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Guide to Faneuil Hall Marketplace: Best Food, Shops, Sights

By Kim Windyka
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
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Faneuil Hall is perhaps the most quintessentially Boston attraction in the city, and no visit is complete without a stop here. But it can certainly be overwhelming to prioritize what to see and do — especially if you’re a first-timer. 

Fear not! We’ll break down where to eat, where to treat yourself to some retail therapy, and what to see and do. 

What is Faneuil Hall Marketplace?

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, often referred to simply as Faneuil Hall, is one of the top attractions in Boston. It has evolved from a meeting place during the American Revolution to a modern-day destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment in downtown Boston.

Built in 1742, Faneuil Hall was named for Peter Faneuil, a local merchant who gifted it to the city. It served as a pivotal site for impassioned speeches and debates that played a key role in shaping American history. As a gathering place for revolutionary leaders like Samuel Adams and James Otis, it earned the nickname “The Cradle of Liberty.” 

Today, Faneuil Hall Marketplace preserves this historical significance by maintaining the original Faneuil Hall as a museum while a collection of buildings, including Quincy Market and North Market, house an array of boutiques and eateries. Cobblestone paths connect the various sites where some 80 retailers cover over 200,000 square feet of shops.

Always the center of activity, Faneuil Hall Marketplace seamlessly marries past and present to offer an unforgettable destination that truly encapsulates the essence of Boston’s culture and charm.

Where to eat at Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall Regina Pizzeria

There’s some debate among locals as to who makes the best pizza in Boston, but many will argue for this longtime standby, which has been serving up slices and pies since 1927. 

Though the original Regina Pizzeria location remains in the North End and it’s not too far of a walk if you want to have the sit-down experience, you can still enjoy the same beloved and great-tasting pies while you’re in Faneuil Hall.

Sam Adams Boston Taproom

Sam Adams Statue

Another iconic Boston brand, Sam Adams, opened this outpost of their flagship brewery (which is located in Jamaica Plain) at the start of 2020 — so for a place with so much history, this is a pretty new — but welcome — addition. The 15,000 square-foot space boasts three floors and a roof deck that lends itself well to taking in a bird’s-eye view on a beautiful day.

Conveniently nearby is the Samuel Adams statue, which makes for the perfect photo op before or after you stop in for a pint.

The Salty Dog

If you’re in the mood to have a seat and stay a while, The Salty Dog has you covered. This longstanding institution has been part of Faneuil Hall since 1972, serving up traditional seafood dishes and boasting a patio that’s ideal for people-watching. 

Quincy Market

Quincy Market

Struggling to find an option that will make the whole gang happy? With more than two dozen quick-serve counter spots, Quincy Market — the oldest and largest food hall in the country — is your answer. 

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Boston Chowda Co. doles out the classic New England specialty daily, and yes, you can get it in a bread bowl. It’s the ideal way to warm up on a fall or winter day. If you’re dead set on going against the grain, they have lobster bisque, chili, corn chowder, and French onion soup, plus pot pies galore (including chicken and turkey pot pie, shepherd’s pie, and lobster pie). 
  • mmMac N Cheese is the place to indulge in various varieties of the beloved gooey comfort food.
  • Green Organic Bowl will appeal to health lovers, with salads galore.
  • El Paso Enchiladas serves crowd-pleasing Mexican food, including its namesake, plus tacos, fajitas, burritos, and more.

And save room for dessert! There are few things better than a freshly-baked chocolate cookie, and that’s The Boston Chipyard’s specialty. In addition to the classic variety, you’ll find banana, walnut, peanut butter, fudge, and oatmeal raisin.

Ned Devine’s Irish Pub

If you’re looking for a traditional, no-frills Irish pub experience around these parts, look no further than Ned Devine’s. It opened in Faneuil Hall back in 2000 and has remained one of the busiest and most popular spots ever since. 

On the menu, you’ll find classic entrees like fish and chips, steak frites, and macaroni and cheese, along with fun appetizers like “Irish Aloha Flatbread” (that’s barbecue sauce, Irish bacon, pineapple salsa, and serrano peppers topped with scallion jam and melted cheese) and corned beef egg rolls.

Wagamama

While Faneuil Hall mainstay Durgin Park is no longer open, you can still enjoy the surprise and delight of communal dining with strangers — without the gruff service from waitstaff — at Wagamama, an Asian-inspired eatery that focuses on noodle dishes like spicy pork szechuan and chili chicken ramen and teppanyaki.

Shopping at Faneuil Hall

There is no shortage of shopping opportunities in Faneuil Hall, whether you’re searching for designer duds or a unique souvenir. 

Big brands and offbeat items

There are a number of well-known brand stores, including Sephora, Kate Spade, Samsonite, and Urban Outfitters. Little ones will love the new Build-a-Bear store, where they can create their own custom keepsake, or the Boston Kids kiosk, which specializes in children’s clothing and stuffed animals.

Seeking something a little out of the ordinary? How about a unique spice from Pepper Palace, or a holiday housewarming gift from Christmas in Boston? 

Kiosks

Beyond the free-standing stores, there’s a niche cart for nearly every interest at Faneuil Hall. From hats and socks to flower jewelry to memorabilia dedicated to Irish culture and home decor that incorporates the Turkish evil eye — which is said to protect against bad energy — half the fun of shopping here is exploring all of the unique vendors and goods.

Faneuil Hall activities and entertainment

Faneuil Hall Boston

You can do more than just shop and eat at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. It’s right in the heart of Boston’s buzzing downtown and not far from the waterfront, so visiting the site is an easy addition to any itinerary. Here are some of the entertainment and activities you can enjoy at Faneuil Hall.

A guided walking tour

Faneuil Hall Boston

To orient yourself, join our Freedom Trail Highlights Walking Tour. Led by a local Boston expert, the tour covers Faneuil Hall as well as other stops along the Freedom Trail, including The Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, and Rose Kennedy Greenway. 

It’s a great way to get an overview of the area, even if you plan on returning to explore more later.

Live entertainment at Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Much of Faneuil Hall’s magic occurs not in the shops or restaurants, but in the bustling courtyard that anchors them. 

At any given point on a summer day, you might see an escape artist, a unicycler, a juggler, or perhaps even a street performer who does all of these things at once! Musicians also frequently set up and busk for passersby throughout the day, adding a festive atmosphere to the whole scene. 

Dino Safari

Bring the little ones to the Dino Safari exhibit, a fantastic indoor adventure through prehistoric history. The experience includes over 20 moving, life-size dinosaurs and a virtual reality option that will make you feel like you’re roaming among these extinct creatures.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself having as good of a time — or a better one — than your kiddos! 

Edes & Gill

And of course, in a city so rich with history, it should come as no surprise that there’s even a colonial-era print shop. The Printing Office of Edes & Gill takes visitors back in time with live demonstrations of its original antique printing press and souvenirs, like a signed Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, or Constitution. 

Find your fun in Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall Boston

Between the plentiful food and drink, numerous shops, activities that appeal to the whole family, and rich history, it’s virtually impossible to get bored when you choose to spend a day at Faneuil Hall. And of course, it’s even better when you go with a local.