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Back Bay Boston: A Shopper’s Paradise

Boston’s Back Bay is known as the birthplace of much of our nation’s history, the home of some of its most respected cultural and educational institutions, and for its stunning architecture, public spaces, and gardens. 


But if shopping’s more your style, no judgement. And no problem – Back Bay Boston is also a mecca for retail enthusiasts, offering some of the best shopping around. You’ll find at least ten retail centers in the Back Bay alone, each offering its own unique experience, but three of the best are comfortably walkable from Newbury Guest House.


PRUDENTIAL CENTER 

You could spend hours (or days) inside “the Pru,” exploring this massive mixed-use urban center ranked among the top five U.S. shopping centers by Women’s Wear Daily. 


Stores: The Prudential Center shopping complex is anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and boasts 65 shops and restaurants. Its upscale offerings include Aritzia, Tesla, Canada Goose, Bonobos, MAC, Club Monaco, Frette, Madewell, Kate Spade New York, Lululemon, Sephora, Polo Ralph Lauren, Shinola, Vineyard Vines, Oak + Fort, and more. 


Unique features: Prudential Center is also home to St. Francis Chapel, a Roman Catholic church run by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary since 1969, who conduct daily services and operate its religious giftshop. And if shopping isn’t enough of a workout, you’ll find Boston Sports Club next to Barnes & Noble. Though you’d never need to go outside, we suggest you do – just beyond the doors you can grab an amphibious Boston Duck Tour for breathtaking views of Bunker Hill, the Massachusetts State House and Boston Common from the water.


Dining: With 20-plus eateries, it’s hard to go hungry at Prudential Center, but its best and most awe-inspiring dining experience is the open-market, three-floor Eataly, committed to authentic, high quality Italian regional cuisine. It includes full-service restaurants, pasta, pastry, cheese, and meat retail counters, and even a cooking school and bookstore. 


800 Boylston St. / a 5-minute walk from Newbury Guest House


FANEUIL HALL MARKETPLACE

Browse, buy, and absorb a bit of Old Boston just steps from the Back Bay’s historic waterfront. Faneuil Hall public market house opened in 1742 and was the scene of speeches from Samuel Adams, James Otis, and others demanding independence from Great Britain, earning the Hall a second name: “the Cradle of Liberty.” Today, in addition to its historical tours, the iconic festival marketplace includes 200,000 square feet of retail therapy in its famous Quincy Market Colonnade.


Stores: There’s a reason Faneuil Hall ranked fourth in Forbes Traveler’s "America's 25 Most Visited Tourist Sites," and remains one of the Back Bay’s most visited destinations. While it offers national names like Tumi, Coach and Urban Outfitters, this is where you go for the local love: Boston Campus Gear (logo haven for Boston’s renowned colleges and universities), Best of Boston, Boston Kids, Christmas Boston, and I Love Boston Sports (high-quality branded apparel and other items to showcase your support for the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, Bolts, Cannons and more), to name a few Boston-proud examples. Faneuil Hall is also the place to pick up quirky local goods from specialty pop-up cards (lovepop) to hand-worked pewter (Danforth Metalworks) and 100% organic, custom-created liquor-scented candles (Liquor Wicks). And be sure to hit Newbury Comics for old-school autographed rock CDs and pop culture paraphernalia.


Unique Features: The Faneuil Hall shopping experience echoes its Colonial setting and vibe with cobblestone walkways that serve as a stage for music acts and some truly astonishing shows by world-renowned street performers. True mall culture buffs may want to make a Faneuil Hall pilgrimage just to honor the birthplace of the first retail specialty carts. Faneuil Hall’s owners were the first to bring in local artisans and craftspeople to sell their goods from wooden carts to enhance the historic setting, and 40 local business still operate on wheels today. Faneuil Hall has ongoing special events and exhibits that range from its current Dinosaur Tour to an ongoing historic Quincy Market tour.


Dining: Faneuil Hall’s impressive Food Colonnade offers international options from Greek to Italian, Mexican and poke, but you’re in historic Back Bay Boston, so why not eat like it? Go authentic at Boston Chowda Co, a two-time winner of the Boston Harborfest Chowderfest serving traditional New England chowder and pot pies. Or try Boston & Maine Fish Company for its lobster bar and fresh oysters. Another local favorite is Wicked Lobsta, a small family-run restaurant focused on fresh local seafood – but do not miss their Hot Butta Lobsta Roll and famous Lobsta Mac and Cheese, both made fresh to order. 


1 S. Market Street / about a 30-minute walk from Newbury Guest House


NEWBURY STREET 

Step out of the Newbury Guest House lobby and you’re in the Back Bay’s most famous shopping district. Newbury Street is eight blocks of quaint, tree-lined, retail temptation. It’s hard to say which is more impressive – Newbury Street’s unparalleled retail mix or the Newbury Street shopping experience itself. Strolling this beautiful historic brownstone neighborhood, you’ll find world-famous designer apparel, fine art galleries and beauty boutiques that fit right in with their grand Victorian mansion neighbors.


Stores: Newbury Street is a 200-store shoppers’ paradise of the best names in fashion, beauty, and accessories. Explore international luxury (Akris, Chanel, Armani, Valentino, Bulgari); sought-after contemporary brands (alice + olivia, Intermix, Arc’teryx, Max Mara, Rag & Bone, Vince, Madewell); legacy brands (Loro Piana, Lily Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren); major labels (Nike, H&M, Lululemon, Anthropologie); not-found-everywhere names (Allbirds, Serenella, Fjallraven, Faherty); and locally owned discoveries (Betsy Janney, L'Elite Bridal, Soodee). Intriguing home goods are on offer at Muji, Simon Pearce Glass, Room & Board and Brodney Antiques.


Unique Features: Shopping on Newbury Street has a distinctly Old-World vibe. Shops and Victorian brownstone residences share the street with respected art galleries featuring local, national, and international works from old masters to contemporary artists; and Newbury Street is lined with charming restaurants and sidewalk cafes that enhance its sophisticated, European feel. What you won’t see: neon signing, which is banned to help retain Newbury Street’s historic Back Bay setting. You wouldn’t be blamed for feeling like you’ve walked onto a film set instead of the Back Bay’s prime shopping thoroughfare.


Dining: Newbury Street dining is a global experience in itself with more than 50 restaurants offering fine and casual cuisines from France, Italy, Japan, Thailand, India, Latin America and more. Fuel up in the morning with a pastry and espresso at Patisserie Newbury or Pavement Coffee House; take a lunch-and-people-watching break with tapas at Puro Ceviche or small plate and wine pairings at Bar À Vin 1855; and reward your shopping stamina along the way with treats from Teuscher Chocolatier or Amorino Gelato. For a leisurely dinner, try Stephanie’s on Newbury (sophisticated comfort food), Serafina (modern Italian) or La Voile (seafood-focused French brasserie fare).


If you’re shopping around for great retail, Boston’s Back Bay is a real find, and you can’t do better than making Newbury Guest House your home base. Just bring (or buy) the extra suitcase you’ll definitely need.