If cold temperatures make you shiver, visiting Boston during frigid winter weather may not rank high on your list of fun things to do - until you check out our tips for the 7 best INDOOR Boston winter activities and things to do indoor around the city.
You'll quickly see why winter here can be lots of fun - despite the cold.
Our recommendations focus on places that will let you experience the best of Boston while keeping warm: our world-class museums, historic pubs and taverns, vibrant theaters, city tours that keep you warm, cosy restaurants, and more.
All of our suggestions are close to T (Boston's subway) stations to minimize your time outside.
We've also added a few suggestions for convenient (but plush!) hotels to consider when planning your Boston trip.
Who knows ... winter could become your favorite season in Boston!
1. Shows & Performances in Boston's Theatre District
Boston's lively theater season reaches its peak during winter months, when the beautifully restored Theatre District sparkles with lights.
The largest commercial theaters - the Boston Opera House, the Wang Theatre, the Shubert - attract headliner performers, Broadway Across America shows, and renowned Boston Ballet productions.
Look for experimental theater at the Paramount, where ArtsEmerson produces award-winning productions, and Modern Theatre where Suffolk University runs highly-rated performance and film programs.
Nearby, in the Charles Playhouse, you'll find Boston's 2 longest-running shows: Shear Madness, where audiences participate in the pun-filled mystery set in a hair salon, and Blue Man Group, the bald blue comedians who perform an always-changing series of skits and joke routines.
Also nearby, the Wilbur Theatre hosts an eclectic mix of top comedians in its comedy club format.
Check out these possibilities:
Where to Stay in the Theatre District
During winter months, when every extra step in icy weather matters, staying just steps away from the theater where you're attending an evening performance can feel like a wonderful luxury.
2. Best Boston Tours for Winter
Most walking tours, bus tours, and even the popular Boston Duck Boat tours stop during the winter - usually on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. But no worries, you'll still find excellent tours that let you see the city while staying toasty warm:
Boston Beantown Trolley Sightseeing Tour - This narrated trolley tour around the city shows you over 125 points of interest from the comfort of a fun retro trolley. If you stay on the bus for the whole tour, it lasts about 90 minutes - but you can also get off and on as many times as you want at any or all of the 16 stops along the way at places like the New England Aquarium, Museum of Fine arts, and Beacon Hill (where you'll find plenty of tasty restaurants).
Tickets are good for a 24-hour period - but for a few more dollars, you can opt for a 48-hour ticket. Plus, each ticket includes free admission to the stained-glass Mapparium, a true Boston treasure. More
Boston Brewery Tour - Did you know that the Puritans who originally settled Boston in the 1630s drank only home-brew beer, not water? (They didn't think water was safe ... and it probably wasn't!)
On this tour, you get to see today's vibrant Boston brewpub scene - and taste 15-20 different types of local brews. Round-trip transportation is by bus, as you'll make behind-the-scenes visits to learn about the brewery operations. Choose from morning and evening tours. More
Boston in One Day Sightseeing Tour - This is a wonderful guided sightseeing tour, because not only do you get to see 20+ famous Boston sites as well as iconic areas such as the North End, Beacon Hill, and some Freedom Trail locations, but you also get to see the historic towns of Cambridge, Lexington, and Concord where so many important Revolutionary War events took place.
You'll travel on a luxury coach, and also make stops along the way at places you probably wouldn't get to see on your own. The informative guide will share lots of stories about Boston history and other interesting events. More
3. Best Boston Museums for Winter
With 60+ Boston museums appealing to all kinds of interests, you'll find plenty of interesting choices. In fact, a trip to a museum can be the perfect solution to a bad-weather day at any time of the year, but ranks especially high among top Boston winter activities.
But which Boston museums are best for winter?
Two things are most important:
- Size - Should be big enough to occupy you for a few hours - no need to go back outside for awhile!
- Logistics - Should be near a T station and/or a hotel to minimize the need to walk far
Here are several interesting large museums targeted for different interests, along with nearby T stations and hotels to keep your walk short:
- Museum of Fine Arts** - Green Line E/Museum - Midtown Hotel (several blocks from the museum - but only 1 subway stop away on the Green Line
- New England Aquarium** - Blue Line/Aquarium - Boston Marriott Long Wharf - Just steps away (and it has a lovely indoor pool)
- Museum of Science** - Green Line/Science Park - Holiday Inn Express or Onyx - walk 1 block and take the Green Line from North Station to Science Park
- Boston Children's Museum* - Silver Line/Courthouse Station (children 11 and under ride free) - Residence Inn Seaport or Envoy Hotel - Both are about a 2-minute walk from the museum
4. Best Winter Views of Boston
Winter or summer, the view of Boston from the top of Prudential Center can't be beat! But winter offers a three of advantages:
1. Colder temperatures make the air clearer. Less haze means better photos!
2. If your timing is right, snow may be falling. Sure, it obstructs the view - but it sure is gorgeous to watch! Maybe even better: view Boston after the snow falls ... it's like frosting on a cake.
3. You're inside. You're warm.
Like other times of the year, you have a couple of options about how to experience the view: head up to the Skywalk Observatory for 360 degree views and lots of photo ops on the 50th floor of Prudential Center (get free admission if you have a Boston CityPASS or Go Boston discount card), or to Top of the Hub on the 52nd for dinner, or drinks and live jazz in the Lounge.
5. Enjoy these Boston Winter Sports Inside a Comfortable Indoor Stadium
The air outside may be frigid, but inside TD Garden, the action on the ice and on the court heats up when the Boston Bruins and Celtics are in town for home games. You can take the T straight to North Station and not even have to step outside as you make your way to the Garden to watch them play.
Fortunately for Boston sports fans, a game is scheduled almost every day throughout the winter.
Check the Bruins schedule:
Check the Celtics schedule:
The Garden also hosts the popular Disney on Ice Spectacular during the winter months:
Where to Stay Near TD Garden
Where to Stay Near TD Garden
If you're coming to an event at the Garden, spend the night or the weekend at one of the nearby hotels, such as the glamorous Onyx (shown in photo), member of the highly-regarded Kimpton hotel family:
More top hotels near the Garden:
More to Do near TD Garden
If you're visiting with kids, take them to visit the Sports Museum in the Garden - lots of fun to see the history of Boston's many winning sports teams! Check the Sports Museum website before you go to make sure they're open, because they close on holidays and during certain Garden events.
The area around the Garden is also home to many of the city's top sports bars and Irish pubs, where you can enjoy a tasty meal and brew while watching the action on the big screens - another way to enjoy sports from a comfortable indoor spot on a chilly (ok, frigid) Boston winter day or evening.
6. Boston's Warm & Welcoming Irish Pubs & Historic Taverns
On a cold winter night, nothing beats the warm welcome, tasty brew, and excellent food you'll find at Boston's friendly Irish pubs and historic taverns, some of which have been around since the American Revolution.
Because local ordinances prevent Boston bars from offering Happy Hour cheap drinks, our local pubs instead offer Happy Hour food specials and compete for customers based on their gastro pub cuisine at deep discount prices - usually from about 5:30pm - 7pm. Obviously, it's a win-win, and an excellent way to stay warm on a cold winter night.
Stop by to experience the real Boston - and perhaps enjoy some music and conversation. It's a Boston tradition!
Winter is also when Boston hosts a couple of well-known wine festivals. Whether you're a connoiseur or just enjoy wine, you won't want to miss these!
7. Fun Restaurants in Downtown Boston
Although Boston has wonderful restaurants all over the city, winter is a great time to sample those right in the middle of the city, close to the lively Theatre District, shopping and entertainment at Faneuil Marketplace, and ice skating on Boston Common.
In and near the Theatre District, you'll find an eclectic selection of top places to dine, casual bistros, and wonderful bakery/coffee bars. Check out Theatre District restaurants and cafes
Somewhat overlapping the Theatre District is Boston's Chinatown - in fact, it's the third largest Chinatown in the U.S., and full of all sorts of Asian restaurants, bakeries, and tea houses. You'll find everything from traditional dim sum palaces to Mongolian hot pot to innovative contemporary cuisine. Find our recommendations for fun Chinatown restaurants