When one thinks “bird’s eye view of Boston,” understandably, the Prudential Center’s Skywalk comes to mind first. However, if you’re looking to save some cash – as well as the hassle of pushing through the throngs of visitors at one of the city’s top tourist destination – I offer for you a semi-secret alternative: The observation deck of the Custom House clock tower.
Located in McKinley Square of Boston’s financial district, the Custom House Tower is a part of Marriott’s Custom House Hotel. Completed in 1849, this 151 meter (496 feet) tall clock tower – with its neoclassical design and claim as 17th-tallest building in the city – has earned its reputation as an iconic part of the Boston Skyline. Less well known though, however, is that the tower hosts a 360º observation deck atop its 26th floor, which is open to both Marriott guests and the public.
The deck is accessible at limited hours: Monday through Thursday, right at 14:00 (weather permitting). And while the Custom House’s 26 floors is dwarfed by the Prudential Center’s 50, its $4 entrance fee (a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network) is preferable to the Skywalk’s $17. The Custom House’s angle in the city also offers some views that can’t be seen from the Prudential – like the historic North End (pictured here).
Many Boston locals even haven’t heard of this exclusive bird’s eye view. Or, should I say, hawk’s eye view – as the tower hosts a nesting spot for a family of peregrine falcons.