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Boston Walk: Copley Square to Beacon Hill

Acorn Street | Beacon Hill, Boston MA
Acorn Street | Beacon Hill, Boston MA

This walking tour of Boston’s Back Bay and Beacon Hill takes in the city’s brownstones, cobblestones, and skyscrapers from up close. The tour begins in Copley Square where colonial-era churches border contemporary high-rises. It ends on Beacon Hill, a neighborhood that was once home to servants and shopkeepers, but is now the location of some of the most expensive real estate in the United States.

Prudential Center | Back Bay | Boston, MA
Prudential Center | Boston, MA

The one-time cow paths that developed into Boston's streets are frustrating to drive, but fun to walk. In the Back Bay and Beacon Hill stately avenues and alleys intertwine. Some of the city’s best architecture is found on the maze-like streets of these neighborhoods.

Our self-guided walk winds through the charming neighborhoods, quaint alleys, historic churches, and beautiful parks of Boston, Massachusetts.

Sculpture of Art | Boston Public Library | Copley Square, Boston
Sculpture of Art | Boston Public Library
Boston Walk Copley Square to Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts
Beacon Hill

For more information on traveling to Boston read our Working Joe Travel articles on:

Getting There

  • The route begins in Copley Square and ends at Boston Common (3.5-miles). To make it a loop, cut through Boston Common, and follow Boylston Street back to Copley Square (additional 1-mile). Plan on 4 hours to complete the walk.

  • By car: We suggest parking at the Copley Place Central Garage (2 Copley Place, Boston). It is at the starting location, covered, and open 24 hours. The cost is around $40 for the day.

  • By “T” (subway): Take the Green Line C, Green Line D, or Orange Line to the Copley Square stop.

Google Map: Copley Square to Beacon Hill
Google Map: Copley Square to Beacon Hill

Walk Boston: Copley Square to Beacon Hill

Begin the walk in Copley Square. The green is one of Boston’s most interesting and eclectic public spaces. A remarkable collection of old and new buildings flanks the park. The area is usually busy with markets, street fairs, and Bostonians hurrying about.

Start at the beautiful Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. The Renaissance and Beaux Arts landmark sits next to the glass-paneled 200 Clarendon Street building (formerly named the John Hancock Tower).

Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel | Boston, MA
Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel | Boston, MA

The Fairmont Copley Plaza has been called, “The Grand Dame of Boston,” for its fine architecture and ornate interior. Step inside the lobby to check out the gilded ceiling, marble columns, and chandeliers. Next door is “The Tower.” At 62 stories, 200 Clarendon Street is the tallest building in Boston.

Boston Public Library | Copley Square, Boston MA
Boston Public Library

Next, move on to the America’s first public library. The Boston Public Library faces Copley Square with 3-sets of impressive bronze doors and two statues representing science and art.

Lion Statues | Boston Pubic Library
Lion Statues | Boston Pubic Library

Take some time to explore the library’s interior. Mid-way up the main staircase a pair of lions overlooks the lobby. In Bates Hall, the main reading room, there is a massive vaulted ceiling. In the nearby Abbey Room there are intricate painted murals. Before leaving, find the interior courtyard with its white marble plaza and Bacchante statue.

Bates Hall | Boston Public Library | Boston, Massachusetts
Bates Hall, Boston Public Library

Back outside, walk on to the Old South Church. Before your cross Boylston Street gaze right. Mid-way down the block is the Boston Marathon Survivor Memorial. The marathon’s finish line is traditionally on Boylston between the library and church.

Bacchante Statue | Boston Public Library
Bacchante Statue | Boston Public Library

At the corner of Dartmouth and Boylston, find the 350-year-Old South Church. Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin were once congregants here. If the church is open and services are not being held, check out the interior’s stained-glass windows and cherry woodwork.

Boston Public Library & Old South Church
Boston Public Library & Old South Church

Turn right on Boylston. Walk past the Boston Marathon Winner Memorial, and on to the Trinity Church. Though small in stature compared to its neighbors, Trinity Church dominates the square. Enjoy its Gothic Romanesque arches, gargoyles, and stained glass. There is a fee to tour the interior.

Trinity Church | 200 Clarendon | Copley Square, Boston MA
Trinity Church on Copley Square

Complete the trek around the square by walking back to the Fairmont Copley Plaza. Veer left onto Huntington Street and stroll past some of the city’s best shopping.

Bridge Linking Copley Place to Prudential Center
Bridge Linking Copley Place to Prudential Ctr.

On one side of the road is Copley Place, home to Neiman Marcus and many luxury-retail stores. Across the street, the Prudential Center Shopping Mall is anchored by Sax 5th Avenue and a host of high-end stores. The malls are linked by a glass pedestrian bridge. The Prudential Tower stand 749-feet tall making it Boston’s second-tallest building.

Prudential Center | Prudential Tower | 111 Huntington Avenue
Prudential Center & Tower

Continue down Huntington Avenue until reaching the Christian Science Plaza and Mother Church Park. The complex consists of the Mother Church, Administrative Tower, Mary Baker Eddy Library, and Reflecting Pool.

The reflecting pool is a beautiful serene space with a lovely walkway framed by shade trees and benches.

Christian Science Center | Mother Church & Reflecting Pool, Boston MA
Christian Science Center | Mother Church

Mary Baker Eddy was from Lynn, Massachusetts. She founded the church in the late 1800s. Her “Mother Church” was built in a Renaissance style. The library next door is open to the public.

Resuming your walk down Huntington, cross Massachusetts Avenue to find Horticultural Hall and Symphony Hall.

Horticultural Hall | Massachusetts Avenue, Boston MA
Horticultural Hall on Massachusetts Avenue

Built in the early 1900s, Horticultural Hall’s English-Renaissance exterior is adorned with decorative wreaths and garlands of fruits and vegetables. Symphony Hall, modeled after a music hall in Germany, is said to have some the finest acoustics in the world.

Symphony Hall | Boston, Massachusetts
Symphony Hall | Boston, Massachusetts

Next, follow Massachusetts Avenue past the Mary Baker Eddy Library to Boylston Street. Turn right, until you come to Gloucester Street. Walk two-blocks on Gloucester to Marlborough. Trekking along this residential city street take in the Boston brownstones. At Exeter Street, turn right until you hit Commonwealth Avenue.

Back Bay Brownstones, Boston MA
Back Bay Brownstones

Commonwealth Avenue is a major Boston artery. In the divide between the traffic there is a tree-lined walkway. Interspersed are statues and benches. The park is a quiet oasis in the bustling city. Strolling along, you are sure to rub elbows with locals going about their daily lives.

At Clarendon Street walk one block to the right to Newbury Street. Newbury is well-known for its high-end shopping. On this stretch, you will trek past the magnificent Church of the Covenant.

As you stroll, window shop at Chanel, Burberry, Cartier, and Ralph Lauren.

Church of the Covenant | Newbury Street, Boston MA
Church of the Covenant | Newbury Street

Cross Arlington Street and spend some time exploring the Boston Public Garden. The park was the first botanical garden in the United States. Poke around the landscaped grounds and take a ride on one of the famous swan boats.

Shopping on Newbury Street, Boston Massachusetts
Shopping on Newbury Street

After exploring the Public Gardens, take Charles, Chestnut, and Cedar Streets to Acorn Street. Acorn Street is a narrow, picturesque, much-photographed lane in the neighborhood of Beacon Hill.

Small Child Fountain | Public Garden, Boston MA
Small Child Fountain | Public Garden

Acorn Street is a private road, so take care to be respectful of the lane’s inhabitants. Walking the road, it is easy to imagine how the area would have appeared in a colonial era. At one time, the lane was filled with the families of trades people living in the neat row houses.

Acorn Street | Beacon Hill, Boston Massachusetts
Acorn Street | Beacon Hill

If you have time, make a quick detour to Louisburg Square. The exclusive private square is home to politicians and heiresses. The address is considered to be the most expensive private neighborhood in the United States.

Louisburg Square | Beacon Hill, Boston Massachusetts
Louisburg Square | Beacon Hill

Next, make your way back to Beacon Street. On the way, notice the tucked-away shops and decorated stoops. Be careful as you walk along. The brick and cobblestone sidewalks are notoriously ‘wavey.’

At the top of Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts State House comes into view. The gold dome signifies the buildings importance to the city. The dome was originally wooden. In 1802, Paul Revere built a copper replacement to keep out the rain. Later, on the State’s centennial, it was converted to gold. The building is the oldest continuously inhabited state capitol in the United States.

Massachusetts State House | Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts State House

In front of the State House, stroll down the hill to the Park Street Church. The building is a stop on Boston’s Freedom Trail. The church has served as an important gathering place for pro-independence colonialists, the anti-slavery movement, women’s suffrage, and prison reform.

Park Street Church | Freedom Trail | Boston, Massachusetts
Park Street Church

This concludes our Copley Square to Beacon Hill walking tour. To make this walk a loop, cut through Boston Common, and pick up Boylston Street. Boylston will lead you back to Copley Square. Then, head to Faneuil Hall for some chowdah!

Hope you had fun, Laura and Randy

For more information on traveling to Boston read our Working Joe Travel articles on:

Copley Square Hotel, Boston Massachusetts
Copley Square Hotel


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