- Download our Moving to Boston Guide (PDF)
Boston's warm and friendly atmosphere will make new arrivals feel right at home. People of all persuasions find that the lifestyle in Boston houses attractions to suit their tastes. From shopping, exciting nightlife and world-class sporting facilities to a fabulous variety of restaurants, newcomers in Boston won't be at a loss for things to do.
Shopping in Boston
Newcomers in need of some retail therapy will enjoy perusing Boston's shopping districts and many boutiques, department stores, malls and outlets. While many local goods can be found at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, other well-known shopping areas include the affluent Newbury Street and Beacon Hill, which is known for its antiquities.
Eating out in Boston
Boston residents are spoilt for choice. They can pick and choose between a diversity of flavours from a range of restaurants. With a large Irish community, it's not difficult to find fantastic Irish fare in the city's many Irish pubs. There are also many Italian restaurants to explore, along with countless Asian and other ethnic restaurants. Local cuisine consists of seafood from the New England coast, such as clam chowder and lobster. Burger and take-out joints are common, and the city has a thriving food truck scene.
Entertainment and nightlife in Boston
While most Bostonians prefer more relaxed evenings, the city's large student population enjoys nights out on the town, and bar hopping is popular. Lansdowne Street has traditionally been a well-loved nightlife spot, with many bars and clubs to enjoy.
Boston's arts scene is also well worth exploring. The Theatre District is home to an array of theatres with regular performances to rival New York's Broadway. As there are many restaurants in the area, new arrivals can enjoy a full night out of theatre and dining. Cambridge and Watertown, just outside Boston, also boast many theatrical productions, while the Boston Common hosts open-air productions during the summer months.
Outdoor and sporting activities in Boston
Boston is a sports-mad city, home to several major league sporting teams, including the Boston Red Sox baseball team and the New England Patriots football team. Bostonians are passionate about supporting their teams during major games.
Newcomers can also enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle in the summer months thanks to Boston's many public parks. Boston Common is the oldest city park in the US and is adjacent to the equally famous Public Garden. Other green spaces ideal for exploration with the whole family include the Charles River Esplanade, Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum.
See and do in Boston
With one of the country's highest concentrations of national historic landmarks, Boston has plenty of attractions to visit. It's a city of many American 'firsts', with the city having established the first American subway system, public health department, public school, public park and free municipal library. But apart from its many historical attractions, the city is also blessed with lush parks, hiking trails and interesting museums.
Below are some of the best things to see and do in Boston.
Black Heritage Trail
As Massachusetts was among the first states to abolish slavery in 1783, Boston developed a strong abolitionist Black community primarily made up of freed and escaped slaves. The Black Heritage Trail meanders past more than 15 sites illustrating local Black history, including museums, meeting places and the homes of important figures in the emancipation struggle.
Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden is a tranquil park famed as the country's first public botanical garden. Situated in the heart of Boston, it forms part of the city's famed 'Emerald Necklace' of parks. The garden offers scenic walking routes and boat rides on the lagoon.
Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
This interactive, family-friendly attraction allows visitors to learn about and re-enact the Boston Tea Party, a 1773 demonstration by a group of American revolutionaries. These revolutionaries stormed British ships carrying tea and threw their cargo overboard as a protest against unfair taxation. This event was critical to the start of the War of Independence.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
The Faneuil Hall Marketplace has been in operation since the 18th century and features designer stores, restaurants, cafés, stalls and even performing entertainers such as jugglers, mimes and musicians.
Museum of Fine Arts
A beautiful building in its own right, the Museum of Fine Arts houses nearly 450,000 artworks by some of the world's most renowned artists in history, including Manet, Degas and Van Gogh.
What's on in Boston
Boston has a lively calendar that celebrates its many cultures and keeps both locals and expats entertained. With such a broad and diverse range of events, there really is something for everyone.
Here's a selection of popular yearly festivals and celebrations taking place in Boston.
St Patrick's Day (March)
Ostensibly to commemorate the arrival of both Christianity and St Patrick in Ireland, 'St Paddy's Day' is also a means for Boston to celebrate its Irish heritage. This celebration is characterised by the festive spirit of its annual parade in South Boston, and local restaurants also join in on the festivities by offering traditional Irish dishes. The beer well and truly flows on St Paddy's.
Dragon Boat Festival (June)
The annual Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival that takes place each year along the banks of the Charles River. It sees thousands of visitors flocking to sample Asian fare, watch martial arts demonstrations, buy traditional Chinese arts and crafts, and of course, watch the dragon boat races.
Boston Pride Week (June)
Boston Pride Week is a period to raise awareness of Boston's LGBTQIA+ community and hold events in its honour, culminating in the Pride Parade. Diversity is embraced, and people from all walks of life are welcome to attend the parade.
Boston Harborfest (July)
With dozens of events such as concerts, re-enactments, walking tours and parties, the Boston Harborfest is a week-long event celebrating the United States' independence and heritage. The festival concludes on the 4th of July with a breathtaking fireworks display.
Arlington International Film Festival (October)
The Arlington International Film Festival attracts movie buffs from all over and showcases both local and international independent films. Attendees are spoilt for choice, with around 50 films being screened at the event each year.
►See Getting Around in Boston for more about transport and driving in the city.
"Exploring a new life and having the privilege of living in a different environment is something I greatly appreciate. Boston and Cambridge are very international places where many talented and bright people come together from all over the world so you’ll meet lots of awesome new friends. The quality of life is similar to the one back home I’d say."
Read more about Swiss expat Sandra's experiences in Boston.
Are you an expat living in Boston?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Boston. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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