Actually Cool Things You Can Still Do This Winter in Boston

There’s plenty to do this winter, we swear.

With colder weather upon us, making plans has become trickier than ever. As COVID-19 cases rise, holiday activities are, to no one’s surprise, looking quite different this year. However, with new rules and regulations in place, the city of Boston has found creative ways to celebrate the holiday season safely. Check out our list of cool things to do in and around Boston this winter. As always, be prepared to bring your mask and click on the different links listed to review updated guidelines and precautions.

Swing by SoWa’s Winter Pop-Up

South End
Already missing the SoWa Winter Festival this year? Look no further because from now until December 20, SoWa is teaming up Wyllo, a Boston-based shop that sells a curated collection of jewelry, clothing and accessories made by local women-owned businesses, to bring you SoWa’s Winter Pop-Up. Shop locally made goods crafted by some of the area’s most talented artists so you can get your one-of-a-kind Christmas presents on time this year.

Shop and dine at Somerville’s Bow Market 

Union Square
With new rules in place, Bow Market is now divided into three sections to meet social distancing guidelines. You’re still able to pop into the many shops, but as an extra precaution, you can also book a private shopping appointment or for only $5, make a 90-minute reservation online to dine at the market’s new fire pits.

Sip on the city’s best hot chocolate

Copley and Harvard Square
To satisfy your sweet cravings, holiday style, L.A. Burdick’s downtown and Cambridge locations got you covered. Between handmade chocolate snowmen to their famous “drinking chocolate,” one step into this house of homemade goodies and you’ll be filled with enough holiday spirit to get you through the rest of 2020.

Grab your skis and hit New England’s finest slopes 

Various locations
Looking to dig your skis out this winter? Whether you want to stick around close to the city or venture out for a bit of a road trip, New England has some of the best skiing in the country. Between the nearby Blue Hills or the picturesque Ski Butternut, you can still unleash your winter sport skills this holiday season. For a complete list, check out our roundup of the best slopes and Airbnbs for your next getaway. 

Get your curling on

Another opportunity to show off your winter sport skills (depending on how good your balance is), Seaport’s winter wonderland AKA Snowport offers free curling for you and your athletic crew. To reserve your lane, you can sign up online for a one-hour time slot. Also, as an added bonus, Snowport has a complimentary open-air sleigh ride that leads you into a One Seaport Courtyard and Seaport Common for an unforgettable winter stroll.

Add some holiday cheer with a fresh pine

Various locations 
On the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree? Boston has plenty of nearby options so you don’t have to travel far. Take your pick from Allston’s Boston Christmas Trees, Brighton’s McKay’s Christmas Trees, or for a city pop-up experience, check out Seaport's Tree Market or The Fenway Tree Shop. While you’re in the Fenway area, Tasty Burger will be serving up holiday-themed milkshakes like gingerbread and peppermint-chocolate to make the moment even more magical. 

Make time for a museum visit 

Various locations
To support Boston’s historical art scene and world famous exhibitions, pick up your tickets to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston or Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which are all still taking reservations online. You can also indulge in the city’s rich history by making a stop to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

Take a stroll under the holiday lights 

Various locations
Despite the city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremonies on hold, you can still admire the seasonal lights this year, but on your own schedule. Stroll under the lit Columbus Park trellis near the waterfront or take an evening walk through the Public Garden or Boston Common. Another option is to take part in Somerville’s annual Illuminations Tour. The city is encouraging residents and businesses to decorate their neighborhoods and on December 12, the Illuminations map will be available for those to embark on a self-guided tour through the local displays. Be sure to check back on the website to learn more.

Or travel to Gillette Stadium for a drive-through light show

Happening now until January 2, pack up the car and head over to Gillette for a dazzling drive-through holiday lights experience spread over a one-two mile course. While you’re there, you’ll drive under a 200-foot light tunnel in addition to witnessing over 40 light displays. Tickets are $35 per car and must be purchased online

For the first time ever, watch The Nutcracker from home

If you’ve ever dreamed of sitting front row at the Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker, you can at least catch the breathtaking action from home this year. For the time in the show’s history, the classical ballet will air on TV and for a short time on the Boston Ballet’s website. To prepare for your personal viewing party, check out the time and dates online, including a special Christmas day showing.

Have a movie night at Harpoon Brewery

A city staple, Harpoon Brewery is hosting holiday-themed movie nights throughout December. A reservation for two will cost you around $50, which includes one beer token per person, pretzel, candy canes, popcorn and access to their full beer list (including the newest seasonal release “From Nova Scotia With Love”) but if you’re more comfortable sipping from home, Harpoon is also offering virtual tastings so you can get your craft beer fix without leaving the house (prices may vary).

Dine outdoors at these local restaurants 

Various locations
As restaurants across the city continue to meet the pandemic’s ever changing rules and regulations, you can still browse through our list of Boston’s outdoor dining spots, including options with heated patios like Mare Oyster Bar in the North End, The Barking Crab in Seaport and Colette in Porter Square.

Make gourmet meals at home with Eataly Boston

With Eataly Boston’s At Home Box, each week, you can select high-quality ingredients to stock up your fridge or pantry. Choose from fresh and dried pasta, sauces, olive oil, fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, desserts, and more. Delivery is a bit pricey, coming in at $25 if your cart is less than $200. However, for those special occasions, it’s worth every penny. 

Or order a few DIY meal kits from your favorite local restaurants 

Some of Boston’s beloved dining destinations and hotspots for a grab-and-go meal are continuing to offer crafty DIY food kits for those creative nights. The North End’s neighborhood pizzeria Ducali has pizza kits available for pick-up, featuring pies fit to feed 2-3 people equipped with their house made (and delicious) pomodoro or pesto sauces. Anna’s Taqueria, one of Boston’s best burrito spots, has launched their own “Take-Home Nacho (Average) Kits,” available to-go or for delivery (there’s also an option to donate a meal to a frontline worker while you’re perusing the site for toppings). Lastly, Row 34 Boston is selling “Lobster Roll for 2” kits available for pick-up featuring a creamy lobster salad plus all the fixings you need to assemble the iconic lobster roll home with homemade chips, coleslaw, and preparation instructions by Chef Jeremy Sewall.

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Jillian Hammell is a contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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