Boston offers a excellent shopping areas in easy-to-reach central locations.
Because so many locals live, work, and shop right in the center of the city, many of the best places to shop in Boston are within easy walking distance of other visitor attractions including appealing shopping streets, such as the boutique-lined Newbury Street, and Faneuil Marketplace (a.k.a. Quincy Market) on the historic Freedom Trail.
You can explore luxury designer clothing boutiques, large department stores, home furnishing emporiums, affordable consignment shops with high-end fashions at cheap prices, big shopping malls, antiques, art galleries, and concept stores close to other visitor attractions.
Interested in discount shopping? Two excellent outlet malls offering frequent sales on their already-steeply discounted prices are only a 5-minute subway ride or luxury bus trip away.
And just a few miles outside the city, you'll find excellent suburban malls, each with its unique mix of stores, restaurants, and entertainment.
Top photo: Boutiques along Newbury Street
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
With more than 100 stores, unique artisan pushcarts, and four restored historic buildings, shopping at Faneuil Marketplace (also called Quincy Market) ranks high as a favorite Boston shopping destination.
You'll find national brands plus unique local shops. Hungry? Several top local restaurants, plus 40+ stalls in the Quincy Market Colonnade Food Hall serve up seafood, ethnic, and other specialties.
And right around the corner is Haymarket, Boston's historic open air market in Historic Downtown Boston.
Discount & Outlet Shopping near Boston: The Best Money-Saving Choices!
Did you know that Boston has two major outlet shopping centers near the city?
Find out about how to get to Wrentham Village Outlets by bus from Boston - Currently not available
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Luxury & Designer Shopping in Back Bay
Let's say you have only one day - or maybe just a couple of hours - for a Boston shopping spree.
Head straight to Back Bay, where you can splurge in two luxury shopping plazas and and check out all the trendy designers along Newbury Street.
Or, skip the swanky shops and stretch your dollars at the discount and consignment shops tucked between all the pricey boutiques along Boylston and Newbury Streets.
- Copley Place - Top luxury shopping mall in Boston
- Shops at Prudential Center - Find all your favorite high-end stores here
- Newbury Street shopping - Designer boutiques, art galleries, luxury brands, & more
- Check out all Boston shopping malls
Boston's Best City & Suburban Shopping Malls
Boston boasts many diverse shopping malls and plazas right in the central city - perfect for icy January, steamy July, and anytime when you don't want to brave the outdoor elements.
City and nearby malls offer a range of choices from luxury designers to outlet shopping.
To shop at upscale city malls within Boston, head to Copley Place and Prudential Center. In addition, Faneuil Marketplace, while not exactly a mall and certainly not enclosed, also provides a a wide variety of shops in one location.
Outside of the city but within the Route 95/128 loop, Chestnut Hill Mall in Brookline offers a variety of upscale and luxury options, including the anchor department store, Bloomingdale's.
Cambridgeside Galleria in Cambridge, on the other hand, has TJ Maxx as its anchor and also includes a number of casual stores, a Cheesecake Factory restaurant, and a food court.
Burlington Mall, in Burlington, MA, continues to have Macy's as its anchor along with a number of other mostly mid-market chains. However, in recent years, the still-popular mall has reinvented itself to be a dining destination as well, with outposts of several popular Boston restaurants along with a number of national chains.
Haymarket & Boston Public Market
Vendors have clustered around Haymarket, Boston's oldest open air market, for at least 300 years. Today, this is where you'll find the cheapest produce in the city on market days.
Stop by on Fridays and Saturdays when the market is open from dawn to dusk to find bargains - or just to visit this historic part of the city and perhaps visit the nearby historic pubs and restaurants. More about Haymarket
For a wider range of good things to consume on the spot, such as apple cider donuts and specialty teas and coffees, walk over to adjacent Boston Public Market (between Hanover and Blackstone Streets), where vendors sell everything from fresh fish to artisan cheeses, with an emphasis on organic and local products.
More Places to Shop in Boston
7 Special Spots for Holiday Shopping in Boston
Holiday shopping in Boston is easy and fun because the city has many places where you can find special one-of-a-kind gifts.
Our recommendations focus on seven unique shopping streets and areas: Charles Street on Beacon Hill, Salem Street in the North End, Boston Public Market in the heart of historic Boston, Prudential Center and Newbury Street in Back Bay, Downtown Crossing, and Harvard Square across the river in Cambridge.
We tell you about each area's specialties - antiques, collectibles, art, clothing, rare books and maps, concept stores, Italian specialties, artisinal food gifts, local products, jewelry - and where to find them.
Boston's Christmas Markets
For a different kind of holiday shopping experience, don't miss Boston's pop-up Winter Holiday Markets.
Each of these seasonal markets offers something different and locations vary each year - but don't miss these special occasions to find fun places to eat, perhaps an ice skating rink or two, and of course fantastic holiday shopping.
Art Galleries - For Browsing & Buying
Thriving art communities plus plenty of art schools and museums make Boston an excellent place to discover, explore, and even shop for art of all kinds.
Here are guides to where you can find find top art galleries:
- Guide to Boston's art galleries - Where to buy art in Boston, from emerging to internationally famous artists
- Newbury Street art galleries - Numerous art galleries in an 8-block stretch make this THE place in Boston to go gallery-hopping
Art Markets & Art Walks
Every Sunday from early May through October, Boston's biggest artisan crafts and design market, SoWa Open Market attracts crowds of shoppers to its sea of white tents at Ink Block, 375 Harrison Ave, where food trucks, next-door SoWa Vintage Market, and SoWa Farmer's Market round out the offerings.
Twice each year, Boston's large art communities in the South End and Fort Point neighborhoods open their studios and galleries for day-long art walks. This is your chance to view a wide variety of Boston's best art, talk to the artists, and perhaps acquire a piece you can't resist.
You can also visit South End art studios and galleries during SoWa First Fridays, held on the first Friday of each month.
Where to Shop in Cambridge
Across the Charles River from Boston is Cambridge, home to more shopping areas.
Starting on the Charles River waterfront in East Cambridge near MIT, the 3 floors of CambridgeSide Galleria include TJ Maxx, an Apple Store, and a number other stores plus a Cheesecake Factory and a fast-food court.
Harvard Square, filled with mix of unique and brand name clothing, gift, jewelry, and book stores, attracts more than just students.
For some of the best indie boutiques, explore the area along Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard Square and Porter Square, as well as around Central Square and Kendall Square (near MIT).
For an only-in-Cambridge experience, head to The Garment District (200 Broadway), a huge emporium known for its mix of vintage clothing and used clothing, jewelry, shoes, bags, and other accessories.
However, it's best known for its daily "by the pound" sales. Just as the store opens (10am on Saturday and 11am every other day), a staff member cuts the wires on one or more 850-pound bales of clothing and releases a tsunami of women's, men's, and children's previously-worn clothing.
Join the crowd sitting on the floor and sifting through the mound of potential fashion treasures. Once you find items you can't resist, you'll pay by the weight - currently $2/pound.
More to Know about Shopping in Boston
Massachusetts sales tax on retail sales of tangible items is 6.25%. Some things, such as food to be prepared at home (in other words, not restaurant meals or carry-out), prescription drugs, and clothing costing less than $175 per item are exempt.
Unlike some other cities in the United States, the City of Boston does not levy any additional sales tax on top of the state sales tax.
This means that you can save money by shopping for clothing and food items in Boston (and the rest of the state), compared with buying these items in states that charge sometimes as much as almost 10% in sales tax.
Returning a Purchase
Most Boston area stores will give you a refund or store credit if you return items with your receipt within a specified period of time.
Typically, if you pay with a credit card, the merchant will give you a credit refund, not cash. The time period and other terms vary by store, so make sure you understand their return policy. By law, stores must post their return policy near the cash registers in a place where you can see it.
However, many stores will not give a refund or credit or even allow exchanges on sale items. Usually they will tell you or indicate in some way that "sales are final." However, if they don't, you should ask them to explain their return policy BEFORE you hand over cash or a credit card if there is even the slightest chance you might return an item.
Credit Cards or Cash?
Almost all larger stores accept major credit cards for payment - Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and perhaps a couple of others.
Some smaller stores, restaurants, and other businesses accept only Visa and MasterCard, not American Express or other cards.
Other smaller stores and cafes take only cash. Usually, although not always, they post a "Cash Only" sign to let you know. You are most likely to see Cash Only signs in Chinatown, Haymarket (although an increasing number of sellers take credit cards), and some street vendors. You may also encounter a couple of cash only shops and even a few cash only restaurants in the North End.
Questions & Answers about Shopping in Boston
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- Boston Art Galleries - Want to shop for art? Here's where to find the best galleries
- How to save on your trip to Boston - or anywhere else - with Black Friday deals and discounts
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