Gay Vacations in Boston, Massachusetts

Aerial view of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, at night
Boston at night (Allan Baxter/Digital Vision/Getty)

Boston is a unique city in many ways, steeped in American history and characterized by an almost British reserve among residents. Now that the hugely messy Big Dig project—which rerouted the city's highways underground—is finally completed, the city now has a chance to breathe and regain its footing. It seems there’s a university everywhere you look, and a liberal and youthful vibe wafts through the city. This is progressive Massachusetts after all, the only state in the nation where same-sex couples can fully marry. But don’t expect to party into the wee hours, since a night out in Boston ends early. Blame the old Puritan restrictions known as the "blue laws," which mean many bars close by 1 a.m.

Compact Boston feels more like a string of neighborhoods than a city, and you’ll want to spend time exploring them all on foot. The South End was the traditional gay neighborhood that the local queers gentrified, it seems, for the many straight families that now reside there cheek-to-jowl with the gays. A number of gay businesses are found here within the rectangle formed by Columbus and Massachusetts avenues, and Clarendon and Tremont streets. Funky Jamaica Plain, south of downtown, has a pronounced lesbian population, and energetic Cambridge (home of Harvard) is also women-popular and with a few gay venues to boot. Other general neighborhoods worth exploring are stately Back Bay (with its High Victorian mansions), historic Beacon Hill (with its cobblestones and original gas lamps), busy Chinatown (which has been featured in many movies), and the North End (Boston's "Little Italy" although locals never call it that). For pure sightseeing, Boston offers up a smorgasbord for the history buff: Follow the red brick path of the three-mile Freedom Trail to visit a score of sights associated with the Revolution and the early days of the United States, including the Paul Revere House and the Old North Church where the famous lanterns were hung. Or trace the Black Heritage Trail, a 20-block walk starting at the African Meeting House, the oldest black American church building still standing. Or simply relax with a picnic in Boston Common, the country's first park, where the "redcoats" used to train. Shopaholics will want to spend time on Newbury Street in Back Bay, filled with the city’s best boutique shopping. On the gay travel calendar, Pride happens in June, and the food festival/AIDS benefit Taste of the South End is held in mid-March. And don't miss the huge fireworks displays over the Charles River on the Fourth of July.

Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 29 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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