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10 Things to Do in Boston in January

Enjoy a good meal at the oldest restaurant in the United States; put on your snowshoes and walk in the snow; be amazed by ghosts and spooks. Discover what you can do in Boston in January.

Carla Yaquer

Carla Yaquer

9 min read

10 Things to Do in Boston in January

Boston | ©Andrew Spencer

The month of January allows you to explore the nearly four centuries of history of the capital of Massachusetts in a handful of activities. While there's plenty to see and do in Boston, by following this list you'll discover the signature dish of the oldest restaurant, make the most of your sightseeing passes, and be amazed by the city's spooks and myths. Plus, you'll be able to join in the winter sports that characterize Boston. Join me?

1. In the time of 'The Woman in Black' take the tour of tombstones and ghosts of Boston

Copp's Hill Burial Ground| ©Jeff Gunn
Copp's Hill Burial Ground| ©Jeff Gunn

Arthur Kipps tried to erase the ghost stories of the Massachusetts capital from his memory one January 1, as Susan Hill wrote in her multi-award winning novel The Woman in Black. That lady being one of New England's infamous ghosts? what better time to take a ghost and gravestone tour of Boston?

Charles Dickens, Charlotte Cushman, Harvey Parker and Andrew Lanier -The Lady In Black- are **Boston'**s most famous ghosts, but they are not the only ones in this mythical city; a dozen others visit for those interested in their stories, and on New Year 's Eve the Lady in Black takes center stage.

Make a note of the ghost and specter tour as one of the things to see and do in Boston at night: the haunted streetcars only operate under moonlight.

Practical information

  • Address: in the vicinity of the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel on 200 Atlantic Avenue.
  • Hours: the train will meet you from 6:00 pm Monday to Sunday on the dates available with your operator.
  • Price: from 41 €.
  • Tourduration: 120 minutes.
  • Important: this tour is really impressive, it is not your typical haunted house. The ghosts and specters are thrilling, not to mention the cemetery. The tour is rated PG-13, not suitable for children.

Book the Boston Ghost Tour

2. Celebrate SoWa First Friday

Enjoying the Art at SoWa| ©SoWaBoston
Enjoying the Art at SoWa| ©SoWaBoston

On the first Friday of January you can enjoy an explosion of art and culture. Traditionally a group of at least 200 artists, galleries, stores and showrooms come together to welcome the handmade design-loving public, to those in search of a night of art, wine, cheese and fun.

Although the event takes place every month, in January it is combined with Boston' s Christmas markets making it the best of the year.

If you love art, you should know that by purchasing the Go City All-Inclusive Pass you will have free access and discounts at many of Boston's museums. Therefore, getting this card is a must if you travel to the capital of Massachusetts.

Practical Information

Buy the Go City All-Inclusive Pass

3. Experience Boston's First Night/First Day

Celebrating First Night| ©Dtrain891
Celebrating First Night| ©Dtrain891

Since 1975, Boston has welcomed the New Year with a special event: First Night/First Day.

The celebration takes place in Copley Square, where the People's Procession walks around Boylston Street and St James Avenue. The revelers are also joined by ice sculptures, light displays, street theater performances, fireworks and dancers, artists, live bands and much more.

If you want to learn all about Boston's history, I recommend you book a guided tour of Boston: you will see the most emblematic places of the city and an expert guide will tell you all its secrets.

Practical information

  • Address: Copley Square, Boston, Massachusetts 02116. Visit the City Hall website for more details.
  • Price: free event.
  • Tour duration: 11 - 14 hours.

Book a guided tour of Boston

4. Tour Boston's Old Town by trolley

Boston streetcars| ©photohp
Boston streetcars| ©photohp

Walking through the snow-covered streets can get annoying after a while. Take a break by riding the Old Town Trolley. These trolleys are part of Boston's best tourist transportation and I can't think of a better plan than taking a tour of Old Town Boston aboard a Boston sightseeing trolley.

On the Old Town Trolley you enjoy a nearly two-hour ride through more than 14 stops including: Boston Aquarium, Charles Street, Quincy Market, Copley Place the Tea Party Museum, Chinatown, North Station, North End and Downtown Crossing.

Practical Information

  • Duration: 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Price: from 50 €.
  • Hours: Monday to Sunday from 09:00 hours to 17:00 hours.

Reserve a seat on the Boston Sightseeing Tram

5. Attend a field hockey game

At a Boston Bruins game| ©Maureen Heard
At a Boston Bruins game| ©Maureen Heard

Boston is synonymous with professional sports and field hockey is one of the most beloved. The date is at the TD Garden and I highly recommend you book Boston Bruins tickets well in advance because they fly.

The Garden is home to Boston's biggest events, from games to massive concerts, so it's a rite of passage to step foot inside and in January the Garden often brings its version of NHL Fan Fair. A space where fans interact with their favorite team, mascot and other activities planned for the occasion.

Even if you don't consider yourself a sports fan, the camaraderie and enthusiasm of the crowd will make for a great time.

Reserve Boston Bruins tickets

6. Take a tour of the museums

Exterior of the Museum of Science| ©Chris Rycroft
Exterior of the Museum of Science| ©Chris Rycroft

In Boston, you can still enjoy culture when it's cold, and indoor activities are great options this month. A tour of Boston' s best museums is a good alternative inside this cradle of American history. Among the museums that should not be missed are:

  • Boston Museum of Fine Arts: houses an impressive collection of frescoes, textiles, sculptures and famous photographs. On display here are works such as John Singleton Copley's portrait of Paul Revere, Van Gogh's Houses of Auvers, Renoir's Dancing at Bougival or its colossal collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: this place exudes peace and harmony from the moment you arrive at its door. By the way, if your name is Isabella or it's your birthday, you can get in for free.
  • Museum of Science: better known by its acronym in English as MOS is full of interesting and interactive exhibits that explain nothing more and nothing less than the dynamics of living things on Earth.

Remember that by purchasing the Go City All-Inclusive Pass you will have access to these and other interesting museums in the city, so don't miss the opportunity!

Buy the Go City All-Inclusive Pass

7. Take the Taza Chocolate Tour

Hot Chocolate| ©WillemijnB
Hot Chocolate| ©WillemijnB

The average temperature in January ranges between 3° and -4°, everyone needs to warm up and there is no better drink to warm the body than a sweet cup of hot chocolate. From the sweetest to the spiciest, vegan to the classic cocoa delights, this and more is offered by Taza Chocolate. Look for your cup or bar chocolate and satiate your taste buds with these delicacies.

Taza Chocolate is a family company with ethical responsibility. The cocoa used is sourced from Oaxaca, Mexico, where the farmers themselves send the raw material. In addition, this factory is famous for its stone-ground chocolate. It offers guided tours where the multicultural value of the region and chocolate as a connector is exalted.

The tour includes samples of the house specialties. Children will be delighted and if you want to make the visit more entertaining, you can take the Taza Cacao Treasure Hunt tour for kids where the little ones have fun while learning about the manufacturing process.

Practical information

  • Address: 561 Windsor St, Somerville, MA 02143.
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
  • Price: from 12 €.
  • Duration of tour: 60 minutes.

8. Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Outside the Museum of African American History| ©Karina D
Outside the Museum of African American History| ©Karina D

Every January 17 commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. City offices and public libraries throughout the city will be closed but there are two spots in Boston where this tribute embraces visitors between special events:

Museum of African American History

  • The Museum of African American History dates back to the early 1800s and has the distinction of being the largest African American history museum in all of New England. Its facility houses both the oldest black church building and the oldest black public school in the country.

The museum offers lectures and interpretive tours that tell the story of early advocates for justice and freedom, and Martin Luther King Jr. tops the list of honorees.

On January 17, this museum usually offers a variety of seminars and special activities with free admission by reservation.

  • Address: 46 Joy St, Boston, MA 02114.

Institute of Contemporary Art

The Institute of Contemporary Art: offers refreshing contrast to the myriad of old things. Like the MHA, this museum often stands out among Boston history tours for its impressive exhibits.

El*ICA houses cutting-edge pieces of everything from sculptures to installations made from electronics to found objects that really must be seen to be appreciated, and on January 17 usually adds musical performances, guided tours or symposia to commemorate the date.

  • Address: 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA 02210.

Carla's Tip

Purchase your Go Boston Card and enjoy these and 30 other attractions including the Museum of Science, the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Salem Witch Museum.

9. Join the Boston Celtic Music Festival

Performers at BCM Fest.| ©Isaac Kohane
Performers at BCM Fest.| ©Isaac Kohane

Modern music has its world famous festivals like Coachella or Lollapalooza but, despite being less promoted, folk music also has its great exponents and, they all gather at the BCM Fest.

During the Boston Celtic Music Festival you will witness an array of artists specialized in Celtic art. Every year, during the last weeks of January, the Scottish, Irish, Cape Breton and other communities with a deep Celtic tradition come together in song and dance to infect the audience.

Around the city of Boston Celtics, traditional performances and contemporary pieces are presented. This is an event for the whole family on and off the stage. It will be an unforgettable weekend.

Practical Information

10. Glide through the hills of Boston on snowshoes!

Snowshoeing| ©Christian
Snowshoeing| ©Christian

In the middle of winter the common recommendation is ice skating rinks. However, how often do you get the chance to snowshoe? Those instances are few and far between, and in Boston you can do it in January.

A 20-minute drive from the Boston Museum of Science is Gore Place, an estate with more than 200,000 m2 of land available for this adventure. Come winter, Gore Place allows visitors to strap on snowshoes and explore the grounds while exercising. By the way, you can bring your own snowshoes, so you only pay the entrance fee, and rent them once you're there.

The space is very beautiful, you can breathe a different air while the family has fun. The kids are the first to get adventurous and forget about video games for a couple of hours, isn't it great? Make a note of this activity in your itinerary of things to see and do in Boston with kids.

Practical Information

  • Price: from 16 ¤ for adults and 6 ¤ for children.
  • Address: 52 Gore St, Waltham, MA 02453.
  • Recommended if: you want to disconnect from the city, have a fun time, enjoy a different activity.

Temperatures in Boston in January

Boston Common Frog Pond| ©Bill Damon
Boston Common Frog Pond| ©Bill Damon

Before planning your trip, I recommend you to check the weather page, so you will be aware of any unforeseen event. In any case, I can tell you that during the month of January, the second month of winter, snowfall intensifies.

With an average temperature of 3° and -5°, this month is the lowest temperature of the winter, the city dwellers take advantage of the low prices and even offers in hotels and tourist attractions.

If you prefer to travel in low season, want to be part of the city's emblematic activities and the best deals, make a note of Boston in January in your calendar.

What to pack for a visit to Boston in January

Preparing your luggage| ©Marissa Grootes
Preparing your luggage| ©Marissa Grootes

Be prepared for constant rain and snowfall, so your suitcase should include coats, thick gloves, snow caps, warmers, raincoats, scarves, and sturdy boots to insulate your feet from the cold temperatures.

On the other hand, do not forget to pack sports clothes, remember that you will be in the winter sports season.