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Saints Way | © Mie Mie/Flickr
Saints Way | © Mie Mie/Flickr
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The Best Hidden Destinations in Boston

Picture of Dave Afshar
Updated: 12 October 2017
While staples such as Quincy Market, the Freedom Trail, and Fenway Park are certainly worth the visit, Boston has its fair share of hidden gems for those looking to get off the beaten path. From shady bars to a bodega that sells designer sneakers, here are some of the city’s best-kept secrets.
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Backbar

Considering the entrance is an unmarked red door beside a dumpster in a dirty alleyway, Backbar serves up surprisingly high-end cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. To find it, head to Journeyman restaurant in Somerville’s Union Square—the entrance is just to the right of the restaurant.

Backbar, 7 Sanborn Ct, Somerville, MA, USA, +1 617 718 0249

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Secret roof garden in Cambridge

From the ground, the Cambridge City Parking garage in Kendall Square just looks like any other overpriced garage in the city. However, go inside through the Broadway entrance all the way to the top floor and you will be treated to a secret rooftop garden with a gorgeous view overlooking the city.

Cambridge Center Roof Garden, 90 Broadway, Cambridge, MA, USA, +1 617 491 0709

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Bodega for sneakerheads

This one is for the sneakerheads in your group. To find it, you have to enter a rundown bodega filled with dusty, outdated merchandise. The Snapple vending machine in the back is actually a door that leads into a designer sneaker shop.

Bodega, 6 Clearway St, Boston, MA, USA

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The hidden Saloon

Though fairly well-known among local residents, this speakeasy-style bar in Davis Square, Somerville, has no sign and is located underground, keeping it out of the eye of tourists and college students. True to the bar’s prohibition-era vibe, the drinks at Saloon are strong and the meals are heavy.

Saloon, 255 Elm St, Somerville, MA, USA, +1 617 628 4444

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All Saints Way

This private alleyway in Boston’s North End neighborhood has been turned into a shrine to the Patron Saints of… pretty much everything you can think of. Even when the gate is locked, you can still get a decent look from the street.

All Saints Way, Battery St, Boston, MA, USA

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Secret steakhouse

Hidden by a curtain behind the famous American restaurant JM Curley, is a high-end steakhouse called Bogie’s Place. The restaurant seats 20 people and its entrance is marked by a sign simply reading ‘Adults Only’. Cameras and phones aren’t allowed here, so you’ll have to see it for yourself.

Bogie’s Place, 25 Temple Pl, Boston, MA, USA

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The giant light-up globe you can explore from the inside

Inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library at Northeastern University is the Mapparium, a three-story, pre-WWII, stained glass globe that guests can enter from the outside. Once you’re in, there is music and a light show.

Mary Baker Eddy Library, 200 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 450 7000

The Mapparium is a three-story-tall globe made of stained glass that is viewed from a 30-foot-long (9.1 m) bridge through its interior. It is an exhibit at The Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. ➖ Inspired by the famous spinning globe in the lobby of the New York Daily News building, the Mapparium was opened to the public on June 1, 1935. Its map is based upon Rand McNally political maps published the previous year, the Mapparium shows the political world as it was at that time, including such long-disused labels as Italian East Africa and Siam, as well as more recently defunct political entities such as the Soviet Union. In 1939, 1958, and 1966 the Church considered updating the map, but rejected it on the basis of cost and the special interest it holds as an historical artifact. ➖ “The Mapparium is so large, and you can see so much of it at once (because it’s concave instead of convex), that you can really get an idea of relative sizes and distances. For example, you can see why a plane from London to San Francisco flies over Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. You also notice just how far north the United States, Europe, and Asia are. Standing at the equator, you really have to strain your neck to see them.” ➖ The hard spherical surface of the globe reflects sound and produces striking acoustical effects. It forms a remarkable whispering gallery so that visitors standing at corresponding locations near opposite ends of the bridge can speak to each other and be heard as if they were standing next to each other. ➖ Like my posts? A map a day is made possible by lots of coffee. Buy me a cup here: ko-fi.com/amapaday (clickable link in my bio) ➖ #map #maps #cartography #geography #topography #mapping #mappe #carte #mapa #karta#globe #earth #world #inside #mapparium #boston #art #sphere #color #colour #sound #audio #echo #perspective #distortion #distance #glass #stainedglass

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Miniature village in the cemetery

Deep inside the Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain sits a miniature village that eerily resembles a dollhouse town square made of stone. Apparently it was added as an art exhibit over a decade ago, though now it mostly serves to creep out visitors.

Forest Hills Cemetery, 95 Forest Hills Ave, Jamaica Plain, MA, USA, +1 617 524 0128