If you’re looking to avoid the crowds that flock to Irish pubs and the St. Patrick’s / Evacuation Day Parade (fun fact: Evacuation Day was the day that British soldiers left Boston on March 17, 1776 following an eleven-month siege) – check out these other fun activities around the city!
1. For the Beer Lover
Harpoon St. Patrick’s Festival is happening a little early this year (March 6th & 7th), but who doesn’t love to get the party started?! There will be live music Friday evening through Saturday afternoon and rumor has it that bagpipes will be involved. The brewery will serve up St. Patrick’s themed beers and Harpoon staples like UFO White, which we’ve highlighted on our Freedom Trail Tour! Buy tickets early or at the door.
2. For the Athlete
The St. Patrick’s Day Road Race begins at 11am on March 15th near the parade route. It’s been part of Southie holiday festivities since 1940 and proceeds support local youth programs. The first 650 people to register get a race shirt designed by the Dropkick Murphys. Speaking of…
3. For the Music Lover
The Dropkick Murphys are returning home for four shows, running March 14th - 17th at the House of Blues. Whether it’s your first time “shipping up to Boston” or you’ve been around since the boys got together in Quincy in 1996, they're the perfect way to get you in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit!
4. For the History Lover
Head to the JFK Presidential Library on March 14th for a day commemorating Irish immigrants in Boston. There will be music by the Celtic Bells, public readings, poster exhibits, and more. Fun for the whole family!
5. For the Cultured
The Irish Film Festival runs March 19th – 22nd at Somerville Theater in Davis Square. The weekend includes showings of over 50 films, the largest of its kind outside of Ireland. This will be the 20th anniversary of the event so they're going big--the festival will include documentaries, exhibitions, and awards – “great craic” as the Irish would say!
Four U.S. Presidents were born in Massachusetts and many more lived here during their schooling, including eight graduates of Harvard University. Can you name them all? (Answers at bottom of the post.) In honor of President’s Day, tour guides Kristen and Brooke will be hosting a History of Boston trivia night at Aeronaut Brewing on Tuesday, February 18 at 8pm. Four of our favorite Massachusetts themed presidential stories are below and--HINT--they'll help you at our trivia!
1. Danger Strikes Teddy Roosevelt
In September 1902, Theodore Roosevelt was visiting Pittsfield, Massachusetts when his carriage was struck by a speeding trolley car. The carriage careened around 40 feet, knocking Roosevelt onto the pavement and bruising the Governor of Massachusetts, Winthrop Crane. Unfortunately, Secret Service agent William Craig wasn’t so lucky. He got stuck under the train car and became the first U.S. Secret Service agent ever killed in the line of duty.
2. JFK Born in Brookline
Brookline, just a few miles from downtown Boston, is home to the 35th president's birthplace and first family house. It's now a National Historic Site (the inside is under renovation and closed to visitors for 2020). Rose Kennedy purchased their former home on Beals Street to commemorate her late son, and set all the clocks in the house to just before 3pm, when Jack was born on May 29, 1917. For more JFK history, his Presidential Library and Museum is worth the visit and we touch on a few Kennedy-related tidbits on our Freedom Trail tour!
3. Abraham Lincoln Assassin Stays in Boston
In 1863, John Wilkes Booth a national star and had performed in numerous local theater productions. He was in Boston in April 1865 and stayed at the Parker House. Ten days later, Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. In a strange historical coincidence, the man who would later kill Booth, Boston Corbett, had undergone a religious conversion in Boston, changing his name to honor the city where he became a new man.
4. Coolidge Crushes a Strike
Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, was born in New England, attended Amherst College, and served as governor of Massachusetts. As governor, "Silent Cal" presided over a crazy moment in Boston history – the 1919 Boston Police Strike. When over three quarters of the police force announced a strike over the right to form a union, violence broke out and eight people died over four days. The strike ended when Coolidge put Boston under martial law for the first time since the Revolutionary War. Crushing the strike launched Coolidge into the national spotlight and led to his selection as Warren G. Harding’s running mate in the 1920 presidential election.
U.S. Presidents Born in Massachusetts: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy, George H.W. Bush
Harvard Graduates: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Barack Obama
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!
Looking for some ideas of how to make the most of the long weekend? We've got a few options to honor Boston’s past and present.
1. Free Admission to the Museum of Fine Arts
The MFA in Boston is a great place to escape the heat (hopefully not the rain). The museum offers free admission on Memorial Day. It’s a big museum with a lot to see, but we recommend the Art of the Americas Wing. There are portraits of Boston’s key players in the buildup to the American Revolution, some of Paul Revere’s silver, and much more!
2. Join Ye Olde Tavern Tours for a tour along the Freedom Trail
If you want to learn more about the events in Boston that led to the Revolutionary War, join us on Ye Olde Tavern Tours on Saturday or Sunday. We’ll visit ten historic sights along the Freedom Trail, drink craft beer where they planned the Boston Tea Party, and talk about the “shot heard round the world” at Lexington and Concord. HUZZAH!
3. Boston Common’s Garden of Flags
Honor Memorial Day with the Massachusetts Military Heroes organization, which places 37,000 flags on Boston Common every year to commemorate the Massachusetts service members who have lost their lives since the Revolutionary War. It’s a powerful display.
4. Brunch on a Monday
Brunch is everywhere in Boston on a Saturday or Sunday, but brunch on a Monday is nearly impossible to find. Two of our favorite breakfast joints will be open and they serve beer too, if you want it to be a boozy brunch. The Friendly Toast has locations in Back Bay and Cambridge and The Paramount has locations downtown and in South Boston.
5. Check out a day game at Fenway Park
Cap off the long weekend with a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Monday afternoon. Several Red Sox players cut the 1943 season short to join the war effort, including Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky (the namesake of Pesky Pole)!