5 “Hidden” Places to Discover in Boston

brattle book shop, the-alyst.com

When you’ve lived in the same city for over a decade, you start to think that you have seen every corner of it. Having resided in Boston for so many years,  I felt like I knew every picturesque alleyway and lush park like the back of my hand. 

Well, about a year ago, my husband and I were taking a weekend walk and stumbled upon the Brattle Book Shop on West Street in Downtown Crossing. Tucked in between two buildings on an empty lot is the most unassuming yet totally amazing outdoor bookshop. I was astounded that I never knew it existed.

Still mystified by my very cool, used book store find, I started to wonder what other “hidden gems” Boston had that I had failed to uncover. Well, it turns out, there are quite a few easily missed, amazing places to see in my beautiful city!

Whether you’ve lived in Boston your entire life or are new to the city, I thought you might enjoy reading about (and hopefully uncovering!) my favorite hidden places.

Happy exploring!

brattle book shop, the-alyst.com
brattle book shop, the-alyst.com
brattle book shop, the-alyst.com
brattle book shop, the-alyst.com
brattle book shop, the-alyst.com
brattle book shop, the-alyst.com

The A-Lyst for the Best “Secret” Places in Boston

brattle book shop, the-alyst.comBrattle Book Shop

Open year-round (weather dependent), this family-run antiquarian book shop has been in Boston since 1825 and features three floors of merchandise as well as an outdoor section. My personal favorite, the outside area, is where readers can find sale merchandise that ranges from best-sellers to obscure vintage books. On a recent visit, I saw titles ranging from “The Craft of Photography” to “Basic Italian.” An added bonus is when you open up a book to reveal a handwritten note or dedication on the inside cover! If you’re an avid reader or lover of vintage finds, this is a must-see spot in Downtown Crossing! 9 West Street, Boston, MA 02111

The Mapparium 

While the Christian Science Center is arguably one of the most beautifully designed buildings in Boston, The Mapparium, which is tucked away inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library, is a very different kind of design wonder. Built in the 1930s, The Mapparium is a three-story stained glass globe that allows you to see the world from a three-dimensional perspective. I’ll admit that it’s a bit daunting at first, but I highly recommend pushing your claustrophobic thoughts aside and paying the $6 admission to check out this interesting attraction. 200 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

Cambridge Center Roof Garden

You could walk through Kendall Square a dozen times and never know that set atop the Cambridge Center parking garage is a beautiful garden! Lush greenery and beautiful views make this hidden spot one of my favorites, and although it’s become increasingly ‘less hidden’ over the years, there is still something very special about a green oasis on top of a cement structure. Bring a book and enjoy a peaceful afternoon six stories above the hustle & bustle. 4 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142

Courtyard of the Boston Public Library 

Good news! No library card is needed to visit the beautiful outdoor courtyard at the Boston Public Library. In general, the BPL is outstanding, but one of my favorite aspects of this historic landmark is its open-air courtyard. With the gorgeous stone work of the library surrounding you, a trickling fountain, and the sunlight beaming down, the courtyard offers the perfect place for an afternoon escape from busy Boylston Street. When I worked in the Back Bay, I used to love to have meetings here because it would always impress, and now whenever I am in the area, I try to stop in and admire its beauty. For brides-to-be, the courtyard is available for weddings and from the pictures I’ve seen, it is a stunning backdrop for your wedding memories! 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

Boston Athenaeum 

As one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States, this historic Beacon Street institution offers visitors the opportunity to tour and observe numerous works including rare books, paintings, sculptures, and research collections. Think first edition novels and many, many leather bound books! Its winding staircases and high ceilings will make you feel as if you are in the very exclusive library of a private home. Visitors are welcome most days of the week, but to fully take advantage of the library and its services, you need to pay a yearly subscription, as this is a membership library. If you like creepy things, there’s a book that’s bound with human skin, but please note that you must call in advance to book a viewing of it! 10 1/2 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108

Also worth a visit…

Bodega: Trick your friend by telling her you need to buy some laundry detergent and instead, make a visit to this hidden sneaker shop that’s disguised as a ‘bodega’, and is only accessible through a vending machine. 6 Clearway Street, Boston, MA 02115

All Saints Way: Before you chow down on some delicious Italian food on Hanover Street in the North End, make your way down Battery Street to find the most religious alleyway in Boston. Tucked behind a private gate and decorated with countless pictures of saint and popes, All Saints Way is a local resident’s Catholic shrine. It is quite the sight to see! Battery Street, Boston, MA 02109

Fenway Victory Gardens: These are the oldest continuously operating World War II victory gardens in the United States. In the 1940s, victory gardens were used to produce fruits and vegetables as a way to increase food supply. Located in the Back Bay Fens, this 7.5 acre green space has been turned into a community garden with over 500 individual plots tended by Boston residents. 1200 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 

Outfit Details:

Top: Old Navy Boyfriend Flannel Shirt (sold out; similar here and here)

Vest: Adrienne Landau Fox Fur Vest (similar here)

Jeans: PAIGE Transcend – Verdugo Crop Skinny Jean

Boots: CHANEL Short Quilted Black Bootie (similar here)

Handbag: CHANEL Caviar Leather Half Moon Wallet on Chain (similar here)

Lipstick: Dermelect 4-In-1 Smooth Lip Solution in Audacious

Nail Polish: OPI Big Apple Red

Photos by @KateSW