Major Shopping Districts
Boston’s shops and department stores are concentrated in the area bounded by Quincy Market, the Back Bay, and Downtown. There are plenty of bargains in the Downtown Crossing area. The South End’s gentrification creates its own kind of consumerist milieus, from housewares shops to avant-garde art galleries. In Cambridge you can find many shops around Harvard and Central squares, with independent boutiques migrating west along Massachusetts Avenue (or "Mass Ave." as most people call it) toward Porter Square and beyond.
Boylston Street. Parallel to Newbury Street is Boylston Street, where a few standout shops such as Pompanoosuc Mills (hand-crafted furnishing) are scattered among the other chains and restaurants. Boston, MA.
Charles Street. Pretty Charles Street, running north to south, is crammed beginning to end with top-notch antiques stores such as Judith Dowling Asian Art, Eugene Galleries, and Devonia, as well as a handful of independently owned fashion boutiques whose prices reflect their high Beacon Hill rents. River Street, parallel to Charles Street, is also an excellent source for antiques. Both are easy walks from the Charles Street T stop on the Red Line. Boston, MA. Charles/MGH.
Copley Place. An indoor shopping mall in the Back Bay, Copley Place includes such high-end shops as Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton. It is anchored by the pricey but dependable Neiman Marcus and the flashy, often overpriced Barneys. 100 Huntington Ave., Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02116. 617/262–6200. www.simon.com/mall/copley-place. Copley, Back Bay.
Downtown Crossing. This pedestrian mall has a Macy's, H&M, TJ Maxx—and a big hole in the ground where Filene's Basement used to be. But construction is underway to fill that spot with a multi-use building; the completion date is projected for 2017. Washington St. from Amory St. to about Milk St., Downtown, Boston, MA, 02111. Downtown Crossing, Park St.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace. This complex is both huge and hugely popular (drawing 22 million people a year), but not necessarily unique—most of its independent shops have given way to Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, and other chains. The place has plenty of history, one of the area's great à la carte casual dining experiences (Quincy Market), pushcarts sell everything from apparel to jewelry to candy to Boston souvenirs, and buskers perform crowd-pleasing feats such as break dancing. Bounded by Congress St., Atlantic Ave., the Waterfront, and Government Center, Downtown, Boston, MA, 02109. 617/523–1300. www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com. Government Center.
Major Shopping Districts
Newbury Street. Boston's version of LA's Rodeo Drive, all of Newbury Street is a shoppers' paradise, from high-end names such as Brooks Brothers to tiny specialty shops such as the Fish and Bone. Upscale clothing stores, up-to-the-minute art galleries, and dazzling jewelers line the street near the Public Garden. As you head toward Massachusetts Avenue, Newbury gets funkier and the cacophony builds, with skateboarders zipping through traffic and garbage-pail drummers burning licks outside hip boutiques. The big-name stores run from Arlington Street to the Prudential Center. Boston, MA. www.newbury-st.com. Arlington, Copley, Hynes.
Prudential Center. A skywalk connects Copley Place to the Prudential Center. The Pru, as it's often called, contains moderately priced chain stores such as Ann Taylor and the Body Shop, and is anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord and Taylor. 800 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02199. 800/746–7778. www.prudentialcenter.com. Prudential.
South End. Merchants here are benefiting from the ongoing gentrification that has brought high real-estate prices and trendy restaurants to the area. Explore the chic home-furnishings and gift shops that line Tremont Street, starting at Berkeley Street. The MBTA's Silver Line bus runs through the South End. Boston, MA. www.south-end-boston.com. Back Bay.
Harvard Square is the place to go for upscale clothes, jewelry, beauty aids, and anything "Harvahd." The best word to describe some of the shops in Central Square—Cheapo Records, Great Eastern Trading Company, and Rodney’s Bookstore—is bohemian.
Brattle Street. A handful of chains and independent boutiques are clustered on Brattle Street. Behind Harvard Sq., Cambridge, MA, 02138. Harvard.
CambridgeSide Galleria. Macy's and Sears anchor this basic three-story mall with a food court; it's a big draw for local high-school kids. 100 CambridgeSide Pl., Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA, 02141. 617/621–8666. www.cambridgesidegalleria.com. Lechmere, Kendall/MIT via free shuttle.
Central Square. This area at the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Prospect Street, River Street, and Western Avenue has an eclectic mix of furniture stores, used-record shops, ethnic restaurants, and small, hip performance venues. East of Harvard Sq., Cambridge, MA, 02139. centralsquare.com. Central.
Galleria at Harvard Square. Not to be confused with CambridgeSide Galleria, this collection of boutique shops at Harvard Square is matched with a few decent, independently owned restaurants. 57 JFK St., Cambridge, MA, 02138. Harvard.
Harvard Square. Harvard Square takes up just a few blocks but holds more than 150 stores selling clothes, books, records, furnishings, and specialty items. Cambridge, MA. Harvard.
Porter Square. This spot in north Cambridge has distinctive clothing stores, as well as crafts shops, coffee shops, natural-food stores, restaurants, and bars with live music. West on Mass. Ave. from Harvard Sq., Cambridge, MA, 02140. Porter Square.
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