A Booze-Free Guide to Boston for Dry January and Beyond
The best sober activities to do in Boston instead of drinking.
Feel-good science aside, eliminating or reducing your alcohol consumption often feels like an all-access pass to life’s whimsical playground. And another perk: you might wake up a little earlier and a bit more clear headed with a renewed sense of exploration.
Drying out a bit in Boston is a far-cry from sitting at home playing solitaire. We’re staying busy with a wellness brunch with craft mocktails, a newly opened non-alcoholic bottle shop, après ski dance party, balancing ritual spa sesh, and plenty of sledding peppered in for frequent wintery frolics. For Dry January and beyond, here's an ultimate guide to Boston without alcohol.
Non Alcoholic Wine and Non Alcoholic Drinks in Boston
South End, Prices vary
A first for Boston—the South End is the proud home of Dray, a new non-alcoholic package store in the South End. The booz-free packie has non-alcoholic wine, beer, hangover-free spirits, and ready-to-drink sips. Stop by to stock up, plan a date night, or hang sesh around your visit by grabbing dinner at Lenox Sophia. This much-loved spot, helmed by chef Shi Mei, serves a seasonal pre-fixe menu and allows BYO beer, wine, and zero-proof cocktails—making it a perfect pairing with Dray’s NA offerings.
Back Bay, Mocktails starting at $12
If you’re drying out a bit and dabbling in healthier foods, Davio’s new Awaken 180° Menu is where it's at. Entrees, such as Blackened Tuna or pasta with chicken sausage, are centered on 6-8 oz of protein and a hearty serving of vegetables. They skip the unhealthy oils, opting for olive oil instead, use sugar-free vinaigrettes, and replace carb-heavy pasta with zucchini noodles. Plus, you can indulge in their periwinkle-hued, zero-proof Lavender Butterfly Martini—a tonic, lavender, and lemon refresher. Trade the soothing lavender for the feisty pep of jalapeno’s bite, and the Spicy Paloma mocktail is at the ready.
Hot Chocolate, Coffee, and Board Games
January 17 and Ongoing
Citywide, Prices vary
A Hot Chocolate Test Kitchen? Hell ya; plus, it’s free. Spend January 17 taste-testing hot chocolate and innumerable toppings while playing board games or watching The Super Mario Bros. Movie! The Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Library hosts this DIY hot cocoa buffet with fixins ranging from classic cinnamon to edgier chili pepper flakes. Likewise, there’s a similar slow-your-roll, zero-proof vibe at Knight Moves Board Game Cafe in Brookline. They charge a $10 cover charge, which gives you all-day access to their hundreds of games. You can get a coffee for just $3 (gasp!), and there is free Wi-Fi.
There’s a whole lot of white noise out there. If you’re looking to raise your voice and enact change in the world, drop by Row 34 for a night of tasty bites, cocktails, mocktails, and advocacy education. Chef Jeremy Sewall is hosting Katherine Miller, author of At the Table, and she’ll discuss the techniques used to create the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. It’s as much about sustainable food as it is about channeling your chosen philanthropic efforts efficiently, plus how to get people's attention, recruit allies, and enact change.
January 20, 7 pm
Lovejoy Wharf, $10
Not only did Night Shift Brewing just put ski goggles on their owl mascot, but their first non-alcoholic beer, Featherweight, comes just in time to join the soiree and wake up on Sunday sans hangover. The brewery will be transformed into a cozy ski lodge, so plan your après-ware accordingly—think snuggly sweaters with Nordic motifs, trendy ski pants, chic winter boots, and faux fur hats. The Glitter Boys will be doing their usual DJ thing, spinning vinyl across the dance song catalogs of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Breakfast and Brunch
Citywide, Prices vary
Lentil and Kale Shakshuka and chamomile-infused NA gin drinks await at Para Maria’s Wellness Brunch—a cozy January experience. Each Saturday and Sunday, from 7 am–3 pm, they’re serving wellness and wonder in hearty portions. Order up some Buckwheat Pancakes with house-made blueberry compote and one of the many nuanced mocktails or mushroom coffee with cinnamon nutmeg foam. Looking to sleep in? Eastern Standard just launched brunch Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–3 pm, offering Cinnamon Toast French Toast and classic Steak and Eggs to pair with a non-alcoholic Sophisticated Lady (cranberry and cucumber).
Downtown, Starting at $48
We Bostonians are famous for tossing tea (into the harbor), but these days, we’re content to sit for proper afternoon tea. Silver Dove Afternoon Tea is giving approachable refinement, so you’ll feel right at home, even if it’s your first visit. The $48 pre-fixe menu includes a pot of tea, a tower of savory canapés—like classic Cucumber Sandwiches with lemon and herb cream cheese—and sweet treats, including White Chocolate Passion Fruit Cake. The tea list is oh-so Oolong long with everything from traditional Earl Grey to Laoshan Green Tea, Cederberg Cinnamon, and White Peach.
Wellness Activities to Do in Boston Instead of Drinking
Swap botanical craft cocktails for an immersive, hands-on aromatherapy sesh at Boston Public Market’s Lifebloom Candle Making. The candle bar offers 45-minute guided workshops where you can create a signature candle scent and pour your own 9 oz candle. Your candle must be cured (dry and set up correctly) for 2-hours before you can take it home, so savvy DIYers snag the earlier appointments. This way, you can shop the other vendors in the Public Market.
Everett, Starting at $260
Most treatments at the Spa at Encore Boston Harbor are a generous hour and a half, so there’s no counting the minutes hoping to relax ASAP. Instead, you’ll drift into relaxation during treatments like the Detox & Tone Massage (think gentle cactus bristles and Sea Buckthorn oil) and Mind and Body Balancing Ritual (cue the Himalayan Singing Bowl and Ayurvedic essential oils). Before and after, take advantage of the cold plunge pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna, and relaxation room.
Dorchester, Starting at $7 for community classes
Sweat is one of the body’s natural ways to release toxins and all-around ick that can dampen your swagger, and a hot yoga class is a glorious, healing sweat-fest. Not only does Open Doors Yoga Studio offer hot yoga sessions, but there are also warm sessions too, for those looking to ease into the experience. Once you’ve released and stretched, take your wellness journey a little further with events like their Manifestation + Vision Board Workshop on January 13. Hop on the waitlist and join a Candlelight Power Yoga (Hot) Slow Flow class, in the meantime.
Wednesdays, 6 pm
Warm up with the Afrobeats Dance Boston dance company. These free dance workouts—created in partnership with Boston Parks and Recreation Department and its Winter Fitness Series—are set to African Pop music and focus on celebrating dance and movement from Nigeria, Ghana, and more. This is one of those unicorn scenarios where you're feeling so damn good that you forget you’re actually working out. If you can't attend the free Wednesday classes at Vine Street Community Center, the studio’s regular schedule includes community classes starting at $15.
Sports Activities to Do in Boston Instead of Drinking
Fenway, Starting at $6
Staggering across the ice for a drunken Triple Lutz jump is ill-advised, so Dry January is the perfect time to up your ice skating swagger. Not only is The Rink 401 Park the heartbeat of The Fenway each winter, but it also offers 45-minute open skate sessions at its 6,000-square-foot ice rink for just $6. If you need to rent skates, it’s an extra $7. Better yet, take to the ice for free Iceflow Yoga on Sundays at 10 am. Plus, the Fenway community calendar is chock full of choose-your-own-adventure moments like live music, all-you-can-eat frites, and REI’s Saturday morning run club.
Still maximizing the frozen fun of Boston’s best winter experiences, sledding is a top-tier dry January activity. Get tipsy on twisty-turvy snow tubes and flying saucer-style sleds and laugh ‘til you’re crumpled in a glorious pile at the bottom of the hill. Yes, there are hills in town; you just have to know where to look. Danehy Park, in North Cambridge (near Gran Gusto and their lovely pizzas), has a doozy of a hill, and it's wide enough so other sledders won't cramp your style. Other options include Larz Anderson Park in Brookline, Boston Common, and the President’s Lawn at Tufts University, along the Somerville-Medford line.
It's easy to write off biking as a no-go in winter, but it's entirely doable and wonderfully freeing. Watch the forecast, and reserve a Blue Bike Adventure Pass when one of those sparkly-bright sunny days pop into the forecast. A $10 pass gets you 24-hour access to the thousands of bikes in Boston for unlimited 2-hour rides. Maybe you cycle over to your favorite coffee shop and use just one 2-hour session.