ALOFT BOSTON SEAPORT
401-403 D Street, Boston, 617-530-1600, aloftbostonseaport.com
Boston’s first Aloft hotel seems like it was designed for its locale. The stylish lobby blends concrete and steel and lively jewel-toned accents to give it a cool, innovative feel. Guests can skip the check-in desk and access their rooms via smartphone. It doesn’t yet have Aloft’s robo-butler, Botlr, but 10 guest rooms feature Apple’s Siri as digital concierge and room manager. Guests can take breaks at the pool table, and an outsize lobby bar features live music most Thursdays.
BONE UP BREWING CO.
38 Norman Street, Everett, 781-691-9092, boneup.beer
You can’t mention the Massachusetts craft beer scene without including Everett, especially after Bone Up Brewing Co. launched in August in a former industrial laundromat, joining nearby Night Shift Brewing as a destination for beer geeks. Husband-and-wife team Liz and Jared Kiraly do all the brewing at Bone Up, slinging beers like Extra Naked Premium Cream Ale and Key Lime White Ale. Patrons can find pop-up restaurants in the taproom most Fridays, or make a Saturday out of bouncing between breweries and snacking at the food trucks often parked outside.
BOSTON WINTER AT CITY HALL
1 City Hall Square, Boston, cityhallplazaboston.com
Bright lights and a festive spirit transform the grim expanse of City Hall Plaza into a lively wonderland during the winter months. The centerpiece is an 11,000-square-foot free-flowing skating path that will stay open through February, winter storms and freak Zamboni incidents excepted ($8-$10 to skate; rentals and lessons available). During the holidays, dozens of mini-chalets sold gift items, ranging from jewelry to handcrafted ceramics, and snacks. The city intends to make this a tradition; we might actually start looking forward to the words “Boston winter.”
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL’S MILK STREET
177 Milk Street, Boston, 857-990-3625, 177milkstreet.com
Christopher Kimball’s done it again, with a super-cool new media venture/cooking school downtown. His contentious split with America’s Test Kitchen hasn’t marred his new Milk Street Magazine, which explores international cuisine through great recipes, techniques, and tips. Hands-on learners can take a class at Milk Street Cooking School. Milk Street Radio, hosted by Kimball and Sara Moulton, is a must-listen hourlong podcast and public radio show with guests from the top of the food world.
DORCHESTER BREWING CO.
1250 Massachusetts Avenue, Dorchester, 617-514-0900, dorchesterbrewing.com
Inside a warehouse adjacent to the South Bay shopping center is the brewery and taproom of Todd Charbonneau, a former Harpoon brewer who helped start DBco, Boston’s first contract brewery. He curates an expansive lineup, from an airy banana-tinged hefeweizen this past summer to Dorchestivus, a 10.2 percent alcohol by volume doppelbock, for the holidays. Patrons can sample these as well as contract-brewed offerings in a taproom that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mark Wahlberg movie.
LAMPLIGHTER BREWING CO.
284 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-945-0450, lamplighterbrewing.com
Lamplighter opened in November as a haven for beer nerds, starting with cofounders AC Jones and Cayla Marvil. They egg on brewmaster Tyler Fitzpatrick to concoct offerings like Easy Tiger, an IPA made with a funky yeast, and Metric Systems, a sour ale flavored with coriander and salt. Except for bar snacks, it’s bring-your-own-food. Thursday nights, however, have seen a series of pop-up restaurants.
LIT CRAWL BOSTON
The crowd at October’s inaugural Lit Crawl had a smorgasbord of 15 readings and literary events to choose from, among them word games, lit trivia, spontaneous writing, and a poetry slam. Happenings included a James Joyce performance at Goorin Bros. Hat Shop (a nod to Finnegans Wake), Jane Austen improv comedy, and a virtual tour of David Foster Wallace’s Boston. You can send proposals for this year’s crawl to organizer Boston Literary District starting in February.
MCMULLEN MUSEUM OF ART
2101 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617-552-8587, bc.edu/sites/artmuseum/
Boston College’s art museum tripled in size when it moved into a renovated space of its own in 2016. The building itself is a late example of Renaissance Revival architecture, and its light-filled atrium showcases a magnificent stained-glass triptych by American artist John La Farge. Closed until January 30, when it features the work of Cuban-born painter Rafael Soriano.
NATURE’S NEIGHBORHOODS CHILDREN’S ZOO
One Franklin Park Road, Boston, 617-541-5466, zoonewengland.org
Youngsters can cavort atop a bamboo climber near an adorable red panda and pop up through a bubble window right in the middle of a prairie dog town in Franklin Park Zoo’s new immersive, interactive children’s zoo. Through creative play and audio programs, they’ll explore four diverse ecosystem “neighborhoods:” Woodlands, Wetlands, Grasslands, and Thicket. A 10-foot-high eagle’s nest gives a bird’s-eye view of much of the zoo, and they can “fly” down on a twisty slide.
PUBLIC TOUR OF MIT
Starts at Kendall Square Red Line Station, 855-455-8747, trademarktours.com
The folks who brought us the irreverent Hahvahd Tour went down river, launching student-led tours of MIT. The Infinite Corridor and classic hacks (like placing a police car on the Great Dome) get their due, as do such MIT-related inventions as the Roomba, the spreadsheet, and the World Wide Web. But it’s the guides who make these tours great; their fascinating narratives often skip the script in favor of marvelous asides, personal research notes, and the trivia beloved by techies. The Trademark tour starts again in May.
1172 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 617-714-4130, therisingbar.com
Whatever the score, customers win at this Inman Square bar with an Irish reverence for beer and whiskey and an American devotion to sports. Kevin Treanor’s newest venture features a neo-Dublin gastropub menu — Irish breakfast, braised beef gnocchi, sauteed Brussels sprouts — that complements the 20 draft taps and 30 wine choices. Nine strategically placed televisions (one stretching 100 inches) guarantee box-seat views from every spot or stool. You’ll toast the place even if your team loses.
SPACES OF HOPE MURAL
The Greenway Wall at Dewey Square Park, rosekennedygreenway.org
Hope? Innocence? Joy? Despair? However you interpret it, Mehdi Ghadyanloo’s work, which he finished November 1, is a trompe l’oeil marvel and focal point of the Greenway’s public art display. He has transformed the flat air-intake structure near South Station with paint, making it appear as a three-dimensional curved staircase that rises to a patch of blue sky, where a giant red balloon hovers. Like a balloon, the mural is a temporary pleasure, with us no longer than October.
200 New Boston Drive, Canton, 781-989-5800, treetopcanton.com
Don’t look down at TreeTop Adventures, where you might find yourself almost five stories above ground. Owners Topher and Molly Kerr run Greater Boston’s largest ropes course, with some 140 challenges, from ziplines to gently swinging rope bridges as high as 45 feet. These range from easy-peasy to “you’re kidding, right?” Quotes from Thoreau and Emerson are scattered about the serene 4-acre forest setting, while lighted trails allow for weekend night climbing under the stars. Open April through November.
WARRIOR ICE ARENA
90 Guest Street, Brighton, 617-927-7467, bostonlandingdevelopment.com/sports-and-wellness/warrior-ice-arena
Glide in to the first public hockey arena built in Boston in 40 years to see the Bruins practice (free and open to all), or catch a game featuring Boston’s pro women’s hockey team, the Pride ($17). You can also test the ice at this state-of-the-art 75,000-square-foot rink during year-round public skating and public hockey (both $8 a person; skate rental $5). Times vary based on Bruins practices and other events.
WHYDAH PIRATE MUSEUM
674 Route 28, West Yarmouth, 508-534-9571, discoverpirates.com
Most kids dream about finding pirate treasure. Barry Clifford actually did, when he discovered the wreck of Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy’s ship Whydah (pronounced “widdah”), which sank just off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717 during a fierce nor’easter. Thirty-two years later, Clifford’s opened a greatly expanded version of his Provincetown museum to show off the booty, including coins, cannons, jewelry, and thousands of Whydah artifacts. There’s also a treasure trove of (factual, not Disney-cute) pirate lore. Closed January 2 through mid-March.
Best of the New 2016 contributors: Diane Bair, Kara Baskin, Ellen Bhang, Karen Campbell, Marisa Dellatto, Gary Dzen, Perry Eaton, Devra First, Jan Gardner, Patricia Harris, Emeralde Jensen-Roberts, Katie Johnston, Sheryl Julian, Marni Elyse Katz, David Lyon, Dan Morrell, Rachel Raczka, Melissa Schorr, Catherine Smart, Shira Springer, Tina Sutton, Denise Drower Swidey, Ann Trieger Kurland, Ted Weesner, and Pamela Wright. Send comments to @BostonGlobeMag.