Boston in the Rain

You know how I know that I’ve lived in New England for over a year now?  I went running outside yesterday.  In 40ish-degree weather.  In the rain!  It took a bit of self-coaxing, but I figured that if I can’t run outside now, I sure won’t be doing so again until March.  So why not take on a challenge?

Turns out, a great pair of new, long, warm running pants, and many mismatched layers all over my upper body did the trick!  Besides the high of realizing my body can indeed still generate heat as winter approaches, I’m also grateful for the rainy run’s inspiration of this blog post – What the Heck Does One Do in Boston When It’s Raining? (and not that lovely, warm summer rain of days of yore)

I asked this question a few weeks ago as well, when my wonderful family planned away, botched up their work schedules, and vowed to lose sleep on red-eyes… and arrived in Boston for a few days of rain.  Bah!

This felt especially troublesome since, as many of us know, one of Boston’s primo offerings for first-time visitors (in the case of 2 of 3 of my visiting family) is the Freedom Trail.  Which is entirely at the mercy of the elements.  Or how about a walk along the Charles, or through the back alleys of Beacon Hill?  All still lovely, but certainly worth saving for the one or two days of sun they’d get while in town.

I got creative.  So I’m excited to present the list of things I came up with for their visit that are not just good options in a downpour, but are GREAT rain or shine.  And you can bet that I’ve been adding to it as I try/learn to celebrate the rain, now that it’s become a more constant presence:

What to do in Boston if it’s raining and…


  • Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In fact, take friends/guests/yourself there whether or not it’s dumping outside.  This is one of my favorite museums anywhere, actually (I still say after recent trips to Rome, Florence, Paris, and New York).  It’s basically the former home of, yes, Isabella Stewart Gardner, a Boston heiress who was way ahead of her time in the late 1800s.  As in, she and her husband traveled the world to places like Egypt.  She and T.S. Eliot were penpals.  The museum she built was the first Venetian-style in the States.  Pretty cool lady.  She just asked that the home with all of her favorite art (as in, 2,500+ pieces of all sorts) be kept as she arranged it.  Only trouble is that this precluded a more extensive security system… So the place is also memorable/intriguing for becoming the site of the most expensive art heist to date in 1990.  Mystery still unsolved, and the frames still hang empty.  I could go on!  (I will spare you, and leave that to the museum’s audio guide.  Yes, get it.)
  • Head to other museums too, of course. I will still cheerlead most fiercely for the Gardner, but you can certainly get lost in the MFA, right around the corner.  The place is so big that you can actually get back into the museum for free within 10 days, as long as you present your original ticket (having trouble finding this verification online, but I swear this was what I learned last time I went).  My dad was a huge fan of the crazy-intricate glass flowers at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
  • Catch a movie. Yes, I agree that this is the type of thing you can do anywhere.  But sometimes a movie is just what you (/my parents/my extended family/my boyfriend’s parents) want on a rainy day or a Saturday evening.  (Yes, every time I talk to my grandma on the phone she asks me what I’ve seen lately.)  Even if the latest hit isn’t a favorite subject at family dinner for you, Somerville Theatre is the best, and almost certainly more fun than what your fine visitors can find back at home.  For starters, you can buy beer, wine, and homemade ice cream there.  Also, the theater was built in 1914, and has all the trimmings.  U2 performed on their main stage last year (for reals) and other musical artists come through all the time too.  And they have the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA, of course) for free in the basement.  Also, cheapest movie ticket in town.
  • Drive to Maine, savor lobster. Lobster wonderment knows no weather.  The drive up there is beautiful as well, and it’s hard to resist just how close this other state is.  A favorite indoor spot for the best lobster in town (with a free chowder, if you make it there in time for lunch) is Lobster Shack in Ogunquit.  Brave the beach in rain, if you’re especially daring.  Or, if you prefer the warmth of the car, drive north from lunch to Kennebunkport, where the coastal road takes you past old, stately mansions and even the Bush compound (it’s the one with the Texas flag, if you were wondering).


  • Go for a run! And I’m not just putting this one down to pat myself on the back.  For the same reason that many of Boston’s best offerings are found on sunny walking tours, it’s just as beautiful – and far more peaceful – when you’re the only one padding on Beacon Hill’s brick sidewalks, or get umbrella-d by trees on the Minuteman, or want your own pathway next to the river.
  • Catch some live music. I hear Boston’s known for it.  Recent favorite: Tuesday night bluegrass at Cantab Lounge.  As in, every Tuesday, and no cover (though a donation to the great musicians is highly suggested.)
  • Go to the Gardner Museum. I can’t say it enough.  I might even name my firstborn child Isabella just so he/she can get into the museum for free for life.

I realize it’s best to just keep that second list brief, because who am I to tell you what you love most on a rainy day?  My personal list would also include reading in bed for hours upon waking up, cooking a large delicious meal with friends (who bring wine), or holing up in a café.  But while I’ll keep my other habits to myself, I do hope to add to that visitor list soon.

Happy hosting!

This entry was posted in Boston, Misc. Lists, Pit Stops. Bookmark the permalink.

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