The Summer Intern's Boston Neighborhood Guide Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is a city of neighborhoods. The city changes before your eyes as you wander from Back Bay’s quintessential New England brownstones into the gentrified sprawl of the South End’s reclaimed mills. The same effect happens when you cross I-93 and enter the North End from Downtown. And again when Allston abruptly becomes Brookline. While this neighborhood environment makes for endless urban discoveries, it adds yet another major foil to deciding where to live. Our guide to Boston’s neighborhoods is here to help you pick where you'll want to spend your summer.

Map of Boston

"Map depicting the neighborhoods of Boston as defined by the City of Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services" by Goran tek-en licensed under CC Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Boston Neighborhoods

Allston

Allston is marked by cheap dive bars and roaming herds of college students looking for a good night out. It’s known for housing many college students and young professionals, as there are cheaper rents and good access to transportation to both Boston College and Boston University, as well as downtown. It’s a diverse area, with plenty of places to eat – you can find anything from Moroccan food to Korean barbecue and quality pizza. Though it may get rowdy at night, living in Allston offers a truly one-of-a-kind living experience.

Allston

GradeC

Cost: $

TransportationB

FoodA-

NightlifeB

Noise LevelC-

CleanlinessC

Back Bay

The Back Bay is one of the most architecturally striking areas of Boston. A stroll down Newbury Street by day will bring you past a number of boutiques and outdoor eateries of all kinds as you make your way toward the Boston Public Gardens. Back Bay is also an area for clubs – at Brahmin, Storyville and Lolita’s you’ll want to dress your best. Copley Square is another key location in Back Bay, where you’ll find the Boston Public Library and Back Bay Station, which offers access to the local Orange Line, Commuter Rail and Acela trains.

Back Bay

GradeA-

Cost: $$$$

TransportationA

FoodA

NightlifeA

Noise LevelA-

CleanlinessB+

Beacon Hill

Tucked away between Government Center and the State House, Beacon Hill is the crown jewel of the city, picturesque with its historic brownstones and gas lamps that line the pristine streets. Charles Street is a main feature of the neighborhood. It’s where you’ll find shops and boutiques, local markets and eateries. Beacon Hill is only short walk from the Theater District, Boston Public Gardens and in the other direction, Government Center and Quincy Market. In terms of nightlife, Beacon Hill is not a club-like atmosphere. However, for drinks at bars that offer truly exquisite atmospheres – try the Liberty Hotel or Tip Tap Room – it’s the place to go. Public transportation stops include Park Street and Government Center.

Beacon Hill

GradeA

Cost: $$$$

TransportationA

FoodA

NightlifeB+

Noise LevelA

CleanlinessA+

Brighton

Allston and Brighton are often meshed together, as they were once part of the same neighborhood. In Brighton, youmight get better access to the Green line via the D and C branches. Brighton extends up to border the Chestnut Hill area, a naturally scenic location on the way to Boston College. Depending on where in Brighton you live, you might live next to a family with children, young professionals, or Boston College students. As far as nightlife goes, many of the main bars are in Allston, although pubs are scattered around the area. Brighton has an average selection of food establishments, though some more popular than others.

Brighton

GradeB-

Cost: $-$$

TransportationB+

FoodC

NightlifeB-

Noise LevelB-

CleanlinessB

Dorchester

Dorchester is Boston’s largest neighborhood, and because of that, the most diverse. As there are several neighborhoods within Dorchester, you’ll have to do more research based on what section you want to live. Uphams Corner, Codman Square and Savin Hill are just a few of the sections. One side of Dorchester is the waterfront, whereas the other end puts you on the border of Mattapan and Roxbury. In Dorchester, there are cheaper rents and better deals, but in some locations higher crime rates than other Boston neighborhoods. Transportation-wise, you’ll have access to the commuter rail, busses and the lower end of the Red Line.

Dorchester

GradeB

Cost: $-SS

TransportationA

FoodA-

NightlifeB

Noise LevelB

CleanlinessB-

East Boston

“Eastie” as locals call it, is across the Inner Boston Harbor, and accessible by the Blue Line (unless you have a car.) East Boston is often forgotten about area, as it is detached from the mainland of Boston. East Boston offers beautiful public spaces, such as LoPresti Park, where you can get a stunning skyline view. As it is close to the airport, the planes flying overhead can be loud. The Blue line also puts you en route to Revere Beach, which albeit a city beach, is a fun summer destination. Although it depends in which area you choose to live, East Boston is generally less expensive than the inner Boston neighborhoods.

East Boston

GradeB-

Cost: $

TransportationB-

FoodA

NightlifeB-

Noise LevelC+

CleanlinessB

Fenway/Kenmore

An apartment in the Fenway/Kenmore area puts you right in the heart of Red Sox nation, being in proximity to Fenway Park. Fenway is a developing area with many luxury apartment complexes and a vibrant nightlife. There are plenty of great low-key sports bars in the area, but if you fancy a more sophisticated space, try Eastern Standard or Hawthorne in Kenmore Square. As far as cleanliness, it’s no surprise that you may find debris leftover on a hot summer’s day after a Sox game, but in general it’s pretty clean. You’re access to the Green line and buses; just don’t take them after a game!

Fenway / Kenmore

GradeB+

Cost: $$-$$$

TransportationA-

FoodA-

NightlifeB+

Noise LevelB

CleanlinessB

Jamaica Plain

Considered an outskirt neighborhood of Boston, Jamaica Plain offers a diverse selection of living locations. Center Street is where you’ll find small retail shops, a variety of food choices, art galleries and boutiques. The Arnold Arboretum is also a nice feature of Jamaica Plain, which is great to visit on a spring day to get in tune with nature. Commute wise, you’ll need to take the Orange Line or a bus to get deeper into the city, which may take a little time. Not much happens in JP as far as clubs go, which makes it more of a retreat back into the neighborhood. Many young professionals and recent college graduates live here.

Jamaica Plain

GradeB

Cost: $$-$$$

TransportationB-

FoodA+

NightlifeC

Noise LevelA-

CleanlinessB+

North End

With its twisting narrow streets, the North End, or “Little Italy” as the locals call it, is where you can find the city’s best Italian food and pastries. It has the distinction of being the oldest residential neighborhood of Boston, Paul Revere having lived here in the colonial days. (And you can even visit his house today.) Commute-wise, the closest station stop is Government Center or Haymarket which is only about a 10 minute walk away, maybe less. Not much of a happening scene in terms of bars or nightlife; you’ll probably find more Lady and the Tramp style romantic dinners here.

North End

GradeB+

Cost: $$$

TransportationB+

FoodA

NightlifeB-

Noise LevelA

CleanlinessB

Roxbury

Roxbury is where you’ll find generally cheaper rents compared to the rest of Boston. Crime rates are higher than surrounding areas, but don’t let that deter you. Many university students and graduate students live here, as Roxbury Community College and Boston University School of Medicine are located within. Roxbury is also where Boston Medical Center is located. It’s a multicultural community, which is apparent in the diversity of the food choices in Dudley Square. The Orange Line is the prime transportation for Roxbury, which also has busses.

Roxbury

GradeB

Cost: $-$$

TransportationB-

FoodA-

NightlifeB

Noise LevelB

CleanlinessB-

South Boston

South Boston, or Southie, as the locals call it, is where Boston’s Irish-Catholic community once had its roots. While it used to be the neighborhood of notorious ganster Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang, it has seen greater redevelopment in the past few years. You’ll find many family style double- and triple-decker homes in Southie, where the streets are named according to the alphabet. Rents increase as you get closer to the waterfront. City Point, a 22-acre historical park, is a lovely destination for joggers, bikers, kite flyers and dog walkers.

South Boston

GradeB-

Cost: $-$$

TransportationB

FoodB-

NightlifeB

Noise LevelB-

CleanlinessC+

South End

Located behind Back Bay, the South End is truly an area of two worlds. Low income housing rests in some parts, while expensive brownstones line other streets to make for a pretty photo opportunity. Something almost immediately noticeable about the South End is the number of dog walkers. The South End is truly a dog friendly place, with its own dog parks and dog markets. Nightlife is prime at places like the Beehive, where there is live music. Arts and culture is a big part of the South End, as artists host Open Studios a few times per year. There are several community gardens, red bricks and brownstones give the South End its look. An area of families and professionals. Commuting from the South End can be difficult because no subway lines run through it, the closest station stop being Back Bay.

South End

GradeB+

Cost: $-$$$

TransportationC

FoodA

NightlifeB+

Noise LevelB+

CleanlinessB+