Boston isn’t nearly as conservative as its reputation might have you believe. Newbury Street, just a block from Mandarin Oriental, Boston, assembles many of the city’s most fashion- forward shops: Chanel, Valentino and Akris, as well as a slew of independent boutiques. Stel’s (www. stelsinc.com) stocks an assortment of top American and French indie lines, including Rachel Comey, Gary Graham and A.P.C., while Alan Bilzerian (www.alanbilzerian.com) outfits the avant-garde in Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto and Lanvin. At Louis Boston (www. louisboston.com), a four-level shop that’s been dressing Boston’s finest since the late 1800s, the offerings are decidedly modern: it houses more than 50 designers including Marni, Zac Posen and Dries Van Noten, and its home accessories department is packed with vintage handbags, couture bedding, an apothecary and in-store eyewear boutique Morgenthal Frederics. In nearby South End, the new Peng (www.meichipeng.com) offers contemporary and vintage home accessories, furniture and jewellery, as well as hand-sewn calfskin goods. Mandarin Oriental, Boston also provides fabulous shopping options, with Gucci, Frette and yoga outfitter Lululemon.
Overlooking Copley Square, the majestic Boston Public Library (www.bpl.org) was founded in 1848 as the first free municipal library in the US. Rare works include John Adams’ private book collection and several first edition Shakespeare folios. The hidden outdoor courtyard is an ideal hideaway for tea and snacks. The 4km (2.5 mile) Freedom Trail (www.thefreedomtrail.org) takes walkers through Boston passing 16 historic landmarks, including The Old Granary Burial Ground, where many of Boston’s most famous revolutionaries, including John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, are buried; the Bunker Hill Monument; and the Site of the Boston Massacre. In the historic neighbourhood of Jamaica Plain, the 130-year-old Arnold Arboretum (www.arboretum.harvard.edu) – the world’s leading centre for the study of plants – is open year-round displaying 265 acres of trees, shrubs and flowers.
The new Institute of Contemporary Art (www.icaboston.org) overlooking Boston Harbor has forever altered the Boston landscape, and mindset, with a stunningly beautiful building and permanent collections from Nan Goldin, Laylah Ali and Rineke Dijkstra. The 100-year-old Museum of Fine Arts (www.mfa.org) has been made hip with concerts by musicians such as Vampire Weekend and Bettye LaVette, though its 450,000-work collection of American, Asian and European art is reason alone to visit. A thriving art scene means that galleries here are notable stops for art lovers; two of the best are Samson Projects (www.samsonprojects.com) and the Barbara Krakow Gallery (www.barbarakrakowgallery.com). During the holidays, Christmas music is synonymous with the Boston Pops (www.bso.org), a Boston Symphony Orchestra tradition since 1885, while dance aficionados will enjoy Boston Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker (www.bostonballet.org).