The Back Bay neighborhood lives in the heart of Boston, easily accessible by train, bus, bike and foot. There is no excuse for missing this vibrant area while exploring the city! Back Bay’s look and feel offers the quintessential Boston experience, from its classic residential architecture to landmark historic sites to upscale shopping and dining outposts. Tourists and locals alike can accomplish so much by spending time wandering this beloved part of Boston. There’s plenty to see and do in a day in Back Bay, and we’ve rounded up the perfect itinerary for your visit:
Start your day with a scenic stroll. Commonwealth Ave Mall (or “Comm Ave,” as referred to by locals) is a tree-lined boulevard that offers a shaded walkway leading to the lovely Boston Public Garden. If water views are preferred, The Esplanade sits along the picturesque shore of the Charles River with a mix of greenery and paved paths for outdoor enthusiasts. Luckily there are multiple ways to access the park in the neighborhood: Fairfield, Dartmouth and Arlington Streets all offer direct access to The Esplanade.
A morning walk along the Esplanade; photo by Jessica Mading
Almost every block of Back Bay contains a piece of charming history. Make a point to step inside the Boston Public Library, which is a National Historic Landmark. You’ll observe magnificent works of art throughout and can walk into Bates Hall, the library’s famous reading room known for its architectural splendor. The BPL is located in a historic public park called Copley Square, named for painter John Singleton Copley, and sits alongside other culturally significant landmarks like Trinity Church and the iconic Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel.
Bates hall at Boston Public Library; photo by Kyle Klein
The Back Bay is Boston’s top shopping destination. Visit Newbury Street for eight blocks of distinctive boutiques, fine art galleries, intimate bistros and stylish salons, many of which operate out of Instagram-worthy 19th century brownstones. Then make your way to nearby Copley Place, an enclosed luxury shopping destination with 50+ stores including Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s. On Tuesdays and Fridays through November stop by the Copley Square Farmers Market to hand-pick delicious produce from Massachusetts farmers.
Copley Square Farmer Market; photo courtesy of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
Boston is known as “America’s Walking City,” and you’ll be tuckered out (in a good way) after a day taking in all the sights of Back Bay. When it’s time to sit back, relax and get some sustenance, look no further than OAK Long Bar + Kitchen. The award-winning restaurant and bar is nestled inside Fairmont Copley Plaza, with the best patio views in the neighborhood.
You’ll get a taste of history the moment you enter with vaulted ceilings and crystal chandeliers dating back to 1912, plus a collection of antique paintings. This “see and be seen” hot spot for locals and travelers alike continues to elevate the dining scene in Boston, especially with a new chef at the helm. Chef Zaid Khan’s farm-to-table cuisine offers approachable New England fare that spotlights ingredients sourced from the region’s land and sea. Before you google—yes, OAK serves one of the best lobster rolls in the city! A “catch” at only $29.
Take advantage of the gorgeous summer weather by booking an overnight stay at the hotel, complete with VIP patio privileges. Fairmont Copley Plaza’s “VIP at OAK” package secures you prime seating for two on OAK’s St. James Ave patio offering sweeping views of Copley Square and bustling Boylston Street. The experience begins with a round of craft cocktails, of your choice, from the cocktail list. From there, enjoy a guaranteed 2-hour reservation window to eat your way through the dinner menu and bask in the beauty of Back Bay. The best part? It takes only a few minutes to commute “home” to your luxurious guest room for the evening.