Hotel at a Glance: Omni Parker House
Opened in 1855, the 4-star Omni Parker House is the country’s longest continuously operating luxury hotel and was the first in Boston to offer running water and elevator service. It has hosted an impressive list of luminaries over the years: Charles Dickens did his first American reading of A Christmas Carol here, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams dined here after slugging home runs at Fenway Park, and future political figures Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh worked the kitchens at Parker’s Restaurant.
- Culinary claims to fame: The on-site restaurant—named one of the country’s most iconic by Zagat—is the birthplace of Boston scrod, Parker House rolls, and Boston cream pie.
- On the Freedom Trail: The Omni is within walking distance of the famous trail, where you’ll see Boston Common, Quincy Market, and Faneuil Hall.
- Beauty sleep: Guest rooms feature custom cherry furnishings, ivory wall coverings, and luxurious bedding.
- In-room amenities: flat-screen high-definition TVs and MP3 clocks
- Praise from the press: The Last Hurrah was named one of the “Great Whisky Bars of the World” by Whisky magazine.
- Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Longfellow regularly met here for their Saturday Club literary group.
- Specialty drinks and cocktails at the recently renovated Parker’s Bar
Downtown Boston: Revolution-Era Landmarks and Modern Skyscrapers
Downtown Boston is home to one of the country’s wackiest city layouts. Its colonial-village lanes converge, split, and take hairpin turns, creating a maze of cobblestone that, though frustrating for drivers, makes for a fun walking experience. If you’re visiting for the first time, the best way to navigate the area is to follow the 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail, which takes you past 16 historical landmarks, including Paul Revere’s home, Old North Church (of “One if by land, two if by sea” fame), and Faneuil Hall. You can use Boston public transportation to explore the city if you tire of walking.
Since the area is also the city’s financial district, centuries-old fixtures share sidewalk space with modern 40-story office towers. You’ll find suit-clad professionals grabbing lunch on Washington Street, which is lined with street vendors and flower shops. For a fancier dining experience—and some of Boston’s best shopping—head a mile west to Beacon Hill, home to gas lamps, brick sidewalks, and antique shops.
Downtown is also where you’ll find several of the city’s quirkier neighborhoods, such as the Leather District and Chinatown. The former, with its rustic warehouses, is the closest example of what the business center looked like in the 1800s. The latter boasts one of the city’s densest concentrations of restaurants.