Where the Locals Shop in Boston

  Pearl bracelets by local jeweler Betsy Frost

Recommending where to shop almost like matchmaking, and each of Boston's shopping districts has its own allure.

Are you looking for high-end designers and brand labels? Do you prefer independent boutiques instead of chains? Are you trying to find locally made gifts? Or would you rather explore vintage and antique stores?

Newbury Street will be the first answer you'll get from any concierge when you ask about shopping, but where do the Bostonians really shop? We've decided to focus on the character of Boston's other shopping areas, along with the latest buzz from each:

Charles Street: This hidden gem of a street, with its brick-lined sidewalks, gas lamps, and historic buildings, used to be known for its antique shops but in just the past couple of years has become the choice for visitors preferring independent boutiques. Among the latest additions are Dress, which just relocated from Newbury Street; noa jewelry, fine handcrafts & gifts, with 100% New England-made goods; That's It!, contemporary gifts; North River Outfitter Sport, which joins NRO Kids and NRO; Exclusive Jewels; and Artifaktori,a vintage store that relocated from Somerville. Also brand new: Third Thursdays, a themed event where stores open until 8 p.m. the third Thursday of each month. Be sure to walk down one side and up the other so you don't miss anything, because signage is quite understated, in keeping with the historic nature of the neighborhood.

Boston Globe Magazine's Best of the New: Good, 133 Charles St; J. McLaughlin, 34 Charles St; noa jewelry, fine handcrafts & gifts, 88 Charles St; Vira,107 Charles St


Charles Street in Beacon Hill: Outside CRUSH Boutique: peering in the window at noa; martinis at the Liberty Hotel, a popular way to end an afternoon of shopping

South End: Like Charles Street, the historic South End is the new favorite for the anti-chain shopper with an eye on design, with choices ranging from Lekker Home (Dutch design influence) to Hudson Boston (California-meets-New England style). There's the popular Coco Baby boutique and a smattering of resale stores—basically something for everyone, even pooches. Art lovers should venture to SoWa, a strip of blocks south of Washington Street, where the artists' studios at 500 Harrison Avenue open to the public on the first Friday of each month all summer and the outdoor SOWA market draws thousands of visitors every Sunday from May to October. Stores are spread out over several streets, so expect to walk and some research beforehand is advisable.

New in 2013: Twelve Chairs at 591 Tremont St (moved from Fort Point) and Viola Lovely, 1409 Washington St

Waterfront and Southie: This emerging district is not to be overlooked and destined to be the next great thing as new stores move into the area. Anchored by the waterfront location of the iconic Louis Boston and design-forward ICA Museum Store, the region includes other stores worth checking out, such as Machine Age, a 9,000-square-foot space filled with the largest collection of twentieth-century home design in the region; and the KuDeTa and Habit boutiques. Looking for local? Made in Fort Point, featuring neighborhood artists,has moved to 30 Channel Center Street.

North End: The shops in this charming section of Boston might not as plentiful and are off the beaten path of Hanover Street, but they're worth checking out, perhaps in combination with an Italian dinner—or a world-famous cannoli. Included in the lineup are Bobbles & Lace, Twilight, Shake the Tree, Acquire, in-jean-ius, and LIT Boutique.

Boston Globe Magazine's Best of the New: Ensemble, 62 Salem St

The North End: In between the Italian eateries are a number of boutiques—be sure to stop for a cannoli

Prudential Center: The draw here is high-end department stores, since this massive covered shopping area and the surrounding neighborhood are home to both Lord & Taylor and the only Saks Fifth Avenue in the region (which just debuted a renovated second floor, with eight new designer shops featured in the space). There are also plenty of the standard name-brand chains, with 75 stores in all. Unlike Boston's street shopping, all stores here are open until 9 p.m. (except on Sundays) and it's ideal on bad weather days. 

Copley Place: The city's choice for an exclusive indoor shopping experience, home to Barney's, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co, Tourneau, and primarily high-end designers such as Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo, Tory Burch, BCBGMAXAZRIA, and John Varvatos. Though there are a few more common mall options (Baby Gap, J. Crew, and Banana Republic among them), the draw of Copley is its high-end names.

Boston Globe Magazine's Best of the New: The Ludlow Shop, Tory Burch

Downtown Crossing: The redevelopment of Downtown Crossing continues, with a number of vacancies filled since January, and work has begun again on the transformation of the former Filene's block into the Millennium Tower. There's a new flagship Walgreens, the Artists Crossing artist coop has moved to 50 Franklin St, and new restaurants seem to open weekly. Visitor favorites include Ten Thousand Villages, as well as its larger brand-name stores, including H&M and Jos. A Bank. Thursday nights in good weather, Downtown Crossing hosts block parties with free appetizers, live music, and, of course, shopping.