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New Reasons to Love Boston: Fort Point and the Seaport District

It’s not too often that a major city sprouts a new neighborhood, but Boston’s Fort Point is becoming a hip hub for locals and visitors alike. Located along Fort Point Channel, this burgeoning area is part of the South Boston Waterfront (also referred to as the Seaport District) and has been adding intrigue to the city with its innovative design culture and speakeasy-style watering holes and trendy eateries. It’s also becoming a central place for some of Boston’s best museums, and it will soon be home to a brand new hotel in a repurposed 20th-century building.

I live and work in Boston and every time I go to Fort Point, I find something new to explore and start to fall in love with my home city all over again. I hope to inspire you to visit.

The Innovation District

While the area has several names, it will soon have another: The Innovation District. Started by Mayor Menino, this initiative aims to boost the neighborhood by encouraging entrepreneurship and making it a lively destination for collaboration and new services. While The Innovation Center (part of the anticipated Seaport Square) will open later this year, much of the area’s new developments are ready for business.

Museums and Galleries

For the past several years, major museums have broken ground in the neighborhood and some existing museums have benefited from updates. For example, Boston Children’s Museum was expanded and renovated, and it became the city’s first LEED-certified “green” museum in 2007. The interactive Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum opened on the Congress Street Bridge in June 2012. And a short walk away, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA), founded in 1936, reopened on Fan Pier in 2006 and continually features new exhibitions.

The city’s first museum dedicated to design, Design Museum Boston, has no permanent address but offers exhibits in different galleries and public spaces. Currently, Street Seats: Reimagining the Public Bench, located on either side of the channel, is a collection of 17 unique public benches that were chosen from a design competition. The Design Innovation Gallery at Factory 63 on Melcher Street has a free public show highlighting the neighborhood’s design and engineering projects.

(Find out more about area galleries or check out Fort Point Arts Community Inc.)

New Digs

While most of Fort Point’s new housing spaces, such as Factory 63‘s artist lofts, are residential, visitors will soon have their own nifty place to crash. Opening in June, the Residence Inn by Marriott Boston Seaport is not your typical Marriott. Converted from a 1901 Boston Wharf Company building, the 120-room boutique hotel has been fully restored and offers details such as an original atrium covered in crackle-glazed firebrick, historically accurate windows, and original architectural details in guest rooms. One-bedroom suites and studios are available for reservations, with rates ranging from around $250 to $400 per night.

What’s on Tap (and on the Menu)

A restaurant row—with options ranging from fine-dining establishments to hole-in-the-wall pubs—has also been brewing. Chef and restaurateur Barbara Lynch has staked a claim to Congress Street with three separate ventures: Drink, a bar serving artisanal Prohibition-era and modern cocktails; Sportello, an Italian trattoria; and the upscale, multi-starred Menton. Across the street, Louis and Michael DiBiccari recently opened Tavern Road, which offers New American-style small plates made with New England-sourced ingredients. Its recent takeout addition, TR Street Foods, caters to the local lunch crowd.

Also on Congress Street but with a somewhat hidden side entrance, the new Trillium Brewing Company produces craft beers with native ingredients; while bottled beer isn’t yet available, you can get a growler filled on certain days of the week. At 12 Farnsworth Street (behind the Children’s Museum), gourmet shop Bee’s Knees Supply Company has popped up right next door to Flour Bakery + Cafe to offer lunch options as well as beer, wine, cheese, and other epicurean provisions.

Celebrity chef Ming Tsai’s gastropub Blue Dragon is the newest addition, and coming soon, expect to see artisan pizzeria Pastoral, rustic oyster bar Row 34, and French bistro Bastille Kitchen.

Have you explored Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood? If so, tell us about it in the comments below.

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(Photo: Residence Inn by Marriott Boston Seaport)

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