If you’re a fan of Hollywood movies, American history, politics and clam chowder, then Boston has plenty of things to do for you. Mention Boston and glass towers from Boston Legal or boardrooms from Ally McBeal might be images that jump to mind. But you only need to scratch lightly below the Hollywood veneer to discover that Boston is a high-achieving city of historical, political and intellectual significance.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s during the night or day; there are plenty of places to explore in Boston. As Boston is a compact and safe city, one of the benefits of visiting is, you’ll find many things to do in Boston at night too. Here are some of our top picks.
Boston At Night
20 Things To Do In Boston At Night
1- Stroll The Boston Common
One of the nation’s oldest public places, the Boston Common is a great place to visit all year round.
Established in 1634, 50 acres of green space (20.2 hectares) was once owned by William Blaxton, who was the first European settler in Boston.
During the Revolutionary War, the Commons was used as a British camp and The Boston Common and Public Gardens are on the National Landmark Register.
In 1837, the park was Boston’s first public botanical garden in 1837 and is open from April to September.
Visitors are drawn to its lagoon, ponds, and swan boats.
There are 80 species of plants and flowers planted twice a year in the public gardens and about 750 varieties of trees and shrubs.
Look out for the bronze statue from a famous children’s book by Robert McCloskey, “Make Way for The Ducklings.”
It has a skating rink in winter and is one of Boston’s most popular nighttime attractions.
2- Taste Boston clam chowder
The clam chowder at Ye Old Union Oyster House (41 Union Street) is one of the world-famous things to do in Boston.
Just ask US President Barack Obama, whose photo is on the wall of the restaurant.
The building that houses the restaurant also has a fascinating history.
Long before it became a restaurant, the building was a stage for a cast of interesting characters.
The future King of France (Louise Philippe) lived on the second floor when he was in exile in 1796. He earned his keep by teaching French to the young ladies of Boston.
The restaurant first opened as the Atwood and Bacon Oyster House 1826.
John F. Kennedy was a regular visitor. He used to pop in on the weekends for lobster stew.
If you want to channel JFK you can dine in the ’The Kennedy Booth’ but don’t be surprised if you end up being photographed by tourists.
3- Walk The Black Heritage Trail
Boston’s harbour was the scene of the 1773 Boston Tea Party, which was a trigger for the Revolution.
The British retaliated by invading the harbour, prompting silversmith Paul Revere’s “midnight ride” to warn American Revolution leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the invasion.
Take a walk along the Freedom Trail, which is a red line on the pavement leading to 16 historic sites.
4- Ride a horse and buggy
Back in 1775, soldiers used to ride horses through Boston warning the public that British colonial forces were approaching an attack.
Nighttime events in Boston have changed significantly over 240 years and the city is a modern metropolis with lots of cool spots.
Even so, one of the fun things to do in Boston at night is to go on a horse and buggy ride.
Several companies run tours from Chatham Street, which usually last from 15 to 30 minutes.
5- See the view at the Skywalk Observatory
The Skywalk Observatory is the place to go for a fantastic view of Boston after dark.
Not only is this one of the city’s tallest and most spectacular observation decks, but it is also open until 10 pm, giving you plenty of time at night to see the city lights.
The Observatory is in Prudential Tower (or The Pru), which is the 2nd-highest building in both Boston and New England.
The 52-floor building dates back to 1964 and is 749 feet (228 m) high.
It’s the 96th-highest building in the United States.
The Top of the Hub sits on the 52nd floor and the highest observation deck in New England offers views of the Charles River and many historical and cultural points of interest in the area.
6- Drink at The Cheers Bar
Boston has trendy cocktail spots and an impressive selection of bars, including classy wine bars, beer bars, Irish pubs and dive bars.
Whether you’re after a martini, a cold pint, a good glass of wine or a creative cocktail, Boston has no shortage of places where you can relax after dark.
What makes Boston’s bar scene extra special is the city is the birthplace of the original bar that inspired the hit TV show Cheers.
You can still visit this establishment in Beacon Hill today and although it doesn’t look exactly as it did on TV, after the success of the show, there is a second Cheers bar that was opened in Quincy Market, and it is built to look like the bar featured in Cheers.
7- Enjoy a Musical
It doesn’t matter when you’re visiting Boston; you’re likely to find at least a couple of musicals to attend.
Two excellent venues to keep an eye on are Emerson Colonial Theater Capitol Center for the Arts and Charles Playhouse Cutler Majestic Theater.
These theatres are renowned for hosting relatively large productions such as Hello, Dolly and Les Miserables.
8- Go On A Brewery Tour
There are several good breweries in Boston and some of them offer tours in the evening.
Samuel Adams provides exclusive VIP tours but you will have to pay to get a look behind the scenes.
Night Shift Brewing Company offers tours on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 pm, where you can learn how beer is made.
9- Go On A Cruise
One of the relaxing ways to see the city is from the water.
From culture to music to party cruises, the opportunity to see twinkling city lights while enjoying the sea breezes is an excellent way to explore Boston at night.
Enjoy a view of the skyline of the city of Boston as you enjoy a delicious dinner on a luxury liner.
There’s something exciting about sailing away from the harbour with a drink in hand past the Boston Tea Party site and the Bunker Hill Monument.
10- Go Clubbing
With big-name DJs, theme dance parties and VIP lists, the best clubs in Boston are a fun night out.
The hot spots to tick off your list are Venu, Memoire, Big Night Live, Bijou, Hava, Icon and Royale or hang out with a local crowd around Faneuil Hall.
There’s more of a restaurant scene in the north end, but certainly some cool bars as well.
There are some excellent high-end locations in the downtown/financial area and plenty of places in Harvard Square to rub elbows with ivy leaguers.
11- Museum of Fine Arts
A visit to Boston wouldn’t be complete without seeing one of the world’s finest art collections.
The MFA is home to 500,000 artworks and has one of the most extensive Monet collections not in Paris and has one of the most comprehensive Degas collections in the world.
There are also extensive Egyptian and Asian collections, Japanese sculpture, as well as Shinto and Buddhist art.
The museum has member nights throughout the year. Check their website here.
12- Boston Museum of Science
Explore the mysterious world of science at the Boston Museum of Science.
The kids will love the more than 600 immersive dinosaur displays, maps, computers, modern technology, algae and birds.
The museum is packed with exciting items including a world population display, a full-sized pace capsule, a virtual fish tank and the world’s largest lightning bolt generator.
Visit the Mugar Omni Theater and the Planetarium of Hayden.
The museum is open at night at up to 9 pm on Thursdays.
13- Eat Pizza in Little Italy
With a large population of Italian migrants, there are hundreds of pizzerias in Boston and you can eat some of the best pizza in the USA.
The best place for pizza is Little Italy, where there are about 50 pizza parlours that provide hungry locals and tourists mouthwatering pizzas. Other good neighbourhoods for eating pizza include the historic North End, Charlestown, Beacon Hill and the Blackstone Block.
14- Go on a Ghost Tour
Boston’s rich and colourful past makes it a hotspot for paranormal activities.
Going on a ghost tour of Boston at night will give you a glimpse of the darker side of the city, as you listen to legends and true tales of murder, spirits, and spooky stories.
Explore Boston’s grim past (remember the Boston Strangler Massacre?) and exploring its haunted corners is a spooky thing to do in Boston at night.
15- Shop at Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall Marketplace was declared “The Cradle of Liberty” in 1742 and a historic place.
Today, it’s a vibrant complex of shops, restaurants, bars and food stalls.
It’s where you can go to mingle with the locals or sit and watch a street performance.
Visiting the market is one of the things to do in Boston at night as there are over 70 retailers and a vibrant atmosphere.
16- Stargazing at Coit Observatory
The Judson B. Coit Observatory is housed on the roof of the CAS building at Boston University and features public open nights.
It’s run by the Boston University Astronomical Society and was named in honour of the university’s first professor of astronomy.
You’ll get to see Saturn and the moon and lots of other intriguing things through the Observatory’s Schmidt–Cassegrain telescopes.
Tickets are needed and the Observatory is open at night on Wednesdays from 8.30 to 9.30 pm as long as the weather is fine.
17- Take a tour of Harvard University
Established in 1636, Harvard University has long attracted the best minds from around the world.
The university is the USA’s oldest higher education institution and getting accepted into Harvard is almost as difficult as winning the lotto. But fortunately, there are over 100 other schools in the Boston area.
Around six percent of applicants are admitted to Harvard and they say that anyone who graduates is likely to become a millionaire before the age of 30.
Mark Zuckerberg blew that statistic out of the water when he invented Facebook.
His fortune is estimated to be $47 billion and he is the sixth richest person in the world.
BhumibalAduldejSongkla, King of Thailand, was born in Cambridge (in 1927) during the time his father was studying at Harvard’s medical school.
A tour of the campus is one of the fun things to do in Boston and usually pretty entertaining.
You’re likely to meet an engaging student who will entertain with funny stories about Harvard’s culture, architecture and its rivalry with Cambridge.
You might even meet a future Zuckerberg?
Get their autograph, just in case.
Visiting Harvard is certainly one of the things to do in Boston that you simply should not miss!
Most organised tours of Harvard are during the day but you might be able to find a student to show you around at night.
18- Walk the city
Unlike cities in Europe, where the old towns are usually preserved within a distinct boundary, Boston is an eclectic fusion of gleaming skyscrapers and stately historic architecture.
The Boston Common is the US’s oldest public park and is the social hub of the city.
The lawns are packed with people walking, cycling, picnicking and wedding parties posing for photographs around the lovely lake in the public gardens section.
Many of Boston’s buildings have a historic past.
The Langham Boston is a few blocks from Faneuil Hall, where America’s first town meeting was held.
The hotel itself is part of Boston’s history and was once the Federal Reserve Bank’s headquarters for New England.
The chandeliered BOND lounge is a hotspot for Boston’s beautiful people.
19- Take a tour of Boston’s movie locations
Looking for movie stars in Boston is not silly at all, as there is a constant supply of Hollywood faces in town.
Around 400 movies and TV shows have been filmed in Boston including The Social Network, Knight & Day, Shutter Island and The Proposal.
Sarah Jessica Parker had a room in The Langham for three weeks while filming I Don’t Know How She Does It and the tongues are wagging about Ben Affleck holding up traffic while photographing Boston’s streets on his iPhone.
A tour of movie locations with Movie Mile Walking Tour will have you sitting on the park bench used in Good Will Hunting or having a beer at the original bar from Cheers or exploring Jack Nicholson’s mob hangouts in The Departed.
Touring Boston’s movie locations are certainly one of the most novel things to do in Boston on a weekend.
You might even be lucky enough to be there while there’s a Hollywood crew filming in town.
Looking for a day trip?
One of the good things about visiting Boston is there are some amazing places to visit that are within driving distance, making it an excellent city to base yourself while exploring the area.
Fabulous weekend getaways to plan from Boston include the Berkshires, Stowe, Newport and Rockport.
One of the best things to do in Boston is to learn about American history.
To brush up on the American Revolution, take a tour of Quincy, which is a small city 15km from Boston and the birthplaces of two U.S. presidents: John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams.
Visit the saltbox house where John Adams was born in 1735 as well as Peacefield, the stately Adams mansion that was the summer White House of both Adams presidents.