Boston Essentials

A laundry list of Boston's activities, eateries, walks and freebies.

Nightlife Essentials: Best Places to ...


At Doyle's Cafe in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, local politicians and journalists with competing reputations and egos have engaged in heated debate here for decades. A wall mural offers a parade of characters, including former Mayor Kevin White; the legendary Boston chronicler, Alan Lupo and "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, the maternal grandfather of President John F. Kennedy. The bar and hamburger joint was the set for movies such as The Brink’s Job starring Peter Falk in 1979 and Mystic River in 2003 starring Sean Penn, directed by Clint Eastwood, and based on a novel by Boston writer Dennis Lehane.

Deep Ellum is a popular bar in Boston's Allston neighborhood for students attending Boston University, Boston College and oodles of other smaller colleges in the area. Proprietors Aaron Sanders, Max Toste and Josh Velazquez, who opened it in 2007, are serious about their beer selection, and pints can be imbibed on the outdoor patio in warm weather.


The Sanctuary near Faneuil Hall. Lines often form to get into this bar in the downtown financial district, which offers guests three separate clubs: Purgatory, Heaven and Hell.

Alibi in the new Liberty Hotel. This newly opened bar immediately became popular among young urban professionals.


Bloody Mary: The Top of the Hub restaurant on the 52d floor of the Prudential Tower is pricey, charging more than $10 for a BLT sandwich. But the Hub's 360-degree views can be enjoyed on a sunny Sunday afternoon or after a late night on the town. The lounge is open late on weekends.

Champagne: The Bar at Taj Boston hotel (formerly the Ritz-Carlton) overlooks the manicured Boston Public Garden, and all drinks include a view of the Garden through floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar was opened in the 1930s after Prohibition was repealed. Suggested times: the Garden's fall leaves are brilliant, and summer plantings are profuse.


Boston is a white-hot music center, whether you're talking about Aerosmith, which started in Boston, the local punk band Drop Kick Murphys, concerts at Harvard, Berklee College of Music, Boston University, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Hatch Shell on the Charles River and too many others too name. But Boston and Cambridge get special credit for trying to preserve America's jazz tradition.

Wally's Cafe Jazz Club is a postage-stamp of a jazz club that founded in 1934 by Joseph “Wally” Walcott and run by his descendants. Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Billie Holiday hung out there in the 1950s and young musicians today keep the tradition alive at Wally's.

Berklee College, as well as The Regattabar Jazz Club at the Charles Hotel and Ryles, both in Cambridge, are also frequent jazz venues.

Outdoor Essentials: Best Places to ...


Every May, the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain hosts Lilac Sunday where visitors can walk miles of green acreage to see lilacs or rose gardens, evergreen stands and wild flowers throughout other times of the year.


The Lantern Festival at the Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain where visitors write messages to departed loved ones and set them afloat on a pond in the 250-acre cemetery.


Webster Street, a trendy neighborhood on Boston Harbor in East Boston, provides a stunning view of the city lights at night.


As part of the new John Joseph Moakley Courthouse, named for the popular congressman who died in May 2001, the city landscaped a park and walkway along the Boston Harbor that looks across to the city's harbor and downtown.


Crane Beach in Ipswich on the coastline north of Boston is a long, sweeping beach. When the tide goes out, visitors can walk out to the sandbars in shallow water warmed by the July or August sun. The water isn't always warm, even at summer peak, but chances are better than in June or September of a good day for swimming.

Horseneck Beach on Buzzard's Bay on the coastline south of Boston stretches for two miles near Buzzard's Bay and offers warm, swimmable waters from the Fourth of July on and a steady breeze even on sweltering August days. The long, shallow beach is inviting for children and breezes make it a good place to body surf; however, boogie boards are not allowed. A big parking lot and a location an hour's drive from Boston make it an appealing alternative to Cape Cod.

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