What’s New in Boston: Spotlight on the Seaport

by  Christine Wei | Jun 5, 2014
Boston, MA
Boston, MA / roman_slavik/iStock

For many visitors, Boston is all about the Freedom Trail, the diverse architecture, and the nation’s colonial beginnings. But it’s by no means a city stuck in the past – in recent years, Beantown has seen a handful of 21st century updates that make a trip there all the more worthwhile.

Among the neighborhoods on the rise, we’re currently loving the somewhat secluded Seaport, sandwiched between downtown Boston and Logan International Airport. It’s perfect for those who like to get away from the crowds, precisely because it requires a little effort to get there. Don’t let the neighborhood's sparse appearance fool you; plenty of world-class eats, artsy diversions, and boutique hotels await.

Where to Eat and Drink
The Seaport has been poised for the foodie spotlight for a while, and a trio of establishments owned by chef Barbara Lynch are leading the way. Talk to any local cocktail enthusiast and they'll tell you that Drink, arguably home to some of the city's best mixologists, is where to go for custom libations matched to your personal tastes. Drink is also next door to two other establishments: Menton, a refined but warm staple on the French fine dining scene, and Sportello, a casual but equally delicious counter-service Italian diner. One of the bonuses of dining at either of these two establishments is that they’ll whisk you right over to Drink through private entrances that connect the restaurants to the bar, so you can skip the post-dinner lines.

These days, there are two more serious reasons for foodies to make their way over to the Seaport. The masterminds behind the downtown’s Island Creek Oyster Bar have converted a former industrial space into a relaxed, happy “workingman’s oyster bar,” a nod to the neighborhood’s textile factory past. It’s no surprise that the briny, half-shell appetizers are stars on Row 34’s menu, but its beer list is also surprisingly intriguing and even includes gluten-free options. For something heartier, Pastoral serves up rustic Neapolitan-style pizzas that start at a reasonable $12 per pie. While the wood-fired pies are the main attraction here, we hear the roasted veggies are unmissable.

What to Do
The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston is one of our favorite attractions in the neighborhood. Its gleaming metal and glass exterior is a sight unto itself, and its second-floor theater boasts floor-to-ceiling views of the harbor. But what’s really great about the ICA is that you don’t have to love classical paintings or bizarre dioramas to appreciate the likes of light-catching glass sculptures and fiber dreamscapes that have bee hallmarks of exhibit spaces. Even better? Admission is free from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Thursday.

For laid back, after-hours entertainment, head to Lucky’s Lounge, a live music venue that lacks any glamorous decor but makes up for it with warmth and energy. Out of its its four or five weekly performance nights, locals especially love the Sinatra Sundays, which features dinner specials and a live performances from Ole Blue Eyes's classic catalog. Revelers can choose from fruity cocktails, local beers, and sangria.

Where to Stay
If hotel demand says anything about a neighborhood’s trendiness, the Seaport is certaubkt hot. Between now and next spring, three new properties will have opened and be ready to accommodate visitors. In a $137.8 million project, Starwood’s bringing an Aloft Hotel as well as an Element Hotel into a complex right next to the convention center. We expect the properties to spice up the area with the trendy but affordable rooms typical of the brands. There’s also the Envoy Hotel, part of Marriott’s recent Autograph Collection of boutique hotels that focuses on unique decor and a sense of locale missing from many other chain hotels. The property will open in the first half of 2015 with a rooftop terrace and a pedestrian plaza to the harborwalk.

As far as current accommodations go, the four-diamond Seaport Boston Hotel recently got a lot of attention after a major facelift. Fresh reforms include coastal chic public spaces, bright bathrooms with walk-in showers, and eco-conscious tech that automatically turns lights on and off when you come and go. We saw rates between $240 and $300 for June and July here – a bit high, but typical of Boston in the late spring and summer. The Westin Boston Harborfront, while a bit more run-of-the-mill, is usually a bit cheaper but still has all the makings of a comfortable and pleasant visit. Rates are around $230 in summer.

To get there via public transit, you’ll have to transfer to the T’s silver line from the South Station stop in downtown Boston. It extends to Logan Airport from there, with the Seaport in between. On the way back, you’ll probably want to catch a taxi home, particularly if you plan on staying for drinks. Rides can be difficult to come by after dinner, so don’t be shy about asking for a cabbie’s number and letting them know you’ll be looking for a ride later.

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