Boston Shopping Districts
Boston has an impressive array of different shopping options -- from big malls right downtown to tiny hidden boutiques in quaint neighborhoods. Grab an ice cream and wander down picturesque Newbury Street to window-shop at upscale designer stores. Visit the Prudential Center or Copley Place for the larger chain stores. Or spend a day roaming Faneuil Hall Marketplace, watching the street performers and visiting the gift shops for all the Boston paraphernalia you could ever want to take home with you. Check out our picks for the best places to spend some of your hard-earned cash -- as long as you didn’t already blow it all on Sox tickets.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
A stop on the Freedom Trail, historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace is one of the more tourist-oriented Boston shopping areas, but it’s still definitely worth a visit. Wander the building where Samuel Adams called out for independence from the British as you snack on candy (swing by Boston Creamery & Confections for that) and admire all the trinkets you bought from the cart vendors!
The marketplace has a few big commercial stores (such as Urban Outfitters and Ann Taylor), plenty of gift shops for Boston-branded gadgets, and some totally unique boutiques. Have you been in the market for a lamp with a leopard-print shade or a doormat that screams, “Wow! Nice underwear”? Check out Funusual -- they sell both. On a nice day, there’ll be plenty of knife-jugglers and stilt-walkers here to entertain you. And if you get hungry while walking around, visit one of the many food stalls in nearby Quincy Market.
Prudential Center and Copley Place
Located right downtown in the Boston neighborhood of Back Bay and connected by a glass skywalk, these 2 malls have just about every store you could ever need to visit. Prudential Center, aka “The Pru,” is home to Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Vineyard Vines, 344, a Barnes & Noble, and plenty of other big-name shops. Cross the glass-enclosed Copley Bridge to Copley Place, and you’ll find some of the more upscale stores -- Tiffany’s, Barneys, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton and more.
There’s also no shortage of food options between the 2 buildings. The Pru boasts a Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, Legal Sea Foods and wagamama, along with typical food-court fare such as pizza, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and Indian options. If the chains don’t inspire you, check out FiRE+iCE, an “improvisational grill” where you grab a bowl and select from choices such as pasta, vegetables, meats and sauces, and then turn your picks over to the chefs who cook it all up for you on a giant round grill.
Known for its upscale shops, Newbury Street has long been the place to see and be seen. The street is lined with Chanel, Vera Wang, Valentino, Diane von Furstenberg, Armani and Burberry, but also has plenty of more affordable stores: Jack Wills, Madewell, National Jean Company, Niketown, H&M and Forever 21 among them.
The street also has plenty of smaller boutiques. Check out Crush Boutique, Blue Jeans Bar and Bobbles & Lace. If you’re in the market for some inexpensive, glittery costume jewelry, So Good Jewelry is the place to go. Also, be sure not to miss Newbury Comics -- where else can you stock up on lava lamps, bean bag chairs, magnets with naughty sayings on them and various Simpsons paraphernalia?
Located in the historic and quaint neighborhood of Beacon Hill, Charles Street has a great collection of boutiques. Visit Moxie for shoes, bags and accessories, and Wish for more contemporary women’s clothing.
A short walk from Boston’s Old State House, the shopping district of Downtown Crossing is located at the intersections of Washington, Winter and Summer streets. Visit the large Macy’s or The Corner Mall, home to a food court and plenty of shops.
If you find yourself in the neighboring city of Cambridge, Harvard Square is the place to be. The historic red-brick center of Cambridge is a great place to both people-watch and do some shopping. Visit LUSH Cosmetics (for fresh, handmade products), Mint Julep (for funky women’s apparel and accessories), Follow the Honey (for bee-inspired gifts), or the Harvard COOP bookstore to try to get some knowledge to rub off on you.