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If you're not looking to max out your credit cards, then you can hurry past the boutiques and cover the Back Bay in about two hours. Allow at least half a day for a leisurely walk with frequent stops on Newbury Street and the shops at Copley Place and the Prudential Center. The reflecting pool at the Christian Science Church is a great time-out spot. Around the third week of April, magnolia time arrives, and nowhere do the flowers bloom more magnificently than along Commonwealth Avenue. In May the Public Garden bursts with color, thanks to its flowering dogwood trees and thousands of tulips. To stay oriented, remember that the north-south streets are arranged in alphabetical order, from Arlington to Hereford.
A few hours is perfect for exploring the South End; add a few more hours for a show at the Boston Center of the Arts or to dine at one of the many excellent restaurants in the area.
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