Boston, Massachusetts isn’t exactly party central. But, like pretty much any city, you can find fun and cheap nightlife/other drinking opportunities if you know where to look. Except for maybe like, Dubuque, Iowa, but then again, I haven’t been there, so I wouldn’t know.
I recently flew from my California hometown to Boston to meet up with a friend who was visiting from out of the country, and she wanted to drink, but we quickly realized that Boston wasn’t as nightlife-focused as the other cities we’ve been in together. (Madrid, Valencia, London….)
Grocery stores in Boston do sell 6-packs of PBR tall boys for $5.70, though, so that’s pretty cool.
But, I discovered a few things when I was there, so if you’re in Boston and want to go out, without spending a lot of money, I gotchu.
Firstly, the number one thing you need to know about drinking in Boston is happy hours are illegal, so don’t traipse into a Massachusetts bar at 5 p.m. and expect to get a discounted gin and tonic.
What you can do, though, is:
1. Get $1 pints of Bud Light at Coogan’s – essentially whenever you want
Located within walking distance of the Boston Harbor, Coogan’s has $1 Bud Lights literally all of the time during open hours. On weekend nights they charge a $10 cover to enter the bar, but I was there at roughly 5 p.m. on a Friday and there was no cover and dolla Buds a-plenty. It gets super crowded, so sit right at the bar and have your ones ready.
Also, just so you’re not surprised, they will ask for your credit card when you show them your ID to verify that it’s you, so bring both your card and your ID.
Speaking of IDs, while we’re at it. Anyone else like me and doesn’t drive? I’ve been carrying my California-issued ID card with me since I turned 21 (i.e. a long time ago), and haven’t run into any trouble, but this doesn’t fly in Boston.
The bouncer at Hong Kong (not officially on this list because it has a cover, but the cover was $5, and there’s karaoke, and dudes selling chicken chunks on a stick for $1, so if you’re into that kind of thing, check it out) told me that bars in Massachusetts can’t legally let patrons in with an out-of-state ID unless it’s a driver’s license. This isn’t a problem for you real adults who have a driver’s license, but if you are like me, bring your passport out with you to make sure you can still get in to bars. (I weirdly had mine with me, so I was good to go.)
2. Catch a dope (free) view from a rooftop bar
Apparently, rooftop bars are a huge thing in Boston, but most them come with a cover charge. Lookout Rooftop at the Envoy Hotel, on the other hand, is 100 percent free to enter. You don’t need to be on a list or anything, just show up. I went on a Thursday night and it was poppin’. Plus, there was a great view.
Drinks are a little pricey, but no more so than your standard nice bar ($14 for a cocktail and $7 for a beer).
I also heard good things about Yotel, which apparently also does not have a cover.
3. Drink free beer at Samuel Adams Brewery
You read that right! Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Monday – Thursday and also Saturdays, the Samuel Adams Brewery gives free one-hour tours every 40 minutes. On Fridays, the last tour is at 5:30. They’re closed Sundays.
Your guide will walk you through all the different ingredients of a Sam Adams beer, and let you smell/taste each one. Then you literally all sit around in a room for half an hour and sample various types of beer from different pitchers while your guide tells you about each kind. For free. I mean, there’s a suggested $2 donation, but essentially, free. Or very very cheap. You also get to keep your glass.
When the tour is over, if you’re not done drinking, walk out the gift shop side door and wait for the free “party trolley” that comes every 10 minutes. The driver is super hilarious, has party lights going, plays karaoke classics such as “Sweet Caroline,” and encouraged dancing and singing on the five-minute drive to Doyle’s, an Irish bar. It has some kind of deal with the brewery that if you buy a Sam Adams beer (roughly $6) they give you a super nice Sam Adams glass that you get to keep. (Fo fwee).
So! There ya have it. Any cheap Boston drinking options I missed? Lemme know in the comments!