25 Rules to Live by in Boston: How to Act Like a Real Local

Boston, cannolis, space savers

25 Rules to Live By in Boston

Boston, with its unique charm and vibrant community, is a city worth exploring. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, here are 25 rules to live by in Boston that will help you navigate the city like a true Bostonian.

Pick Your Cannoli Side

When it comes to cannolis, there’s a rivalry between Modern Pastry and Mike’s Pastry in the North End. Choose your allegiance wisely, as this feud is so famous it has its own PBS documentary on the way called “Cannoli Wars.”

Respect the Space Savers

After a snowstorm, if you see a beach chair or milk crate in a shoveled-out parking spot, leave it be. These are space savers, and messing with them can lead to a territory fight. (Except in the South End, where they’re banned.)

Embrace Iced Coffee from Dunks

In Boston, we only drink iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, affectionately known as Dunks or Dunkies. No one actually says “Dunkin'” out loud. Lucky for us, there are 85 Dunkins scattered across the city.

September 1: A Moving Day Like No Other

If possible, stay put on and around September 1. This is student moving day, and the city is flooded with moving trucks. Known as “Allston Christmas,” it’s a day when people leave behind furniture and home goods on the curbside for others to pick up.

Take the T Everywhere

Boston’s subway system, known as the T, may not be the most reliable, but it’s the best way to get around. The green line, in particular, stops all over the city and the outskirts. Trust us, it’s better than driving in the city’s notorious traffic.

Become a Sports Fan

Bostonians love their sports teams. From the Celtics to the Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox, and Revolution, we have a team for every season. Embrace the sports culture and dress accordingly in logo-ed attire. We’re even getting a new professional women’s soccer team soon.

Discover Boston’s Diverse Neighborhoods

Boston’s neighborhoods each have their own unique personalities. From the bustling Back Bay and young Southie to the diverse South End, up-and-coming Eastie, Brahmin-based Beacon Hill, touristy Faneuil Hall, and Italian-heavy North End, there’s something for everyone.

Know Your Geography

Southie is not the same as the South End, so don’t get them confused. And fun fact: East Boston is actually more north than the North End. The city’s geography can be puzzling, but it adds to its charm.

Navigate the Labyrinth of Streets

Boston’s roads don’t follow a grid system like most major cities. Instead, they’re a mix of one-ways leading to more one-ways leading to even more one-ways. Embrace the challenge and remain calm. You’ll get the hang of it.

A City of Movie Sets

Don’t be surprised if your street suddenly becomes a movie set. Boston has been a popular filming location for many famous movies, including “Good Will Hunting,” “Fever Pitch,” and “The Departed.” Stay vigilant for any movie shoot sightings.

Early Nights in the City

Boston doesn’t have a crazy after-hours scene. Bars close no later than 2 am, and the T stops running at 12:30 am. This city likes to get some rest, so be prepared for early nights.

Reserved Bostonians

While Boston may be densely populated, don’t expect everyone to be a people person. Bostonians are known for being hesitant to engage with strangers. But once you’re in with a group of friends or family, good luck trying to get a word in!

Walkable Boston

Boston is a city made for walking. Grab a good pair of walking shoes and explore the city on foot. You’ll discover hidden gems and enjoy the beautiful architecture that Boston has to offer.

Embrace Boston’s Historic Firsts

Boston is a city of “firsts.” From the first public school and park to the first library and pub, Boston has a rich history to explore. Keep your eyes open, and locals will be more than happy to share the stories behind these historic landmarks.

Roast Beef and Seafood

Experience Boston’s culinary scene by trying the combination of roast beef and seafood. The North Shore is dotted with popular roast beef and seafood shacks. Don’t miss out on the original Kelly’s Roast Beef for a taste of summertime.

Boston vs. Cambridge

Traveling between Boston and Cambridge is a big deal. There’s an unspoken aversion to crossing the bridge, so don’t be surprised if locals push back when you suggest it. Embrace the rivalry and choose your side.

Whole Belly Clams for the Win

When it comes to clams, locals prefer whole belly clams over fried clam strips. Eating the entire mollusk is a sacred tradition in these parts, so be prepared to get some side-eye if you opt for the strips. Woodman’s in Essex is credited for popularizing whole belly clams in 1916.

Decoding Boston’s Weather Beacon

The beacon of light atop the Old John Hancock Building has been predicting the weather since 1950. Memorize the poem: Steady blue, clear view; Flashing blue, clouds due; Steady red, rain ahead; Flashing red, snow instead.

Yankees Suck!

Don’t be surprised if you hear someone randomly yell out “Yankees suck” for no reason at all. It’s a Boston tradition and a testament to our rivalry with the New York Yankees.

Celebrity Chefs in Boston

Respect Boston’s chefs like celebrities because they are. The city is filled with James Beard Award-winning chefs and TV stars, including Chefs Ken Oringer, Lydia Shire, Jamie Bissonnette, Karen Akunowicz, and Top Chef alums Tiffani Faison and Will Gilson. Boston’s culinary scene is top-notch.

Boston Pride

Boston is proud of its LGBTQ+ community. In fact, the country’s first same-sex marriage took place at Cambridge City Hall in 2004. Embrace the city’s inclusivity and celebrate diversity.

Beware of Storrow Drive

Over-height trucks often get stuck on Storrow Drive, leading to traffic disruptions and plenty of social media memes. It’s called getting “Storrowed,” and it’s a common occurrence to witness these mishaps.

Don’t Call it Beantown

If you want to sound like a local, avoid calling Boston “Beantown.” It’s a nickname that many Bostonians don’t actually use, so it’s a dead giveaway that you’re not from around here.

Proud of Big Papi and More

Tom Brady may no longer be one of us, but Big Papi (David Ortiz) will forever be a beloved Boston icon. Bostonians are proud of their sports legends and will defend them fiercely.

Be Proud of Boston

Finally, be proud of Boston. This city has a rich history, a strong community, and a unique charm that sets it apart from other places. Embrace the quirks, the people, and the experiences that make Boston so special.

Explore Boston like a true local, and you’ll discover a city full of surprises and delights around every corner.

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