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Back Bay in two hours: What to see when you don't have all day

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Back Bay is perhaps Boston's swankiest neighborhood. It contains not only some of the city's most expensive real estate, but some of its most notable, including temples both civic and religious.

Consequently, there is a lot to see in Back Bay. How to take it all in when you don't have all day or when you have other plans (like, say, touring the North EndBeacon Hill, or Charlestown)?

Here's how! The Curbed Boston Two-Hour Guide to Back Bay takes visitors to the essential spots in the former tidal basin. These must-see sites are close enough together geographically to make them doable in 120 minutes, tops. We promise.

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1. The Gibson House Museum

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137 Beacon St
Boston, MA 02116
The nonprofit museum provides a deep dive into what life was like for affluent Back Bay residents in the 19th century and early 20th century. Four floors of the capacious townhouse are open to the public year-round. Tickets are $9, though there are discounts for seniors, students, and kids.

2. Trinity Church

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206 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116
Designed by 19th-century starchitect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in the late 1870s, the current Episcopal church replaced one nearby that burned down (the parish dates from 1733). Other municipal buildings locally and nationwide have imitated its Romanesque style. Trinity is one of America's most famous houses of worship.

3. Copley Square

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Boylston St
Boston, MA 02130
Copley Square is kind of Boston's answer to Times Square, only much more genteel. It is named for John Singleton Copley, one of the first Americans to become famous as a painter (a statue of him is on the square).

4. Boston Public Library

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700 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 536-5400
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Charles Follen McKim designed the Beaux Arts-Renaissance Revival hybrid, which was completed in 1895, and contains much of the library's research archives and administrative offices. Post-modernist Philip Johnson designed the 1972 addition around the corner.

5. Old South Church

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645 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 536-1970
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Amos Cummings and Willard T. Sears designed the church in the Gothic Revival style. The building dates from 1875, but its Protestant congregation dates from the 1660s.

6. Skywalk Observatory (Prudential Center)

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800 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02199
(617) 859-0648
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They say you can see for 100 miles on a clear day from this 52-story perch. The Pru's Skywalk Observatory provides perhaps New England's only 360-degree panorama of Greater Boston (and beyond). It is a great capper to any tour of Back Bay. Tickets are $18, but there are discounts for seniors, students, kids, and groups.

1. The Gibson House Museum

137 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02116
The nonprofit museum provides a deep dive into what life was like for affluent Back Bay residents in the 19th century and early 20th century. Four floors of the capacious townhouse are open to the public year-round. Tickets are $9, though there are discounts for seniors, students, and kids.
137 Beacon St
Boston, MA 02116

2. Trinity Church

206 Clarendon St, Boston, MA 02116
Designed by 19th-century starchitect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in the late 1870s, the current Episcopal church replaced one nearby that burned down (the parish dates from 1733). Other municipal buildings locally and nationwide have imitated its Romanesque style. Trinity is one of America's most famous houses of worship.
206 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116

3. Copley Square

Boylston St, Boston, MA 02130
Copley Square is kind of Boston's answer to Times Square, only much more genteel. It is named for John Singleton Copley, one of the first Americans to become famous as a painter (a statue of him is on the square).
Boylston St
Boston, MA 02130

4. Boston Public Library

700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
Charles Follen McKim designed the Beaux Arts-Renaissance Revival hybrid, which was completed in 1895, and contains much of the library's research archives and administrative offices. Post-modernist Philip Johnson designed the 1972 addition around the corner.
700 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116

5. Old South Church

645 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
Amos Cummings and Willard T. Sears designed the church in the Gothic Revival style. The building dates from 1875, but its Protestant congregation dates from the 1660s.
645 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116

6. Skywalk Observatory (Prudential Center)

800 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199
They say you can see for 100 miles on a clear day from this 52-story perch. The Pru's Skywalk Observatory provides perhaps New England's only 360-degree panorama of Greater Boston (and beyond). It is a great capper to any tour of Back Bay. Tickets are $18, but there are discounts for seniors, students, kids, and groups.
800 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02199