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    9 things to do in Boston to beat winter’s chill

    Who says a trip to Tahiti is the only way to fight the season’s blues? Here are fun ways to swap your shivers for some sweat right here at home.

    Grab a cozy fireside seat at James’s Gate in Jamaica Plain
    Keller + Keller
    Grab a cozy fireside seat at James’s Gate in Jamaica Plain


    If you have curious kids, you could do a lot worse than the Museum of Science Butterfly Garden ($5 adults, $4 children, in addition to regular admission), an indoor rain forest overlooking the Charles River. The inner solarium, which holds an average of 250 flying brightly colored beauties at any time, remains at a balmy 80 to 85 degrees with 60 percent humidity. Watch closely and you just might see a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. “People drop off their hats and coats before they go in. You dress as you would in the summertime,” says curator Bob Greene. Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston, 617-723-2500,


    Dan Watkins

    If you’re a coffee drinker who thinks hot chocolate is child’s play, give the sweet stuff another try at Caffe Vittoria in the North End. Better known for its “serious” espresso and drinks, the cafe adds a splash of maturity to its cocoa by mixing it with Bailey’s Mint and peppermint schnapps (a Mint Cookie, $9, pictured) or hazelnut liqueur, Kahlua, and brandy (an Italia, $9). Either one will warm you from the inside out. Caffe Vittoria, 296 Hanover Street, Boston, 617-227-7606,


    Keller + Keller
    Inman Oasis

    If you’re frustrated with your tub at home getting cold as soon as you get comfortable, you’ll be relieved to know that the hot tubs at Inman Oasis are kept at a steady 104 degrees. Clients can choose between an open-door community tub or two private tubs — a wooden Japanese one with bamboo decor and a Zen vibe or a fiberglass one with powerful jets, perfect for attacking aching muscles. Co-owner Jo Gray says that around 30 percent of the hot tubs are usually filled with regulars who take advantage of the Frequent Soaker Pack (10 30-minute community soaks for $80). “We definitely become busier starting on those cool, crisp October evenings and stay busy through April. We get everyone from students to new and working parents and young professionals,” says Gray. Inman Oasis, 243 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, 617-491-0176,


    russ mezikofsky
    Lyman estate garden.


    The four Lyman Estate Greenhouses, the first of which was built in 1804, are still heated to tropical temperatures by their original cast-iron pipes (along with solar power) to keep the plants going through the cold season. Horticulturalist Lynn Ackerman, who has been the greenhouse manager for 23 years, says that winter is when the place gets busy. “We’re here, in a nice 80-degree greenhouse on a sunny day, and you can look out and see a foot of snow.” While enjoying the weather at the Waltham museum complex, visitors can view the 100-year-old camellia trees, which bloom from January to March with large ruffly pink, red, and white flowers. A variety of orchids and citrus plants is also on display and available for sale, with proceeds going to Historic New England for the greenhouses’ upkeep. Admission is free, though donations are welcome. Lyman Estate Greenhouses, 185 Lyman Street, Waltham, 781-891-1985,


    russ mezikofsky
    Bikram yoga.

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    With locations in Back Bay, the Financial District, and Harvard Square that offer nothing-but-Bikram — a.k.a. “hot” — yoga, Bikram Yoga Boston takes its temperature seriously. Studios are kept at a minimum of 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity, which Bikram yogis say helps prevent injury, aids detoxing, and increases flexibility. Co-owner Jill Koontz says bad weather is good for business. “People don’t think about it as much in the summertime. January is crazy, like at all gyms, and it stays pretty busy through June.” A monthly pass costs $165, and in March you can join the 30-day challenge raising money for the Jimmy Fund. New Bikram students will appreciate the welcoming vibe the studios offer. “It’s challenging, but you’re not balancing on one arm. These are beginner postures done in a hot room, so they’re not easy but they’re accessible,” says Koontz. Bikram Yoga Boston, 561 Boylston Street, 2d floor, Back Bay, 617-585-6565, and other locations;


    Dan Watkins
    Bliss Spa.

    Bliss, the spa in Boston’s W hotel, has several facial treatments that use heat (a popular winter option), but the Head-to-“Glow” Wrap, a $50 add-on to any hourlong facial, is especially warming. After the facial, you lie on a heated treatment table and are scrubbed and rubbed all over with essential peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender oils and then topped with two sheets and a Mylar warming blanket while your tech gives you scalp and foot massages. “You’re really going to sweat it out,” says spa director Elizabeth Klos. If the idea of being wrapped up like a burrito isn’t for you, try the Hot Cream manicure ($25) or Hot Foot pedicure ($70), a hot-stone eucalyptus soak and a heated salt scrub. Bliss Spa, W Boston, 100 Stuart Street, Boston, 617-261-8747,


    The elegant Avery Bar cocktail lounge in the Ritz-Carlton hotel has 65 seats, but the most coveted are the 20 in front of the elevated fireplace that runs along the back wall. If the open flame and a classic cocktail aren’t enough to thaw you, cozy up to one of bartender Sterling Jackson’s seasonal creations, like the Rum Toast ($15), made with 10 Cane rum, Godiva chocolate liqueur, orgeat syrup, vanilla and cinnamon tincture (concocted in-house), orange and chocolate bitters, and freshly grated nutmeg. Avery Bar, Ritz-Carlton, 10 Avery Street, Boston, 617-574-7100,

    You might warm up to a new friend or two at Jamaica Plain’s James’s Gate. Get yourself a  well-poured pint of Guinness ($6), then get cozy at the communal table by the large stone fireplace. “We keep it lit all the time in the winter,” says co-owner Paul Byrne. If you like craft beer, have bartender Bobby Sutherby recommend one like Slumbrew’s Snow Angel. If you need something steamier, Sutherby is happy to whip up a hot toddy ($7) or, of course, an Irish coffee ($7). James’s Gate, 5 McBride Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-983-2000


    At Post 390 in Back Bay, there are three fireplaces. Take your chances on the popular (and first-come-first-served) seats near the tavern area’s four-sided fireplace, or call ahead to book one of the 10 tables surrounding the second one, in the Clarendon section of the dining room. For a party, you can secure the private Franklin Room, which has its own fireplace. You won’t be the first to flock to the flames here. “People come in after coming down Clarendon or Stuart streets and seeing the fireplace,” says general manager Peter Baker. “They say [it] caught their eye as they were driving by and that they just had to stop. On cold wintry days, people come through the revolving door and immediately go to the fireplace to warm their hands.” Post 390, 406 Stuart Street, Boston, 617-399-0015,

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer. Send comments to