The coast of Massachusetts is blessed with some of the world’s best shellfish, especially to the tune of clams, oysters, and lobster. The New England clam bake is a quintessential seaside dining experience and an appetizer of clam chowder is arguably the state dish. In Pioneer Valley, the apples are superb and easy to find at local farmers’ markets and roadside stalls. Boston serves up the best nightlife, though it’s not hard to find a fun bar in any of the state’s tourist destinations or college towns.
Bars and Pubbing in Massachusetts
Massachusetts takes its nightlife at a surprisingly slow pace despite the size and energy of cities like Boston. Even here, expect nightclubs to close their doors at 2:00 a.m., the time when alcohol can no longer be served by law, and bars even earlier at 1:00 a.m. There are lots of clubs and bars to enjoy in Boston, just be prepared to call it an early night. Head to the city’s Theater District around Boylston Place for clubbing, Central Square for live music, and Allston for boisterous college hangouts. For the best cocktails in Boston, go to Drink (348 Congress St, Boston). Live music is always fresh at Club Passim (47 Palmer St, Cambridge) and The Middle East (472 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge) epitomizes the city’s hot club scene.
Outside of Boston, clubbing is less common and laid-back taverns are the norm. On Cape Cod you can find dance venues like Nectar’s (17 Airport Rd, Edgartown) in Martha’s Vineyard and cool live music bars such as Grumpy’s (29 Locust St, Falmouth). Casual drinking with a pretty view is good at the Beachcomber (1120 Cahoon Hollow Rd, Wellfleet). In Pioneer Valley, there are also plenty of bars near the five universities, but most of the action is centered along the coast. Smoking isn’t allowed in any bar in Massachusetts.
Dining and Cuisine in Massachusetts
There is fantastic dining throughout Massachusetts, though it’s the seafood arena that really shines. Anywhere on the cape, along the coast, and in Boston, you can find superb fish and shellfish. The Essex and Ipswich clams are a particular specialty of the coastal towns, taken to comforting levels in New England clam chowder and the classic clam bake. Lobster is also a reliable choice, along with Wellfleet oysters when the weather turns cool. Seafood can be very affordable in most of Massachusetts, but don’t expect many budget entrees on posh Martha’s Vineyard.
On Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard, you can find some seriously good restaurants. From the celebrity French chef, L’étoile (22 N. Water St, Edgartown) with an exquisite menu to the classic seafood dishes at The Bite (29 Basin Rd, Menemsha), the coast is a foodie’s delight.
Boston is no slouch either, offering a diverse array of ethnic restaurants to go with famous chef-run eateries and local joints. The Southend is home to trendy bistros, while the Northend serves up the best Italian. Don’t miss Durgin-Park (340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston), still going strong since 1827, for the quintessential Boston dining experience. Ye Olde Union Oyster House (41 Union St, Boston) has also been serving food since 1826, while Legal Sea Foods (255 State St, Boston) may well be the best and most well-known seafood in the city.