Best Towns 2013: Boston, Massachusetts

With killer farmers’ markets, quick access to adventure, and bike shares galore, these 17 towns redefine living well

fenway park boston best towns 2013 outsize magazine

    Photo: Meg Daniels

Population: 636,479 (metro area: 4.6 million)
Median Household Income: $51,739
Median Home Price: $381,900
Unemployment Rate: 6.4 percent
Votes: 644

Readers praised Boston for its small size, walkability, and athletic culture. “It’s the best sports town in America,” says Josh Rowe, a 44-year-old performance-marketing manager for New Balance. “Everyone’s a fan of some sort, and the Boston Marathon is beyond a running event—it’s part of the city’s fabric.”

New Englanders have learned to squeeze every ounce out of summer in the city’s 2,200 acres of parks or by paddling the Charles, and they join ubiquitous sports clubs each winter. “You can find everything from jujitsu to boxing to CrossFit,” says Regina O’Brien, 48, fitness director at Benefitness Health Club. There are also burgeoning pop-up fitness tribes like the November Project, which organizes free weekly workouts. And it’s easy to find a job, thanks to more than 50 universities in the metro area, abundant science and medical centers, and a thriving financial district.

Food and Nightlife: Owing to its immigrant heritage, the city has diverse food roots, from the North End’s famed Italian restaurants to Russian cuisine in Brookline. But what readers loved best was unanimous: the seafood. “Try Summer Shack. They do great oysters like good New Englanders—not fancy or pretentious,” says Nathan Miles, associate meat coordinator at Whole Foods Market.

Access: “Boston is active, young, and a very green city with the parks and the river,” says Rowe. But it’s also easy to escape. The Berkshires, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the beaches of the Cape and North Shore are all within three hours.

Running: “The Boston Marathon is a huge draw, but we have races year-round and a lot of running clubs,” says reader Charlie Felder. Locals love the 18-mile path along the Charles River, the reservoir at Cleveland Circle, and Jamaica Pond.

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