Where is the best shopping in downtown Boston?
November 19, 2007 5:25 AM   Subscribe

Where's the best shopping in downtown Boston?

We're going to the Boston area for Thanksgiving to visit some relatives who are, themselves, relatively new to the area.

This Friday, I'd like to go into the city and do some shopping with my girlfriend. We're in our early twenties. Any recommendations on where I should go? I know about the Pru, Copley Place, and Faneuil Hall, but where are the other shopping centers? What about the stores unique to the area/region?

I'd like to take the T around town, so please limit your recommendations to stores within walking distance of the red, orange, blue, or green lines (unless it's a REALLY good store!)

posted by fvox13 to Shopping (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Not shopping centers but Newbury Street has lots of little *expensive* boutiques that are really fun to browse in. Be prepared to walk - if you start at the Mass Ave end of Newbury (by the Pru) you can walk down to the Commons, cross over and head over to Faneuil Hall.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:41 AM on November 19, 2007

Downtown Crossing is big.

The Natick Mall has a huge extension with tons of designer stores (it looks like they took Newbury St and put it inside), but that's pretty far out of the city; only worth a drive if your relatives are out there.
posted by olinerd at 5:58 AM on November 19, 2007

Er, what exactly are you looking for? Designer clothes at a bargain? Shoes? Small boutiques?

Dowtown Crossing is a major commercial center. Although the original Filene's Basement is closed for renovations, you should check out the Boylston St. store.
Harvard Square has a mix of funky low-brow and upscale as well.
posted by emd3737 at 5:58 AM on November 19, 2007

The North End (little Italy) has GREAT food and also a nice selection of small boutiques. I love Shake the Tree for clothing and gifts. The North End is easily accessed from the Haymarket stop on the green or orange line.

Here is a link from northendboston.com that shows the locations of different places:

posted by irisell at 5:59 AM on November 19, 2007

Be aware that this will be Black Friday, so the malls will be a mess. (Although I wonder if the Pru will still get the hordes of bargain-seekers...)
posted by wyzewoman at 6:07 AM on November 19, 2007

Newbury Street is what you want. A lot of it is expensive boutiques, but there's a good assortment of regular old chains and quirky unique stores there too. bluesky43's itinerary sounds perfect.
posted by danb at 6:12 AM on November 19, 2007

Don't bother with Downtown Crossing. The main drag consists of large Macy's and Filene's department stores across from one another, but the Filene's is closed. The area is not an attraction. Stick with Back Bay or Cambridge.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 6:13 AM on November 19, 2007

Harvard Square is worth rooting around in, Red Line station is right there. From there you can keep the browsing going up Mass Ave to Porter Square, or down to Central Square, Red Line stations both places.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:38 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thirding Newbury Street, and make sure you go by Louis Boston, even if you can't afford anything in there (I know I can't). It's at Newbury and Berkeley and it's housed in a gorgeous Victorian building.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:44 AM on November 19, 2007

Do not go to downtown crossing. It is a mess, and other than Macy's is like the outdoor version of the bar in Star Wars.

Food= North End
Artsy fartsy= SOWA or Fort Point
Enclosed= Mall at Coply and Prudential Center
Expensive but funky= Newbury
Fake = Harvard Square/Porter Square
posted by Gungho at 7:03 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wellesley is home to a lot of really high-end boutiques and consignment shops.
posted by buka at 7:23 AM on November 19, 2007

Do NOT miss Newbury Comics on Newbury St. And if books are your bag, I'd also recommend checking out the Coop at Harvard Square. When I was in college, I found plenty of books there I couldn't find anywhere else.
posted by General Malaise at 11:24 AM on November 19, 2007

This is the route we take to cover all the basics of shopping/generic tourist stops of Boston and takes only two and a half hours minus excessive browsing in shops:

Start by getting off at the Back Bay Station, Orange Line. Through here we walk through the Prudential Center for the generic mall shops. Exit down towards Newbury Street, and continue east to walk through Boston Commons. Continue cutting through the park, and you will end up in Downtown Crossing. As you continue this way North-eastward you will find yourself at Government Center/Faneuil Hall.

Close but not a part of this route is the Cambridgeside Galleria, I think near the Red Line.
posted by Jimmie at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2007

For mostly non-chain stores: the South End (just wander), Charles St. (walk the length from the Common and back again), Harvard Sq for JasmineSola, Mint Julep, Proletariat (all for clothing & shoes), Bob Slate's (stationery), Beadworks, Cambridge Artist's Coop, Cardullo's (food), Leavitt & Peirce (tobacco and fragrances). Outside of Harvard Sq: Nomad, Vintage Etc. (more clothing & shoes), PaperSource (stationery and more), Porter Exchange Bldg (lunch options of about 8 japanese restaurants and sushi bars).

I would swap Gungho's assessment thus:
Expensive but funky= Harvard Square/Porter Square
Fake & expensive = Newbury

posted by cocoagirl at 11:47 AM on November 19, 2007

Coolidge Corner in Brookline is a possibility (the Coolidge Corner Merchants Association site might be helpful).

There's also a concentration of Japanese shops and miniature restaurants in the Porter Exchange building in Porter Square if you're interested.
posted by yz at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2007

Wow.... thanks everyone!
posted by fvox13 at 1:05 PM on November 19, 2007

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