Easy Escapes

What to See, Do, and Eat in Boston’s Booming Seaport Neighborhood

by  Laura Motta | Jan 28, 2020
Boston Seaport
Boston Seaport / avin photography/iStock

If you visited Boston Seaport 15 years ago, you wouldn't have seen much more than an empty parking lot. In that short span, an entire neighborhood of gleaming skyscrapers, crowded restaurants, and trendy shops has sprung up. It’s become both a place to live and to visit. Its weekend streets are busy with activity, even in the cooler months. Here’s what we experienced on a recent visit, and what you should see and do in this new and thriving Boston neighborhood. 

Things to Do in Boston Seaport

See the Art Museums and Galleries

When it opened in 2006, the Institute of Contemporary Art was among the first signs of a rapidly changing Seaport. With its dramatic translucent glass design that cantilevers over the edge of Boston Harbor, the building remains the area’s most distinctive piece of architecture. Stop in for high-profile temporary exhibits, like Yayoi Kusama: LOVE IS CALLING, which features one of the Japanese artist's famously colorful "mirror rooms." Also, be sure to spend some time admiring the incredible harbor views from the museum’s galleries. General admission costs $15 with discounts for students and seniors; youth under 17 are free. Popular exhibits require timed tickets that must be purchased in advance. 

Take a Walk

As with many Boston neighborhoods, Seaport is best experienced on foot. Take some time to stroll along the portion of the Harborwalk that winds its way through the area. Though not continuous, the total boardwalk stretches 43 miles around Boston Harbor and brings guests right up to the water’s edge. Explanatory exhibits and plaques help you understand the city’s long seafaring history and give you a sense of what the harbor might have looked like when it was filled with masted sailing ships. This is also where you’ll find incredible views of the exterior of the ICA. A good stop along the Harborwalk is the Seaport Common. This open green space in the heart of the neighborhood hosts an array of seasonal events. In winter, you’ll find a skating rink here, while warmer months bring outdoor yoga, movie nights, and food trucks. Farther along the Harborwalk, take a stroll around the Boston Fish Pier, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.The pier was once home to the largest fishing fleet in the United States. Today, it's home to the annual Boston Seafood Festival, which usually takes place in August. 

If you step away from the harbor and head into the heart of the Seaport, you’ll find some fun opportunities for shopping. Yes, you’ll see millennial-minded standbys like Away and Lululemon, but there are also more unique stores like B8ta (which lets you try out products that you’ve only ever seen online) and For Now (a boutique that carries clothing and home goods created by local artists). 

Things to Do with Kids in Boston’s Seaport

The Boston Children’s Museum is a classic, and has made its home on Long Wharf since 1979. Still, this Boston institution is no stuffy relic. A 2006 expansion added new galleries, a theater, and the surrounding park. Among its best-known exhibits, which cater to younger children, is the Arthur & Friends exhibit, which lets kids wander through the world of the animated television show. You’ll also find the Japanese House here, a real townhouse that was donated to the museum by the city of Kyoto, Boston’s sister city. A new park expansion, which connects the museum even more directly to the Seaport, opened last year and is especially designed for young visitors. 

Fan Pier, which is adjacent to the Harborwalk and the ICA, is a great place to let kids use up some energy. This park and green space offers incredible harbor views, and there are often events here in summer. And of course, if you need a surefire Boston attraction that kids of all ages will find irresistible, the New England Aquarium is about a 10- to 20-minute walk from Seaport. 

What to Eat and Drink in Boston Seaport

See What’s On Tap at These Breweries

Harpoon has brewed its signature IPA in Boston’s Seaport since 1986, when it had few neighbors. Today, it’s become one of the neighborhood’s most popular attractions, with lines for tours and tastings stretching around the building on Saturdays, when its Beer Hall is open. If you can stand the wait, join the throngs ordering from its menu of cheese plates and small bites. The pretzels, which are made onsite with Harpoon beer and malted barley, are a must-try. 

Though less well-known than Harpoon, Trillium Brewery also makes its home in the Seaport. This buzzy weekend spot is situated in an atmospheric brick warehouse building that includes a restaurant and a rooftop space. Stop by for brunch when you can order burgers, breakfast sandwiches, and Benedicts off its farmhouse-inspired menu; come early to score a seat. 

You can brew your own beer just up the street at Hopsters. Though you’ll likely need to be locally based to make this work — the brewing and bottling happens in two sessions, two weeks apart — this can be a fun way to bond with friends and colleagues. If you’re just visiting, stop in for a casual lunch or dinner (think lobster rolls, wings, and jalapeño poppers) or to enjoy the brewery’s New England IPAs. 

Places to Eat and Hang Out

Start your culinary explorations of Boston Seaport at Committee, which exemplifies the city’s casual/polished dichotomy. Its modern Greek menu is focused on share plates like the incredible sesame-encrusted feta with honey; lamb dumplings with walnut gremolata and yogurt; and a $118 selection of grilled meats. The space, with its abundant bar seating and communal tables, feels built for socializing.  

Row 34 is a neighborhood favorite for seafood — a must-have on any Boston trip. It’s set into attractive modern digs that feel buttoned-up, but never stuffy. A raw bar with no fewer than 10 varieties of oysters, (most of them local) is a highlight, as is the impressive wine list.

A major neighborhood draw, Lookout Rooftop offers up-close, unbroken views of the city skyline. Located at the top of the Envoy Hotel, revelers can enjoy creative cocktails and microbrews all year long. In winter, look for special “igloos" that can seat up to ten guests and are available to reserve, or you can also enjoy a heated enclosure at the bar. For a full meal, stop into Outlook Kitchen on the hotel’s ground floor, where chef Tatiana Rosana (a two-time Chopped champion) whips up American classics with a highbrow spin. Open all day long, the restaurant’s must-try dishes include the cognac mac and cheese (with optional lobster), brown butter monkfish, and to-die-for whoopee pies, which come with a salted caramel sauce. 

Where to Stay in Boston’s Seaport Neighborhood

The Envoy Hotel, home to the aforementioned Lookout Rooftop and Outlook Kitchen, is one of the neighborhood’s signature hotels. Its cheekily decorated rooms, with beds that face the floor-to-ceiling windows and television stands made from recycled bicycles, are bright and welcoming. Rates start at $247 per night. 

Yotel, which is located just a few blocks away, is tailor-made for travelers who want a functional, spotless room but don’t need lots of lounging space. (The beds here — as in all Yotels — are built to retract into the wall and transform into a sofa when not in use.) Service and amenities here are minimal, and you will see the brand’s signature robot concierge in the lobby. If you’re in search of a fuss-free room in Seaport, you’ll do well here. Rates start at $110 per night. 

For those in search of a less trendy Boston stay, the Seaport Hotel has been hosting guests since 1998. It was originally built to serve the nearby convention center and the many business travelers who pass through it. Today, it’s the place to stay if you’re in search of more traditional decor, multiple on-site restaurants, and creature comforts like lots of parking and a swimming pool. Rates start at $161 per night.

How to Get to and Around Seaport Boston

A bit removed from Boston’s central subway lines, the Seaport is accessible from downtown Boston by taking the Silver Line trolleybuses, the newest part of the city's public transit system (called simply "the T” by locals). Hop on the Silver Line to reach the Seaport from Boston’s Logan Airport, as well. Rides cost $2.75 each, and you can purchase multiple rides at a time for discounted fares. 

If you’re sailing into Boston’s cruise port, which is just across from Harpoon Brewery, you can walk into the Seaport in about ten minutes. 

Once you arrive in Seaport, the whole area is easily walkable. If your feet are tired, ride hailing services can quickly and affordably get you where you need to go.  

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