1. Holiday Pop-Up Bar
We love festive holiday drinks at Ye Olde Tavern Tours! If you do too, we might see you at a Miracle pop-up bar around Massachusetts. This popular event started in NYC and now spreads holiday cheer worldwide, including the Marlowe Hotel in Cambridge, Mystic Station in Malden, and the Citizen in Worcester. Given Boston’s history as a major rum producer, we recommend the “Bad Santa,” a rum-based cocktail with citrus, spices, and coconut! Open the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas.
2. Boston Common Tree Lighting
Boston is not short on holiday cheer when it comes to lighting up the city. If you want to see one of the biggest tree lighting ceremonies in action, head to the Visitor’s Information Center on Boston Common on Thursday, December 5th from 6-9pm. There will be refreshments, music, and (of course) Santa until the lights start coming on around 7:55pm. Over 80 trees throughout the Common and Public Garden will be lit up.
Also, while you’re in the area check out the historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill. Quaint Charles Street will close down to cars from 6-9pm. You can get a start on your holiday shopping and enjoy the carolers!
3. Ice Skating on Frog Pond
The Boston Common gets festive during the day time too – check out the frog pond for some ice skating! Open at 10am every day over the winter (except some holidays), adults skate for $6 and children (under 58 inches) get in free. You can also rent skates and skating aids.
4. Boston Beers + History
Start the holiday season off right with Ye Olde Tavern Tours! We’ll take you down the Freedom Trail, serve up some New England winter beers, and teach you about Boston’s history, including an epic snowball fight that ended in the…you’ll have to join us to find out!
5. Santa Speedo Run
If a Turkey Trot sounds like a bit much for you (a whole 5K?!), we have the perfect holiday training regimen--the Santa Speedo Run! On Saturday, December 14, join a group of runners/drinkers on a one-mile run through Back Bay, which starts and ends with libations. One minor detail: Most of the runners will only be wearing speedos and Santa hats! While the costume isn’t necessary, they do recommend dressing in holiday cheer and helping out the Play Ball! Charity, which you can do as a spectator as well.
6. SoWa Holiday Weekend
We love the South End's SoWa market (short for South of Washington St.) on any Sunday, but it’s especially festive during the holidays. It will be open in the evening on Friday, December 6 and all day December 7 and 8 for a special holiday weekend. It’s always full of art, shops, and food, but to get into the holiday spirit there will be ice sculptures, handmade gifts, and holiday DIY workshops as well!
No visit to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts would be complete without seeing the 3,000 years of history housed in the Art of the Americas wing. Covering four floors, you can tour North, Central, and South America in just a couple of hours… but our favorite exhibits feature Revolutionary-era Boston! The museum is open seven days a week, with free admission (donations always welcome) Wednesdays after 4pm.
1. John Singleton Copley’s famous portraits of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Warren, and Mercy Otis Warren
Copley painted these players in Revolutionary Boston as events heated up in the late 1760s and early 1770s (to learn more, join us on a Freedom Trail tour)! Copley was born in Boston and was the town’s preeminent portrait painter, but he married a loyalist and set sail for London in 1774, never to return. Our podcast, Beer Makes History, episode #7 talks more about Copley and the men and women he painted.
2. Paul Revere’s Sons of Liberty Bowl and other metalwork
Made of silver and engraved in 1768, this bowl honors the “Glorious Ninety-Two,” members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter they signed protesting the Townshend Duties of 1767. You’ll find more of Revere’s work encased nearby this national treasure.
3. 18th-century Furniture
You'll have serious design envy when you see some of the gorgeously intricate furniture pieces. The MFA has several different items that were created in New England and are in amazing condition. This bookcase and desk will make you want to take out some paper and quill and write an actual letter.
4. “The Athenaeum Portrait” of George Washington
You'll be able to spot this painting pretty easily--you've definitely seen it before. Artist Gilbert Stuart first painted George Washington in 1795. Martha Washington liked the painting so much, she asked her husband to sit for another portrait, but Stuart left the painting unfinished so he wouldn’t have to part with it. This image of Washington appears on the one-dollar bill.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, for beer! We love pumpkin beers--we highlight our favorite below--but there's a bountiful harvest of other Autumn beers and wanted to share our favorites.
1. Jack's Abby Copper Legend
This seasonal beer is dangerously smooth in its taste. Jack's Abby only makes lagers and this one is malty and balanced. It's 5.7% ABV, but you wouldn't know it--like we said, it's smooth. It's only available until the end of the month, so grab it now!
2. Downeast Pumpkin Cider
Okay, so this one isn't a beer, but a cider. And it's delicious. On our tours we often serve Downeast Original Blend, but join us this time of year to try our favorite seasonal cider. This pumpkin cider is insanely delicious. It's hard to oversell it. It's not overly pumpkin-y--the most prevalent notes are chai spices.
3. Harpoon Flannel Friday
This is the beer equivalent of needing a flannel as the weather gets cooler. Hoppy and malty with a gorgeous amber color, we recommend drinking this beer while cozying at home or in Harpoon's beer hall in Boston's Seaport District.
4. Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale
Pumpkin beers are ubiquitous these days, but Shipyard was making pumpkin beer before it was cool. This beer is a cult favorite in New England and bonus points if you put a cinnamon sugar rim on your glass.
5. Night Shift Awake
Porters are a wonderful beer to drink in the late fall. Appropriately named Awake, this porter is brewed with coffee and that'll be obvious before you even take a sip. It's a robust 6.7% and with its hints of chocolate, it's a delicious way to finish off a hearty dinner.
Ye Olde Tavern Tours is excited to create and sponsor a new podcast – Beer Makes History! Each episode pairs Boston’s revolutionary (and drunken) past with a craft beer. We hope you’ll drink, learn, and laugh along with us as we explore events from 1763 to 1776. If our fun co-hosts get you in the mood for more history, check out these other historical podcasts we enjoy:
This Washington Post podcast tackles each US president, one-by-one. Host Lillian Cunningham brings on expert biographers, like Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, to recap the life and legacy of every president. It’s understandable to go in order or start with the big names, but we recommend checking out some of the more obscure presidents (like Episode 13’s Millard Fillmore) to learn something new and find out why they remain in the shadows.
2. The Dollop
Two comedians get together to talk history. The catch? One does the research and one is hearing about the topic for the first time. Hilarity ensues. Topics run the gamut from “Ten Cent Beer Night” (Episode 15) to the “1919 Boston Police Strike” (Episode 256). Spoiler alert: they both end badly.
3. Hardcore History
Dan Carlin’s podcast has been around since before podcasts were cool, and a lot of his deep dives go back way further than that. From the Mongol Empire to a six-part series on the First World War, Carlin’s episodes incorporate history, thought experiments, and personal touches that bring history to life.
4. Back Story and Past Present
In both podcasts, historians explore the history of current events. Back Story focuses on a single issue each week, including major topics like reparations and more niche explorations like the history of solitude. Past Present tackles three issues in politics or pop culture, like Episode 177 titled “Ancestry.com, Vigilante Border Patrol Groups, and Cargo Shorts.” Both provide excellent fodder for dinner conversation with friends!