For those who don't know me well, I grew up outside of Boston before moving to live as an expat in various countries throughout the Asian continent. I have recently made my yearly visit home to Boston from Israel and have compiled all of the best activities to do in the winter in Boston, as a former Bostonian and now someone who is visiting Boston as more or less a tourist. I have personally tested everything on the list so you know it's good! I have included helpful tips, directions and hacks for easy commuting for every type of budget!
Things to do in Boston in the winter time
1. Wander in the Boston Public Library. Let's face it, Boston winters can be harsh. When you need some reprieve from the frosty weather, head to the Boston Public Library! The Central Library (the BPL has 25 branches) is located in Copley Square and was built in 1895. The inside is absolutely stunning. It's like a mixture of Hogwarts, Harvard and the Sistine Chapel. There is also a gorgeous outdoor courtyard (although this part is better in the Spring than the Winter...but I braved the outdoors so you could have a look at the views!)
How to get there: If you take the Green Line to Copley, the library is directly outside of the MBTA stop, so you barely have to brave the elements to get there!
Traveler Tip: Right next to the library is the Prudential Center which has good shopping and good food if you're hungry!
2. Check out Faneuil Hall. Faneuil Hall is classic historical Boston, having been around since 1742 and is now home to over 70 retailers. If you're in a holiday mood, definitely head over and see their Christmas spirit! Although Faneuil Hall is primarily outside, the lights on every tree, and the giant Christmas tree with music timed lights make it worth braving the cold. Also, you can easily hop inside to any of the countless restaurants or shops to warm up a bit. You can taste all the New England specialties (like Lobster rolls, Penuche Fudge, Boston Baked Beans, Clam Chowder and more!)
How to get there: Hop on the Orange Line to the Haymarket Stop to get the closest to the market, but you can also get there from the Green Line by going to the Government Center and walking about 5 minutes.
Traveler Tip: If you really need to warm up, check out Pepper Palace! A shop in Faneuil Hall that has the worlds hottest hot sauce (yes, you have to literally sign a waiver before you eat it) that's sure to warm you up from the inside out.
3. Drink hard cider at Down East. Down East Cider is a Boston-based company that makes unfiltered hard cider in a variety of alcohol contents and flavors. The flavors change seasonally (and sometimes twice per season!) with winter flavors like: Blackberry Basil, Pumpkin, and Winter: toasted oak chips, cinnamon bark & nutmeg. Their brewery is located in East Boston and you can go hang out there and test their flavors...totally free of charge! You get 5 chips upon arrival and can hand them in to get your small glass filled with all the flavor options they have on tap. While you're there you can also buy cans of your favorite flavors.
How to get there: Take the Blue Line of the MBTA to the Maverick stop. Turn left on Marginal Street and walk 0.5 miles. You will walk down a residential street that then opens up into a bunch of warehouses on the water. Down East will be on your left (with a sign out front to help you find it!)
Traveler Tip: If it's not too chilly out and you want to see a stunning view of Boston, take a turn onto Piers Park Ln (off of Marginal St) and check out the flawless Boston skyline across the water! It's a great view and barely out of your way!
4. Take a tour at Sam Adams. If beer is more your thing, Boston is also famous for Sam Adams. Sam Adams offers a tour of their brewery for free (they suggest you give a $2 donation to charity but its not mandatory) and if you bring your ID you can test while on the tour! The tours last about 1 hour and start every 40 minutes or so. Please note there are no tours on Sunday, so plan for the other days!
How to get there: Take the Orange Line on the MBTA to the Stony Brook stop. It's a quick 5 minute walk up Boylston Street, then turn right onto Bismarck Street and the brewery is right there!
Traveler Tip: The Sam Adams brewery doesnt take tour reservations, so head over early to get your spot without too much wait! It's also better to go on a weekday if you can, as weekends are their busiest time.
On a Budget:
1. Go ice skating at Frog Pond. Frog Pond was voted the best outdoor skating rink in the USA and it certainly deserves the title. Located in beautiful and historic Boston Common, the pond is a sight to see, even decked out in bright Christmas lights for most of the winter. Entry for adults is $6 and to rent skates is $12 ($6 for kids), which you can pay for in cash or credit card. You can skate for as long as your heart desires! You can also head to the Frog Pond Cafe for cocoa if you get too cold!
How to get there: The easiest way to get there via public transit is to take either the Red Line or the Green Line of the MBTA (the subway in Boston). From the Red Line, get off at Park Street and from the Green Line get off at either Park Street or Boylston Street (although Park is a bit closer). You can just walk straight through the park for about 3 minutes from Park Street and youre there!
Traveler Tip: You will need to keep up with the Frog Pond Facebook page to ensure that they are actually open, as they open for the season once the pond is frozen, and mother nature is known to be unpredictable, so it may open later some years and earlier other years. It also closes if there is really inclement weather, so check before you go!
2. Explore the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. This museum is meant to be totally immersive meaning, it's a lot more than just art, it's also flowers, textiles, architecture and more. There arent the normal labels on the art that you see at other museums because Isabella's vision was that each person would find their own meaning in each piece. It's really stunning to see and is a nice way to stay warm!
You can buy tickets until 4:30pm, so go early! Adult entrance tickets are $15 and you can get in for $10 with a student ID.
How to get there: Take the MBTA Green Line E train to the Museum of Fine Arts stop, or the Orange Line train to the Ruggles stop.
Traveler Tip: The museum also has an event called Third Thursdays, which happen in the evening (5:30pm-9pm) and include live music, gallery talks and a cash bar. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students.
1. Watch a Bruins Game. There's nothing more Boston than Boston sports and the Bruins are super fun to watch. Even if youre not super interested in hockey in general, the whole atmosphere of being at a game is something truly unique and amazing.
How to get there: The Bruins play at TD Garden, which is located at the North Station stop on both the Green Line or the Orange Line. These drop you off literally inside the building, saving you from the winter weather outside (But also remember, it's chilly inside the rink)!
It can save you a good chunk of time to switch to the Orange Line at Park Street, as not all Green Line trains go to North Station, but you will have to check out the wait time once you arrive!
Traveler Tip: The farther you sit from the ice, the cheaper the tickets and actually the better the view! When you sit high up you can see the entire ice, so don't worry about the nose-bleed seats...theyre totally worth it! If you go on a weekend, you will pay about $100 per ticket, but weekdays are almost half as much money. Expect to spend a pretty penny on drinks and concessions though, with a single beer going for about $15 and a bottle of water: $5.
2. Drink at the Heated Igloo Bar. Lookout Rooftop and Bar has a special winter tradition of adding six giant heated igloos to their roof come the colder weather season. The igloos overlook the harbor and the skyline for breathtaking views. You are provided a blanket for warmth and whenever you need something, you simply press a button and your entire igloo will light up and alert the staff to come help you. Pretty dang cool. The reason this has made it to the "Splurge" section of the blog is because these igloos are first-come-first serve. In order to reserve one, you are required to pay a $500 consumption fee (this money goes towards your drinks, but is still a large chunk of change to drop on a two hour reservation). The igloos fit up to 10 people, so if you're splitting that fee among a group, it might not be so bad...or prepare to go early and possibly wait a while to enter!
How to get there: Take the Red Line to South Station and take a quick 10 minute walk to Envoy Hotel. The igloos are on their roof!
Enjoy Boston and stay warm blog friends!
Special thanks to Melody Glynn for her contributions and input to this blog post!