Boston shopping: classic to exotic

By , special to The Christian Science Monitor

The cosmopolitan shops -- Saks, Lord & Taylor, the colorful world of Newbury Street, the festive world of Quincy Market and even shops reflecting the prudent Victorian era -- await you in Boston.

Unlike many cities, whose shops and department stores are swallowed up by cavernous, impersonal shopping malls, boston's shops have charm and individuality.

What's more, Boston's major shopping areas are accessible on foot. If walking doesn't fit your fancy then "take the T." Subway stops on the Green and Red lines are located near shopping areas.

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In planning your activities in Boston it might be helpful to group the stores into five areas which wind through the most diversified and beautiful parts of Boston.

Dynamic skyscrapers overshadow but don't overpower the town houses of the Back Bay and Beach Hill. You can even enjoy a pastoral element in the heart of Boston by walking through the Public Garden or taking a ride on one of the swan boats.

* The Prudential Center -- located uptown near Copley Square, the center contains Saks, Lord & Taylor, and Brentano's. There are also smaller shops such as Wallach's clothing store and Bally's, which imports shoes from switzerland. This area has the greatest appeal to those interested in well-known fahionable products, whether it be designer clothing from Saks or the most recent best seller from Brentano's.

* Newbury Street -- If you are in search of color fun, and perhaps a touch of the exotic then come to Newbury Street. High-fashion models stride down the shady, tree-lined street with their portfolios in hand, an artist whisks a canvas from his car to a gallery, and others, perhaps shoppers like yourself, stroll leisurely about, stopping for refreshment at one of Newbury Street's famous outdoor cafes a la Paris or Rome.

Here, where the trendy merges with the traditional, some of the most exclusive shops and galleries are found. Each shop is distinctive. In The Artisans you can find original eskimo art; at F. A. O. Schwarz Toy Store a near life-size stuffed lion is waiting for a new home and at Brooks Brothers you can get that Harris tweed or cardigan sweater that you've intended to buy for so long.

* Beacon Hill: Near the Public Garden you will find a slice of Dickensian London in 20th-century Boston. Red brick sidewalks, cast-iron street lamps, and quaint storefronts all contribute to the elegant image of Beacon Hill.

Antique shops carrying a brass samovar, a lacquered Chinese screen, or a 17 th-century spinning wheel predominate here.

* Downtown Crossing: This area has been rejuvenated. Buildings have been renovated and given face lifts. Traffic that once snarled the winding donwtown streets has been restricted so shoppers can stroll leisurely along Washington Street, which has been converted into a tree-line boulevard.

One place remains the same -- Filene's Basement. For those willing to endure the heat and the crowds, incredible bargains can be found among the racks and piles of clothing that fill the basement. On special sale days, a three-piece designer suit or a stylish dress from Paris sells for practically nothing.

* Quincy Market: Ten years ago this area lay amid a "wasteland." Today it is one of the most exciting urban-renewal projects in the country. Three historic warehouses are now occupied by a wide variety of shops. People flit from shop to shop like excited children switching horses on a carousel. One shop offers everything imaginable in kitchen wares-gleaming copper skillets, colorful plastic mixing bowls, and earthenware pottery.

Other shops such as Pappagallo's and Robert Todd Ltd. feature the ultimate in chic apparel for men and women. Novelty shoppers will be intrigued by shops that carry everything from colorful papier-mache animals to Russian Easter eggs. If it's novel and stylish, you'll find it here at festive Quincy Market, Boston's most extravagant shopping area.

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