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Beacon Hill in two hours: What to see when you don't have all day

The essential guide to quickly touring Boston's quaintest neighborhood

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Beacon Hill is undoubtedly the neighborhood outsiders conjure up when they conjure up images of Boston.

Cobblestone streets, Federal and Greek Revival architecture, the Common and the Public Garden at the foot of it all—it's hard to surpass the tony enclave in terms of quaintness, history, and charm. There is seemingly so much of all three that touring Beacon Hill could consume a sizable chunk of anyone's day.

How to avoid that? Here's how! The Curbed Boston Two-Hour Guide to Beacon Hill takes visitors to the essential spots, consequential ones close enough together geographically to make them all doable in 120 minutes, tops.

The below map is stacked so that points can be visited with relative ease, one after the other, rather than having to exhaustingly run all over the place (the neighborhood is built on a hill, after all).

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1. Massachusetts State House

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1 Ashburton Pl
Boston, MA 02108
Any visit to Beacon Hill has to include at least a passing glance at the Massachusetts State House, the hub of the commonwealth's government. Finished in early 1798 and built on a cow pasture John Hancock once owned, the State House was designed by Charles Bulfinch, the starchitect of his day and a pioneer in the Federal style. The wood shingles that originally comprised its dome eventually gave way to copper and then to a 23-karat gold coating (which looks neat, yes, but was also practical: to prevent leaks).

2. The Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial

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Beacon St & Park St
Boston, MA 02108
This monument to the first documented African-American regiment to serve in the U.S. Army, and its commander, is right across Beacon Street from the State House. It took sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens nearly 14 years to complete it, with the unveiling coming in 1897.

3. Nichols House Museum

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55 Mount Vernon St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 227-6993
Visit Website
Right near the State House and the 54th Regiment memorial is this museum housed in an 1804 Federal townhouse that Charles Bulfinch designed. The museum, named for the townhouse's last owner, who died in 1960 and bequeathed it, depicts life in Beacon Hill in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

4. Boston Common

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Tremont St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 635-4505
Visit Website
The oldest public park in America, the Common traces its roots to 1634. Within its 50 acres reside an assortment of attractions, including shallow wading pool for the youngsters called the Frog Pond and a carousel as well. Technically belonging to all of Boston, the park seems a distinct feature of Beacon Hill, which bleeds into it and the neighboring Public Garden.

5. Louisburg Square

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1 Louisburg Sq
Boston, MA 02108
Out of the Common and up to Louisburg Square! Why Louisburg Square? Because it is so Beacon Hill in the Greek Revival and Federal architecture, as well as unabashed gentility, of its townhouses (one of which Secretary of State John Kerry and wife Teresa Heinz own). There is also a small park there that is sometimes open to the general public.

6. Acorn Street

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Acorn St
Boston, MA 02114
About a half-block due south of Louisburg Square is what is often called the most beautiful street in America. The narrow, short Acorn Street just screams "Beacon Hill." Do the obligatory selfie amid its cobblestones and townhouses.

7. Boston Public Garden

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9 Arlington St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 635-4505
Visit Website
Alright, the two hours are winding down. Run out the clock at the Common's lusher neighbor. It dates from the early 19th century and includes 24 acres of statuary, flowers, foliage, and assorted other plantings as well as plenty of bench seating. Ahh...

1. Massachusetts State House

1 Ashburton Pl, Boston, MA 02108
Any visit to Beacon Hill has to include at least a passing glance at the Massachusetts State House, the hub of the commonwealth's government. Finished in early 1798 and built on a cow pasture John Hancock once owned, the State House was designed by Charles Bulfinch, the starchitect of his day and a pioneer in the Federal style. The wood shingles that originally comprised its dome eventually gave way to copper and then to a 23-karat gold coating (which looks neat, yes, but was also practical: to prevent leaks).
1 Ashburton Pl
Boston, MA 02108

2. The Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial

Beacon St & Park St, Boston, MA 02108
This monument to the first documented African-American regiment to serve in the U.S. Army, and its commander, is right across Beacon Street from the State House. It took sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens nearly 14 years to complete it, with the unveiling coming in 1897.
Beacon St & Park St
Boston, MA 02108

3. Nichols House Museum

55 Mount Vernon St, Boston, MA 02108
Right near the State House and the 54th Regiment memorial is this museum housed in an 1804 Federal townhouse that Charles Bulfinch designed. The museum, named for the townhouse's last owner, who died in 1960 and bequeathed it, depicts life in Beacon Hill in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
55 Mount Vernon St
Boston, MA 02108

4. Boston Common

Tremont St, Boston, MA 02108
The oldest public park in America, the Common traces its roots to 1634. Within its 50 acres reside an assortment of attractions, including shallow wading pool for the youngsters called the Frog Pond and a carousel as well. Technically belonging to all of Boston, the park seems a distinct feature of Beacon Hill, which bleeds into it and the neighboring Public Garden.
Tremont St
Boston, MA 02108

5. Louisburg Square

1 Louisburg Sq, Boston, MA 02108
Out of the Common and up to Louisburg Square! Why Louisburg Square? Because it is so Beacon Hill in the Greek Revival and Federal architecture, as well as unabashed gentility, of its townhouses (one of which Secretary of State John Kerry and wife Teresa Heinz own). There is also a small park there that is sometimes open to the general public.
1 Louisburg Sq
Boston, MA 02108

6. Acorn Street

Acorn St, Boston, MA 02114
About a half-block due south of Louisburg Square is what is often called the most beautiful street in America. The narrow, short Acorn Street just screams "Beacon Hill." Do the obligatory selfie amid its cobblestones and townhouses.
Acorn St
Boston, MA 02114

7. Boston Public Garden

9 Arlington St, Boston, MA 02116
Alright, the two hours are winding down. Run out the clock at the Common's lusher neighbor. It dates from the early 19th century and includes 24 acres of statuary, flowers, foliage, and assorted other plantings as well as plenty of bench seating. Ahh...
9 Arlington St
Boston, MA 02116