One of America’s earliest ports, this Massachusetts city weaves a rich tapestry of history, culture and learning, with an abundance of seafood restaurants in a postcard-pretty setting

Often dubbed the 'Athens of America', Boston is the vibrant hub of New England. Home to world-renowned colleges and universities such as Harvard and MIT, it fosters an international sensibility that informs local culture. And while not forgetting its pivotal role in the 1776 American Revolution, it boldly pushes towards a cosmopolitan future.

Retail details

Mandarin Oriental, Boston is adjacent to the Prudential Center, so stores such as Gucci, Frette and Lululemon are moments from your guest room. Cross the mall's sky bridge to the marble halls of Copley Place, where high-end boutiques include Versace and Burberry. Then explore the surrounding Back Bay neighbourhood, one of the city's best shopping districts. Here, Valentino and Chanel have set up chic showrooms on Newbury Street. For independent fashion and interior design stores, head to the charming brownstones of Charles Street in storied Beacon Hill – the hangout of Boston's socialites. 

History Hitlist

Explore the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile amble that takes in 16 landmarks planted in revolutionary history, from stately Faneuil Hall, where early patriots and inspiring orators stirred secessionist spirits, to the Old North Church, whose lanterns signalled British advancement ('one if by land, and two if by sea') and sent Patriot Paul Revere on his famed midnight ride to warn the colonists. The trail passes through North End, Boston's 'Little Italy', the city's oldest residential neighbourhood, where cannoli pastry fans flock to the quaint European-style bakeries. Also nearby is the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, a harbour-front tribute to the colonists' first organised rebellion against British rule, and the recently completed Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5-mile park with carousal rides, public art installations and food trucks operated by top chefs.

Soak Up Local History The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile amble that takes in 16 landmarks planted in revolutionary history, from Faneuil Hall to Old North Church

Best in show

Boston's impressive arts landscape covers classical and contemporary ground. The majestic Museum of Fine Arts features a 450,000-piece collection by artists from Goya to Picasso, plus the largest holding of ancient Egyptian relics outside Cairo. Visit the Boston Opera House to see the Boston Ballet, or catch some performance art at the Institute of Contemporary Art, a striking glass and steel box on the waterfront. Downtown, ArtsEmerson stages unique, challenging works with a finger on the pulse of live theatre.

Outdoor life

Pack a picnic for an afternoon in the verdant Boston Public Garden, a National Historic Landmark, where families enjoy pleasure trips on the 'Swan Boats', in operation since 1877. Otherwise, dine alfresco on the Esplanade, a grassy expanse along the Charles River. It is here that the city puts on its Fourth of July fireworks spectacular. Discover the diverse bounty of New England's small farms and food artisans at the indoor Boston Public Market, which hosts chef demos and foodie events. At weekends, from April to October, the buzzing SoWa Open Market also offers local produce, as well as arts and crafts, live music and a beer garden.      

Bliss out

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston has created the ultimate in restorative massages and facials with the one-hour and 50-minute Inner Strength Retreat. There is also a Power Lift Facial for men, while the Couture Facial by Linda Meredith is the crème de la crème of anti-ageing treatments. 

Discover delicious cuisine Bar Boulud at Mandarin Oriental, Boston serves up French brasserie-style fare, local dishes and charcuterie, while the neighbouring Prudential Center houses Italian emporium Eataly

Dining scene

Sophisticated French-New England tasting journeys are offered at Boston fine dining institution L'Espalier, while Bar Boulud from acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud at Mandarin Oriental, Boston serves up French brasserie-style fare, local dishes and charcuterie. The neighbouring Prudential Center houses Mario Batali's multi-floor Italian emporium, Eataly, with everything from a bakery and butcher's to La Piazza, which has a section on the menu dedicated to arancini (risotto balls in a crispy breadcrumb coating), and seafood restaurant Il Pesce, a collaboration with local chef Barbara Lynch. For more of her cuisine, book a table at Menton, where foie gras frankfurters and champagne in the Gold Bar beckon. Elsewhere, chef Jody Adams tempts with fresh catches at Mediterranean-inspired Porto. Courtesy of a roving cocktail cart, elixirs are mixed tableside. 

After dark

Boston cocktail culture is embodied at Drink in the burgeoning Fort Point district. Its bartenders create personalised tipples. Haley.Henry, a cosy and contemporary Downtown wine bar, has a 50-strong list to enjoy with cheese, anchovies and sardines. Over in in the South End, Wink & Nod is a subterranean speakeasy, with a rotating kitchen that provides up-and-coming chefs with the chance to demonstrate their talent for six months. Mingle with local residents by the gilded fireplace at upscale Yvonne's, or check out the changing exhibitions at Liquid Art House, a restaurant and gallery rolled into one, where the wall art is for sale, as is the hand-blown glass chandelier hanging above the bar. 

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