Seaport – Boston, MA

Located less than 2 miles from downtown in South Boston, the Seaport District is a neighborhood in transition, with newcomers arriving to the working class Irish enclave. Along the area's northern waterfront, upscale restaurants and bars cater to young professionals drawn by the close proximity to downtown and comparatively low rents. Tourists also congregate here for the museums and hotels with harbor views. Farther south, blue collar pubs and seafood shacks serve the historically Irish community, and turn-of-the-century triple decker homes line the streets. Not to be mixed up with the South End, this section of South Boston has good public transit and solid schools, making it attractive to families who want city convenience with a neighborhood feel.

Schools in Seaport

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Though South Boston isn't a destination restaurant neighborhood, good eats can be found throughout the area. Close to the waterfront, visitors find plenty of seafood options from modern eateries to lobster shacks, while locals enjoy their favorite diners and burger joints away from the crowds. Since 1950, locals and tourists alike have come to the Yankee Lobster Fish Market for steamed lobster trays and baskets of fried clams, oysters and shrimp at affordable prices. Regulars love the rich, briny clam chowder and the mac and cheese served with massive, moist chunks of lobster meat. Customers must line up to order at the counter, but the tables both indoors and outside come equipped with shakers of Old Bay and bottles of malt vinegar for an authentic Boston experience. For views of the bay and upscale bistro food, visitors come to Sam's At Louis. Patrons here sit on the modern, spacious second story balcony overlooking the water while biting into the signature burger, consisting of two flavorful beef patties flecked with black peppercorn. Other stand-outs include the mushroom-tofu burger and the weekend brunch fare, which includes spicy Bloody Marys and a boozy brunch punch. Locals get nostalgic for the snap dogs at Sullivan's, a small burger and seafood joint on Castle Island that many youngsters in the area grow up with. The natural casing dogs get their nickname by being grilled till just plump enough to snap on the first bite, though the affordable lobster roll also has its loyal fans. The seasonal restaurant has no wait service, and the line at the counter snakes out the door during the meal-time rush, but the kitchen moves fast, making the wait reasonable on most days. The outdoor tables fill up quickly, so regulars recommend grabbing a blanket for a picnic in the surrounding park. Visitors won't find dance beats or clubs in South Boston, where locals prefer a good old watering hole to watch the game and chat with friends. In the Seaport District, residents choose from several upscale lounges along the waterfront or low-key bars to the south, like William's Tavern, a neighborhood joint serving cheap brews and friendly chats with the owner. Though you won't find an impromptu jazz jam in the neighborhood, the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion hosts national tours at its large outdoor concert hall, where the ocean breeze cools down crowds who come for big music names such as Willie Nelson and Sting. The most popular of the waterfront bars is Drink , a mixology-geared lounge that blends cocktails in a hip, modern atmosphere. The establishment makes patrons wait outside once the bar has reached its quota of customers, but a relaxed and lively evening awaits once you get inside. The warehouse-inspired bar room has no official drink menu, as the bartenders specalize in customized cocktails to suit your personal preference, including options such as fruity gin or sugar cookies. An evening here adds up, but regulars say the drinks top-notch drinks make the experience worthwhile, and a New American bar food menu makes some patrons reluctant to give up their tables. Farther east, the Harpoon Brewery welcomes the public with affordable tours of their facilities, along with a spacious upstairs beer hall that serves a rotating selection of Harpoon on tap at the long communal tables, including many speciality brews and pretzels for the peckish.

History & Culture

Once connected to Boston by a narrow land strip, only 60 families lived in South Boston when the city annexed it in 1804, prompting a wild real estate boom. A new street grid and toll bridge spiked land prices nearly 1,000 percent as residents poured in. Over the next century, South Boston grew into an Irish enclave, famous for its working class values, Catholic faith and readiness to defend their own. Today, visitors to the peninsula's tip can find Castle Island, where British troops hid out during the American Revolution, and tour Fort Independence, built in 1833 on the site of the original English fort. The beloved Boston Children's Museum and Tea Party re-enactments at the Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum also lie near the area. Art fans tour the small but innovative shows at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and beer aficionados unite at the annual American Craft Beer festival.

Transportation

Residents in the Seaport District have solid public transit options and short commutes into downtown. Many errands can be run on foot, making the area quite walkable, with the exception of the northeastern waterfront, which has more warehouses than amenities. The area has only one dedicated bike lane, and the local custom of double parking poses a special hazard for cyclists, but plenty of people bike here anyway. For a more relaxed ride, cyclists can head deeper into South Boston for the waterfront trails and the paths in Joe Moakley Park. L train riders catch the red line from the Broadway station, and residents near the waterfront can walk 10 minutes over the Charles River to South Station. Local bus service provides additional options with routes 7, 9 and 11 running from City Point into South Station, Back Bay and Tufts Medical Center respectively. Residents can also pick up the silver line express bus for trips to Logan Airport. Drivers hop on I-90 or nearby I-93 for a fast exit from the city, and the commute into downtown Boston takes under 10 minutes, barring traffic. Parking gets tight on the streets of South Boston, particularly in the Seaport District, where tourists compete for spaces. Locals recommend arriving before rush hour for a chance at free street parking, which often can't be found by 8:00 p.m. Hailing a taxi poses less of a problem, with cabs passing by the hotels and museums near the waterfront and good response times from both Uber and Hailo drivers in case you get stuck.

Cost

Living just across the river from downtown Boston doesn't come cheap, but rents in South Boston are significantly lower than nearby Back Bay or the South End. A one-bedroom apartment here rents for around $1,800 compared to the city average of just under $2,000 and approximately 30 percent less than the South End. Groceries and utilities are typical for Boston, and filling the gas tank costs about 10 percent more than the national average. The subway commute into downtown sets you back $2.65, or just $2.10 for the bus. The cost of going out gets high if you splurge at the waterfront's upscale eateries, where a cocktail can cost $12, but an affordable evening can also be had at the neighborhood pub, where beers go for under $4.

Shopping

Most of South Boston's shopping lies further south on East Broadway, where locals go for curated vintage clothes and cute outfits by up- and-coming designers, along with kids clothing, home goods and a sports shop. Closer to home, Front sells a carefully chosen collection of gifts and little luxuries, such as imported soaps and funky greeting cards, along with clever and whimsical home goods, such as stackable mugs or a flock of felt birds to hang from your ceiling. At Machine Age , the collection of mid-century furniture feels more like a museum than a store, with Eames chairs and Knoll tulip tables at every turn in the huge warehouse show room. Prices run from high to very, very high, but the vintage pieces show painstaking restoration, and the cool art and unique lamps make it a fun browse. For a little piece of old Southie, Irish specialities can be had at Southie's Own, which sells Irish wool sweaters, tea sets, Celtic knot jewelry and shamrock trinkets, along with t-shirts for Paddy's day. The shop owner also sells children's items that she hand paints herself, and she also serves Irish tea and soda bread to warm you up on chilly days. For the weekly grocery shop, residents head south to the Stop and Shop on East Broadway, though many prefer the conveniently located G Mart 2, a large Asian grocer that also sells fresh produce and meat at low prices. Many small markets and delis fill in the gaps for pantry staples, beer and nibbles, including neighborhood favorite J. Pace & Son, an Italian grocer known for its sandwiches. During the warm months, residents find fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and baked goods at the farmers' market on West Broadway. Though the selection could be better, kid-friendly activities like face-painting foster a community vibe.

Parks

Small public parks and playgrounds dot the Seaport District, and residents can head south for larger open spaces at Joe Moakley Park. Visitors to the Eastport Park find a lush sculpture garden that's perfect for reading under a tree or taking in a little nature on your lunch break, while over at the Channel Center Dog Park, dog owners let their pups run free in the sandy lot. Parents take the kids to climb and swing on the ropes at the Sweeney Playground, where water jets cool them off on hot days, or to the Buckley Playground a few blocks away, which also has basketball courts. At South Boston's eastern tip, visitors to the 22-acre Fort Independence Park can watch huge ships pass by in the harbor or look up at the planes taking off from Logan Airport. More commonly known as Castle Island, the grounds consist of rolling green lawns surrounding the historic Fort Independence, making for a peaceful, sunny spot. Trails hug the waterfront for bikers, runners and rollerbladers, and a large playground keeps kids occupied while parents take in the scenery. The park also serves as a favorite of dog owners, though pups have to do their exploring while on-leash. Castle Island has no summer concerts or films, but crowds pack the grounds every Fourth of July for views of the fireworks and to see the U.S.S. Constitution — "Old Ironsides" — give a 21-cannon salute in the bay.
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85 Seaport Blvd, Boston, MA 02210
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