Complete Guide to Back Bay Boston

Boston Public Library

Perched on Copley Square, the Boston Public Library is one place you’ll want to stop into while in the Back Bay area. As the nation’s second largest library (second only to the Library of Congress), it’s home to more than 19 million volumes and electronic resources. But it’s not just the vast collection of books (including 1.7 million rare books and manuscripts), but also the large array of prints, photographs, postcards, paintings and early editions of William Shakespeare that sets this library apart. While here, you’ll be treated to a view of several impressive murals by prominent artists and a beautiful indoor courtyard, inspired by the Italian Renaissance complete with elegant fountains.

Gibson House Museum

One of the first houses in the Back Bay, the Gibson House was built in 1860 for the widowed Catherine Gibson who passed it on to her son. Now a museum and a National Historic Landmark that’s open to the public, the Gibson House gives visitors an opportunity to view family artifacts, 19th century furnishings and collections as well as the well-preserved architecture and interior design.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner was an American art collector who had a profound passion for the arts. And it was her love of the arts that drove her to create a museum that she could share with the world, inviting guests to discover their own appreciation for art by enjoying the many pieces she had collected. Construction of the museum, in the style of a 15th century Venetian palace, was completed in 1901 and during this time, Isabella lived on the fourth floor so she could personally arrange the works of art in the galleries. From paintings, sculptures, tapestries and furniture, to manuscripts, rare books and decorative arts, the museum is home to thousands of pieces from Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Renaissance Italy, Asia, 19th Century France and America. Be sure to take some time to roam in the courtyard to admire the many blooming flowers and plants including an array of orchids and Japanese-style chrysanthemums. The museum offers talks and tours and hosts a variety of interesting events throughout the year.

Copley Square

One of the Back Bay’s most well-known destinations, Copley Square was originally known as Art Square until 1883, when it was renamed in honor of the well-known portrait artist John Singleton Copley. A visit here will include a view to architecture that dates back more than a century, a statue of Copley on the north side of the square and a lovely green space that draws in many locals and tourists alike—especially in the warmer months. If you’re visiting during spring or summer, try to time it so you can enjoy the Farmers’ Market, which is a bi-weekly event.

As you’d imagine, a neighborhood as chic and popular as this one has no shortage of amazing restaurants; and whether you’re looking for a casual eatery or something more upscale, you’ll find it in the Back Bay.

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Atlantic Fish Company

As the name suggests, if you’re craving succulent seafood, this iconic favorite is just the place. A local institution since 1978, Atlantic offers an upscale experience. You’ll find it hard to resist their pan-seared sea bass or spinach and lobster ravioli. Start off with some steamed mussels or super lump crab cake—they even have steak and chicken for landlubbers!

Abe & Louie’s

Steak-lovers rejoice! Abe & Louie’s has your cut and many other delicious menu items that will satisfy your appetite. Known for their generous portions and delectable meats, including filet mignon, lamb chops and ribeye, Abe & Louie’s also serves up the perfect appetizers like pepper-seared ahi-tuna, baked little neck clams, raw oysters and more.

Post 390

A double-level restaurant that serves American classics (with a modern flair) on one level and upscale comfort food on the other level, Post 390 appeals to everyone’s palate. Brunch, lunch and dinner, this urban tavern has got you covered; they even have a kid’s menu. Sip a cold craft beer and enjoy New England clam chowder, spinach, bacon and artichoke flatbread or sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken – these are just a few of the specialties here.


A Mexican bistro and tequila bar, Zocalo offers a lively, festive atmosphere and a menu filled with south of the border favorites. Tacos, enchiladas, carnitas as well as Yucateco, ceviche and guacamole are just a few of the dishes that you can expect, as well as over 200 different bottles of tequila!


If it’s pasta you’re craving, Lucca delivers deliciously! This Back Bay favorite offers contemporary pasta dishes including Cavatelli (house-made ricotta pasta with spice-braised pork, bacon, pork meatballs and roasted cauliflower in a Thai-basil sauce), three-cheese ravioli with grilled scallions, basil, tomato fennel crema and roasted fennel and many more.

The Friendly Toast

For a hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner, stop into this fun diner that offers friendly service and big portions. They serve up everything from cheesecake French toast, Kiss My Grits (homemade biscuit topped with fried chicken tenders, over easy eggs & cheddar grits, finished with a sriracha honey glaze & served with home fries), pancakes, waffles and other breakfast dishes to burgers, sandwiches, salads and soups—guaranteed to please everyone and anyone who’s hungry.

Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe

A local diner that’s been around since 1927, Charlie’s is a family-friendly restaurant that offers many different breakfast specialties including their famous, award-winning turkey hash, oatmeal, pancakes, French toast, waffles, omelets, burgers, chili and sandwiches. If you’re a fan of the Reuben, this is your place!

Copley Place

Considered to be the city’s most luxurious shopping destination, Copley Place is located on Huntington Avenue. Here, you’ll find just about everything in fashion, jewelry, accessories, shoes and much more for the entire family. There are high-end designer shops like Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior and Boss, and popular brands like J. Crew, Banana Republic and the Gap. The gorgeous architecture of this two-level complex is also a sight to see!

The Shops at Prudential Center

Located on Boylston Street, this spectacular shopping mall truly has it all! You’ll find apparel for everyone in stores like Kate Spade, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren Polo, Lululemon Athletica, Under Armour, Gucci, Aldo, Ann Taylor and many more. After shopping, enjoy coffee or a meal at one of the numerous restaurants including Cheesecake Factory, Earl’s Kitchen and Bar, California Pizza Kitchen, Sweetgreen, Dunkin Donuts, Sugarfina, Ben and Jerry’s and more.

See it All on the Trolley

Make the most of your time in Boston’s Back Bay aboard the Old Town Trolley. You’ll not only be transported to all the most popular spots in the city and be able to enjoy the entire neighborhood at your leisure, but learn many fascinating facts about all the places you’re visiting.

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— Update: 12-03-2023 — found an additional article Top 14 Things To Do and Eat in Boston’s Back Bay from the website for the keyword things to do in boston back bay area.

Looking for a Back Bay Boston food tour or restaurant? Back Bay restaurants in Boston? What are some things to do in Boston’s Back Bay? We LOVE Back Bay, from cozy cafes to trendy boutique shops to beautiful brownstone architecture. If you’re visiting Boston, Back Bay is a must. Our Boston Chocolate tour uncovers fun spots around the Harvard Square area, but on the other side of the river, the posh Back Bay neighborhood in Boston has just as many incredible fun spots to add to your Boston Bucket list! 

Here are some our favorite Back Bay restaurants and hidden gems:

Waffle on A Stick at Bittersweet shop

Address: 257 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116

If you’re looking for a cute coffee shop on Newbury to grab a fun snack or a sweet treat head to Bittersweet Shoppe. They have a charming, vintage- modern atmosphere and a beautiful patio for the sunny weather. You must try their waffle on a stick. Fresh belgian waffle served on a stick. What a fun concept.

Things to do in boston back bay area

Café SuSu under Suit Supply

Address: 240A Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116

Speaking about hidden gems, did you know that under Suit Supply there is an espresso bar and cafe? It has beautiful interior decor with velvet covered seats. What a fun place to hideout and sip on a coffee before going on with your shopping on Newbury.

Krasi for date night – make your own tzatziki dip!

Address: 48 Gloucester St, Boston, MA 02115

Want a fun date night dinner spot? Krasi is on the top of our list. Krasi serves contemporary Greek specialities and wine, and it has the perfect date night decor with an industrial-chic set up. You can make your own tzatziki dip on the table and eat it, which is a super unique and fun experience in Boston Back Bay.

Things to do in boston back bay area

Things to do in boston back bay area

Buttermilk and Bourbon for Fried Chicken and Waffles on the weekends

Address: 160 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

A taste of New Orleans in the heart of Boston, brought to you by celebrity chef Jason Santos. If you want an experience of southern cuisine in the northeast, definitely try out Buttermilk and Bourbon. Their warm honey biscuits are a must, and if you visit on a weekend, they serve chicken and waffles for brunch.

Things to do in boston back bay area

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Looking for more date night ideas in Boston? Check out our blog for our top 50 ideas!

Things to do in boston back bay area

Check out our award winning food and chocolate tours!

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Things to do in boston back bay area

Afternoon Tea! Boston Back Bay Food Tour

Have you had afternoon tea at this hidden courtyard in the Boston Public Library? The Boston Public Library is much photographed, especially its Hogwarts style study hall – Bates Room – to its grand marble central staircase – and it is a place to visit in Boston. Serving an elegant classic tea with a twist of New England culinary favorites, they offer a 90 minute afternoon tea experience in the Courtyard of Boston Public Library. Enjoy this elegant dining experience with a beautiful ambience. If you love afternoon tea like we do, check out our favorite afternoon tea spots around Boston here!

Things to do in boston back bay area

Lady M Crepe Cakes

Address: 304 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

Looking for a sweet treat to celebrate a special occasion? Lady M has unique crepe cakes with different seasonal flavors to try. You’ll be wowed by all of the layers in these elegant treats.

Things to do in boston back bay area

Peruse the brownstone boutiques – Lipstick, Bobble and Lace

Address: Newbury Street

Newbury Street has all the big names in shopping – Zara, H &M, Nike, but if you’re looking for something cute and unique, check out these small boutiques. Lipstick offers fun earrings, and Bobble and Lace offers cute sweaters and dresses.

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Things to do in boston back bay area

Trident Booksellers to Find Cute Gifts

Address: 338 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

An old favorite in Boston, not only do they have a selection of books, they always have a changing selection of fun games, prints, and tools that are perfect to find cute gifts for friends and family. They also have a cafe upstairs if you’re looking to grab brunch as well, with yummy chicken and waffles!

Things to do in boston back bay area

Check out our award winning food and chocolate tours!

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Things to do in boston back bay area

Jonquils Bakery for incredible shaped desserts

Address: 125 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116

Check out Jonquils Bakery which opened in 2019 for fun shaped desserts! They create eclectic and beautiful geometric desserts. Their brand pastry chef, Dinara Kasko, was born in Ukraine and studied to become an architect but became interested in baking. Kasako’s main method baking involves using a 3D printer to construct a silicone mold that becomes her breath-taking designs you may not want to eat just marvel at!

Things to do in boston back bay area

Enjoy a concert in the center of Boston

Address: Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street, Boston, MA

Berklee College is the best performing arts college in the world, and their own performing arts concert center has so many great concerts.T hey also have a Cafe 939 with lots of up and coming acts. If classical is more  your liking, Boston Symphony offers $25 tickets for guests under age 40. They also host the world-renowned Boston Pops during the summer and holiday season! For many many years we went to the Boston Pops for New Year’s Eve, and it’s always been a magical experience.

Ramen on a cold day! Try Red White for Vegan Ramen or Santouka Ramen


Red White – 294 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

Santouka – 66 Hereford St, Boston, MA 02115

Enjoy ramen on a cold day! Line up outside Santouka Ramen for a bowl of hot and hearty ramen. If you’re interested in vegan ramen which isn’t always available in Boston, Red White around the corner offers amazing vegan ramen!

Things to do in boston back bay area

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Hidden Sneaker Shop

Address: 6 Clearway St, Boston, MA 02115

Vintage Shoe store or Grocery Store? Disguised as a convenience store, Bodega is an ultra modern streetwear and sneaker shop that’s hidden behind a sliding door. Go check it out yourself to discover this hidden store. Then post a photo to the gram and tag us! #otbpfoodtours

Take the #1 Bus to Cambridge Afterwards

Boston is a really small, walkable city. You can string together a morning in Back Bay with our Saturday afternoon Harvard Square Chocolate Tour starting at 2pm or 5pm or our Central Square Food and Mural Arts Tour on Sundays at 12pm. Instead of having to ride the train to Park Street and transfer to the Red Line, you can also take the 1 bus directly from Massachusetts Avenue @ Newbury Street to the heart of Central or Harvard Square, just a straight shot down Massachusetts Avenue — you’ll cross the bridge by MIT and may even catch a glimpse of them sailing on the Charles. It’s a fun trip to take even if you’ve got no destination, we love our “T”!

Tour Trinity Church – Immerse in the Architecture!

Address: 200 Clarendon St, Boston, MA 02116

As part of our tours, we tell our guests stories of local architecture. In the Back Bay, Trinity Church is not to be missed. Designed by H. H. Richardson, it is the first of the Richardson Romenesque style and was constructed in the 1870’s. You’ll find a variety of buildings in Boston in this style, most notably those on our Union Square Somerville Food Tour.


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