If you’re looking for a serious carb overload, Boston’s North End is your destination. With an unlimited amount of trattorias and pizza joints, the Italian neighborhood serves up famous cannolis and pizza in every imaginable style...except deep dish. That seems to be limited to Chicago and being a native, I wouldn’t trust it anywhere else. The North End is also home to several destinations along the Freedom Trail including the Paul Revere House and Old North Church. Many of the streets and sidewalks are paved with brick or cobblestone and the buildings are so old you can feel the history seeping through each crack. While Beacon Hill offers an elite experience into historical Boston, North End offers an intimate look into the lives of its residents, many people who were just like you or I. The main difference being they lived a hundred or so years ago...maybe even more. It’s a neighborhood that offers a deeper connection to the stories of those who came before us. All it takes is one walk through the neighborhood and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
First thing for your to-do list, walk down Hanover Street. Hanover works as the “Main St.” of Boston. It’s full of shops, restaurants, homes, businesses and more. It’s also a great starting point to use when discovering the neighborhood for the first time. Walk down the street and branch out when you want to explore. A few places in particular we recommend include:
- Thinking Cup: this quaint, local coffee shop is serving up delicious coffee and serves breakfast and sandwiches all day. It’s a great spot to grab something on the go or sit down, grab a bite and plan out the day.
- Galleria Umberto: bring cash and comfortable shoes because this Sicilian-style pizza joint serves up some of the best pizza in Boston. Lines are known for being long and once they’re out, that’s it for the day!
- Mike’s Pastry: after pizza, head down to Mike’s Pastry for unbeatable cannolis and other sweets. This is another cash-only spot so make sure to have plenty on hand and be prepared to stand in line. This is a local and visitor favorite so the line can get a bit long.
- Paul Revere Statue: right off Hanover Street, there’s this towering statue of Paul Revere on his horse. It leads towards the Old North Church, one of the Freedom Trail stops and makes a for a great photo.
For anyone interested in history, North End has several spots off the Freedom Trail you can knock off the list. The Paul Revere House is tucked away on North Square Street which runs parallel one block away from Hanover Street. It’s across the square from Sacred Heart Church which is a gorgeous Roman-Catholic Church. No surprise there considering this is the Italian Village of Boston. Old North Church on Salem Street is right down the mall from the Paul Revere Statue. It was the starting point for Paul Revere’s ride made famous by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Finally, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Boston’s second cemetery. This isn’t an official stop on the Freedom Trail but has been adopted since it brings many visitors in and runs along the trail anyway.
Still hungry? North End is loaded with plenty of wonderful restaurants, coffee shops and cafes. A few more in particular we recommend include La Galleria 33 for bomb bolognese and a traditional white tablecloth restaurant experience. The service is spectacular and I wish I could have brought home the basket of fresh baked bread. My mouth drools thinking about it. For those looking for a traditional New England cuisine experience, Neptune’s Oyster Bar is a must-visit. It’s a bit pricey so be prepared to stretch the budget and wait. Neptune’s doesn’t take reservations so get there early or be prepared to find something to do while waiting for the call that the table is ready.
1 - Hanover Street is a must but also venture down Salem Street. There are a number of hidden gems from cute residences to small bakeries and shops. If Hanover Street feels historical, Salem Street feels downright ancient.
2 - Not exactly in North End, there’s a pub outside the North End boundaries on Union Street called the Bell in Hand Tavern. It’s the oldest tavern in America founded by “Boston’s Town Crier for 50 years,” Jimmy Wilson. The pub became known for only serving beer and the best beer at that. The Bell in Hand Tavern was founded in 1795.
3 - Walk through North End Park. This small but long park along the edge of the North End has one of the best views of downtown Boston. Those skyline photos you’ve seen me share and post on social media were taken at North End Park.
4 - Have a picnic in Christopher Columbus Park. Located on the waterfront, this favorite spot has gorgeous views of the water, a play area for kids and gardens. It’s also a popular spot for events.