Home to the Massachusetts State House, Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood is reminiscent of 19th-century London, replete with cobbled streets and brownstone buildings bedecked with flower-filled window boxes. At night, gas lanterns flicker to life and create a romantic atmosphere for fine dining and bar-hopping.
Bordered by the Charles River Esplanade and the city’s vast public gardens, Beacon Hill is one of Boston’s most picturesque haunts. Wander the narrow streets and browse boutique shops on Charles Street or in stately Louisburg Square, sip coffee in a European-style café, or enjoy dinner at one of the neighborhood’s upscale restaurants.
You can also delve into the area’s history on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail, or visit as part of a guided bike excursion. Artistically inclined visitors can capture Beacon Hill’s historic charm on a photo tour with a professional photographer, while history buffs can learn about the area’s Jewish roots on a cultural walking tour and foodies can taste pizza and local brews on a food and bar crawl.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring a camera to capture Acorn Street, one of the most-photographed streets in the United States.
- Walking is the best way to get around in Beacon Hill. The cobbled streets and brick sidewalks can be steep and uneven, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Most intersections are equipped with handicap-accessible ramps, but some areas may be difficult to navigate for wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Beacon Hill is located in the heart of downtown Boston, a short jaunt across the Charles River from Cambridge. Public parking is available, but you can also get here via the subway, also known as the T. The nearest airport is Boston Logan, roughly 15 minutes by road from Beacon Hill.
When to Get There
In summer, crowds flock to the Boston Common and Charles River to stroll and sunbathe. While the weather can be hot during the day, there are plenty of spots to stop for cool refreshments. Spring and fall are also good times to visit due to milder weather. Winter visitors can enjoy holiday decorations, ice skating in the Common, and seasonal events.
Beacon Hill History
Beacon Hill earned its name when a Revolutionary War beacon was erected here to warn neighboring communities of British invaders. In 1795, Charles Bulfinch and the Mount Vernon Proprietors began to develop Beacon Hill into an elegant residential community full of picturesque streets, adjoining brick row houses, and Greek Revival–style homes. The neighborhood was also an important abolitionist center during the Civil War, and the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill’s North Slope was a hub on the Underground Railroad. Today, you can learn about the area’s historic past at the Boston Athenaeum, Nichols House Museum, and Museum of African American History.