Movies, books, and songs to capture the essence of Boston and get you in the mood for travel


Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s rocket to fame; follows a Southie genius, a greedy MIT math professor, and a kindly psychologist.

The Departed (2006)
The gang’s all here: Matt Damon, the Wahlberg brothers, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, and Leonardo DiCaprio explore crime loyalties in South Boston.

American Wake (2004)
A beautifully shot indie film weaving two stories of love and redemption that is as touching as it is genuine; standout performances from Billy Smith and Elaine Qualter.

Fever Pitch (2005)
A poor rendition of a fine novel, but a passable romantic comedy that taps into Boston’s World Series euphoria.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
The original with Steve McQueen was set in Boston; about a bored millionaire who steals art for the kicks

Television Series

Cheers (1982-1993)
Boston’s best known screen presence; made a landmark out of a mediocre bar.

Ally McBeal (1997-2002)
Calista Flockhart and her quirky legal colleagues try to find love and win cases in Boston.

Boston Legal (2004-present)
James Spader and William Shatner practice law in the Back Bay.

ZOOM (1972-1978, 1999-2005)
Pioneering children’s show produced by public television’s WGBH in Boston and filmed at locations throughout Boston and New England.


Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey (1941)
This wonderful children’s story follows Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings as they search Boston for a good home before settling in the Public Garden.

The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl (2003)
A strange killer is on the loose in 19th century Boston; American literary icons Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes aim to discover his or her identity.

A Death in Belmont, by Sebastian Junger (2006)
Junger explores the story of Albert DeSalvo, the man who claimed to be the Boston Strangler. Junger was a baby during the Boston Strangler rape-and-murder spree (1962-’64). One victim was a neighbor who was killed during the same time DeSalvo was working on a construction project at the Junger home.

Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane (2001)
Three childhood friends are brought back together by the murder of a daughter and each must face their own demons; psychological thriller, which inspired the Oscar-winning Clint Eastwood film.

The Bostonians, by Henry James (1886)
Initially published as a serial in a magazine, this novel is James’ intriguing portrayal of a Civil War veteran and lawyer, his Bostonian feminist cousin, and her protégé.



This classic album by the band Boston put Beantown on the rock map. Songs like “More Than A Feeling” and “Rock and Roll Band” still get air time.

Best of the J. Geils Band
The best of The J. Geils Band, one of the hardest working rock-and-roll bands that’s lived in the Bay State. Lead singer Peter Wolf, a transplanted Bronx native, still pops up often in Boston and Cambridge. Includes some of their top hits like “Centerfold,” “Freeze Frame,” and “Love Stinks.”

The Cars
Self-titled 1978 debut album from this great early ’80s rock band; “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Moving in Stereo” all helped establish The Cars as masters of synthesized pop rock.

20th Century Masters—The Millennium Collection: The Best of Arthur Fiedler
Fiedler had a long and very successful career with the Boston Pops Orchestra; here are some of the best songs from Fiedler and the Pops.

The Warrior’s Code

Boston’s favorite Celtic punk band,The Dropkick Murphys, bangs it out with Red Sox favorites like “Tessie” and a song to accompany Woody Guthrie lyrics called “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.”

Classic Songs:

Boston’s enormous college population keeps its music fresh and varied; the locals keep it loud and driving.

  1. “Dirty Water,” by The Standells
  2. “Boat on the Charles,” by Todd Rundgren
  3. “Tessie,” by The Dropkick Murphys
  4. “The Rascal King,” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  5. “Sweet Caroline,” by Neil Diamond
  6. “Mass. Ave.,” by Willie “Loco” Alexander
  7. “Dream On,” by Aerosmith
  8. “Rock-and-Roll Band,” by Boston
  9. “Just What I Needed,” by The Cars
  10. “Planning a Prison Break,” by The Receiving End of Sirens


About Boston and the United States

  • <p>Photo: Acorn Street, Beacon Hill</p>


    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Boston.

  • <p>Photo: Colorado River flowing through canyon walls</p>

    United States

    Explore the United States through facts and photos, related features, a country map, and more.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Join Nat Geo Travel's Communities

2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

  • Picture of a volcano on Reunion Island

    Who Will Win?

    Browse photos of nature, cities, and people and share your favorite photos.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Get Social With Nat Geo Travel