America's Best Cities: Boston, Massachusetts

No. 5

Sailboats in the Charles River     Photo: courtesy of Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau

KEY STATS
4.5 million: Population (metro)
$290,000: Median home price
B: Multisport grade
7,250: Members of Community Boating, the largest public sailing program in the U.S.

With its storybook brownstones and brick sidewalks, Boston is still very much a product of its past. But thanks in part to its inordinately high student population more than 80 colleges and universities are based here and collective smarts (along with Seattle and Minneapolis, it's one of the nation's most literate cities), it's certainly not stuck in it. Environmentally friendly communities like the Davis Square Lofts are popping up in renovated industrial warehouses, and medical-research jobs are burgeoning, thanks to forward-thinking organizations like the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Big Dig, which redirected I-93 underground, is (finally) done and now topped by the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, a mile-long series of parks and gardens in the heart of downtown. More green space means more time spent outside. With the Boston Athletic Association, sponsors of the city's namesake mara­thon, leading the charge, you'll find runners (and bikers) galore along the Emerald Necklace, 1,000 acres of interconnected parks and trails. Plus, within three hours, you can be mountain-biking the Berkshire Mountains or skiing at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire, one of the East Coast's best resorts. Of course, you could always just pick up some Sox tickets and get schnockered at Fenway Bostonians' favorite pastime.

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