Visit Boston on Any Budget

One of the East Coast’s most charming cities, Boston is compact but jam-packed with stuff to do – no matter what your budget. History buffs will love Beantown’s Colonial heritage encompassing numerous Revolutionary War-era treasures, while culture lovers can visit top museums like the Museum of Fine Arts. There’s also great shopping, dining and, of course, Red Sox baseball. So if you’re heading to Boston, here are some varied itinerary suggestions.

Boston, budget-style

Stay: The AAA Two Diamond Chandler Inn Hotel is situated in the trendy South End and within walking distance to shops and restaurants (Copley Place is 10 minutes away). The 56 rooms are on the small side but are comfortable and feature a stylish, modern decor. There’s a 24-hour front desk and some cool free amenities include Wi-Fi, coffee/tea and newspapers. You can enjoy dishes like calamari fritto and steak frites while sipping on a craft cocktail at the Trophy Room restaurant just off the lobby.

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Do: It’s free to walk along the Freedom Trail (marked by a red line on the pavement), where you’ll pass historic sites, including the Old North Church and the Bunker Hill Monument. Check out two of Boston’s beloved green spaces, the Boston Common, established in 1634, and the Public Garden, where you can glide along the lagoon on one of the famous swan boats. Afterward, cross the street to see where the state’s top movers and shakers craft legislation inside the golden-domed State House. Free guided tours are offered weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Dine: Faneuil Hall is a top spot for dining in Boston. It has a bustling food court where you can enjoy New England classics like clam chowder and lobster rolls. Wanna go where everybody knows your name? Head to the Cheers outpost, where you can grab a brew at the famous bar where Sam, Diane, Carla and crew traded witty remarks and barbed banter. There are also plenty of food trucks around town for a quick and inexpensive bite to eat – try Roxy’s Grilled Cheese for gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and Bon Me for tasty Asian fare (check online for the most up-to-date truck locations).

Mid-range Boston finds

Stay: The AAA Three Diamond Boston Marriott Copley Place is in a prime location, just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Back Bay. Interiors are contemporary with sleek leather couches in the lobby atrium and flat-screens and picture windows offering city views in the rooms. Start out with a coffee in the on-site Starbucks and late night, catch a game in Champions sports bar.

Do: Kids will love the New England Aquarium, featuring thousands of nautical creatures. Highlights include the penguin exhibit and the Atlantic harbor seals exhibit. Everyone in the family will enjoy the Museum of Science, which straddles the Boston/Cambridge line along the Charles River. Hundreds of exhibits, along with a planetarium, Imax movie theater and dining area, fill the cavernous, three-level space. You could also visit Boston’s cultural institutions, including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, known for its rare tapestries and illuminated manuscripts, and the Museum of Fine Arts, featuring silverware by Paul Revere.

Dine: Hit the North End, Boston’s oldest neighborhood, for its many Italian restaurants and cafes lining the main drag, Hanover Street (and down its side streets). Join the lines outside Giacomo’s for delicious chicken parm or veal Marsala, while Panza is tops for pasta dishes. And dining in Boston isn’t complete until you’ve tried some cannoli (there are over a dozen flavors to choose from) at Mike’s Pastry.

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visit boston
Mandarin Oriental’s Boston dining room. (Photo: AAA Hotels)

Luxury Boston

Stay: Rooms at the AAA Five Diamond Rated Mandarin Oriental feature marble baths, silk curtains and king-size beds with Frette linens. At Bar Boulud – from famed French chef Daniel Boulud, dine on dishes like coq au vin and sip wine from the Burgundy region. Luxuriate in the spa with a three-hour Taste of the Orient treatment and have the concierge arrange Theater District tickets.

Do: Catch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, built back in 1912 (splurge on box seats to be closest to the action). Ready to shop? Head to Newbury Street in the Back Bay, which is lined with boutiques like Burberry and Chanel. In the market for a diamond ring or a high-end watch? Stop into Shreve, Crump & Low, dating from 1796.

Dine: Barbara Lynch is one of Boston’s most respected chefs, and her fine dining restaurant Menton is a much sought-after reservation. The cuisine, an Italian-French hybrid, might include yellowfin tuna crudo and wagyu beef sirloin. At the elegant L’Espalier, try the five- or eight-course tasting menus, or book the chef’s table, which is located in the kitchen, for a singular dining in Boston experience.

Do you have any tips on where to save and splurge in Boston? Share them with us in the comments below!

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