Travel Back in Time and Uncover Old-World Charm in Boston - Atlas Obscura Lists

Travel Back in Time and Uncover Old-World Charm in Boston

From a beloved bookshop dating back to 1825 to a stunning hotel that served as a jail for over a century, these sites transport you to another time.

Oozing with Old-World charm, Boston’s Beacon Hill is a time-traveler’s dream. Stay in a hotel that overlooks the Charles River and served as a jail for 139 years. Built in 1851, the Liberty Hotel’s impressive architecture, which drew heavily from Romanesque and Renaissance forms, is a highlight of a guided tour that ends with a glass of champagne.  

While strolling the meandering paths of Boston Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in the country, you’ll encounter the endearing statue of a mother duck leading her brood. The bronze fixture honors Robert McCloskey’s 1941 timeless children’s book, Make Way For Ducklings, which was set in the garden.  

Nearby in Downtown Crossing, dig around for a copy of the beloved title at the longstanding Brattle Bookshop. Not far from Boston Common, the three-story bookstore dates to 1825 and packs visitors who are eager to sift through over 250,000 tiles, plus maps, postcards, and prints. But books aren’t the only stories here—the owners can also share accounts of a store fire, a crane that once fell on the shop’s outdoor section, and a patron who ate the pages of Bibles. 

In the 1930s, a local architect helped the Christian Science Monitor come up with a structure to compete with the sunken globe fixture of the New York Daily News. In Back Bay at the Mapparium, you can still see outlines of a past world, where Siam and French Indochina, plus the U.S.S.R., can still be found on the stained-glass work of art.

Experience Old World ways at these intriguing Boston sites.