Boston's Haymarket: The Complete Guide

Boston Haymarket marketplace

 

Paul Marotta / Contributor/Getty Images 

In Boston, Haymarket is not only a station on the MBTA Green and Orange lines, but also one of our country’s oldest open-air markets. It’s the perfect spot to stop by for fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and flowers of all kinds. It’s a great example of Boston as a cultural melting pot.

History

Haymarket’s history dates way back to nearly 300 years ago. In the 1600s, people started gathering in this area to sell various items, but it is believed to have been located slightly closer to Faneuil Hall at that time.

Starting in 1830, Haymarket began to resemble the marketplace it is today.

The name “Haymarket” comes from the fact that in its early years, many of the merchants were farmers selling hay out of wagons, not only to feed horses but also to stuff mattresses. Over time, the marketplace mainly sold produce, but the name has remained to this day.

What to Buy and Do There

There are more than 40 independent vendors at Haymarket offering some of the best deals in the city on fresh fruit and vegetables, chicken and seafood, and even eggs and spices. These stands are all side-by-side along Blackstone Street. Many people claim that if you were to buy the exact items in a traditional grocery store that you’d pay three to four times the price. And if you go late in the day on a Saturday, it’s common that you can score deals even better than that.

In addition to being a marketplace, Haymarket is also close to several bars and restaurants, many of which have almost become historical landmarks of their own, such as the Blackstone, Paddy O’s and others along Union Street across from the Holocaust memorial.

You can also check out the ethnic grocery shops in Haymarket.

Getting There

Haymarket is located right in downtown Boston on Blackstone Street, one of the city’s oldest streets, within close proximity of both Faneuil Hall, the North End and the Freedom Trail. It also extends to North Street, Hanover Street and Union Street, though you can’t miss the tents that mark where the marketplace is set up each day.

If you’re unable to walk, hop on the MBTA and get off at Haymarket Station, which will drop you right next to the market.

If you prefer to drive into the city, your best bet for affordable parking is the Parcel 7 Garage, with an entrance on Sudbury Street. Just ask one of the Haymarket vendors to validate your ticket so that you get the best possible deal.

When to Visit

Aside from Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, Haymarket is open on Fridays and Saturdays year-round. Most of the grocers within the Blackstone building are also open during the week. Haymarket has no official hours, so most know it as being open from dawn to dusk, typically from around 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., though the timeframe can be later during the longer summer months.

Things to Do Nearby

Haymarket is a quick walk away from the North End, where you’ll find some of the best Italian food and pastries in the city. Just walk down Hanover or Salem Street and pop into any restaurant you see. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants, but if you’re looking for an outdoor roof deck on a nice day, Restaurante Fiore is a great option. And Bricco not only has delicious food, but also some of the best espresso martinis in town.

Of course, you can stop at Mike’s or Modern Pastry for a cannoli anytime as well.

You can also find the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail nearby, which technically begins at the Boston Common and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. No need to follow it from start to finish, though, as you can join anywhere you wish and go in either direction. As you take it through the North End, you can see historical landmarks like the Paul Revere House and Old North Church.

Faneuil Hall is also a nearby destination that most people visiting the city will plan to check out. Here you’ll find more than 70 retailers, plenty of restaurants, and entertainment from street performers and musicians. Throughout the year, there are many events held there, including the annual lighting of a giant Christmas tree around the holidays.