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Non-Touristy Things to Do in Boston: A 3-Day Itinerary

BY: Sean O'Toole | Sep 29, 2017

Maybe you're visiting Boston for the umpteenth time and have already walked the Freedom Trail forwards and backwards and inside out. Or maybe you just think you can get to know a city better by sticking to places that aren't packed with out-of-towners. Whatever your reason for seeking out non-touristy things to do in Boston, you've come to the right place. 

What follows is a three-day itinerary that will show you some of the best Boston activities that people from Boston actually do—no landmarks allowed.

Day 1


Get in the Spirit at Deacon Giles Distillery

75 Canal St. | Salem
Buy now: $21 for a tour, tasting, and take-home rocks glass for two 

Given its history, Salem doesn't seem like the likeliest place to loosen up. But there are worse ways to ease into a trip than to spend a couple hours at this distillery, where you'll learn about the process used to create spirits such as Liquid Damnation, a traditional New England–style rum. After the tour it's on to the tasting room, where two more rums, a gin, and a vodka await.

Take in Low-Key History at The Red Hat

9 Bowdoin St. | Downtown
Buy now: $19 for $30 worth of pub food

Customers interested in mere historic novelty will head to Union Oyster House, but The Red Hat is a hidden gem that's been open since 1907. Customers here are more likely to be drawn in by its dive-bar vibe, as well as top-notch pub food ranging from black and bleu burgers to Atlantic haddock straight from Boston Fish Pier.

Get Hoppin' at Boston Swing Central

 26 New St. | Cambridge
Buy now: $21 for a Friday group lesson and dance party for two

There are few better ways to get to know the locals than by spending an evening swing dancing with a bunch of them. Some nights the dance party uses pre-recorded music, and some nights there's a live band, but either way, you're in for a night of cutting loose—and picking up a few new moves at the pre-party lesson to boot.

Wind the Night Down at Sheesha Lounge

417 Cambridge St. | Allston

Buy now: $21 for a hookah and two drinks for two

After wearing yourself out on the dance floor, it's time to unwind. Prop up a few pillows and lean back on the couches at Sheesha Lounge while trying a hookah flavor such as jasmine, rose, or mint. Boston's not really a late-night town, but Sheesha Lounge is open until 2 a.m. 7 nights a week.

Day 2


Immerse Yourself in Art at Fuller Craft Museum

455 Oak St. | Brockton
Buy now: $15.50 for admission for two

Brockton's about a 40-minute drive outside town, but it's more than worth it for a chance to explore the museum's exhibits on woodworking, sculpture, bookmaking, and other crafts. With its lofted ceilings, slate floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows, the building itself is a major attraction, as is the peaceful 22-acre campus tucked in among 700 acres of woodlands.

Take a Bubble-Tea Break at Chatime Boston

18 Hudson St. | Chinatown
Buy now: $16 for four vouchers, each good for one drink and one topping

For a quick bit of refreshment, stroll by Chinatown and stop for a big cup of this tasty bubble tea, which comes in dozens of flavors including passion fruit green tea and matcha milk tea. Complete your drink with toppings such as mango jelly, aloe, and, of course, boba.

Grab a Souvenir That Doesn't Look Like One at Luke Adams Glass

565 Columbus Ave. | South End
Buy now: $27 for $50 worth of glass art and jewelry

Skip the tacky "Hah-vahd" T-shirts and instead shop this selection of gifts, jewelry, and handblown glass art, the last of which is made locally at a glassblowing studio in Norwood. If you really like what you see, you can even swing by that studio for a hands-on glassblowing class of your own. 

Sip Fresh Brews at Beer Works

Multiple Locations
Buy now: $25 for $40 worth of food and drink

Another local brewery (which rhymes with "Shmamuel Shmadams") gets all the glory, but if you want a truly micro microbrew, try the ultrafresh selections at this brewpub. There's the Fenway Pale Ale, the Old School IPA, and the Original Boston Red. While you're there munch on irish cheddar burgers, steak tips, and blackened swordfish.

Day 3 

Reach New Heights at Rock Spot Climbing

 Multiple Locations
Buy now: $17 for a first-time climbing pass with gear

 Rock Spot provides all the gear you need to get started climbing, so even a visitor to the city can enjoy the gym's top-rope stations and bouldering routes. The routes vary widely in difficulty, so beginners shouldn't shy away from trying their hand at scaling the colorful footholds. 

Book Some Recovery Time at Boston Bodyworker 

575 Boylston St. | Back Bay
Buy now: $179 for three 60-minute massages

If all that belaying has you beat, head to the posh Back Bay neighborhood for a little R&R. Don't expect a lush spa setting—there are no fluffy robes or incense candles here. Do expect exceptional, evidence-based bodywork. The clinic has won Best Massage honors from Improper Bostonian and maintains an impeccable 5-star grade on our site with more than 400 ratings.

Keep the Beat While You Eat at Bella Luna & The Milky Way

284 Amory St. | Jamaica Plain
Buy now: $15 for $30 worth of food and drink 

There's a lot to like about Bella Luna & The Milky Way. First there's the lively lounge, which is home to live jazz, Latin music, and DJ dance parties, plus a leisure section with billiards and arcade games. Then there's the sizable patio, known to host the occasional "jazz under the stars" concert itself. And of course there's the pizza, made with fresh house red sauce and more than 40 toppings. No wonder it's a frequent "Best of Boston" winner and was named "Small Business of the Year" by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in 2013.

Bowl Like You've Never Bowled Before at Sacco's Bowl Haven

45 Day St. | Somerville
Check for deals here. 

No, you didn't have a growth spurt. The ball's just tiny. This is candlepin bowling, a variation on the sport that features thinner pins, 4.5-inch balls with no finger holes, and three tosses per frame instead of two. The game developed in Massachusetts and is still basically confined to the region, so don't leave town without trying it if you're intrigued.