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Avoid getting bested in Beantown with these 15 things never to say to a Bostonian. Pay particular attention to numbers 3, 5, 12 & 14. Okay, all of them.

1) Boston isn’t the hub of the Universe.
Lots of cities have nicknames, but perhaps none so self-aggrandizing as the one coined by Oliver Wendell Holmes. The brilliant 19th century writer and physician (we’ve grown those things on trees around here for centuries) actually used the term “Hub of the Solar System,” which was soon thereafter adjusted by locals to account for interstellar inflation. Also continually inflated since then? Bostonians’ healthy sense of self-esteem.

2) Boston isn’t the worst.
Despite knowing full well that Boston is the greatest city on the planet, most locals will also freely tell you, and with plenty of colorful language, that it’s a dump that’s impossible to get around, closes too early and, if they’re being charitable, the best about which one can say is that at least it’s not Worcester or New Bedford. Don’t you go saying that yourself, however. In much the same way that Boston families can talk trash about each other, if someone else has something smart to say they’re going to hear about it. Wait until you get back to New York, kehd.

Boston Harvard Yard campus

Harvard, Boston

3) Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd.
Despite that last line above, and decades of hilarious and not-at-all hackneyed pop cultural references to the contrary, not everyone in Boston has an accent that falls somewhere on the spectrum between Mayor Quimby and a Jimmy Fallon caricature. That said, you should literally park in Harvard Square. The campus of the famed university is nice for a visit, sure, but the neighborhood it’s in is one of the most culturally vibrant and entertainment-heavy destinations around, with one of the bestrock clubs, The Sinclair, and a plethora of inventive restaurants like Alden & Harlow. It’s actually in Cambridge which, like everything else from Somerville to Quincy, still technically counts as “Boston.”

4) How do I get to Cheers?
If you’re arriving in a big city filled with music, history, art, entertainment and nightlife, and you want to go to a simulacrum of a bar based on a TV show that’s been off the air for more than 20 years, you’re doing traveling wrong. But, if you’re near the area anyway, walk through the gorgeous Boston Public Garden instead or, if you really need a drink, head up Beacon Hill to No. 9 Park, one of the most lauded restaurants and cocktail bars in the city, or to the nearby, more casual Silvertone.


5) Tom Brady is a cheater.
You may feel free, even encouraged, to say this on message boards but—trust me—you don’t want to get into that whole thing with anyone around here, not unless you’ve got a couple hours of your life, and potentially a few teeth you’re willing to part with.

6) Nothing stays open late around here.
Whileit’s true that Boston closes earlier than huge cities like New York, the stereotype of a sleepy little backwater is extremely overstated. The train (T) has started running later on weekends, and there is no shortage of late-night dining and drinking options. For the most part, on the weekends, many bars are open until 1 a.m., with more than enough open until 2 a.m. for the night owls.  If you’re really hungry in the middle of the night, South Street Diner is open 24/7, and is a favorite late-night hangout.

Related: Check out these hotels located along the Freedom Trail.

7) Let’s go to Faneuil Hall.
While there’s undoubtedly a surfeit of historic landmarks to be found in Faneuil Hall area, it’s also the biggest tourist trap in thecity. Unless you’re on a trip with a group of 5th graders who have a book report due, there’s really no need to spend too much time around here. Everywhere in Boston is rich with history, and you’ll find better dining and drinking options all over the city than the largely middle of the road stuff on offer here.

8) Kiss me, I’m Irish!
Oh, you’re Irish? That’s nice. But, as it turns out, Boston is actually a pretty diverse city, stereotypes to the contrary. That said, there are way more Irish bars here than any city would ever need. If you really need to scratch that drinking-whiskey-in-Boston itch, you’ll want to try Mr. Dooley’s,  J.J. Foley’s in the South End, or Doyle’s Cafe in Jamaica Plain.

Related: Take this quick quiz to see if you’ve earned your American travel stripes.

9) What’s the deal with public transportation around here?
Trust me, we don’t know either. The MBTA offers convenient access to very many parts of the city, and mind-boggling, infuriatingly slow and inconvenient access to very many others. Avail yourself of one our very many disgruntled taxi drivers, or take an Uber if you must, if it’s still legal.

10) People only care about sports here.
Sure, maybe if you’re in the bar, but—and this may come as a shock to you considering there are only about 5,000 universities around here—there’s more art and culture than you’d be able to experience in your lifetime, never mind a single visit. The Museum of Fine Arts gets all the big ticket exhibitions, but you’ll also want to check out the Institute of Contemporary Art, with a decidedly more modern focus, and the hidden secrets of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


11) Isn’t Boston where Aerosmith and the Dropkick Murphys are from?
Yes. Those two well-known bands are from here, along with loads of other bands that have literally shaped the course of modern music over the decades. You’ll find dozens of them playing on any given night at a wide array of clubs. On most nights of the week you can walk into one of the rooms at The Middle East, Great Scott, The Sinclair, Royale, The Paradise, Brighton Music Hall, the House of Blues or the Lizard Lounge, and see national headliners or next year’s stars from the homegrown pool of talent.

12) Boston isn’t very stylish.
Apparently youhaven’t spent any time walking down Newbury Street in the summer. Yes, it may be the type of stylish that you aren’t necessarily into, but if it’s high-end fashion, and the people who care about high-end fashion—and very much want you to know they care about it—then this lengthy, tree-lined street filled with cafes and shops is where you’ll want to be.


13) Isn’t the water polluted?
Um. Sort of. But that doesn’t mean it’s still not beautiful to look at. Seemingly overnight Boston’s Seaport District, for example, has turned into a booming neighborhood of dining, nightlife, art and scenic views.

14) There’s nowhere classy to get a drink.
As mentioned above, there are very many sports bars and Irish pubs, but Boston is also home to some world-class cocktail bars. Try Eastern Standard, Craigie on Main or Drink for just a small taste. If you’re still walking around after all three of those you really belong in Boston.

15) I love it here in Boston.
Yeah, sure you do, pal. Don’t get sentimental on us. Nobody likes a phony. Move along.


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Luke O'Neil

Luke O'Neil

Luke is a writer who covers Boston for many publications. Find him on Twitter @lukeoneil47.
Luke O'Neil

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5 thoughts on “15 things never to say to a Bostonian”

  1. I am not from Boston, BUT, I am from New England and we are very protective of our History ( mine dates back to before the Revolutionary War). Watch what you say and follow the rules the 15 rules above.

  2. An acquaintance of mine was a huge Tom Brady fan, as well as Bostonian, and when I mentioned his whole ‘scandal’ in passing one day she wasn’t too pleased! Definitely not something you want to bring up! Thanks for sharing this list.

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