A Boston After-Hours Excursion?

I saw a great post last week by Adam Pieniazek advocating a restoration of the late, great MBTA Night Owl late-night transit program as a premium-fare service targeted toward the 2AM crowd leaving the bars after last call. (Yes, for those of you reading from out of state, Boston’s public transit shuts down at 12:30AM-1AM, but the bars stay open until 2AM. You also can’t buy alcohol in grocery stores, and it’s probably illegal to hold hands with someone outside after 6PM, too) Then last night on Twitter, he pointed out another post by Whalehead King observing how the impositions posed by the lack of a late-night life in the city prompts people to stick close to the nest and not explore more.

These are not isolated complaints. For a long time, people have bemoaned the lack of late-night transportation service around the what is supposed to be, as Whalehead King points out, a world-class city. I found a site for a group calling itself the Late Transit Alliance, which includes a nice comparison  between public transit offerings in Boston versus other major American cities. I mean, come on, if sprawl-tastic cities like Miami and Houston see the value of offering late-night transit, can’t we?

These posts reminded me that I’ve wanted, for a long time, to take Boston on by storm one night, by night meaning post-midnight until the next morning, and patronize the few 24-hour activities there are. A preliminary list I made last year includes:

  • Dancing at various clubs (like, say, retro night at TT the Bear’s in Cambridge) until 2AM
  • Tasty Japanese food at Ginza Boston, open until 3:30AM
  • Boston Bowl! 24 hours a day! 
  • Breakfast at the South Street Diner (they have call-ahead reservations for parties of 3 or more from 1-5AM)
  • Second breakfast at Bova Bakery in the North End, open 24 hours.

Not to mention just the sheer joy of wandering the city streets in the middle of the night, seeing the sun rise over the waterfront… it really sounds delightful. There are some other resources that aggregate 24-hour destinations around the city — but am I missing anything else particularly cool?

With summer coming up, the weather will be ideal for such an excursion. I know I could get a couple of my friends on board, but I wonder if it would be worth pulling together a larger group to make the most out of what Boston has to offer in its off-hours. Not only for the safety-in-numbers element, but to rally people around the notion of Boston as a 24-hour city, show that there is some fun to be had in the wee hours around here, all while exposing the fact that traveling from Dorchester to the North End to Chinatown is an inconvenient and expensive proposition.

I think it’d be a fun night out. What do you think?

EDIT: It bears noting that the Globe did a version of this a few years ago. That said, I’d love to reprise it, this time with a point to prove. When the weather gets warmer, I plan to resurrect this idea and organize an event. Stay tuned!

One last thing: A former Boston.com staffer did a really cool photo gallery a couple of years ago showing 24 hours in the life of Boston. Check it out.

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2 responses to “A Boston After-Hours Excursion?

  1. Sounds like a great plan! Honestly, the best way to get around Boston is by bicycle. Assuming you don’t indulge in adult beverages you can ride all over the city. It’s small enough and flat enough that you won’t get tired, even if you’re bouncing around from the city core to Dorchester (to hit up Boston Bowl) and back to the city core for breakfast at South Street Diner and the Bova Bakery.

    I also emphatically agree with you and Whalehead King that our lack of late night transportation options strangles our night life and insomniac’s ability to be creative. It’s really sad that a supposedly world class city filled with energetic young adults (1/3 of Boston’s population is between 20-34) doesn’t have public transportation after 1 AM.

  2. I hate to be the second person quoted in this article to respond (out of two!), but I am definitely in on this if you’ll extend the invitation. I agree with Adam that bicycle is the best way to navigate Boston on a rainless, summer night, but this belays the point that I would rather be zipping from point A to points beyond with someone else driving the train while I can carry on with my cohorts rather than watching out for traffic hurdles. I would especially like to do this in winter when cabin fever is at its worst. Despite that, let’s paint whatever parts of town that are open late at night red.

    Let the games begin.

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