Perhaps the most visited destination in Boston is Quincy Market, an outdoor shopping area located at Fanueil Hall (and considered to be synonymous with Quincy Market).
Quincy Market was converted from an old indoor open market to a shopping area many decades ago, completely revitalizing this area of Boston.
The marketplace is divided into three buildings. The main building (Faneuil Hall) in the center has pillars in the front and tall stairs leading down to an open courtyard. In warm weather and on weekends something is always going on here, from jugglers to unicycle riders to sword swallowers (outch). Along each side is a long brick building (the North Building and South Building) housing stores and restaurants.
There are several draws to Quincy Market: The location is absolutely dead in the center of the city, if a city with no grid can have such a center. You are within walking distance from city businesses, hotels and the waterfront, not to mention the Aquarium and numberous MBTA stops. Parking is extremely difficult and expensive, so if you are staying in the city, just walk or take a cab. If you are staying outside the city, expect to pay to park.
Fanueil Hall is great because the shops tend to be unique, the outdoor shopping experience is fun, especially in summer, with cobblestone walkways and lots of benches to take a break on. People watching is great here because local tourists blend with those from out of town. Locals themselves do not really hang out here on a daily basis, but occasionally a downtown business person or attorney might just visit after work for a drink.
Famous in Quincy market are the 'pushcart vendors', now almost ubiquitous in any shopping mall but really invented here in Boston's Quincy Market. The pushcart vendors sell unique gifts and trinkets, ranging from Red Sox hats to stuffed monkeys.
For food and drink, stop in at Todd English's Kingfish Hall, try a slice of the really good and locally famous Pizzeria Regina pizza, or head over to the Marriott Longwharf for fresh oysters at Tia's and look out over the harbor. There are also really good ice cream options in Fanueil Hall, and this coming from an ice cream junkie who is very picky and lots of fun quick means from sausages to tofu salads.
Along the waterfront you will also fine several excellent seafood restaurants. Going the other direction from Quincy Market, you could walk to the North End where fresh cannolis and home-made pasta are the dishes of the day.
Quincy Market is adjacent to government center, an open air concrete walking area, which occasionally has some concerts and other goings on. The T stop for Quincy Market is the GOVERNMENT CENTER stop. When you exit the station, head towards the center of government center (where you will see City Hall, the big building is in the middle) and then down the stairs. Cross the street and you are there.
In warmer weather, there is often something to watch during the day whether a unicycle rider doing tricks, sword swallowers or magicians, young and old will enjoy Quincy Market.
Just so you aren't confused though, the majority of people here are tourists, so this is NOT where to go for local flavor. Like CHEERS (originally known as the Bull & Finch bar which inspired the television series), Quincy Market is tailored to Boston visitors.
Quincy Market is adjacent to the North End. For this reason, many people visit the shops during the day, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and then walk to the North End for an authentic Italian dinner. And in spite of its tourist draw, Boston's North End is pretty authentic, and visited equally by tourists and locals.
The main website for the Quincy Market/Fanueil Hall Marketplace can be found here: