As the weather begins to cool down Boston, the city’s sports scene begins to heat up. When the snow swirls outdoors, heading indoors to watch the Bruins scrape the ice and the Celtics pound the court is a citywide pastime. Even if you're not a sports fan, there's a good chance you will be dragged to one of the city’s many screen-lit sports bars at some point—but there's an alternative. Have a crack at indoor sports anyone can play. Consider convincing your crew to pivot their plans and steer them to one of these five bar-sports bars.
Basketball, football and hockey are Boston traditions, but they aren’t traditions that belong to Boston alone. For a taste of some true local flavor, take a trip to Flatbread Company in Brighton or Somerville, where you’ll find a sports bar, brick over pizza restaurant and candlepin bowling alley. Candlepin bowling is a local New England iteration of standard bowling: the pins are narrower and stay where they fall between throws, the balls are smaller and you get to chuck three of them in a round rather than the usual two. Reserve a lane, order a pint and a pizza, and you’ll soon forget about the game on the screen as you begin hurling balls down the lane.
Stepping into Downtown Crossing’s Versus is the closest thing adults have to hanging out at a Chuck E. Cheese’s until they have kids of their own. With bright, retro-themed pop art lining the dark wooden walls, this gastropub meets arcade is a competitor’s dream. Fire up the neon-lit arcade games, huck a ball down the skee ball lane, or whack the puck across the top of the air hockey table while dining on pub fare and tall beers.
Game On! Fenway
Built into the corner of Fenway Park itself, Game On! Fenway channels the competition taking place beyond its walls into a different kind of sport: ping pong. On the ground floor you’ll find Max and Leo’s, a locally grown sports bar that has some of the best oven-fired pizza in the city, but take a left upon entering and follow the stairs to the basement, and you’ll be met by a bar-sports paradise. Seven nights a week, revelers gather to enjoy beer and cocktails compete on row after row of ping pong table at this one-of-a-kind sports bar.
Opening this fall in Waltham is one of the more unique bar venues in the city: a partnership between Mighty Squirrel Brewery and Central Rock Gym. On one side of a glass partition is Mighty Squirrel taproom, a brewery dedicated to active lifestyles (consider the post-workout protein beer), while on the other side is a new location for Central Rock Gyms, one of the most prominent rock climbing gyms in the country. Order an IPA and try your hand at a climb or two, or simply sit back and enjoy as gym members scale the wall.
For a quiet night of bar-sports, take a trip to the Fenway neighborhood and step under the awning at Tapestry. Located on the corner of Queensberry and Kilamarnock Streets, this neighborhood hangout straddles the line between sports bar and romantic night out, with a dimly lit bar on one end and a line of bumper pool and shuffleboard tables on the other. Order one of the fine cocktails or craft beers, a pizza from the brick oven and get to the fun at this neighborhood bar-sports bar.