Brew your own beer at Hopsters, but maybe taste it before you serve it to all your friends. Credit: Hopsters
It’s summer in the city, and the weather is sticky. But fear not, sweat-drenched urbanite. We’ve uncovered a season’s worth of ways to cool down when the mercury rises: from rooftop pools to bars made of ice, from kid-friendly fun to adult beverages. There’s something for every taste.
Hit the Roof
Splash, sun, and sip the day away in the cooling breeze at a rooftop pool. Hit the BOKX Pool at Newton’s Hotel Indigo (399 Grove Street, Newton, www.hotelindigo.com/Newton) for South Beach-style cabana rentals and fruity mojitos. Our top pick, though, is Rooftop @ Revere at the Revere Hotel Boston Common (www.reverehotel.com/rooftop, 200 Stuart St., Boston). There you’ll find a glass-enclosed pool and a sun-soaked terrace with sparkling white cabanas, a menu of tropics-inspired noshes (like rock-shrimp ceviche with coconut and pineapple-jalapeno liqueur) and creative cocktails — like “Classy Jell-O Shots” served in miniature martini glasses.
Catch a Cool Summer Blockbuster
Tis the season for costumed superheroes and loud exploding things. And everyone knows that movie theaters crank the A/C to Arctic levels. (They can afford the bill, with those popcorn prices.) But the single coolest theatergoing experience has got to be the Showcase SuperLux in Chestnut Hill (http://www.showcasesuperlux.com, 55 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill). Not only are the audiovisual qualities ultra high-tech, the premium seating includes reclining leather armchairs with call buttons for summoning food and cocktails from a full in-theatre dining menu. If you’d rather wait until after the flick, topnotch Italian eatery Davio’s Cucina is housed within the multiplex.
Scream for Ice Cream
Of course, chasing after an ice cream truck is another nostalgia-summoning activity. Now that Boston’s food truck craze is in full swing, it was only a matter of time before the fleet was joined by an ice cream-focused eatery. But Frozen Hoagies (www.frozenhoagies.com) is especially creative. First guests choose a flavor of ice cream, from Nutella to Cherry Chocolate Chip. Then you pick a type of cookies, like Oatmeal or Aztec Chocolate, to act as the “bread” for your ice cream sandwich. The result is a sweet double-treat. (The Frozen Hoagies website lists the daily schedule of stops around town.)
Get In the Spirit
Want to catch a breeze in the high seas? Option A: Find a friend with a super-yacht. Option B: Book a trip on the Spirit of Boston (200 Seaport Blvd #75, Boston, www.spiritcruises.com/boston), which offers specialty harbor cruises that run the gamut of themes: 80s Dance Parties, Clambake Dinners, 50s Nights and Adult Proms, to name a few. The common denominators are food, drinking, dancing, aboard a state-of-the-art vessel that hosts up to 600 guests. So even if you can’t afford that Mediterranean excursion, a few hours amid the cool Atlantic sea air will do a body and spirit good.
Dive In to the Aquarium
If it’s cold enough for the penguins, the New England Aquarium (www.neaq.org, 1 Central Wharf, Boston) should certainly be able to cool you down on a hot summer day. And if you haven’t visited recently, there’s a new reason to go: Last summer the aquarium reopened its centerpiece, the 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank, after a massive renovation that added much-improved visibility and a new Coral Reef Center. And of course, there are still options for whale watches, seal shows, and fun and educational IMAX movies that’ll entertain you and any little guppies in tow. If all else fails, chill with the penguins. They know where it’s at.
Play Away the Day
Speaking of kid-friendly ways to cool off, head over to Somerville’s Assembly Row to check out the just-opened Legoland Discovery Center (www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/boston, 598 Assembly Row, Somerville). A kid guest is actually required to enter the play palace, which sprawls over 44,000 square foot and boasts 11 attractions: like a 4D movie theater, where sense-stimulating effects simulate the action on-screen; a chutes and ladders-filled Play Zone; and a “Laser Ride” where you’ll blast away at imaginary baddies. Sure, you have to exit through a toy store-slash-souvenir shop. But hours of complaint-free, air-conditioned fun away from the blazing sun is worth the price, right parents?
Hit the Greens
Running through the sprinklers might be fun for suburban kids, but mini city slickers will want to head to the Rose Kennedy Greenway for a dash through dozens of fountains that splash cool, refreshing H20 from May through October. It’s the perfect place for a picnic, because when you’re done cooling off you can grab hot eats from the many food trucks that line the Greenway daily: Like spicy bites from The Taco Truck (www.thetacotruck.com), gooey goodness from Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese (www.roxysgrilledcheese.com), cold cones from Boston Harbor Ice Cream Company (bostonharbor.com/icecream), and all sorts of crispy concoctions from the aptly named Bacon Truck (www.bostonbacontruck.com).
Stop and Smell the Rosé
If wine paired with seasons the way it does with food, then rosé would be the perfect accompaniment for a hot summer afternoon of patio dining. Though this misunderstood wine is often unfairly maligned, you’ll find good selections at most finer restaurants. But if you must pick: Bistro du Midi (www.bistrodumidi.com, 272 Boylston St, Boston). This Public Garden-side French offers a “Summer Rosé Tour,” from June through September. Each month spotlights a variety from a different area of France (Marseille, St. Tropez, Toulon and Cannes) with unique pairing options. By the time Fall rolls around, it’s as if you’ve sipped your way across France – minus the airfare.
Play in The Yard
Is orange really the new black? Ask the guest designers during the “Fashionably LATE Summer Series,” weekly Thursday fashion shows at The Liberty Hotel (www.libertyhotel.com, 215 Charles St., Boston), an upscale hotel-slash-nightspot inside the former Charles Street Jail. The property plans near-nightly special events in its private grassy courtyard, dubbed The Yard, and it’s a shady place to unwind – if not during fashion-focused Thursdays, then during “Mani-Cure Mondays” (with free tootsie touch-ups); “Yappier Hour,” a Wednesday mixer evening for dogs and their owners; and “Film Fridays,” which screen locally produced indie movies. While you’re there, suck on “spiked popsicles,” like the tequila-based Watermelon-Jalapeno or vodka-made Spiked Lemonade.
For those truly committed to cooling off, try Frost Ice Bar. Credit: Derek Kouyoumjian
Have Your Drink on Ice — Literally
Boston’s coolest spot for a cocktail is definitely Frost Ice Bar (www.frosticebar.com, 200 State St, Boston) near Faneuil Hall. The entire interior is made of solid ice: the walls, the seats, and even the glasses from which you’ll sip mixed drinks named for Boston landmarks and historic events. (Like the rum, lime, and mango-puree cocktail, “The Green Way.”) Billed as “the world’s largest indoor ice bar,” Frost is kept at a chilly 21-degrees Fahrenheit, and insulated capes and gloves are provided. Admittance is offered at ticketed 15-minute increments, so plan ahead for your ultimate experience grabbing a drink “on the rocks.”
Wear Your Watermelon
If past family cookouts are any indication, it’s only a matter of time before you wind up with watermelon smeared on your face this summer; it might as well be on purpose. And right now high-end wellness center Equinox (www.equinox.com/regions/boston) is offering a “Watermelon Rejuvenating Facial,” a 50-minute treatment that uses the fruit’s vitamins (A, B and C) and amino acids to improve skin tone and minimize pores. With its cooling mask and watermelon extract, it’s a soothing, relaxing respite that will leave you with a much healthier glow than that burn you’ll get from the harsh summer sun.
Brew Up Something Special
Nothing says “summer” like a cold beer. But at the next backyard barbecue, keep on hand a secret stash of self-made suds from Hopsters Brew & Boards (www.hopsters.net, 292 Centre St., Newton). The Newton bar lets you try your hand at making your own beer: A big book of recipes serves as your guide, and you’ll spend several hours mixing malts, hops and more to create a customized brew that will ultimately result in about three cases of beer. (You even design your own labels.) In between steps, relax with a beer or “ploughman’s board” of artisanal meats and cheese.
Baiting your kids on an educational summer outing gets a lot easier when ice cream is involved. And this summer, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum (www.bostonteapartyship.com, 306 Congress St., Boston), located at the site in the harbor where the actual Boston Tea Party took place, has something special up its Colonial Era sleeve: “TeaRiffic!” ice cream, steeped in actual tea and served in the facility’s Abigail Tea Room, which is open to the public. Cooling flavors like Lavender Blueberry and Ginger make it a lot easier to lure the little ones to the seaside museum, where replicas of historic ships, artifacts, live reenactments and more await.
Soup in the summer? Absolutely, and not just warm clam chowder. On a hot summer day, chilled soups are a lunch or dinner that doubles as a way to beat the heat. Among our favorites right now is a seafood gazpacho at Pier 6 (www.pier6boston.com, 1 8th St., Charlestown), the trendy Charlestown eatery that inhabits the former Tavern on the Water space – and just so happens to boast an amazing harbor side roof deck on its third floor. And New England Soup Factory (www.newenglandsoupfactory.com) has a huge lineup of creative cool soups: like cucumber, avocado and lime; English cucumber with chive; and roasted peach and brown sugar soup. Pretty sweet.
Get Cold Feet
It’s open toe shoe season, which means you need to get your piggies looking pretty. And Bliss Spa at the W Hotel (www.wboston.com, 100 Stuart St., Boston) is now offering a cold feet pedicure that just so happens to make for a cool, relaxing spa day. Each step in the pedi process makes use of cooling mint: the foot soak is infused with mint oil, the scrub uses a peppermint paste, and a foot and lower leg massage uses more mint oil. Not only is the effect a cooling one, it will help reduce the aching, swollen feet and puffy ankles that you get from walking all over Boston cobblestones in strappy summer sandals.
Catch a Movie By Moonlight
Watching a movie under the star-filled sky sounds like a nice, breezy end to a busy summer day. But unless you want to trek to one of the nearest remaining drive-in theaters, your best bet is to head to the Boston Harbor Hotel (www.bhh.com, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston). Each Friday at sunset, the property screens a classic flick outdoors for its Movies by Moonlight series: kid-friendly hits like The Wizard of Oz, Hitchcock thrillers like Vertigo, and marvelous musicals like West Side Story are all on the schedule for this summer.
Slurp Some Oysters
If you’re a local seafood lover, you’re probably familiar with Island Creek Oysters. The succulent variety is a favorite among local chefs, and pops up on icy raw bars all over town – including the eponymous Island Creek Oyster Bar (www.islandcreekoysterbar.com, 500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston) restaurant in Kenmore Square. But this summer, the oyster experts have launched weekly Friday tours of Island Creek Oyster Farm. Each week you can reserve a seat for a breezy Duxbury Bay boat ride to see where the oysters are grown and harvested. Bring your own beer or wine, because things wrap up with a sampling.
Stop by the Barking Crab for the view, stay for the seafood. Credit: Erin Baldassari
Dig Your Claws In
Speaking of shellfish, summer isn’t complete without a night by the water spent digging in to a lobster. And boy, does Barking Crab (www.barkingcrab.com, 88 Sleeper St., Boston) have a doozy. This year the Seaport’s pier restaurant, famous for its iconic red and yellow tent, celebrates its 20th birthday – so celebrate by gorging on its 10-pound lobster. Yes, you can order a massive meal that requires two waiters to deliver tableside, and is accompanied by a four-pound bowl of mixed crab, a spread of crab legs, and clams. Now that’s summer eating!
Shake It Up
Creamy milkshakes (or as they’re known around here, frappes) immediately summon the fond memories of childhood summers. But adults can update those tasty treats with boozy milkshakes found at restaurants around Boston. Grass Fed (www.grassfedjp.com, 605 Centre St., Jamaica Plain), a hipster-friendly burger bar in Jamaica Plain, offers yummy creations like the Banana’s Foster Parent: vanilla ice cream, banana, dark rum and whipped cream. South End steakhouse Boston Chops (www.bostonchops.com, 1375 Washington St., Boston) has the Pick Me Up, made with coffee ice cream, Jameson, vodka and chocolate liqueur. And Nebo (www.neborestaurant.com, 520 Atlantic Ave, Boston) on Atlantic Wharf puts an Italian spin on things, making sorbet-based cocktails (“sgroppinos”) with Limoncello, Prosecco, spiced rum and more.