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Taj Boston, Hotels, Boston
Photograph: Elan FleisherTaj Boston

Cool ways to stay warm in Boston

Beat the winter freeze with hot drinks, cozy fireplaces, a board game café and other ideas and venues for indoor fun

Written by
Meaghan Agnew
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Even strapping New Englanders like us eventually balk at icy roads, snow delays and single-digit temps. Fend off mid-season SAD with one of these wintertime life hacks (after you dig your way out of Juno, that is). We've got everything from a tented beer garden and cozy restaurants to a Russian steam bath.

Cool ways to stay warm in Boston

  • Shopping
  • Shopping centers
  • Somerville

Outdoor mall, not so appealing. Year-round beer garden and hot toddy menu tucked away within said mall? Very appealing, indeed. Slumbrew’s shipping container hangout, American Fresh Taproom, is tented, heated and kid-friendly, which means half of the Somerville parental populace can be found there at any given moment. Meanwhile, across the shopping way, River Bar has introduced a toddies menu with warming elixirs like the Winter Still (rye, Kümmel Caraway, benedictine, hojicha, brown sugar). Brave the heated patio if you’re so inclined. 

Get toasty at Lineage
  • Restaurants

One of those in-the-know Coolidge Corner secrets: A chair at the bar plops you right in front of the enormous oak-burning oven, which can get up to 550 degrees and toast you faster than a space heater. The oven also produces some gems: The roast chicken is de rigueur, as is the pizza; if you see the oak roasted skate cheeks on the menu, nab ’em. 

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Booze dropped at your door on an arctic February eve is what 21-plus dreams are made of. Boston startup Drizly—which has since expanded to other cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles—hits up your local liquor haunt to deliver adult staples in about 40 minutes. The service recently extended to the suburbs, so towns like Newton, Milton and Quincy can now join the party. 

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops

Looking for a cheap, creative date night? Brookline board game hangout Knight Moves Cafe, which dubs itself “your living room away from home,” serves fair-trade coffee, organic tea and hot chocolate alongside its massive game library (the $10 admission gains you unlimited access). You can BYO for a $5 corkage fee; there’s also free pizza on Wednesday nights.

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Feast on rarebits at Marliave
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Downtown

It’s one of those gooey, old-timey dishes you only want to order in the winter months. The historic downtown restaurant serves up its bacon, lager and melted cheese classic in an iron skillet; hoover it up with the accompanying bread and wonder why you’re not making rarebits at home every single night.

Drink a Snowfall in Voiron at Alden & Harlow
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Harvard Sq

There’s no shortage of decadent hot chocolate options (LA Burdick is a fave for sure), but we prefer ours with a dash of absinthe. This bracing warm-up is a potent combo of cocoa, aged rum, green chartreuse, dry curaçao, the aforementioned absinthe and orange whipped cream. 

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Hot yoga is an obvious wintertime activity, reasonably priced hot yoga even more so. For $10 cash, you get 90 minutes of heated Vinyasa or hip-hop yoga from some of the city’s most popular instructors, plus a complimentary mat rental. The $15 cycling classes let you mix it up on days you’re feeling more “um” than “ommm.”

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  • Hotels
  • Downtown

Fireside drinking for the chi-chi set. The eye-level gas fireplace in back complements the oh-so-Mad Men decor and a craft cocktail menu that includes 10 different martinis and celebrates lesser-appreciated spirits like pisco and rye.  Somehow this spot still flies a bit under the radar, which simply means your chances of nabbing a fireside seat are better than average. 

Looking for an indoor day trip? Head to Lowell to check out the terrific multi-use space in a former paper mill. The indie business lineup includes a movie theater, coffee house, vinyl store, gourmet popcorn shop and yoga studio. Use your inside voice while chatting up purveyors at the Sunday farmer’s market.

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