Category Archives: Boston

Boston hotel spotlight: Four Seasons One Dalton

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses at these properties. The Four Seasons One Dalton in Boston’s Back Bay is one such newcomer worth checking out.

The 61-story five star hotel and residence, which opened in May 2019, is Boston’s third tallest building. This is the second Four Season’s hotel in Boston and the glass and steel elliptical design hints at a more modern property than its sister property, the Four Seasons Boston located across from the Public Garden. While the 160 private residences located on the uppermost floors have the best views, the 215 room hotel offers a great vantage point with views of the Charles River, Back Bay and points south and west.

All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and come with iPads, premium bedding, 65″ plasma televisions and complimentary Internet access to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The muted colors in the guest rooms are intentional and designed to help guests relax, and the rooms’ furnishings have clean and simple lines consistent with the building’s modern design.

Four Seasons restaurants and more

Some of the amenities available to guests who stay at this sleek property include The Wellness Floor (on the 7th floor), which includes a worldclass spa, fitness center and salon facilities along with a stunning indoor pool that has great views of the city below. However, you don’t need to be a guest to make an appointment which is now open Friday through Sunday. Call and make a reservation.

If a stay at this new hotel is unlikely, it is still worth coming to see the property. Located off of the hotel lobby is a vibrant installation of the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s Great American Library. The captivating bookshelf installation brings a smile to my face when I walk through the room to take the stairs up one flight to the contemporary Japanese restaurant, Zuma. However, if contemporary Japanese cuisine isn’t your thing visit Trifecta, the Four Seasons cocktail lounge serves light bites. It is also here that weekend tea service is offered from 11:00am – 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re looking for something to do during the day and you’re not tempted to make use of the 7th floor pool, gym or spa, head out to Newbury Street for some retail therapy. The hotel is just a few blocks from Boston’s shopping district. Just a few blocks beyond Newbury Street is my favorite park in Boston, The Esplanade. Here you can go for a walk, run or bike ride.

If the dining options at the Four Seasons One Dalton are not of interest, read my post about the Back Bay and South End, which have more LGBTQ+ tips and places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails. The closest gay bar, Club Cafe, is a 10 minute walk. There you can have a meal, check out a cabaret show or go dancing.

Four Seasons
One Dalton Street, Boston 02115
617.377.4888
fourseasons.com/onedalton

What to do this weekend

heels for hope is a gay fund raiser in Boston

This is what is happening in Boston and Provinceton this weekend. If you haven’t been out in a while, come out and show your love by supporting our gay bars and businesses. If you have an event or program you want included in upcoming posts, email bosguymail@gmail.com with the details.

Boston Gay Bars

The Alley
THURSDAY: Mass Bears & Cubs Trivia Night w/ host Dave Sawyer at 8PM
FRIDAY: Dancing w/ resident DJ BEGBICK at 10PM
SATURDAY: Dancing w/ resident DJ BEGBICK at 10PM
SUNDAY: Idol Karaoke at 8PM

blend
THURSDAY: Taco Thursdays and RPDR viewing party starts at 4PM
FRIDAY: Supernature w/ DJ Brian Derrick at 10PM
SATURDAY: Mayhem Saturdays w/ DJ Twisted Gleam at 10PM
SUNDAY: Disco Drag Brunch w/ Mizery starts at 11AM

Cathedral Station Open but no programming scheduled.
The patio will be open and Saturday & Sunday brunch starts at 11AM.

Club Cafe
THURSDAY: Frankie & Andy in Napoleon Room at 7PM and dancing with DJ FrenchY at 10PM, special show at 12:30AM
FRIDAY: Bill and Katie in Napoleon Room at 7PM & DJ Stevie Psyclone at 10PM
SATURDAY: Bill and Katie in Napoleon Room at 7PM, RPDR viewing party w/ Mizery at 8PM & DJ Stevie Psyclone at 10PM
SUNDAY: Bear Tea Dance w/ DJ Stevie Psyclone at 5PM & Tea w/ the Dame in Napoleon Room at 6:30PM

dbar
FRIDAY: Give me back my mic Karaoke night starts at 8PM
SATURDAY: The Category Is… dance party starts at 10PM

Legacy & Candi Bar (Gay Mafia Boston)
THURSDAY: Serve Thursdays w/ DJ Coleslaw at Legacy at 10PM
SATURDAY: DJ Shane Marcus at Legacy at 10PM
SUNDAY: Hot Mess w/ DJ Richie LaDue & Coleslaw at Candi Bar at 10PM

Trophy Room will be reopening for business soon.

Featured LGBTQ+ events

Men of Color Weekend (a.k.a. Frolic) is this weekend in Provincetown.

MaineStreet celebrates Southern Maine Pride join the PRIDE celebrations in Ogunquit.

While there, check out the Dueling Drag Divas, performing each night at MaineStreet.

THURSDAY: NEW GAY NIGHT Quinta Latina Grand Opening is Thursday at Icon in the Theater District with special guest DJ Freddy Sanchez, GoGo Boys and drag show.

FRIDAY: NEW GAY NIGHT Beach Ball Fridays at Revere Beach is a new weekly gay night. Join DJ Michael Giller, drag queen Lady German from NYC and Mizery.

FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY: Drive In Drag Saves 2021 pulls into New England this weekend with drive-in shows all weekend in Wrenthem. All shows were nearly sold out at the time this post was written.

gay boston, kiki beach

SATURDAY: Kiki Beach If you’re unsure where the boys go on M Street Beach, check out the map on the Kiki Beach Boston Facebook Page, but when in doubt follow the good music and speedos.

SATURDAY: NEW GAY NIGHT Boom Saturday is presented by Ever Vega at La Makina Night Club on Revere Beach.

SUNDAY: Boston’s Gay Beer Club (GBC) returns after a long hiaitus due to the coronavirus. Former members and newcomers are welcome as GBC uses the social to raise money for BAGLY this Sunday from 7PM – 10PM at the Cambridge Brewing Company.

Drag brunches in Boston

Some drag brunches require tickets purchased ahead of time. Click the event links shared below for ticketing and reservation information.

Madonna Drag Diva Brunch
Saturday, 6/19 @11:00AM – 1:30PM at House of Blues

Mizery Loves Company Disco Drag Brunch
Sunday, 6/20 @11:00AM & 2:00PM at blend

Anyone up for hosting a drag brunch? Seems like a missed opportunity!

Provincetown gay bars & entertainment

Ptown

For more information about live entertainment in Provincetown this week (and all month) click here. Click the links below for more information about each bar.

A House – One of Provincetown’s most popular dance clubs.

Aqua Bar – Located at the Aquarium Marketplace, with views of the harbor.

Backstreet Club – Previously Club Purgatory will NOT reopen this summer.

Buoy Bar – Located on Commercial Street at The Boatslip. It is fabulous for people watching (esp after Tea).

The Club – Lea Delaria’s supper club includes live entertainment in the lounge.

Dive Bar – Weekend piano bar at The Crown & Anchor.

Harbor Lounge – Waterfront cocktail lounge in the East End.

Little Bar – Provincetown’s oldest bar.

Macho Bar – Provincetown’s longest running leather and denim bar.

Monkey Bar – Will NOT reopen this summer.

Paramount – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is Ptown’s largest dance club.

Porchside Lounge – Located at The Gifford House.

Provincetown Brewery – Popular brew pub on Bradford Street.

Shipwreck Lounge – Located at the Brass Key Guest House.

Tin Pan Alley – This restaurant has a lively piano bar that has a friendly crowd.

The Vault – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is a leather / fetish bar.

Velvet Lounge – Dance club with DJ Mark Louque spinning each Friday.

The Wave Bar – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is a fun video bar.

Missing a favorite bar / club in Provincetown? Share it in the comments section. If the status of these bars / clubs change, it will be noted.

Latino Wednesdays have returned

For those of you looking for a mid-week escape, head over to Legacy Boston in the Theater District for Latino Wednesdays. This popular dance night has returned. The weekly party is hosted by Gay Mafia Boston.

Get more information about Gay Mafia weekly parties by subscribing to their mailing list.

Boston hotel spotlight: XV Beacon Hotel

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses. The XV Beacon in Boston’s Beacon Hill is one such property worth checking out.

Although it is not part of the definition, exculsivity is often associated with luxury. For that reason, XV Beacon stands out as the only boutique property in this series.

XV Beacon first opened on Beacon Hill in 2000 and is consistently noted as one of Boston’s preeminent places to stay. It has earned the admiration and respect of Bostonians, guests and the travel industry. It was named by Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Best Hotel or Resort in every state and has many rave reviews on Trip Advisor.

This 63-room boutique property is in a beautiful ten story Beaux Arts building of iron, limestone and brick. It is capped with a copper cornice exterior and exudes great curb appeal. The hotel rooms were individually designed and have four-poster queen bed classic rooms or queen and king-size bed studio rooms that include whirlpool baths, heated towels, in-room fireplaces, complimentary high-speed Internet access, 400-thread-count linen sheets, and museum-quality artwork throughout. 

XV Beacon goes the extra mile by providing helpful guest services like their fleet of chauffeured Lexuses for complimentary trips around Boston. Their superb conceirge services can arrange for on-site massages in your rooms, private tours to places of interest and of historical significance, tickets to shows as well as airport transfers. Tempted? Check out one of XV Beacon Hotel Packages & Promotions and treat yourself.

XV Beacon Hotel restaurant and more

However, if a stay at this beautiful property is unlikely, one can appreciate this unique property’s excellent restaurant (also part of the Columbus Hospitality Group), MOOO. The modern steakhouse is perhaps best known for their private dining room ‘The Wine Cellar’, with double vaulted ceilings and 4,000 bottles of fine and rare wine dating from the 1700s to present day. For an additional private dining option, XV Beacon’s Parlor Suites can be booked, but a more realistic option for those seeking luxury on a budget is to visit MOOO for a cocktail at their bar with a few apps. The staff is superb and the cocktails delicious. Also be on the lookout for MOOO to (hopefully) bring back their acoustic jazz brunch this fall.

The central location of XV Beacon makes it easy for visitors to enjoy some of Boston’s most popular attractions. From the historic Freedom Trail to biking and walking paths by the Esplanade to Fanueuil Hall and shopping in the Back Bay there are plenty of ways to spend your time. If you have limited time and unsure what to do, speak to the concierge team at XV Beacon who have an impeccable reputation and can tailor suggestions to your interests.

After you are done sight seeing, perusing the unique shops on Beacon Hill’s Charles Street or strolling down Newbury Street, head over to Club Cafe for a cabaret show or dancing in the back. For more information about places to shop, dine or go out read my post about the Back Bay and South End which include more places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails at Boston’s gay bars.

XV Beacon Hotel
15 Beacon Street, Boston 02108
1.877.XVBEACON
xvbeacon.com

What to do this weekend

heels for hope is a gay fund raiser in Boston

This is what is happening in Boston and Provinceton this weekend. If you haven’t been out in a while, come out and show your love by supporting our gay bars and businesses. If you have an event or program you want included in upcoming posts, email bosguymail@gmail.com with the details.

Boston Gay Bars

The Alley
THURSDAY: Trivia Night with your host Dave Sawyer at 8PM
FRIDAY: FUZZ Returns w/ DJ Brent Covington and guest DJ Brian Halligan at 10PM
SATURDAY: Dancing w/ resident DJ BEGBICK at 10PM
SUNDAY: Idol Karaoke at 8PM

blend
THURSDAY: Bop Thursday with DJ Twisted Gleam at 10PM
FRIDAY: Friday Feels with DJ Begbick at 10PM
SATURDAY: Gay Pride Mixer with DJ Andrea Stamas at 10PM
SUNDAY: Disco Brunch starts at 11AM & Disco Tea w/ DJ Brian Derrick starts at 4PM

Cathedral Station Open but no programming scheduled.
The patio will be open and Saturday & Sunday brunch starts at 11AM.

Club Cafe
THURSDAY: Dancing with DJ FrenchY w/ hosts Mizery, Alana Thicc, Arabella and Travis Tí at 10PM, special show at 12:30AM
FRIDAY: Tracey O’Farrell in Napoleon Room at 7PM & DJ Stevie Psyclone at 10PM
SATURDAY: RPDR viewing party w/ Mizery at 8PM & DJ Stevie Psyclone at 10PM
SUNDAY: Tea Dance with DJ Begbick at 5PM & Tea with the Dame in Napoleon Room at 6:30PM

dbar
THURSDAY: Marc E Lewis Pride Event & fundraiser starts at 7PM
FRIDAY: Stoplight Party w/ DJ Jay Ine starts at 10PM
SATURDAY: The Category Is… dance party starts at 10PM
SUNDAY: Dorchester Pride Tea Dance starts at 4PM

Legacy & Candi Bar (Gay Mafia Boston)
THURSDAY: Serve Thursdays with DJ Coleslaw at Legacy at 10PM
FRIDAY: Twerk Fridays with DJ FrenchY at Legacy at 10PM
SATURDAY: Pride Saturday with DJ Ralphi Rosario at Legacy at 10PM
SUNDAY: Hot Mess Pride Finale with DJ Richie LaDue at Candi Bar at 10PM

Trophy Room will be reopening for business soon.

Featured LGBTQ+ events

THURSDAY: Pride Night @Fenway June 10, 2021 Click here for information and tickets.

FRIDAY: Big Gay Dance Party (Outdoors) Friday June 11 (rain date June 18) from 6:30PM – 9:00PM in Union Square, Somerville with DJ FrenchY and drag performances by Amanda Playwith and JP. More info here.

SATURDAY: Boycott Boston Pride Meet Up A growing list LGBTQ+ groups are calling for a boycott of Boston Pride 2021. Learn more about why and what is happening on Saturday at 10:30AM in Nubian Square and march to Franklin Park where a vigil for black trans lives will take place at the Park Playstead / Trails on Pierpont Road in Jamaica Plain.

gay boston, kiki beach

SATURDAY: Kiki Beach If you’re unsure where the boys go on M Street Beach, check out the map on the Kiki Beach Boston Facebook Page, but when in doubt follow the good music and speedos.

SATURDAY: Big Ass Cookout starts at 4PM in Mattapan. Tickets can be purchased here. For more information about this group visit, Boston’s Lesbian Urban Foundation.

SATURDAY: The Loud & Proud (Drag Show) at Icon will help raise $$$ for industry friends and family who have been impacted by COVID-19. Hosted by Miranda Wrights with performances by: Mizery, Kris Knievil, Penny Tentiary, Destiny, Khloe, Miranda Wrights, Adeli Meat, and Haus of Snap and of course great music from Gay Jim.

SATURDAY & SUNDAY: Join the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus concert broadcast on WCVB-TV on Saturday at 7:30PM, Sunday at 12:30PM or on YouTube on Sunday at 2:00PM.

SUNDAY: Drag Bingo @DBco will likely sell out so don’t delay and get your tickets. All proceeds go to BAGLY.

Sunday Tea Dances in Boston

Sunday Fun Day: This weekend Boston has several Pride themed tea dances.

dbarPatio Tea Dance to celebrate Dorchester Pride starts at 4PM

blendDisco Tea Dance with DJ Brian Derrick starts at 4PM

Club CafeThrowback Tea Dance with DJ Begbick starts at 5PM

Legacy BostonCome Together Tea Dance with DJs Esthera & Brian Halligan starts at 6PM

Drag brunches in Boston

Some drag brunches require tickets purchased ahead of time. Click the event links shared below for ticketing and reservation information.

Drag Diva “Disco Inferno” Brunch (SOLD OUT)
Saturday, 6/5 @11:00AM – 1:30PM at House of Blues

Mizery Loves Company Drag Brunch (SOLD OUT)
Sunday, 6/6 @11:00AM & 2:00PM at blend

Anyone up for hosting a drag brunch? Seems like a missed opportunity!

Provincetown gay bars & live entertainment

Ptown

For more information about live entertainment in Provincetown this week (and all month) click here. Click the links below for more information about each bar.

A House – One of Provincetown’s most popular dance clubs.

Aqua Bar – Located at the Aquarium Marketplace, with views of the harbor.

Backstreet Club – Previously Club Purgatory will NOT reopen this summer.

Buoy Bar – Located on Commercial Street at The Boatslip. It is fabulous for people watching (esp after Tea).

The Club – Lea Delaria’s supper club includes live entertainment in the lounge.

Dive Bar – Weekend piano bar at The Crown & Anchor.

Harbor Lounge – Waterfront cocktail lounge in the East End.

Little Bar – Provincetown’s oldest bar.

Macho Bar – Provincetown’s longest running leather and denim bar.

Monkey Bar – Will NOT reopen this summer.

Paramount – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is Ptown’s largest dance club.

Porchside Lounge – Located at The Gifford House.

Provincetown Brewery – Popular brew pub on Bradford Street.

Shipwreck Lounge – Located at the Brass Key Guest House.

Tin Pan Alley – This restaurant has a lively piano bar that has a friendly crowd.

The Vault – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is a leather / fetish bar.

Velvet Lounge – Dance club with DJ Mark Louque spinning each Friday.

The Wave Bar – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is a fun video bar.

Missing a favorite bar / club in Provincetown? Share it in the comments section. If the status of these bars / clubs change, it will be noted.

Boston Pride president, Linda DeMarco, to resign as calls for a boycott of Boston Pride grows

Boston Pride has been embroiled in a nasty back-and-forth with activists who have (for some time) called the non-profit organization racist and “trans-exclusionary”.

The tipping point for activists came last summer after the Boston Pride board’s tepid response to the police killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. The organization’s response was developed without consulting Black Pride subcommittee members. Critics said the board routinely disregard LGBTQ+ minority groups (especially those in the trans community) and that the all-white Boston Pride leadership and board needs to go. Organizers say by removing the entire board it will give the organization a fresh new start – one that is hopefully more representational of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community.

In today’s Boston Globe, Sue O’Connell, copublisher of Bay Windows and a host at NECN, the official media sponsor of Boston Pride, said, “The pandemic and the reckoning of our unjust racial past has just claimed the Pride committee because they were unable to actually do the right thing over many, many years.”

Activists are calling for the entire Boston Pride board to resign and are holding their second annual vigil for Black Trans Lives on Saturday. DiMarco’s announcement will certainly be acknowledged from the stage, but will DeMarco’s resignation be enough? The protest and vigil will start in Nubian Square and people will march to Franklin Park. More information about that is available here.

New music venues to open in Boston

Two new live music venues will open in Boston

Over the next year Boston will get two new state-of-the-art live music venues. These mid-sized venues will be welcome additions to the city and provide new space for musicians, artists and performers. The first venue expected to open is the MGM Music Hall at Fenway Park, which is eyeing a late fall 2021 opening. The second, is The Roadrunner, will open at Boston Landing in Allston / Brighton in the spring of 2022.

MGM Music Hall at Fenway Park is a new performing arts center located at the corner of Lansdowne and Ipswich Streets. The new venue has a 5,000 person capacity and will be operated in partnership with Live Nation Entertainment. MGM Music Hall is expected to open in the fall of 2021, but no website or further information has been forthcoming. This venue will provide Boston yet another indoor, performing arts space with a capacity that is approximately twice that of the neighboring House of Blues on Lansdowne Street and roughly the same as the seasonal venue, Harbor Lights (now known as Leader Bank Pavilion). Stay tuned for more updates on this new venue.

Roadrunner is set to open in the spring of 2022. Located at Boston Landing in Allston / Brighton, the venue is larger than the House of Blues but smaller than the MGM Music Hall. With a capacity of 3,500 the Roadrunner will be the largest general admission indoor music venue in New England when it opens. In case your wondering, the venue’s name comes from the 1976 rock song Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers, which has been proposed as the state’s official rock song. This venue will be operated by The Bowery, which also own and operate The Sinclair in Harvard Square and Royale in Boston’s Theater District. You can sign-up to receive updates from this venue by visting their website at roadrunnerboston.com.

Boston hotel spotlight: The Newbury Hotel

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses. The Newbury Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay is one such newcomer worth checking out.

When I think of luxury, The Newbury Hotel, (formerly the home to the Ritz Carlton for 75+ years) comes to mind. In 2019 the luxury hotel chain Taj Hotels closed the property and extensive renovations have recently finished. The elegant building that first opened in 1927 has been lovingly updated and reopened to the public as The Newbury Hotel in late May.

For those familiar with the property, the most notable change from the exterior is the hotel’s main entrance which moved from Arlington Street to Newbury Street. The Newbury Street entrance provides greater curb appeal and is easier for those arriving or leaving by car. The other significant change to the building are the enhancements made to the guest rooms. When the building first opened in the 1920s, many guests traveled with large steamer trunks and the hallways were much wider to accommodate them. By modernizing the width of the hotel hallways the Newbury was able to give more space to the guest rooms.

Photo from Newbury Hotel Instagram

Newbury Hotel restaurants and more

If a stay at The Newbury is not in the cards, you can still admire and enjoy this beautiful place and the excellent service from the staff by visiting The Street Bar (see below). The street-level bar looks out across Arlington Street and has nice views of the Public Garden. If you’re familiar with the previous bar, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the redesign which is filled with rich jewel-tone colors, comfortable club chairs and plush banquettes.

At the time of their opening, the bar was serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, but I think it makes for a great jumping off point for a fun night out in Boston or for a nightcap before heading home. I love restaurants and bars with a fire place and this cozy new bar is a welcome addition to the Back Bay.

Photo from Newbury Hotel Instagram

Above The Street Bar, tea service shall begin in July on the second floor. The views overlooking Arlington Street and the Public Garden are difficult to beat and provide plenty to see while indulging in the finger sandwiches, treats and tea. At some point I plan on bringing my niece to enjoy what she will likely refer to as a “fancy” day out with her uncle. Unfortunately the tea service menu is not currently available.

Ken Fulk Interiors [Official Rendering]

If you want to spend more time on the property, make reservations at the newly renovated glass rooftop restaurant called Contessa, that is expected to open before the end of June 2021. The rooftop restaurant with sweeping views of the Public Garden and Boston Common is unique and will be a place to add to your list of restaurants to try. Contessa’s menu will be Italian. The executive chef Mario Carbone is known for 1950s-style red-sauce dishes, according to this article in The Boston Globe.

If you’re idea of a luxury comes in the form of retail therapy, The Newbury Hotel sits at the top of Newbury Street, which offers some of Boston’s most exclusive brands and designers. However, you don’t even have to set foot outside the hotel. You can shop at the Tiffany’s store in the hotel, which means you can shop for some bling then wear it at the roofdeck restaurant over brunch as you live your best life and channel your inner Audrey Hepburn.

After you are done sight seeing, shopping or however you choose to spend your time while staying at the Newbury Hotel, head over to Club Cafe for a cabaret show or dancing in the backroom. For more information about places to shop, dine or go out read my post about the Back Bay and South End which include more places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails at Boston’s gay bars.

The Newbury Boston
One Newbury Street, Boston 02116
617.536.5700
thenewburyboston.com

What to do this weekend

heels for hope is a gay fund raiser in Boston

In-person events have returned and so has BosGuy.com’s post sharing what is happening in Boston and Provinceton this weekend. Have an event or program you want to promote? Email bosguymail@gmail.com.

Boston Gay Bars

blend
THURSDAY: Taco Thursdays and RPDR viewing party starts at 4PM
FRIDAY: FOMO Fridays with DJ/VJ Duo Andrew and Emanuele at 10PM
SATURDAY: Mayhem Saturdays with DJ Aga at 10PM
SUNDAY: Disco Brunch starts at 11AM

Club Cafe
THURSDAY: Lush Life cabaret with Frankie & Andy in Napoleon Room at 7PM and dancing with DJ FrenchY and hosts, Mizery, Alana Thicc, Arabella and Travis Tí at 10PM and a special show at 12:30AM
FRIDAY: Carol O’Shaughnessy in Napoleon Room at 7PM & DJ Stevie Psyclone spins the best music at 10PM
SATURDAY: RPDR viewing party w/ Mizery at 8PM & DJ BEGBICK at 10PM
SUNDAY: Tea Dance with DJ Brian Derrick at 5PM & Tea with the Dame in Napoleon Room at 6:30PM

Cathedral Station Open but no programming scheduled.
The patio will be open and Saturday & Sunday brunch starts at 11AM.

dbar
FRIDAY: Give me back my mic Karaoke night starts at 8PM
SATURDAY: The Category Is… dance party starts at 10PM

Jacques will be reopening for business soon.

The Alley
THURSDAY: Trivia Night with your host Dave Sawyer starts at 8PM
FRIDAY: Dancing w/ resident DJ BEGBICK starts at 10PM
SATURDAY: Dancing w/ resident DJ BEGBICK starts at 10PM
SUNDAY: Idol Karaoke starts at 8PM

Trophy Room will be reopening for business soon.

Featured LGBTQ+ events

Ptown Pride

Provincetown Pride June 4 – 6, 2021 Click here for more information about the official Provincetown Pride activities.

gay boston

We Outside: Pride Day Party @Encore Boston The Men of Melanin Magic are hosting a 18+ day party on the Encore south lawn on Saturday, June 5 from 12PM – 5PM. Tickets are required and can be purchased here. You can read more about the event here.

gay boston, kiki beach

Kiki Beach returns for its sixth season. The announcement dropped yesterday on their Instagram at @kikibeachboston. If you’re unsure where the boys go on M Street Beach, check out the Kiki Beach Boston Facebook Page. It includes a map, but when in doubt follow the good music and men in speedos.

Boston’s Gay Mafia returns this weekend with DJ Chris Cox spinning at Legacy on Saturday and HOT MESS! Sundays at Candi Bar. Click the links for more information and to get tickets.

Boston Urban Pride Brunch Fort Hill Bar & Grill on Sunday, June 6 from 3PM – 8PM has great food and music to celebrate gay pride. To RSVP and get tickets click here.

Drag brunches in Boston

Some drag brunches require tickets purchased ahead of time. Click the event links shared below for ticketing and reservation information.

Drag Diva “Sex in the City” Brunch
Saturday, 6/5 @11:00AM – 1:30PM at House of Blues

Pride Month Drag Brunch w/ BAGLY
Sunday, 6/6 @12:00PM – 1:30PM at Dorchester Brewing Co.

Monthly Outdoor Drag Brunch
Sunday, 6/6 seatings at 11AM & 1PM (sold out!) at Bambara’s

Provincetown gay bars & live entertainment

Ptown

For more information about live entertainment in Provincetown this week (and all month) click here. Click the links below for more information about each bar.

A House – One of Provincetown’s most popular dance clubs.

Aqua Bar – Located at the Aquarium Marketplace, with views of the harbor.

Backstreet Club – Previously Club Purgatory will NOT reopen this summer.

Buoy Bar – Located on Commercial Street at The Boatslip. It is fabulous for people watching (esp after Tea).

The Club – Lea Delaria’s supper club includes live entertainment in the lounge.

Dive Bar – Weekend piano bar at The Crown & Anchor.

Harbor Lounge – Waterfront cocktail lounge in the East End.

Little Bar – Provincetown’s oldest bar.

Macho Bar – Provincetown’s longest running leather and denim bar.

Monkey Bar – Will NOT reopen this summer.

Paramount – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is Ptown’s largest dance club.

Porchside Lounge – Located at The Gifford House.

Provincetown Brewery – Popular brew pub on Bradford Street.

Shipwreck Lounge – Located at the Brass Key Guest House.

Tin Pan Alley – This restaurant has a lively piano bar that has a friendly crowd.

The Vault – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is a leather / fetish bar.

Velvet Lounge – Dance club with DJ Mark Louque spinning each Friday.

The Wave Bar – Located at the Crown & Anchor. This is a fun video bar.

Missing a favorite bar / club in Provincetown? Share it in the comments section. If the status of these bars / clubs change, it will be noted.

Ride with Pride Blue Bikes in June

Boston Tweet, Tom O'Keefe, Blue Bike Pride
Shown above, Tom O’Keefe, who you can follow on Twitter at @BostonTweet

For every ride on a pride-themed bike in June, Bluebikes title sponsor Blue Cross will donate $1 to support LGBTQ+ health care at Fenway Health

Even though Boston Pride will only be officially observed virtually this June, pride flags are popping up everywhere and local employers are coming up with creative ways to show they support the local LGBTQ+ community.

Yesterday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced that 100 Bluebikes will be given rainbow wraps to celebrate Pride Month in Boston. The health insurer also pledges to donate $1 for every ride on these “Pride bikes” to support LGBTQ+ health at Fenway Health.

Boston neighborhoods

The city of Boston is comprised of 23 neighborhoods. Many of the downtown neighborhoods span less than a square mile, but they are full of interesting sites and places of interest. To that end, this month I selected four downtown neighborhoods and shared my thoughts about what make them worth visiting.

South End

I started this series with the neighborhood I know best, the South End. I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years now but have been visiting since I moved back to Boston in the late 1990s.

The South End is incredibly charming. Built on landfill in the mid-19th century as a residential district for Boston’s growing upper middle-class, hundreds of Victorian Bow Fronts were built and today it’s the largest enclave of urban Victorian residential architecture in the country. The picturesque neighborhood is full of parks, unique shops and restaurants and cafes. While only a few gay bars remain in the South End, this was once upon a time an enclave for Boston’s LGBTQ+ community and while most of those businesses have closed or moved online, this is still where many in Boston’s gay community come out for dinner or to meet up with friends for drinks. Read my full profile of the South End here.

Back Bay

I moved into the Back Bay in the late 1990s after living in Atlanta for a few years. I thought I’d live in my apartment on Commonwealth Avenue for a year maybe two but ultimately, I stayed in the Back Bay for six years. I still consider it a homebase and love this neighborhood for all that it has to offer.

If you’ve visited Boston, you’ve probably spent time in the Back Bay. It is a centrally located, afluent neighborhood with some of Boston’s most iconic buildings, busiest streets, best restaurants, bars and shops. It is chock-full of office buildings, hotels, retailers, restaurants and of course residents. Tourists will love the parks (my favorite is The Esplanade) that run through this neighborhood, but Back Bay also has amazing architecture ranging from the modern I.M. Pei design of The Hancock Tower built in the 1970s to the beautiful McKim Building of the Boston Public Library and its hidden Italianate Courtyard that dates back to the late 1800s. In addition, this neighborhood has no shortage of restaurants, bars and shopping so there is plenty to see and do when here. Read my full profile of the Back Bay here.

christopher sherman

Beacon Hill

I never lived in Beacon Hill but one of my best friends went to Suffolk University which is located here. I also spent many hours at bars in this neighborhood in my late 20s and early 30s.

Beacon Hill is a popular destination for visitors due to its many historical sites, with some dating back to the 1600s. While this neighborhood is less than a square quarter mile in size it contains a lot to see and enjoy with its pretty as a postcard streets to its many Freedom Trail sites of interest to great restaurants and good pubs. While the neighborhood’s stodgy image is well deserved there is still plenty of fun to be had here and my favorite time of year to visit is in the summer when you can sit outside and enjoy the people watching along Charles Street. For more information about this historic and interesting neighborhood, read my full profile of Beacon Hill here.

North End

The North End is where my maternal grandmother grew up as a kid. My brother briefly lived here and at the moment one of my cousins call the North End home. While I’ve never lived here, it is this familial connection to this tiny neighborhood that makes me feel connected to it.

The North End is charming unless you’re driving then it is a nightmare. The neighborhood is comprised of a maze of narrow, meandering streets that are chock-full of Italian restaurants, bakeries and cafes. The tiny neighborhood is hemmed in between Boston’s inner harbor to the North and East and The Rose Kennedy Greenway (a.k.a. The Greenway) to the West and South. This neighborhood is for those who love American History (esp. American Revolution) and for those who love food. For more information about Boston’s “Little Italy”, read my full profile of the North End here.

Boston neighborhood profile: North End

North Square Park in the North End: Photo from Kimpton Onyx Hotel

The North End (a.k.a. “Little Italy”) is tucked into a tiny peninsula in Boston’s inner harbor. It is one of the city’s better known neighborhoods and is popular with tourists who come to eat and visit points of historical interest on the self-guided Freedom Trail, but more about that later.

This neighborhod is charming unless you’re driving then it is a nightmare. The North End is comprised of a maze of narrow, meandering streets that are chock-full of Italian restaurants, bakeries and cafes. It also happens to be where my Italian-American grandmother grew up. Although I never lived here, I feel connected to this otherwise touristy part of town because of my family’s history.

No neighborhood has benefitted more from the Big Dig, which replaced Boston’s aging Central Artery, than the North End. The noisy and polluted elevated expressway that was erected in the 1950s cut off the North End. The Big Dig rectified that by building a 1.5 mile tunnel under downtown Boston, and converting the land into a wonderful new park that runs from Boston’s North Station to South Station. The massive green iron girders used to support the 40′ elevated expressway are now gone as are the shadows and gas fumes it cast. The Rose Kennedy Greenway (a.k.a. The Greenway) has reclaimed this space, giving the North End access to a beautiful new park, more open space and cleaner air. I remember the first time having a drink in the North End after the expressway came down. Looking out the window, I was stunned to see the Union Oyster House sign. I had no idea it was so close.

Paul Revere Statue and the Old North Church

About The North End: The North End is one of the oldest parts of Boston with some buildings dating back to the 1600s. Today it is home to approximately 9,000 people. The neighborhood is only one third of a square mile and has some of the most maddening streets so park elsewhere and bicycle, walk or Uber here. The North End is a bit of a transportation center. It has Orange, Green and Blue Line MBTA stations, access to water taxis, and is adjacent to Boston’s North Station (a train station for the commuter rail serving communities north of Boston, Amtrak and Boston & Maine train lines) It is also near places of interest like The Boston Garden, The Boston Public Market, and Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market.

While the North End embraces its Italian heritage, it is no longer a refuge for Italian immigrants and their families. Italians stopped emigrating to Boston in large numbers decades ago, and the North End’s expensive rent pushed most Italian families out of the neighborhood years before that. It is now a rare thing to hear Italian spoken in the North End. However, that doesn’t prevent the North End from hosting huge feasts through much of the summer and being home to more Italian restaurants than any other part of the city. Tourists seem to eat it up (literally) so the neighborhood clings to its identity and the rest of Boston plays along.

Skinny House a.k.a. House of Spite in the North End from Wikipedia

What to do in the North End: There are really two things to do in the North End. The first is eat / drink. I would guess this neighborhood has more restaurant, cafes and bakeries per square block than anywhere else in the city. I’ll talk more about food later so that leaves the other thing to do in the North End; take in its history. This is one of the oldest parts of Boston, dating back to the 1600s. If you’re fascinated by Colonial America and the American Revolution, you’ll love it here.

Sites on the self-guided Freedom Trail include the Copps Hill Burrying Ground (built in 1659), Paul Revere House (built in 1680), Pierce-Hichborn House (built in 1711), and Old North Church (built in 1723). When I would bring friends here, I would often show places of interest that may lack the history of these other sites but are fun to visit, like the crazy All Saints Way on Battery Street and the Skinny House on Hull Street. Legend has it that this 6′ wide house was built in the 1870s out of spite. Sometimes I point out the Prince Building, which is now a luxury condominium building. About 100 years ago it was a thriving pasta company for Prince Spaghetti, which was founded by my great grandfather. As a child, my grandmother would run pasta up and down the stairs of the building.

If all that walking sounds exhausting, grab yourself an Italian pastry or gelato and sitdown on The Greenway or at the end of Long Wharf, and look out into the harbor to watch planes take off and land at Logan Airport.

Saint Anthony's Feast Boston
St. Anthony’s Feast North End Boston

Restaurants in North End: This neighborhood takes eating very seriously. If you like seafood, check out Neptune Oyster I realize you may be in an “Italian state of mind”, but trust me when I say it is worth the ridiculous wait and plan accordingly. It is consistently ranked the best seafood restaurant in Boston (and it deserves the distinction). Another place to stop by is Bricco Salumeria or two doors down I also like Monica’s Pasta Shop. While neither are restaurants, the former is an Italian grocer with excellent breads, cheeses, and meats and the latter has great grab-n-go options. You can make a picnic from their selections and sit outside by the water or on the Greenway. Just be sure to hide your bottle of wine in a backpack or bag! Everyone else is doing the same thing.

If you have pizza on the brain then you may want to stop by the North End’s best known pizzeria, Pizzeria Regina, which has been operating since the 1950s. My sister’s family recently stopped by Regina’s, Ernesto’s Pizza Shop and Ducali Pizzeria to see who made the best pizza. From what I understand everyone had a different favorite – the competition is pretty stiff so I’m not surprised there wasn’t a consensus. Should you come to Boston, I recommend you try a similar tasting to determine your favorite.

The list of restaurants in this neighborhood is too long for me to do them justice, but should you find yourself visiting Boston and in need of a recommendation, leave a comment, and I’ll share suggestions based on what you’re looking for (e.g., romantic setting, family friendly, fine dining, etc…).

I rarely order desserts, but this neighborhood has been responsible for my calorie consumption of sweets by the tens of thousands (if not more) over the years. In my late 20s and early 30s, I regularly visited Bova’s Bakery, becuase it is open 24-hours. After a night out drinking this place would call to me. I can’t tell you how many times I tipped my taxi driver with cash and a cannoli. If you like that Italian pastry, I recommend you read my 2014 blind tasting of cannolis, Mike’s Pastry vs. The Modern Pastry Shop.

If you happen to be new to Boston or planning a visit, feel free to reach out to me with any questions. If you are familiar with Boston’s North End, recommendations and comments are welcome.

Boston neighborhood profile: Beacon Hill

Louisburg Square on Beacon Hill – photo from Wikipedia page

Beacon Hill is a popular destination for visitors. It’s chock-full of history and historical sites, with some dating back to the 1600s. While Beacon Hill is considered a very desireable neighborhood and one of Boston’s (and the nation’s) wealthiest addresses, that was not always the case. As early as the late 17th century, the south slope of Beacon Hill earned the nickname, “Mount Whoredom”. From the 1930s through the 1960s, Beacon Hill was home to many nightclubs and bathhouses that catered to “pansies” who would then spill out onto the Boston Common to cruise for sex. Those days are long gone and difficult to imagine today, considering Beacon Hill’s current prim repute.

I never lived in Beacon Hill, but I spent plenty of time here especially in college and my late 20s. My most vivid memories of Beacon Hill involved the much dreaded moving days for my friend Tom who attended Suffolk University. He always seemed to live on the top floor of every building. Getting furniture up and down those tiny, twisting walk-ups was torture. I distinctly recall hurling pillows out of Tom’s 3rd story window on Joy Street, and him running back and forth in the street trying in vain to catch the flying projectiles. Moving day always resulted in a significant amount screaming profanities at each other. Fortunately, there was always a cold beer (or twelve) after the move.

Massachusetts State House sits atop Beacon Hill

About Beacon Hill Beacon Hill is home to more than 9,000 residents. Despite it’s sky high rents, many Suffolk University students and Mass General Hospital (a.k.a. MGH) residents live here. The neighborhood is also awash with State government employees and lobbyists who spend a lot of time at the Massachusetts State House. Many politicians make this their home, like former US Senator, 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate and Joe Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry who lives in Louisberg Square.

This tiny neighborhood, which barely spans a square quarter mile, is divided into three sections: the South Slope, facing Beacon Street and The Common; North Slope, facing Cambridge Street and Mass General Hospital; and the Flats, which like its name suggests is not a hill and is sandwiched between Storrow Drive (think Boston’s version of the Henry Hudson Parkway) and the Public Garden.

Acorn Street in Beacon Hill is a favorite spot to snap a photo

What to do in Beacon Hill This is an historic neighborhood known for its Federal-style rowhouses, narrow streets lit by gas lamps and bricked sidewalks. The best examples of this are Louisberg Square and Acorn Street. The neighborhood also has the good fortune of being surrounded by some of Boston’s most beautiful parks including the Boston Common, The Public Garden, and Esplanade. These parks are full of interesting sculptures like this personal favorite in The Public Garden, and in 2022 I’m looking forward to the unveilling of the Martin Luther King and Correta Scott-King memorial on The Common. The parks host many free outdoor workouts, movie nights, concerts and events throughout the year including (my favorite) free performances of Shakespeare on the Common in the summer.

The Freedom Trail traverses Beacon Hill and will guide you to the Park Street Church, King’s Chapel and Burying Ground, Old Granery Burying Ground and State House, but Beacon Hill has more to offer like Boston’s African American National Historic Site, Nichols House Museum, and the William Hickling Prescott House. While it lacks historical significance, those of a certain age may recall the MTV series Real World, filmed in the late 1990s in Boston. I’ve been known to break-up Freedom Trail visits with a quick stop outside the former Boston firehouse at 127 Mt. Vernon Street where Real World Boston was filmed.

When you get tired of walking around and photographing this quaint neighborhood, you’ll likely find yourself drawn to Charles Street which stretches several blocks from Beacon Street to Cambridge Street along the Flats. Here you’ll find an array of ateliers that include gift shops, antique stores, local grocers and other specialty retailers. There are also more than a few coffee shops and cafes but my favorite is the Tatte Bakery & Cafe because of its central location and outdoor seating. There is a complete list of Beacon Hill shops online here, but I recommend strolling around. It’s a short walk and to quote Boston poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

Beacon Hill
Contrary to what NBC told you – nobody knows your name here

Food and Drink in Beacon Hill: Cheers, which is located in “The Flats” below The Hampshire House, remains the most famous establishment in Beacon Hill some thirty years after the popular NBC TV show went off air. However, there are far better places to drink and certainly better places to eat. Even though this is one of Boston’s most expensive neighborhoods, there are many good, reasonably priced restaurants. Some of my favorites are 75 Chestnut, which has a lively bar if you can nab a chair. If you’re hungry for pizza, I’ve always enjoyed Todd English’s Figs on Charles Street and right next door is the Paramount, which serves breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner daily.

Beacon Hill also has its share of fine dining if you’re in the mood to celebrate. One of the city’s best restaurants, No. 9 Park, run by Chef Barbara Lynch is just steps from the State House and is the perfect destination to share a romantic dinner. Just around the corner is one of Boston’s best hotels XV Beacon. Their restaurant, Mooo, is an excellent steakhouse, but I prefer their brunch, which they offered pre-pandemic. If you’re craving Italian, the subterranean Grotto Italian restauant behind the State House and Lydia Shire’s Scampo (technically in the West End) are favorites.

Although I rarely go to Beacon Hill for drinks, at one point in my life I clocked a lot of time at The 21st Amendment and The Sevens Ale House. Both are great pubs and fun places to meet up for a drink after work. If you’re more into wine or cocktails, go to Mooo’s bar. I’ve yet to try Peregrine, a relatively new restaurant in Beacon Hill’s newest boutique hotel, The Whitney, but it is on my list of places to try. In good weather, the best option for a drink outside is the patio at Liberty Hotel’s lounge, Alibi.

Destiny Boston is werqin‘ it at Drag Me To Brunch

Gay life in Beacon Hill: Beacon Hill is not a gay neighborhood. It hasn’t had a gay bar or shop for decades, although there are plenty LGBTQ+ residents. Prior to the pandemic, Carrie Nation in Beacon Hill had one of the best drag brunches in Boston called, Drag Me To Brunch hosted by Destiny Boston and Dee Dee de Ray on Sunday afternoons. Fingers crossed this will return later this year. As you can see from the photo above, it is predominantly attended by straight (and loud) women out for a fun afternoon rather than gay clientele.

If you happen to be new to Boston or planning a visit, reach out with questions. If you are familiar with Boston’s Beacon Hill, recommendations and comments are welcome.

The Emancipator

Earlier this year The Boston Globe and Boston University Center for Antiracist Research announced that they would be teaming up to launch The Emancipator to share opinions, ideas on journalism, and featuring contributions from experts and community voices.

The publication’s name is a nod to America’s first abolitionist newspaper which started in the early 19th-century. The hope is the online publication will create a forum to help reframe the national conversation on race.

“Even when The Emancipator was first founded in 1820, it was very difficult for people to believe that slavery, 45 years later, would be no more. Just as I think there are many people today who can’t imagine there could be a nation without racism and inequality,”

Ibram X. Kendi commenting in the video Announcing: The Emancipator

For more information follow them on Twitter at @the_emancipator or visit them online at TheEmancipator.org to learn more and sign up to be added to their mailing list.

Boston neighborhood profile: Back Bay

View of Back Bay and the Charles River from Cambridge

If you’ve visited Boston, you’ve probably spent time in the Back Bay. It is a centrally located, afluent neighborhood with some of Boston’s most iconic buildings, busiest streets, best restaurants, bars and shops. It is chock-full of office buildings, hotels, retailers, restaurants and of course residents.

In the late 1850s the Back Bay was built from reclaimed land from the Charles River basin to accommodate the city’s growth so this is one part of town that won’t be on the Freedom Trail but it has plenty of history. The neighborhood was built for Boston’s well-to-do families who were looking for more space. Unlike older neighborhoods, this was built on a grid with intersecting streets running north to south in alphabetical order (Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon Street, etc…). The massive landfill was completed by 1900 and wealthy families flocked to these new Victorian brownstones like The Gibson House, The Ames Mansion, and The Ayer Mansion to name a few.

BPL
Boston Public Library McKim Building

About The Back Bay: Back Bay is one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods in America and while it is home to nearly 20,000 residents, it really serves as a commercial center, as well as a playground for tourists, day-visitors and residents from all over the city. Residences dominate the streets closest to the Charles River and Esplanade (Beacon Street, Marlborough Street, Commonwealth Avenue). Shopping and dining options take center stage on Newbury and Boylston Streets and as you move further south larger, commercial buildings designated for hotels and office space dominate the skyline along St. James Avenue, Stuart Street and Huntington Avenue.

When you visit the Back Bay, leave your car behind, because parking is scarce and expensive. The neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly, but if you don’t want to walk the MBTA’s Green Line runs down Boylston Street with three stops in the neighborhood (Arlington, Copley and Hynes) and the Orange Line Back Bay Station is across from the Copley Mall. While many books and movies use the Back Bay as a backdrop, Boston’s Back Bay in the Victorian Era is worth reading to learn about the neighborhood’s history, the people who helped build it and the many prominent familes who moved here in the mid- and late-1800s.

Boston Public Garden

What to do in the Back Bay: If you like architecture, you’ll love the Back Bay. The neighborhood has many churches built in the late 1800s (e.g., Christian Science Church, Trinity Church, and Arlington Street Church to name a few). These aren’t on the scale of Europe’s most famous cathedrals but they do enhance the streetscape and are beautiful. However, my favorite building is the Boston Public Library (a.k.a. the BPL). I love the original McKim building (1895) and the “new” addition that opened in 1972 as well as the many rooms inside but my favorite part of the library is the Italianate courtyard. It is a wonderful place to relax and grab a coffee.

However, I think the most photographed building in the Back Bay is probably I.M. Pei’s Hancock Tower built in the 1970s. It’s mirror reflection of the original Hancock Building (now the Berkeley Building) captures the spirit of Boston; modern, bold and forward thinking but proud and mindful of its past. Pei intentionally designed the Hancock Tower to reflect the (original) 1947 beaux arts Hancock building, ensuring we remember and learn from our history. If his design and architecture looks familiar it is because Pei would go on to become one of the most admired architects of the late 20th century. He would famously go on to create the glass pyramid for the Louvre in Paris.

The Back Bay has some of the city’s most beautiful parks. The homes lining Commonwealth Avenue look out onto the Commonwealth Mall, which is decorated with sculptures on each block and framed by large elm trees. I think it’s most beautiful in the summer and in December when the trees are full of tiny white lights. It is also the narrowest part of Boston’s chain of parks referred to as the Emerald Necklace. From the Mall, you can stroll up to the Public Garden, which is the oldest part of the Back Bay and where the marshland was first filled. It is the nation’s oldest public garden and dates back to 1837. Then there is my favorite park in the city, The Esplanade, which stretches beyond the Back Bay and has paths for walking, jogging and biking. There is always something happening here and it is an idyllic setting for a jog, a picnic with friends or in my sister’s case, a marriage proposal.

Restoration Hardware Boston in the Back Bay

Shopping in the Back Bay: Newbury Street is a favorite destination for shopaholics and window shoppers alike. Many luxury brands and art galleries can be found at the start of the street with more ecelectic shops (like my personal favorite, Trident Booksellers & Cafe) and musicians busking for tips in the blocks that follow. If the weather isn’t cooperating, walk over to the city’s only downtown malls (Copley and Prudential), which are adjoined via a pedestrian walkway over Huntington Avenue.

Shops open and close with a speed that can make your head spin. Rising rents and online shopping has been the demise of many independent shops. I still miss Boston’s LGBTQ bookstore, Glad Day Bookstore in Copley Square, but there is always a new shop opening and there is something for everyone. Need an ancient fuse for your apartment that hasn’t been rewired since the 1970s? No worries, head over to Economy Hardware on Mass Ave. Need a statement gift for someone who already has everything? Go to Simon Pearce or Shreve Crump & Low. Want to grab a bottle of wine to bring to a dinner party later this week? Bauer Wines has you covered. There are also more clothing, shoe stores and salons than I could possibly list covering every trend and budget from Valentino to T.J. Maxx.

Sonsie Boston photo from TripAdvisor

Restaurants in Back Bay: This neighborhood has everything you could want from cheap eats to some of the priciest meals in the city. It would be difficult to do this neighborhood justice in a single post, but I feel compelled to share a few places I enjoy.

If you’re more of a cheap eats diner, head over to the stretch of Boylston Street just west of Massachusetts Avenue and join all the Berklee music students at the fast casual dining options set up along this stretch of Boylston. If you’re willing to stand in line (there is always a line), probably the best noodle shop in Back Bay is Santouka. While it isn’t a “cheap eats”, it is still on the cheaper end for dining and their all-day breakfast menu makes the Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury a personal favorite. However, many people come to the Back Bay to eat outside and for years Sonsie has been the place to see and be seen. However there are a great many cafes and restaurants that offer streetside dining like Atlantic Fish Co., Stephanie’s on Newbury and Piattini to name a few.

For a more romantic setting, I love the hidden Mexican restaurant, Casa Romero’s private patio garden, or reserve a table at La Voile. For a finer dining experience Deuxave (French), Uni (Sushi and Asian), Sorellina (Italian), Grill 23 (Steakhouse) and the Fairmont Hotel’s Oak Long Bar + Kitchen (American) in Copley Square are all great options. A newcomer to the Back Bay dining scene, scheduled to open in June 2021, is the rooftop restaurant and bar, Contessa, at the newly remodeled and branded Newbury Hotel. The restaurant is gorgeous and the expectations for the food and service are high. It is worth putting on your list of places to try this summer or fall.

Although I’m not one to spend a lot of time discussing sweets, the Back Bay has something to tempt everyone. For me it is a small independent chocolatier based in New Hampshire with a shop in the Back Bay called L.A. Burdick. When I am in the Back Bay I try not to walk within a block of this cute shop and cafe, because I inevitably find myself buying something. In the winter I rationalize the calories by purchasing the best hot chocolate in the city to keep me warm.

Bukowski Tavern in the Back Bay

Favorite Bars in the Back Bay: So many bars have come and gone over the years and recently, the coronavirus has driven a stake through the heart of many long-standing bars. It is my hope that those remaining establishments will be able to pull through. Similar to other residential neighborhoods, most of the bars in the Back Bay are also restaurants so places like Sonsie, Oak Long Bar + Kitchen and Grill 23 (all previously mentioned) are popular places in part due to their large bars to grab drinks with friends. However, if you’re looking to sit outside, there are only a few bars that have patios. The best option is the Loews Hotel restaurant and bar, Precinct. Their large sunken, lounge-like patio with comfortable furniture is a popular place to meet up after work for a drink.

One of my favorite dive bars in Boston is (ironically) located in a parking garage. Bukowski’s Tavern, named after a German-American poet, is the only bar I regularly visited when I lived in the Back Bay that remains open. Back then, if you hesitated ordering a beer the Irish bartender would spin a wheel on the wall behind the bar (you can see it in the far right in the photo). Whatever it landed on was what you received. This happened to me once, and I was stuck with a $20 specialty Belgian beer. I never again hesitated.

What to do, man dancing

Gay Life in the Back Bay: This neighborhood has many LGBTQ+ residents. Moreover, this is where many travelers opt to stay when they visit Boston because of its central location, proximity to points of interest and Boston’s traditional (if no longer) gayborhood, the South End. Gay bars, bookstores and other shops moved out of the Back Bay mostly due to high rents by the late 1990s. My favorite gay bookstore in Copley Square, We Think The World of You, closed about 20 years ago. The last gay bar I can recall in the Back Bay closed before that. However, on any given night you will see gay friends meeting for drinks at many restaurants and bars in the neighborhood. If you are visiting and would prefer a gay owned establishment that markets themselves to the LGBTQ community go to Club Cafe on the Back Bay / South End line.

If you happen to be new to Boston or planning a visit, feel free to reach out to me with any questions. If you are familiar with Boston’s Back Bay, recommendations and comments are welcome.