Boston NightlifeEven if Boston isn’t exactly “the City that Never Sleeps,” don’t start fluffing your pillow once the sun sets over the John Hancock Tower. The “Hub of the Universe” still offers a variety of activities to keep you well-entertained after dark.
AllstonLive music venues thrive in Boston, long a haven for talented, creative souls. Everyone knows Aerosmith (aka “The Bad Boys from Boston”) and the big-haired band members of Boston hail from Beantown. And, try as some might, there's no forgetting the boy bands of the 1980s—New Edition and New Kids on the Block—first drove teenyboppers wild in their native Boston. But did you know new wave rockers The Cars, '60s folk singer Joan Baez and the punk-influenced Pixies also practiced their performance skills here before conquering national audiences?
One of the best places to catch rising talent in concert is Allston, a funky neighborhood whose music ties have earned it the nickname “Allston Rock City.” Located on the fringes of Allston near Boston University, Paradise Rock Club (967 Commonwealth Ave.) first rocked Boston more than 3 decades ago, but thanks to great acoustics and a friendly, professional staff, locals continue to line up outside the landmark theater. Great Scott (1222 Commonwealth Ave.) is just west of The Paradise, directly across from the Green Line's Harvard Avenue stop. Head for the bar's green and gold awning and you'll be downing Jägerbombs in no time. The club presents deafening live acts regularly, with shows generally costing $15 or less. Just keep in mind, like many area dives, this haven for the tattooed and pierced crowd only accepts cash. Phone (617) 562-8800 for Paradise Rock Club or (617) 566-9014 for Great Scott.
When the scene at Great Scott gets old, move the party to the Model Cafe (7 N. Beacon St.) or the Silhouette Lounge (200 Brighton Ave.), two other Allston holes-in-the-wall where the drinks are strong, the bathrooms are dirty and the jukebox selections are stellar. Phone (617) 254-9365 for Model Cafe or (617) 206-4565 for Silhouette Lounge.
Or, for a grunge-free experience, steer your posse in the direction of Deep Ellum (477 Cambridge St.). Named after an arts and entertainment district in Dallas, this casual saloon touts hearty bar food (deviled eggs, wurst and truffled Gorgonzola fries) as well as curiously named cocktails—from the Mexican Happy Meal to the Man With No Name; phone (617) 787-2337. Next-door at sister establishment Lone Star Taco Bar , you can pop pickled jalapeños while sipping a michelada, a blend of beer, spices and a tomato-lime juice, served up in a salt-rimmed glass; phone (617) 782-8226.
Back Bay & South EndTrendy wine bars and upscale restaurants are everywhere in the Back Bay, one of the city's priciest residential neighborhoods as well as a major shopping destination. When quitting time rolls around, young professionals pack Boylston Street mainstays like McGreevy's , (617) 262-0911, and The Pour House , (617) 236-1767.
Many proprietors in this bustling commercial area bring in weekday after-work crowds with cheap eats, rather than drink specials, as happy hour is banned in Massachusetts. For banging late-night specials any day of the week, get over to Bukowski Tavern (50 Dalton St.). Tucked into the side of a parking garage just off Boylston Street, the cash-only dive serves up souped-up greasy spoon-type fare (poutine potato nuggets!) with an impish sense of humor (if this place had a swear jar, it would be the size of a steel drum). For such a tiny place, the hipster haunt can get surprisingly rowdy, but the long list of craft beers makes up for the deafeningly loud music and zoo-like atmosphere. Phone (617) 437-9999.
Established in 1947, Wally's Café is all that remains of a district once buzzing with the beats of several dynamic jazz halls. Originally located across the street (it moved into an unassuming red-bricked structure at 427 Massachusetts Ave. in 1979), this gritty South End club has evolved into a training ground for students of Berklee and Conservatory at Berklee and the New England Conservatory of Music. Jazz and blues jam sessions also are the norm at The Beehive Boston (541 Tremont St.), a bohemian supper club that's been attracting lovers of saxophone solos, bebop and champagne cocktails to the Boston Center for the Arts' Cyclorama building since 2007. Phone (617) 424-1408 for Wally's Café or (617) 423-0069 for The Beehive.
Beacon Hill & West EndWe get why it's on your to-do list. A round of drinks at Cheers is good for a few laughs, even if Sam, Carla, Woody and the rest of the gang from the bygone “Must See TV” comedy series aren't there to clink mugs with you. No matter who's doing the pouring, one thing's for certain: Nobody will know your name but everybody will know you're a tourist. The original bar is in the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, across from the Public Garden. Founded in 1969 as the Bull & Finch Pub, Cheers Beacon Hill (84 Beacon St.) features the familiar exterior seen in the show's opening credits. Phone (617) 227-9605 for Cheers Beacon Hill or (617) 227-0150 for the Faneuil Hall location. This is a must-see during your trip, especially if you're the type who still loves to watch old Cheers reruns.
Old meets new in another storied Boston neighborhood, the West End, where the former “drunk tank” of the Charles Street Jail (now the ultra-chic The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Boston ) has been transformed into the Alibi Lounge (215 Charles St.). Bring your “crew” and order a round from the cheeky cocktail menu, which lists beverages like the refreshing Cool Hand Cuke and the intoxicatingly sweet Vice Squad; phone (857) 241-1144.
If handcrafted lagers are more your thing, pop into Beer Works Brewery on Canal Street near the TD Garden, where both the Celtics and the Bruins play. The spacious two-level sports bar features championship billiard tables and plenty of flat-screen TVs tuned in to the must-see game of the moment; phone (617) 896-2337.
A number of other pubs in the West End's historic Bulfinch Triangle district cater to TD Garden spectators, with the most esteemed being The Fours Boston (166 Canal St.). The dizzying collection of New England team memorabilia covering the walls is sure to make any sports fanatic weak in the knees. The bar’s moniker is an homage to the legendary “Number 4, Bobby Orr,” who skated into NHL history when he made his regular season debut as a Boston Bruin in 1966. Even the house special (a tasty steak tip sandwich) is named after the record-breaking defenseman. Phone (617) 720-4455.
Downtown & Faneuil HallA magnet for out-of-towners is at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The 16,000-square-foot Hard Rock Cafe (22-24 Clinton St.) attracts vacationing partygoers with live music and pool tables; phone (617) 424-7625.
Also at the downtown marketplace is the Hong Kong (65 Chatham St.). Vacationers looking to make new friends will appreciate the two-story bar and dance club's meant-to-be-shared Scorpion Bowl, an intoxicating specialty drink loaded with extra-long straws; phone (617) 227-2226.
If you're hungry, open the stark red door to The Black Rose (160 State St.), a timeless wood-paneled Irish pub dishing up down-home eats and nightly entertainment. After your big bangers and mash dinner, peruse the beer selection at Hennessy's of Boston (25 Union St.), also on the fringes of Faneuil Hall Marketplace. You won't need to ask about places to eat because your taste buds won't be disappointed here. Phone (617) 742-2286 for The Black Rose or (617) 742-2121 for Hennessy's of Boston.
Just a stone's throw away from Hennessy's is The Bell in Hand Tavern (45 Union St.), in business locally since the town crier christened the operation back in 1795; phone (617) 227-2098. A dimly lit, bricked lane running alongside The Bell in Hand leads to The Green Dragon Tavern , (617) 367-0055, named after a bygone watering hole where 18th-century Revolutionary leaders often met, likely over a few mugs of ale. Samuel Adams still lingers at many a table, as the patriot's image appears on bottled lagers bearing his name. While you're in town, raise a toast to the Boston-born statesman at Beantown Pub (100 Tremont St.), a billiards bar located directly across from Adams' final resting place, Granary Burying Ground. Phone (617) 426-0111.
Fenway-KenmoreA massive guiding light for bah hoppahs is Boston's landmark CITGO sign. The red, white and blue icon overlooks Kenmore Square, home to classy Commonwealth Avenue joints like Island Creek Oyster Bar (the selection of wine and spirits is just as extensive as the food menu) and The Hawthorne (servers are big on mixology, not on ‘tude). Also here is brunch favorite Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks , a French brasserie-style restaurant that, with Fenway Park just around the corner, is a smart choice for pre- and post-Sox game drinks. Phone (617) 532-5300 for Island Creek Oyster Bar, (617) 532-9150 for The Hawthorne or (617) 532-9100 for Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks.
Running alongside Fenway Park is Lansdowne Street, long one of the city's most popular nightlife destinations. Saturated with jostling alpha males and body-hugging fashions exhibited by both sexes, the district is headlined by House of Blues Restaurant & Bar , (888) 693-2583. Like its folk art-loving namesakes across the country, the music hall and restaurant offers varied musical talents most nights. (Fun fact: The very first HOB operated in a historic Colonial house in Cambridge 1992-2003.)
Obviously, Lansdowne Street's proximity to the Green Monster dictates a heavy presence of sports bars. But The Bleacher Bar offers something pretty special: free front-row seats inside Fenway Park. Occupying a space that formerly served as the away team's batting cage, this popular day and evening hangout boasts a large window that looks directly out over center field (a smaller, well-placed aperture also is in the men's restroom). There's never a cover charge, so you'll find it perpetually overflowing with jersey-clad Bostonians itching to cheer on their beloved nine-time World Series champs. This spot is a must-see for anyone looking for sports-related fun places to go; phone (617) 262-2424.
For many diehard Sox fans, Cask'n Flagon (62 Brookline Ave.) is the only place to be on game day. Sit outside and watch the spectacle unfold outside Fenway's emerald-hued left field wall or grab an indoor table and scrutinize the Cask's impressive array of baseball memorabilia. Most Friday and Saturday nights, a DJ spins a diverse mix (everything from Top 40 hits to hip-hop anthems) at the Cask's nightclub, Olivers, a tribute to the bar's former existence as a live concert venue (1969-73), when the voices of many a future rock legend (Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Tyler) thundered through the building. Phone (617) 536-4840.
Proud Red Sox Nation citizens also crowd Game On! , opposite Cask'n Flagon at 82 Lansdowne St. With more than 90 televisions and a state-of-the-art sound system, it's the next best thing to being at the game. Downstairs, heated table tennis battles ensue in front of an imitation Fenway Park scoreboard at Blazing Paddles, Game On's Ping-Pong palace. Phone (617) 351-7001.
South BostonMost longtime denizens of “Southie” would rather root for the Los Angeles Lakers (the Boston Celtics' hated rival) than set foot in the swank establishments springing up in the ever-evolving Waterfront district, a redeveloped section of historic South Boston. Still, the area's high-end chains (Morton's, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse) stay crowded with suits thanks to the proximity of a federal courthouse and the Seaport World Trade Center.
Best known for its Harpoon IPA, Harpoon Brewery, founded in 1986, offers tours of its Northern Avenue facility and also has a beer hall with dramatic views of the city skyline. If you're not keen on beer, wet your whistle at Drink (348 Congress St.). The basement-level craft cocktail bar touts U-shaped drink stations staffed by expert mixologists. Of course, no menu and personalized service equates to long wait times, especially on weekends. Phone (617) 456-2322 for Harpoon Beer Hall or (617) 695-1806 for Drink.
On Saturday and Sunday nights you'll find a packed house at Lucky's Lounge (355 Congress St.), a subterranean watering hole that's big on nostalgia. Surrounded by black-and-white photos of Old Hollywood stars, live acts (including a Frank Sinatra tribute band) provide the perfect soundtrack for cocktail hour schmoozing. Adding to the chill atmosphere are barkeeps with heavy Bawstin accents (think DiCaprio and Damon in “The Departed”) who sling Jack and Cokes and upmarket pub grub. Phone (617) 357-5825.
Other AreasSurvey an undulating Charles River and a star-speckled city skyline as gifted vocalists, pianists and brass players wail at Scullers Jazz Club , in the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Boston-Cambridge at 400 Soldiers Field Rd.; phone (617) 562-4111. Across the waterway in Cambridge, you'll see many an aspiring musician entertaining biology majors and Harvard dropouts in subway tunnels, on street corners and in such longtime lairs of cool as Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., (617) 492-7679, and The Nameless Coffeehouse, 3 Church St.
Or, dance the Irish jig to The Burren, at 247 Elm St. in Somerville, a diverse city just north of Cambridge with a happening nightlife scene of its own. Phone (617) 776-6896.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
The state sales tax in Massachusetts is 6.25 percent. Combined city and state taxes on hotel occupancy in Boston is 14.45 percent.
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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, (617) 667-7000; Boston Medical Center, (617) 638-8000; Massachusetts General Hospital, (617) 726-2000; Tufts Medical Center, (617) 636-5000.
2 Copley Place, Suite 105 Boston, MA 02116. Phone:(617)536-4100 or (888)733-2678
Logan International Airport (BOS) is just 3 miles east of downtown across Boston Inner Harbor.
Boston is served by most major rental car agencies. Hertz provides discounts to AAA members; phone (617) 568-5200 or (800) 654-3131.
Amtrak offers service to and from New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., out of Boston's South Station at Atlantic Avenue and Summer Street. Connections to all points in the national Amtrak system can be made at the Back Bay Station, 145 Dartmouth St.; phone (800) 872-7245 for reservations and information. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates commuter rail service; phone (617) 222-3200.
Greyhound Lines Inc., (800) 231-2222, and Peter Pan Bus Lines, (800) 343-9999, operate from South Station.
Cruiseport Boston’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal is at 1 Black Falcon Ave. in South Boston.
Cabs in Boston are metered, with the fare $2.60 for the first 1/7 mile or less and 40c for every 1/7 mile thereafter. Phoning for a pickup or going to a hotel taxi stand is easier than hailing a cab on the street. Local companies include the Independent Taxi Operators Association, (617) 268-1313. Limousine service is available throughout the Boston area for about $80 an hour, normally with a 4-hour minimum.
Transportation by trolley, bus, boat and subway is available in Boston.