Boston’s original waterfront playground is still a favorite to visit, tucked behind the popular Faneuil Hall. Although other areas such as the Seaport, have been blooming in recent years, there’s a wonderful Old World charm while strolling through the classic wharfs. Many of the flagship wharfs no longer have boats docking beside them, but have been redesigned to accommodate shopping, dining and sightseeing instead. You will find a wonderful haven of outdoor space, great food and classic Boston attractions along the waterfront.
Boston Waterfront History
As a hotbed of shipping activity throughout the 1800s and into early 1900s, the waterfront in Boston began its true modern history revolving around commercialism and nautical pursuits. Unlike other neighborhoods in the city, this spot does not have clear boundaries and recognition, so the past is often lost to new development. However, the inner harbor area is now a place for affluent residences, restaurants and recreational activities that have given fresh life to the once busy wharfs. For instance, Rowes Wharf was reconfigured in the 1980s as part of a large development project to open up the space and bring in more locals to live and work. Long Wharf, built in the early 1700s, is one of the areas still welcoming boats such as ferries and sightseeing ships to its port. There are a few cruise ships and a couple of water taxis added to the mix too.
Boston Waterfront Highlights
Besides the scenic views of the harbor, one of the biggest draws to the waterfront is the Boston Aquarium. Since 1969 the iconic complex has helped visitors and locals alike learn about local wildlife and aquatic animals, as well as a few exotic species. Guests can see fur seals in front of the aquarium, then buy tickets for access to more exhibits like the giant ocean tank and penguins. There is also an IMAX theater, animal rehabilitation center and the ability to go on an aquarium-hosted whale watches.
Due to its history and tradition, seafood restaurants reign supreme along the converted wharfs. Many people will spend time at Legal Seafoods, the Chart House and Waterline. There is also an excellent bar and restaurant inside the Boston Harbor Hotel called the Rowes Wharf Bar.
Speaking of hotels, The Boston Harbor Hotel is one of the most distinct in the city, with a large archway that opens up to the waterfront and pedestrian walkway. In the back is a floating stage that welcomes various musical performances in the summertime. Other options include the Westin Boston Waterfront and Marriott Long Wharf, to name a few.
Boston Waterfront Annual Events
In the chill of the winter, the Harbor Hotel heats up during the annual Boston Wine Festival on Rowes Wharf. Guests enjoy in special wine parings and dinners by local chefs for one week of indulgence. Most events take place in the summertime, including the Boston Harborfest that commemorates the Fourth of July. Most of the activity takes places along the waterfront, including revolutionary reenactments, cruises, special museum exhibits and concerts open to the public.