Boston in Winter: Chilly, Cozy, and Affordable

by  Laura Motta | Nov 5, 2013
Liberty Hotel
Liberty Hotel / Photo courtesy of the property

As Boston braces for colder weather – and revels in the World Series success of its beloved Red Sox – this small city with a big cultural pedigree offers plenty to see, and plenty of bargains. While a sunny stroll through the picturesque Public Garden might be out of the question, or at least an endeavor to be approached with caution and a really thick scarf, Boston’s indoor delights shine bright in winter.  Here’s a sampling of winter activities in Boston, many of which cost twice as much in warmer months.

The Hotels

Boston is great hotel city. We’ve always swooned over the 5-star Liberty Hotel (from $299 through winter), which is built into a gloriously refurbished Civil War-era prison, and the Ames (from $219 through winter), with its combination of formidable old architecture and bright, modern interior design. But this season, we’re finding it tough to resist the Nine Zero for its impeccable location near Boston Common and its easygoing friendliness. With a daily wine hour, loaner iPads, and rooms that comfortably accommodate pets, guests are made to feel like members of the family – if your family happens to live in a chic, 4-star hotel with sweeping skyline views from its top floors. It’s also in the process of opening a new lounge called Highball, which will feature craft beer and vintage cocktails. The best part? Winter rates at this property are looking great at $179 for select dates in November, and early next year.

The Orchestra

It was big news in Boston and in the classical music world this past spring when the Boston Symphony Orchestra named its new maestro, 34-year-old Andris Nelsons, who hails from Latvia. Unfortunately, you’ll need to wait another year to see him regularly conducting at Boston’s venerable Symphony Hall, which is widely believed to have some of the most perfect acoustics on earth. In the meantime, you can try – good luck – to catch him in a single performance on March 6. There are still some limited seats available for $37-$45 dollars – solidly affordable for a first glimpse at the 133-year-old orchestra’s future. Or, you can try any other night during the orchestra’s winter/spring season, when those $37 seats are much more plentiful for concerts that run the gamut from Mozart to “West Side Story.” Or, try to grab one of the limited $9 rush seats that are available for many performances. You’ll need to line up at Symphony Hall to get those on the day of the performance, but for $9, it’s a worthwhile time investment.

The Theater

Boston often plays host to the biggest of Broadway’s musicals, and in halls and theaters that rival – and occasionally best – New York in shear opulence and beauty. You can wait until spring for the national tour of The Book of Mormon to sit down in Boston’s Music Hall. (Hint: Tickets will be more readily available, and more affordable, than in New York.) Or, try the 2012 Tony Winner Once, which comes to Boston in January, or the noisy Green Day-penned rock opera American Idiot, which is slated for a Music Hall run in February.  And be sure to check BosTix, Boston’s equivalent of New York’s TKTS booth, which offers steep discounts on same-day theater.

The Museum

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s most famous art museum, got a major facelift in 2011 with the addition of a new wing for its Art of the Americas collection. If you haven’t seen it yet, its sleek glass halls are worth a look, and stand as an incredible contrast to the Beaux Art-style of the rest of the building. This winter and spring, the museum will be awash in color while Boston battles its typical cold winters. Exhibits include an exploration of the color pink (think antique ballgowns, jewelry, and paintings; through May 26), and 90 of John Singer Sargent’s watercolors (through January 20).  Regular museum admission is $25, but you can pay what you wish on Wednesday afternoons after 4:00.

The Sports

It behooves us, of course, in any cultural tour of Boston to mention its sporting history. We shudder to think what a World Series win will do the price of Red Sox tickets next season, but that’s a long way away. While Boston pines for spring, you can capture some of its indefatigable sports spirit by attending a Celtics basketball game starting at around $60 a ticket. Compare that to $109 for the New England Patriots (who don't actually play in Boston), or about $80 for a Bruins game (although some limited pockets of cheaper seats exist). It’s your best bet for a night of Boston sports that won’t shatter your wallet along with your personal sports allegiances.

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