Boston is known for its intellectuals and its arts, so you can bet it’s good for bookstores, art galleries and music shops. The streets are also sprinkled with offbeat boutiques – some carrying vintage treasures and local designers. Besides to-die-for duds, indie shops hawk handmade jewelry, exotic household decorations and arty, quirky gifts. Fun to browse, even if you don’t buy.


Fashionistas continue to take their cues from New York, but a few local designers are trying to put Boston on the map à la mode. Recognizing Boston’s conservative tastes in clothes, the styles tend to be relatively down to earth and decidedly wearable compared to what you might see in Vogue magazine. That Boston’s most famous names in the fashion industry are Bert and John Jacobs (Life is Good) proves the point.

Recycled Goods

Vintage is hot in Boston. Sure, you can buy 'vintage-inspired' clothing, or you can go for the real deal at one of Boston's many secondhand clothing stores. Other popular recyclables include books, records, jewelry and wicked nice furniture.

Locally Made

Boston's vibrant art scene makes its presence known in local shops, galleries and markets that are dedicated to arts and crafts. High-quality handmade items run the gamut from designer clothes and jewelry to colorful ceramics and housewares. Sometimes quirky and clever, sometimes sophisticated and stylish, these handmade, locally made items are hard to classify, but easy to appreciate.

Food & Drink

Some of Boston’s best souvenirs are consumables. Stock up on standard New England favorites such as maple syrup, artisanal cheeses and chocolates, and cranberry anything. (Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe has a whole section dedicated to tantalizing local products.) Browse North End specialty shops for all things Italian, or explore Chinatown for hard-to-find Asian ingredients and medicinal herbs. And if all else fails, you can always take home a lobster package from Legal Seafoods.

Need to Know

Opening Hours

Stores are generally open Monday through Saturday from 10am or 11am until 6pm or 7pm. Most are also open on Sunday from noon to 5pm.

Sales Tax – Not!

There is no sales tax in Massachusetts on clothing up to $175 because – get this – it’s a necessity! Now, if we could only convince our frugal partner of the necessity of those designer jeans…