Of all of the neighborhoods in the city of Boston, the South End is one of the most beautiful, known for its streets of picturesque brownstones and city parks. Today, the South End continues to evolve and grow, with new sections of the neighborhood developing, including Ink Block, which borders South Boston.
The South End is also known for its eateries, with plenty of restaurant options to choose from. If you're traveling with a dog, this neighborhood is arguably the most dog-friendly with plenty of parks to explore.
Read on for our recommendations for what to do and see in Boston’s South End, including restaurants, art exhibits, workout classes, and more.
Barcelona Wine Bar on Tremont Street is the perfect spot to head for not only wine, but also a delicious meal of Spanish tapas. While the menu does change regularly, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu – just make sure you add the Patatas Bravas to whatever you order. And don’t be surprised when the bartender goes around the bar pouring drinks into peoples’ mouths. It’s a Barcelona staple.
Go Out for a Delicious Italian Dinner
There are lots of options when it comes to Italian food in the South End. Three favorite restaurants include Cinquecento, Giacomos, and Coppa. Keep in mind that Giacomos doesn’t take reservations, so you may need to wait, but it will be worth it. Coppa is also quite small, so you should plan to reserve a table ahead of time.
Shop From Local Vendors at the SoWa Open Market
For 15 years, the SoWa Open Market has been a happening spot in the South End. It’s here that local artisans, farmers, food trucks, brewers and musicians come together for their neighborhood. The Market is incredibly family- and pet-friendly and even better, free. Even if you don't plan on buying anything, it's fun to stop by to browse, especially if you have your four-legged-friend along for the walk. The SoWa Open Market is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May through October.
Explore the Neighborhood
Walk down Tremont Street, and then take a turn down side streets and take it all in. Don’t forget to bring your camera or phone, as the townhouses and parks you’ll pass are Instagram-worthy. Before you know it, you'll be daydreaming about living in one of them yourself. If you have kids, you’ll find playgrounds nested in the different neighborhoods, so be on the lookout for those.
Head to the Dog Park
The South End is known as being dog-friendly, and that means there are quite a few parks for your four-legged friends. Peters Park’s Dog Recreation Space was Boston’s first city-sanctioned off-leash dog park and is home to 13,000 square feet of space for dogs and owners to enjoy the outdoors. It’s maintained by local volunteers, who recently coordinated a nice renovation. Other popular parks include the Carleton Court Dog Park in the Southwest Corridor Park and Titus Sparrow Park
Explore the Griffin Museum of Photography
The Griffin Museum of Photography highlights both emerging and well-known photographers. There are different exhibitions, programs, and lectures that rotate throughout the year. The museum opened in 1992 to showcase the visual, emotional, and social impacts of photography, as Arthur Griffin wanted the world to share his excitement for this form of art. There are three main galleries at the Griffin Museum, with satellite galleries throughout the Greater Boston area.
Take a Class at the Boston Center for Adult Education
Just a 10-minute walk from the center of the South End is the Boston Center for Adult Education, or the BCAE, where you can sign up for everything from photography and dance to cooking and writing classes. For an extra taste of Boston, head to one of their Celebrity Chef Classes to learn from some of the city’s chefs. Depending on the time of year, you can also document your Boston trip through a walking photography tour. Check out the website for a full list of classes, as they change regularly.
See Local Art at SoWa First Fridays
Also at SoWa are First Fridays, which take place on the first Friday of every month. During these events, over 200 artists, galleries, shops and showrooms showcase their artwork to the public over drinks and apps. The South End is known for its art galleries and this is a great time to take in all that this community has to offer.
Explore the Underground at Ink Block
Brand new to the South End is the Ink Block sub-neighborhood, and within that is the Underground at Ink Block. This is eight acres of a highway underpass between the South End and South Boston that was transformed into an urban park, which took more than five years of planning. The Underground is now home to pedestrian boardwalks, bike paths and a dog park. Throughout the year, there are fitness classes and food and drink experiences curated with local partners. There’s also a variety of street art curated just for this spot, which is featured throughout the area. The Underground is walking distance from the MBTA Red Line’s Broadway stop in South Boston, but if you prefer to drive or bike, there is plenty of parking.
Take a Studio Fitness Class
InkBlock is also home to two popular workout studios, TurnStyle Cycle and CorePower Yoga. TurnStyle isn’t your everyday spin studio – it’s way more fun than that, largely thanks to their “beat-based” cycling and bootcamp classes. Pick your classes not only by time, but also by who will be playing, from Britney Spears vs. Justin Timberlake to Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Beyonce and more. CorePower is a high-intensity yoga workout with a variety of classes including CorePower Yoga 1 and 2, Hot Power Fusion and Yoga Sculpt. Extra bonus for both studios: There’s a free 90-minute parking lot and plenty of metered parking available.
Shop and Hit the Spa at Whole Foods
A few years ago, the South End’s InkBlock got their own Whole Foods, which has become a central destination to residents given all that it has to offer. This Whole Foods doesn’t just have groceries… it’s organic food heaven, with a coffee stand, juice and smoothie bar, and the biggest salad and pre-made food bar imaginable. Along with that, there’s a huge selection of wines and spirits, plus everything needed to create the ultimate cheese plater or charcuterie board. Within the Whole Foods is the Spa@Ink (formerly milk + honey), where you can get a mani-pedi, chair massage, or facial. For a city grocery store, it’s nice that they have a parking lot. And on the weekends, they even offer free valet service to make life even easier. It’s also walking distance from the MBTA’s Red Line (Broadway stop) and Orange Line (Tufts Medical Center stop).
Dubbed “Boston’s Most Creative Venue,” the Cyclorama at Boston Center for the Arts is an excellent event spot. It was built in 1884 and has a historic charm to it with a copper dome and skylight and an artistic feel. This venue hosts everything from art showcases to shopping events, catering to all types of visitors.
Treat Yourself to a Manicure or Blowout
Speaking of the spa, there are plenty of ways to pamper yourself in the South End. At MiniLuxe, you can choose from a variety of not-your-average manicure and pedicure options. You’ll also find a MiniLuxe on Newbury Street, in the Prudential Center and in the Seaport. And Blo Blow Dry Bar, take your pick of blow dry style or updo for a special event. These are great spots to treat yourself, no matter if it's a regular day or special occasion!
Visit the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for Arts
The South End’s Boston Center for Arts is a hub for visual and performing arts, offering many opportunities for visitors and residents to experience the arts first-hand. Each season, the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for Adult Education, located on Tremont Street, showcases six exhibitions of contemporary works by emerging and established artists and curators.
Experience the art of ballet by seeing a performance by the Boston Ballet at the Boston Opera House in the South End. Starting in late November, you can see the iconic Nutcracker performance, which Bostonians look forward to each year. For tickets and information on other performances, visit the website.