Boston’s North End – History, Cuisine, and Accessibility in One Beautiful Destination
Boston’s North End is synonymous with top-notch authentic Italian cuisine. The historic area, located in the northeast of Boston, is the city’s oldest residential community (dating back to the 1630s). The area is a compact and awesome collection of some of the best eateries in the entire city. Beyond an enormous selection of impressive restaurants, cafes, and pastries, the area is also home to the historic Paul Revere House and is adjacent to the Boston Public Market and the New England Holocaust Memorial.
Given the area’s history, food, authentic glamour, and selection of sights all within a short walking distance, the North End is a must visit. It is also a fun place to visit rain or shine – there are plenty of sheltered and air-conditioned places to stop into along the streets, and the different attractions are all comfortable (provide shade, shelter, or air-conditioning). The small radius (1/4-mile radius) of activities and selection of accessible locations make the area a particularly accessible destination as well.
The North End is extremely easy to navigate regardless of level of mobility. The sidewalks are mostly smooth brick on either side of the two-way streets. While the area has some slopes, it is generally flat and comfortable to maneuver. The street traffic is slow given that it is a pedestrian area, and there are ample crosswalks and curb cuts for easy transitioning throughout the North End. Additionally, nearby parking and public transportation options make for convenient access to the area.
Street Parking: Free street parking lines the area’s streets on either side. A lot of the street parking is limited to two hours (except Sundays) to boost the turnover rate, but there are also plenty of unlimited time parking spots. Unfortunately, there are not many accessible-designated street parking spots, although there are a few scattered throughout the area.
Parking Garages: Two parking garages facilitate parking near the area. While the Cooper Street parking lot is a little bit closer, the Parcel 7 garage is recommended because it leads you past a couple of the Boston Public Market and a beautiful park on the way to the heart of the North End.
- Parcel 7 Garage:
- Address: Haymarket Sq., Boston
- Varying Rates, $20 for 2 hours
- Note: parking costs $3 for 3 hours if you get your ticked validated by a North End establishment
- Cooper Street Parking Lot:
- Address: 34 Cooper Street, Boston
- 22$ for 1-10 hours
- Haymarket T Stop: To access the North End via public transportation, ride the T (Boston subway system) to the Haymarket T stop with the Green Line C or the Orange Line. The Haymarket T, which is fully accessible thanks to elevator installments, is directly across the street from the edge of the North End.
- Car Rental: Accessible Vans of America, a company that specializes in renting out accessible equipment, offers services in Boston and can be a convenient way to access the North End.
- Website: http://www.accessiblevans.com/wheelchair-vans-rental-boston-ma.php
- Phone: (781) 222-0020
- Uber/Lyft: Both Uber and Lyft operate in Boston and are convenient ways of arriving at the North End.
The North End’s restaurants are without a doubt some of the best in the city. Authentic Italian food is perhaps the most notable attraction that the area has to offer. With that said, many of the restaurants can be difficult to access, sometimes lacking accessible restrooms or not providing much space to navigate.
With that said, there are some extremely accessible locations that do not compromise in quality of food or accessibility. We have hand selected some of the best and most accessible (TravelEz Certified) restaurants the North End has to offer.
Trattoria Il Panino ($$, 3½ Stars on Yelp, 4½ Stars on TripAdvisor)
Rated one of Boston’s best restaurants (Zagat, TripAdvisor), Trattoria offers a beautiful atmosphere coupled with a top-notch menu. The restaurant is also especially easy to access regardless of mobility standards.
Phone: (617) 720-1336
Quattro ($$, 3½ Stars on Yelp, 4 Stars on TripAdvisor)
Quattro offers an extremely accessible layout, very good food, and awesome customer service. Located in the heart of the North End, the Italian menu is solid and the atmosphere is elegant.
Phone: (617) 720-0444
Crudo ($$$, 4 Stars on Yelp, 4 Stars on TripAdvisor)
This Asian fusion location is a good change of pace if you’re in the mood for something other than Italian food. The location is extremely accessible, including an elevator to second floor seating which overlooks the bustle of Salem Street.
Phone: (617) 367-6500
Limoncello ($$, 4 Stars on Yelp, 4½ Stars on TripAdvisor)
Limoncello is an elegant dining option a little bit removed from most of the other North End restaurants (still very easy to get to). This top rated restaurant (Zagat, TripAdvisor) has a great Italian menu at reasonable prices. It is also conveniently close to the Paul Revere House. The location is extremely accessible as well. While there is a very small step at the front entrance (about half a foot high), the staff keeps a ramp handy by the entrance for seamless access.
Phone: (617) 523-4480
Galleria Umberto ($, 4½ Stars on Yelp, 4½ Stars on TripAdvisor, *not TravelEz Certified*)
One of the North End’s most famous pizza shops (Zagat, TripAdvisor, Yelp), Galleria Umberto offers classic Sicilian Pizza until they run out (often times before their official 3:00 closing time). This cash-only location is accessible with easy access, a spacious interior, and accessible, basic seating near the walls. Unfortunately, it lacks accessible restrooms and requires waiting in line to order (rather than the traditional waiter ordering format), making it not TravelEz Certified. However, Galleria Umberto is a great classic pizzeria option and a wonderful sampling of North End’s famously authentic Italian cuisine.
Phone: (617) 227-5709
Attractions/Things to Do
Although the main attraction of the North End is the Italian dining, there are other worthwhile things to do and see in the area. All of the following attractions are within five minutes of distance from Hanover Street (one of North End’s main streets).
The Paul Revere House
As Boston’s single oldest house (built in 1680), the Paul Revere House is probably the most famous attraction in this area and is a prominent stop on the Freedom Trail (Boston’s walkable selection of historic landmarks). While it charges a 5$ admission fee, the accessible tour is a fun walk back in time and offers a glimpse into Paul Revere’s life. Recent renovations make the tour easy to navigate thanks to ramps and an elevator. The tour is self guided with staff available to answer whatever questions you have, but most people spend between 20 to 30 minutes wandering the house.
While the Paul Revere House is the more famous exhibit, the Hichborn House (adjacent to the Paul Revere House) is also a notable attraction. It is worth noting that the Hichborn House’s second floor is not accessible, but a photo book of the second floor is available to view and you will only be charged half-priced admission if accessing the second floor is not feasible for you. The Hichborn house is viewable through guided tour only, so call ahead to see what times they are offering tours for the day you are there! Additionally, some doorways are too narrow for wheelchairs and scooters to fit through, but the majority of the houses are exportable regardless of mode of movement.
Although the road near the museum is bumpy laid stone (meant to preserve authenticity of the landmark), the brick sidewalks are easy to maneuver. We recommend eating at either Limoncello or Mama Maria if you are visiting here – both are very accessible restaurants with great food and very near to the Paul Revere House.
Phone: (617) 523-2338
Park and Seating
Bench seats and a park at the edge of the North End (end of Hanover Street) make for a relaxing pit stop or place to enjoy some gelatos and good conversation. A gelato stand (Gigi Gelateria) at the intersection of Cross Street and Hanover Street is a nice treat on a warm afternoon. The park directly across the street is a nice area to relax and enjoy an impressive view of Boston’s skyscrapers.
Boston Public Market
This market is extremely accessible and is a fun place to do some shopping or just look around. The market has a year-round indoor section and a seasonal outdoor market. The indoor market is directly across the street from the edge of the North End and is perfectly accessible with automatic doors, ramps, spacious interior, accessible restrooms, and also has A/C to shelter you from the sun on the occasional warm afternoon. The outdoor market also has a spacious setup, making it easy to access all of the market stands.
The market is adjacent to the Haymarket T stop, and it occupies the ground floor of the same building as the Parcel 7 garage.
New England Holocaust Memorial
Considered one of the most notable things to do in Boston, this emotional Memorial draws on quoted experiences from Holocaust survivors. Taking the ten to fifteen minutes to observe the Memorial is a memorable and extremely worthwhile activity. The Memorial is a walkthrough experience where you begin at one end and walk along the path as you read quotations from survivors. The Memorial also provides context and a timeline for World War II.
The New England Holocaust Memorial is especially accessible – it is a short walk (about 50 yards long), is perfectly easy to navigate, and has places to sit on either side of the walkthrough in case you want to take a break before or after observing it. The Memorial is directly adjacent to the Parcel 7 garage.
Old North Church
One of the most famous attractions of the North End, the Old North Church is a beautiful site and treasure chest of American history. Founded in 1712, this historic site is Boston’s oldest church building and offers a variety of activities and a wealth of information.
Due to the nature of the historic site, there are a number of accessibility challenges. The main sanctuary is wheelchair accessible – this portion is self-guided with staff on hand to answer questions and provide information. However, the guided Behind the Scenes tour involves a number of old narrow staircases to get into the tower and the crypt and is not recommended for those with mobility challenges.
The main entrance to the church is located on the corner of Hull Street and Salem Street and is wheelchair accessible. However, if you are coming from our back gate on Unity Ave (this will be the gate people usually go to after they see Paul Revere’s house and his statue) there is a flight of stairs required to get to the front entrance, so they recommend using Tileston street to bypass that staircase and get to the front gate – it only adds a minute or two.
Phone: (617) 523-6676
The Bostonian Boston Hotel (4 Stars on TripAdvisor)
If you are looking for a convenient and accessible hotel situated near the North End, The Bostonian Boston Hotel is a perfect overnight option. The hotel is conveniently situated between the New England Holocaust Museum and the North End with easy access to Boston Faneuil Hall as well as the North End.
The hotel is very accessible and offers rooms with accessible accommodations as well as rooms with roll-in showers – just call ahead and explain which features you want to reserve appropriate accommodations.
Phone: (617) 819-8870
Garrett’s Recommended Itinerary
Total Time: 3 hours
Total Distance: 1 mile
- Arrive via T at Haymarket T Stop or Park at Parcel 7 Garage.
- Visit the New England Holocaust Memorial for a stimulating start to your day trip (walkthrough begins on side furthest away from the Parcel 7 garage)! [15 min]
- Walk up along Hanover Street to take in the energy and bustle of the North End’s exciting atmosphere! [15 min]
- Walk on over to The Paul Revere House for a comprehensive, guided tour. [30 min]
- Dine at Limoncello, one of the area’s best restaurants, just a few feet away from the Paul Revere House’s entrance. [1 hour]
- Walk on over to the famous Mike’s Pastries to pick yourself up some of Boston’s best pastries! [15 min]
- Continue across to Salem Street to experience the excitement of the other popular North End street. [10 min]
- Take the short walk down to the park and enjoy your pastries under the shade of an umbrella or in the sun on one of the benches facing Boston’s impressive skyline. [15 min]
- Continue across the street to explore the air-conditioned indoor Boston Public Market and the outdoor setup before calling it a day! [20 min]
Walk back to the Haymarket T Stop or Parcel 7 Garage to return after a fun, active day in the North End!