Hotel at a Glance: Omni Parker House
Opened in 1855, the Omni Parker House is the longest continuously operating luxury hotel in the country 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, and rumor has it JFK proposed to Jackie at Parker’s Restaurant, where Malcolm X once worked as a busboy. The landmark hotel continues to nurture its tradition of excellence today thanks to a $30 million makeover in 2009.
- On the Freedom Trail: The Omni is walking distance from Boston Common, Quincy Market, and Faneuil Hall.
- Culinary fame: Onsite restaurant Parker’s Restaurant is the birthplace of Parker House rolls and Boston cream pie.
- Praise: Zagat named Parker’s among the top 15 most iconic restaurants in the country.
- Beauty sleep: Guest rooms feature custom cherry furnishings, ivory wall coverings, and luxurious bedding.
- Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Longfellow regularly met here for their Saturday Club literary group.
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.
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.