Arts + Entertainment

What to Do in Chinatown When You’re Not Eating

Fill up on more than dumplings with shopping, art, and acupuncture.


Indulge Your Inner Culture Vulture

Catch a glimpse of Chinatown like you’ve never seen it before at Pao Arts Center (99 Albany St., bcnc.net/pao). Open since 2017, the gallery was built on Parcel 24, a piece of land taken over by a highway ramp in the 1960s, and features a yearly artist in residence, classes, and rotating exhibitions showcasing local talent—including this winter’s “Beyond Expectations.”

Shop Till You Drop

Porcelain cat banks, chopsticks, and always-popular squishy toys fill Essex Corner (50 Essex St., 617-338-8882), an Asian crafts store that also hawks traditional red envelopes perfect for gifting money to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Equally alluring is Tao’s Beauty Store (35 Harrison Ave.), which stocks both Japanese and Korean skin-care brands, including moisturizing and brightening face masks.

Take a Walk Through History

The Boston Women’s Heritage Trail self-guided Chinatown/South Cove walk (bwht.org) honors powerful ladies who have made their mark on the area. Lace up your sneakers and get ready for an hour-and-a-half stroll to the former site of Ruby Foo’s Den, a popular woman-owned restaurant that opened in the 1920s, and the home of Rose Lok, the first Chinese-American female pilot to fly solo at Logan Airport.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Always wanted to give acupuncture a try? Here’s your chance. The family-run Lea Tam Acupuncture Center, which focuses on pressure points along the scalp and spine to relieve pain and decrease stress, is one of Chinatown’s most buzzed-about spots.


This story is part of The Ultimate Guide to Chinatown, from the February 2019 issue of Boston magazine.