re looking for an escape to nature, swing by the Chestnut Hill Reservoir near Cleveland Circle. This reservoir in Brighton is the perfect place to go for a walk with a friend, a solo run, or a jaunt with your dog (if they can bear to not chase the squirrels and swans that frequent the area). Follow the 1.5-mile loop around the reservoir for lovely water views, have a picnic lunch at a picnic table or bench, or take a walk along one of the many paths in the woods. 

Brookline

Consistently ranked as one of the best suburbs to live in the entire country, Brookline is a great Boston neighborhood to consider—if you can afford it! This affluent community tends to get more residential and greener the further away from the city you get—Tom Brady famously had a house here!—but you really can’t go wrong when picking a part to live. It’s very popular among young families and a great place to watch the annual Boston Marathon. 

Coolidge Corner, a sub-neighborhood of Brookline, is an exciting hub to spend your time, with tons of restaurants, coffee shops, and shops to explore. Spend a night out catching an indie flick at the old-school Coolidge Corner Theatre, listen to book readings at Brookline Booksmith, or get in a workout at Coolidge Yoga Brookline. The area is also known for its heavy Jewish influence, so you’ll have to try Zaftigs Delicatessen and Kupel’s Bakery at least once while you’re around.

Looking for more fantastic food? Travel further up Beacon Street to Washington Square, which delights locals with eateries such as Stoked, Burro Bar, Barcelona, and Publick House.

For an escape from the hustle and bustle, head over to Amory Playground, a gorgeous and well-maintained park right off Beacon Street when you enter Brookline. It’s a great spot to lay out on a blanket with a book, toss a frisbee with friends, or play a couple rounds of tennis. Plus, it doesn’t get more serene than walking around the gardens in Hall’s Pond Sanctuary

Back Bay

Situated along the Charles River, Back Bay is a classic Boston neighborhood and what many people picture when this New England city comes to mind. This area is centrally located, making it the perfect jumping-off point for Bostonians who want to easily explore their new surroundings.

One of the neighborhood’s biggest highlights is the Charles River Esplanade, a stunning park popular among runners, bikers, and boaters. Catch a view of Cambridge over the river, or venture across one of the many bridges stemming from the Esplanade for an extraordinary view of the city skyline against the water. Back Bay is also home to the stunning Boston Public Library, which is worth a visit for literary and architectural enthusiasts alike.  

Back Bay also offers residents top-tier shopping and food right on their doorsteps. High-end boutique shops dot Newbury Street and Boylston Street, and the Prudential Center (known as “The Pru”) also has a ton of stores to keep you and your wallet occupied. Make sure to swing by Eataly, an Italian dining emporium featuring groceries, restaurants, wine tastings, and delicious sweets. Looking for more food options in the area? Locals love Buttermilk & Bourbon, Citrus & Salt, and The Salty Pig in Bay Village.

Beacon Hill

Flanking Boston Common is the charming, picture-perfect neighborhood of Beacon Hill. This quaint part of the city is peppered with Federal-style houses, small businesses, boutiques, and restaurants and boasts a more small-town and neighborly feeling when compared to other Boston neighborhoods. 

One major attraction of the area is Acorn Street, a narrow historic cobblestone pathway popular among tourists and engaged couples alike. Beacon Hill is also home to the National Museum of African American History and the Boston Athenaeum, one of the oldest libraries in the country. Beacon Hill is centrally located, with easy access to other parts of the city, but has plenty to do locally along the picturesque Charles Street. In the mood for a drink? Stop by Carrie Nation Cocktail Club, a 1920s-inspired speakeasy, or 21st Amendment, a beloved neighborhood pub. 

Do note that the neighborhood is aptly named, so you should expect to do a bit of huffing and puffing as you scale the hilly streets. Make sure you pack your walking shoes! 

Cambridge

While technically not a Boston neighborhood, Cambridge is a popular place to live due to its high quality of life and proximity to Boston. Located just over the Charles River, Cambridge comprises multiple “squares” that operate as sub-neighborhoods of the city. 

Harvard Square is home of Harvard University and features fantastic restaurants, gorgeous architecture, and small shops beloved by those who live, work, and study there. Visit the Harvard Coop bookstore for a mind-blowing selection of books and textbooks, stop by the Charlie’s Kitchen beer garden for a drink (or two!), and snag tickets to a show at the American Repertory Theater, a Harvard venue known for putting on plays and musicals that ultimately make it to Broadway.

Another part of Cambridge is Kendall Square, home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Kendall Square tends to be more of a commercial part of Cambridge, but more people have moved to this growing area in recent years. Locals love catching independent films at the Kendall Square Cinema, admiring Boston’s skyline views along Memorial Drive, or even renting a kayak at Paddle Boston to paddle along the Charles River.

Other notable areas in Cambridge include Central Square, Porter Square, Inman Square, and Lechmere, where the famed Boston Museum of Science lives.

Charlestown

Charlestown is a highly sought-after neighborhood just north of Boston known for having tight-knit community vibes. Its Revolutionary War roots make it popular among history buffs and elementary school field trips, with the Bunker Hill Monument towering over the neighborhood and the USS Constitution along the waterfront. 

If you’re a student or young professional, you might find that Charlestown is a lot quieter than other Boston neighborhoods, and you may need to venture a little further for nightlife options. However, it’s the perfect fit if you’re looking for a more settled-down life in a residential area.

Locals love spending time along the Charlestown Navy Yard in the summer, with green spaces to relax, beer gardens, and restaurants with fantastic views of the city skyline. For a bit of history with your night out, be sure to check out Warren Tavern, the oldest tavern in Massachusetts, which was visited by George Washington and Paul Revere, among other famous individuals. 

Downtown Boston

If you want to be in the heart of the action in Boston, look into living in the downtown area. While much of this district is devoted to office spaces, many people do live in Downtown Boston, taking advantage of their close proximity to the Financial District. This area tends to be filled with young professionals during the week and tourists on the weekends, but you can’t beat the location! 

If you’re a history buff, you’ll love exploring Boston’s Freedom Trail, and foodies will enjoy the pedestrian-friendly Faneuil Hall. You can also find many popular stores in Boston’s Downtown Crossing neighborhood, including Primark, Macy’s, and Marshall’s, along with fantastic restaurants such as The Merchant Kitchen & Drinks and Yvonne’s


Downtown Boston also abuts Chinatown, which is a go-to culinary spot. Gene’s Chinese Cafe serves mind-blowing hand-pulled noodles, while Phở Pasteur is a great place to warm up on a cold winter day with some Vietnamese pho.

This part of the city also doubles as Boston’s Theatre District, with venues such as The Wilbur, the Emerson Colonial Theatre, and the Citizens Bank Opera House hosting musical theatre performances, concerts, and comedy shows. 

East Boston

Also known as “Eastie,” this part of Boston is located just across Boston Harbor and can be accessed by tunnel. While East Boston has not been able to escape the overall gentrification trend in Boston, it is still known as a more old-school and working-class neighborhood. Many families live in East Boston, but a younger generation has been moving in recently as well. Most residential areas tend to be pretty quiet, but some bars do get rowdy on the weekends! 

You won’t live in East Boston for long without trying its famous pizza at Santarpio’s. Founded in 1903, this pizza restaurant is a landmark for locals and a must-visit spot for tourists. Rino’s Place has fantastic Italian food, and Taqueria Jalisco has great Mexican bites. Looking for a unique experience? Check out The Tall Ship Boston, a 245-foot vessel that has been transformed into a floating oyster bar. 

Do note that East Boston is the closest neighborhood to Logan Airport, which is very convenient if you travel often. You can expect a bit of noise from planes taking off and landing nearby, but most locals say they get used to it with time. 

Fenway-Kenmore

While the name of this neighborhood draws its inspiration from nearby Fenway Park, there’s so much more to this part of Boston than just baseball. Fenway-Kenmore is a hub for medical professionals, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and Boston Children’s Hospital located in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area. 

The area is also a haven for the arts, with the House of Blues, Museum of Fine Arts, and the famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum all located nearby. Fenway-Kenmore tends to be popular among students due to its proximity to Northeastern University, Emmanuel College, and Simmons University.

In the heart of the action is, of course, Fenway Park, which is surrounded by tons of sports bars and restaurants frequented by baseball fans on game day. Must-see classics include Cask ‘n Flagon, Bleacher Bar, Game On!, Loretta’s Last Call, and Lucky Strike. If baseball isn’t your thing (or you just want to avoid the hectic crowds on game day), we recommend checking out Time Out Market, a food hall featuring the best of local restaurants. 

Jamaica Plain

The Jamaica Plain (“JP”) neighborhood, located southwest of downtown Boston, is a popular area for young professionals and families, with college students in some parts and older folks who have lived in JP for their whole lives in other areas. This neighborhood also tends to be very LBTQ-friendly and liberal.

JP offers residents the best of both city life and nature in one. Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum border one side of the neighborhood, and Franklin Park borders the other. Jamaica Pond and the Arboretum are typically busy with runners and dog walkers whenever the weather is nice. You can even rent boats at the Jamaica Pond Boathouse and go fishing, but there’s no swimming allowed.

Centre Street, the main strip in Jamaica Plain, bustles with cute shops, restaurants, coffee shops, juice bars, vintage and consignment shops, and breweries. Washington Street is another main street that has been built up a lot in recent years and is home to the Sam Adams Brewery and the Turtle Swamp Brewery, along with new condos.

JP is accessible by bus and the Orange Line, but can be difficult to get to by car depending on where you’re coming from. The neighborhood is considered very walkable, and locals love exploring the area and admiring the residential streets, triple-decker homes, and large Victorian-era buildings.

The North End

Situated alongside I-93, the main highway cutting through Boston, the North End is a historic waterfront neighborhood known for its heavy Italian-American influence. This cozy neighborhood feels tight-knit among locals and is filled to the brim with delicious Italian restaurants and bakeries. Be sure to try the incredible sandwiches and salads at Monica’s Mercado and grab a couple of cannolis for dessert at Mike’s Pastry. While you might have to stand in line for a bit, the wait is worth it. 

The North End is also home to the Old North Church, a historic landmark associated with Paul Revere’s warning, “The British are coming!” This neighborhood is close to everything and has very limited parking along its narrow streets, so we recommend leaving your car at home if you choose to move here. Wandering around the side streets of this neighborhood is a hobby in and of itself, and locals love living so close to the water and the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many streets in the North End were closed off to vehicles to make room for outdoor patio space, which is a nice perk to those living there. This neighborhood also hosts many festivals throughout the year, such as St. Anthony’s Feast, the largest Italian festival in New England, and the Fisherman’s Feast of Boston

Seaport District

Boston’s Seaport District has undergone quite the transformation over the past 10 years, with a brand-new and entirely unrecognizable skyline for those who were familiar with the district’s past. This waterfront neighborhood is located just across the Fort Point Channel from downtown Boston and northeast of South Boston. It’s no secret that the Seaport District isn’t a cheap spot to settle down, but the perks of the area may make the high price tag worth it. 

The construction of new high-rise condo buildings has brought many newcomers to the area and led to many high-end restaurants, startups, and tech companies to stake their claim in this up-and-coming slice of real estate. Popular restaurants in the Seaport include Mexican restaurants Lolita, Bartaco, and Pink Taco, along with Gather, City Tap House, and Pastoral.

 If you’re in the mood for a drink, Row 34 serves up a great selection of tap beers (and delicious oysters!), and the area is also home to several popular rooftop bars, such as Lookout Rooftop and Bar and Deck 12 at YOTEL Boston. Be sure to also hit up Drink, a cocktail bar that whips up unique cocktails based on what their customers are in the mood for. 

Locals and tourists alike love the area’s Boston Children’s Museum, which features gorgeous views of the city over the Fort Point Channel along the harborwalk. Don’t have any kids? The museum also hosts “Grown-Ups” nights complete with food, drinks, and full access to the museum’s exhibits. 

Somerville

Somerville is another area that’s not technically part of Boston but still close enough to be popular among residents. This densely populated city is filled with young professionals, hipsters, and biking enthusiasts, with crunchier and more progressive vibes than surrounding towns. Similar to Cambridge, Somerville is broken down into multiple squares, such as Porter Square, Davis Square, and Union Square, to name a few. Many houses in the area are triple-decker homes with porches that even spawned their own festival, called PorchFest. Every spring, bands play on their porches as onlookers travel throughout the city to listen in! 

The tree-lined Somerville Community Path is popular among walkers and bikers and is one of the few areas in Somerville where you can truly feel away from the hustle and bustle. Somerville Theatre in Davis Square is a local movie theater that even features a “Museum of Bad Art” in its basement. Continuing with the funky extras, Somerville also hosts a Fluff Festival every year to celebrate the invention of Fluffernutter, and hosts HONK!, an annual festival of activist street bands.

Somerville residents can get into the city with a quick trip on the MBTA Red Line. 

South Boston

Often referred to as “Southie” by locals, South Boston is a traditionally Irish-American neighborhood with working-class roots. Like many Boston neighborhoods, Southie has experienced a shift in recent years, with an influx of young professionals and families moving in. The area has still maintained its Irish heritage, though, and plays host to the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Want to get outdoors? Castle Island is a waterfront park in Southie that is popular among runners, picnicking families, and people who like watching low-flying planes take off and land from Logan Airport. There are also a ton of great restaurants and bars in South Boston such as Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant and Amrheins Restaurant. Just be forewarned—some places can get pretty busy on the weekends, so you may have to wait in line! 

As a plus, South Boston also boasts an easier-to-understand street numbering system than the remainder of Boston, whose streets were historically mapped around cow paths that had existed since the Revolutionary War. Score!

The South End

The South End is a world-class Boston neighborhood filled with gorgeous brownstones and greenery. This area tends to be a mix of young professionals and young families, with many young children and dogs in the neighborhood, alongside longtime residents and business owners. The South End has a more neighborly vibe than other parts of Boston and is known for being incredibly LGBTQ+-friendly.

Food enthusiasts will never get bored in the South End, with endless options such as Picco, El Centro, Coppa, Beehive, and Anchovies. You can also start your day off right with breakfast at Charlie’s, Blackbird Doughnuts, and the South End Buttery.

While this neighborhood is located close to Downtown Boston, it still offers greenspace to its residents via small parks sprinkled throughout the area, the Southwest Corridor Park, and its many beautiful gardens. 

The West End

The West End neighborhood has undergone a massive transformation over the past couple of years with the construction of the Hub on Causeway, a massive business center including office spaces, restaurants, and venues. The West End is home to North Station, a major train station with multiple Commuter Rail routes, and TD Garden, an arena hosting Boston Bruins and Celtics games, as well as major concerts and ice shows.

Much of the neighborhood revolves around its proximity to TD Garden, with side streets filled with sports bars such as The Harp, Tavern in the Square, and Hurricane’s. Hub on Causeway also features some must-try spots, such as Guy Fieri’s Tequila Cocina, the Big Night Live music and entertainment venue, the Hub Hall food court, and Banner’s, a bar boasting the biggest in-restaurant LED TV screen on the East Coast.

On the other side of the West End is Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a major Massachusetts employer and workplace of many of the city’s many medical professionals. 

Up-and-coming Boston neighborhoods to consider

If you aren’t finding the right fit with the above neighborhoods, there are many up-and-coming neighborhoods in Boston that have been attracting new residents in recent years. Check out Hyde Park, Mission Hill, Roslindale, Dorchester and Roxbury for more affordable rentals just a stone’s throw away from downtown Boston. 

Find an apartment in Boston’s best neighborhoods

If you’re looking to make the move to Boston, Landing offers fully furnished apartments in Boston complete with flexible lease terms that make it easy to stay in town for as long as you’d like. Many Landing apartments are pet-friendly and come with designated parking spaces—no need to “pahk your cah in Hahvahd Yahd!” 

Browse our furnished apartments in Boston today to find your new East Coast home.

About the author

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.