What We’re Looking Forward to in Boston in 2021

Things are looking up already.

We feel as weird writing this as you probably feel reading it. While we’re hella excited for 2021, we’re also having problems mustering—what is that word—excitement? We’re still facing down a dark winter, the news headlines are pretty bleak across the board, and there’s still no clear timeline for a return to normalcy. But as we daydream of long hugs, live music, and three-hour indoor restaurant meals, we’re also starting to muster hope for some of the things that could happen in the city this year, be it a new restaurant opening or the return of a beloved event. Here are the things we’re looking forward to in Boston in 2021.

Cheering on marathoners in the fall 

We already know that our traditional Patriot’s Day revelry is canceled. Again. Pfft. But we put our faith in Fauci, who seems optimistic about large(r) gatherings starting in August. And so, with the marathon is slated to take place sometime this fall, we’re choosing to believe in the return of our running

Ordering from brand new restaurants

We already know some of what’s coming: Comfort Kitchen in Upham’s CornerFoundation Kitchen in Charlestown. Douglass Williams’ second MIDA outpost in Newtonville. Geppetto in Cambridge Crossing. Cicada Coffee Bar in Central Square. The long-delayed opening of High Street Place, Downtown Crossing’s food hall. And those are just the ones we’ve heard about so far.  

Ordering from our old favorites as they reopen

For every new eatery slated to debut this year, there are at least 10 restaurants slated to reopen this spring after a winter hibernation. Said hibernations were done in the name of survival, so we owe it to our favorites, new and old, to revisit their shores once the time is right. We’re pretty excited to check out Atlantico, for example, which had barely opened before it shuttered.

Stopping to smell the flowers at Lilac Sunday at the Arboretum

It made sense to cancel it at the time. Back in May 2020, we didn’t really know what the hell we were doing. But 14 months into the pandemic, we definitely know how to stop and safely savor one of life’s simplest pleasures: the fragrant pleasures of more than 400 lilac bushes blooming at once. (And yes, the scents are strong enough to penetrate your face masks.) If we have to sprint in and out of the arboretum in 20-minute increments, so be it.

Rocking out at Boston Calling

This one feels like wishful thinking, but why not wish? Last year we lost out on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine,  and the Foo Fighters, so we’re owed big-time. Currently scheduled for the end of May, the annual music fest is very much in wait-and-see mode. We’ll see if it’s delayed, but we’re allowing ourselves the belief that it happens sometime in 2021.

Enjoying some regional getaways

Flying to an exotic locale still feels far-fetched, but a lower-stress road trip to Maine or the Cape? We’re feeling semi-confident. Our divine hope is that come summer, we’re able to properly vacation around our beloved region: hit the beach, enjoy alfresco drinks with friends (!), and, yup, check out some new hotels. We already know about The Beatrice, a soon-to-open boutique hotel in Providence, and the revamp and reopening of Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport, coming sometime this spring. Then there are the spots like Block Island Beach House, which technically opened last summer but haven’t yet had a chance to properly stretch their legs, and The From Away Lodge by Todd Snyder at Hidden Pond.

Watching the spectacle that is the Head of the Charles

Again, call us optimists, but this one feels doable. Sure, we probably won’t be hanging off the Longfellow Bridge cheering on our favorite crews, but we can envision a modified weekend full of races and socially distanced viewing.

The early return of outdoor dining

We already know the plans for Boston: the 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot Program starts April 1—or even earlier if the weather decides to be our buddy. More restaurants using more city space to create more seating means more opportunity to support our restaurants, and earlier. Sign us up.

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Meaghan Agnew is a Boston-based contributor to Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.