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Massachusetts Nightlife

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Atlantic House
6 Masonic Place
Provincetown , Massachusetts
Tel: 508 487 3821

The premier nightspot in gay-oriented Provincetown is the Atlantic House. Known locally as the A-House, it opened in 1798 as a tavern and stagecoach stop and eventually became a magnet for bohemian visitors, including the playwrights Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill. (O'Neill was arrested here one night during World War I for carrying a suspicious black box that turned out to contain nothing more sinister than a typewriter.) Today, the building is divided into a small, friendly bar called the Little Bar, a leather bar upstairs that is considerably more rowdy, and the town's most popular nightclub, where patrons wait in line less to crowd onto the tiny dance floor than to simply see and be seen.

Little Bar open daily noon to 1 am; Macho Bar and Big Room open daily 10 pm to 1 am.

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The Beachcomber
1120 Cahoon Hollow Road
Wellfleet , Massachusetts
Tel: 508 349 6055

With its fun, West Coast–style surfer vibe, the Beachcomber (just "the 'Comb-ah' " to locals) is a Cape Cod mainstay, and the only right-on-the sand beachside restaurant and bar. The food is mediocre pub fare, but the cabana-style bar opens right onto the high sandy cliffs and powerful surf of Cahoon Hollow Beach, and there's often live music. Hanging out here is also a good way to avoid paying for parking at the beach: They'll credit you the $15 fee on your food-and-drink bill.

Open daily 11:30 am to 1 am, mid-June through Labor Day; Thursdays through Mondays 11:30 am to 1 am, Memorial Day through mid-June.

541 Tremont Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 423 0069

An old-fashioned dinner club, the Beehive is always buzzing, whether at its weekend jazz brunch or at night, when patrons crowd three deep around the bar, and there's live music with no cover. The entertainment is diverse—jazz one night, bossa nova the next, even burlesque and belly dancing on occasion—and paired with themed menus. The regular menu is a mishmash of Mediterranean/American/Central European standards, such as seared zaatar-spiced swordfish, Moroccan couscous with chicken and lamb, and mustard-and-herb-crusted roast rack of pork. It's all served up in a 200-year-old space beneath the Boston Center for the Arts (formerly a theater and boiler room) with exposed brick and beams across high ceilings. Many of the servers are local artists whose work is on the walls. Tables fill up after 8 pm, and the line begins to stretch outside. Go early or on a weeknight to snag a spot, or just head for the bar.—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Fridays 5 pm to 2 am, Saturdays and Sundays 10:30 am to 2 am.

Casino Wharf FX
286 Grand Avenue
Falmouth , Massachusetts
Tel: 508 540 6160

Casino Wharf FX is slightly more decorous—and attracts a slightly older crowd—than the raucous Casino nightclub it replaced in 2007. But it's still fun, with a friendly staff, live jazz on many evenings, and unparalleled sunsets. There's a (pricey) seafood menu, but come instead for its two hopping bars—one on each balcony, overlooking the beach and (in the distance) Martha's Vineyard. Floor-to-ceiling windows guarantee the view, even if the weather's chilly.

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District Restaurant & Lounge
180 Lincoln Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 426 0180

To avoid the college fray, thirtysomethings with manicures, polo shirts, and cash to blow on $10 lemon-drop Martinis head to this lounge on a nondescript street in the Leather District, near South Station. The interior gleams with silvery birch trees lining the walls and white leather banquettes beneath white chandeliers, and you can chat without screaming over the electronica and hip-hop that's piped in. It's a little slice of New York, but don't worry about that doorman checking his clipboard: As long as you're business-casual (a Chanel bag wouldn't hurt), you'll make the cut. And the line usually tops out at a 15-minute wait. There's a restaurant, but come for drinks instead.

Open Mondays and Tuesdays 4 pm to 2 am, Wednesdays through Saturdays 7 pm to 2 am, Sundays 10 pm to 2 am.

The Estate
1 Boylston Place
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 351 7000

An over-the-top dance club wrapped around a two-level atrium, The Estate is where Boston's club kids (meaning largely international students and visiting celebrities) hang out. The prices and cover charges are high, and you can expect a line behind the velvet rope—but the people-watching is unbeatable. The decor can best be described as baroque, with lots of chandeliers, curtains, and full-length mirrors in gilded frames. Opt if you can for the separate dance floor in the basement, which is open Saturdays and is slightly less pretentious.—Jon Marcus

Open Thursdays and Saturdays, 10 pm to 2 am, Fridays 10:30 pm to 2 am.

The Land-Ho
38 Cove Road at Route 6A
Orleans , Massachusetts
Tel: 508 255 5165

The Land-Ho—a big bar in the center of Orleans—is a local hangout with brass fixtures, red-checkered tablecloths, and antique signs from local businesses covering the walls and ceiling. There's live music and food, including a (rare on Cape Cod) late-night bar menu, and the 14 beers on tap keep the conversation lively. If it's a local dive bar you're after (or a quieter place to toss back a cold one), the Yardarm—just around the corner from Land-Ho—is a favorite of fishermen and lawyers from the nearby district court who are happy to chat up visitors over a beer (48 S. Orleans Rd., Orleans; 508-255-4840;

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 1 am, Sundays noon to 1 am.

Lansdowne Street

This stretch of clubs, bars, and restaurants across from Fenway Park is Boston's one-stop destination for a rowdy night on the town. The Fenway crowd gathers to guzzle beer and watch the game at the two rival sports bars at the corner of Brookline Avenue and Landsdowne Street, Game On! and Cask 'n Flagon—though neither is your standard sports bar. The classic Cask (as the locals know it) has unfortunately been updated—loud music and big-screen HDTVs suspended from the ceiling have been added. Now it attracts club-hopping partygoers, but it's still a popular meeting place. Game On! attracts much the same crowd and is notable for being adjacent to the visiting-team batting cage (if you bring 19 of your closest friends and there's not a game on, you can try it out for a fee). Also, inside the walls of Fenway (with a public entrance on the Lansdowne Street side) is the Bleacher Bar with a decent beer selection and pub grub, and a giant window overlooking center field. The rock club Bill's Bar features local indie and touring rock, metal, and reggae bands, and the House of Blues complex offers large and small stages as well as a less-well-known bar and restaurant, the Front Room, with live music and no admission charge. If you prefer a quieter night and local beer, hit Boston Beer Works a reliable microbrew with decent bar food (try the sweet-potato fries) near the corner of Lansdowne and Brookline Avenue. When deeper hunger strikes, look to celebrity chef Ken Oringer's taqueria, La Verdad for surprisingly authentic Mexican fare (tripe and tongue tacos, even) and huge plastic jugs of aguas frescas. End the night shooting billiards or bowling frames at the multilevel Jillian's entertainment complex alongside a nattily dressed college crowd. Jillian's has a strict dress code Friday and Saturday nights after 8 pm: no athletic wear or sleeveless shirts—updated by Jon Marcus

Game On! open daily 11:30 am to 2 am.

Cask 'n Flagon open Mondays through Wednesdays and Sundays 11:30 am to 1 am,
Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 am to 2 am, Saturdays 11 am to 2 am.

Bleacher Bar open Sundays through Wednesdays 11 am to 1 am, Thursdays through
Saturdays 11 am to 2 am.

Bill's Bar open Fridays and Saturdays 10 pm to 2 am.

Front Room at the House of Blues open daily 4 pm to 2 am.

Boston Beer Works open daily 11:30 am to 1 am.

La Verdad open Sundays through Thursdays 11 am to 1 am; Fridays and Saturdays 11
am to 2 am. Kitchen open Sundays through Wednesdays until 10 pm, Thursdays
through Saturdays until midnight.

Jillian's open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 2 am, Sundays noon to 2 am.

Wequassett Inn
Route 28, Pleasant Bay
Chatham , Massachusetts
Tel: 508 432 5400

Libaytion is quite possibly the most stylish bar on the Cape. There are no bad seats at this circular bar sheltered by a pergola: On one side is Pleasant Bay; on the other is the Wequassett Inn's pool. There's live entertainment, and you can order food from the resort's Outer Bar & Grille. Since Libaytion closes at 5:30 (and is open only in summer), you can continue your evening in town at the Chatham Squire, where visitors and locals have been partying for 40 years. The Squire serves food but is the most fun when its friendly bar is in full swing, starting after dinner at around 9 pm (487 Main St., Chatham; 508-945-0945;

Open daily 11:30 am to 5:30 pm, May through September.

Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar
271 Dartmouth Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 369 5609

Lolita's sexy Latin-meets-Goth flair—lots of red and black, plus exposed brick—might be the last thing you'd expect to find in Boston's Back Bay. It's full of other surprises, too, including great drinks; servers as sexy as the setting; outstanding Mexican food, including appetizers served on dry ice, tequila-infused sorbet, and cotton candy with Pop Rocks for dessert; and particularly notable restrooms. (You've got to see them to get the full effect.) If you're not here to eat, grab a spot on the comfortable couches near the bar before the night progresses and the room fills to crowded.—Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5 pm to 2 am, Sundays 11 am to 2 pm.

Matt Murphy's
14 Harvard Street
Brookline , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 232 0188

Boston is, of course, an Irish pub kind of town, and you've certainly got your pick of authentic (and an equal amount of faux) haunts: There's one on practically every corner. In the Brookline Village section of the neighboring town of Brookline, Matt Murphy's is a good bet, and a triple threat: fantastic food (try the shepherd's pie or fish sandwich, or stop by at lunchtime for the impossibly good lamb sandwich), a congenial neighborhood crowd of locals and college students, and rollicking live music (everything from reggae and jazz to funk, soul, and hip-hop all evenings except Wednesday, which is trivia night). On weekends especially, diners clamor for a spot at one of the rustic farm tables. No reservations are accepted in this very tiny space, so expect to wait. To bypass the crowds, drop by for the Irish Sunday brunch, assuming you fancy rolled-oat porridge with a trickle of whiskey.—Jon Marcus

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to midnight, Thursdays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 2 am.

Middle East
472-480 Massachusetts Avenue
Central Square
Cambridge , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 864 3278

The Middle East is one of Boston's prime live-music venues for worthwhile local and touring indie acts, and the epicenter of nightlife in Cambridge's Central Square. It's really two clubs and two restaurants in one place. Big names in indie rock and hip-hop perform downstairs, while under-the-radar bands build their fan base upstairs. The Corner restaurant has a surprisingly good menu of Middle Eastern staples, such as falafel and couscous platters (there's also nightly entertainment; a belly dancer performs on Sundays and Wednesdays). And ZuZu, a chill hangout with a menu of lighter fare (the pupu platters are $23 and generous enough for two), hosts the most discerning of Boston's many music fans and a bumping soul dance party on Saturdays.—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 11 am to midnight, Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 1 am.

Mojito's Lounge
48 Winter Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 834 0552

Boston isn't normally associated with Latin dancing, but on Fridays and Saturdays this club near Park Street packs in a young, multicultural crowd for hip-swiveling salsa and merengue on a narrow upstairs dance floor. Downstairs, a smaller cluster grooves to Latin rock, bachata, and reggaeton. No worries if you're a little timid about your moves: There are free lessons from 9 to 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and, inevitably, a pro will pluck you from the sidelines and explain that it's "all in the hips." Of course, you've got to try the Mojito at a place named after this Cuban libation. It's heavy on the rum and redolent of mint, just like the club itself.

Open Thursdays from 10 pm to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays 9 pm to 2 am.

Murphy's Pub
14 Harvard Street
Brookline , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 232 0188

Boston is, of course, an Irish pub kind of town, and you've certainly got your pick of authentic haunts: There's one on practically every street corner. In the neighboring town of Brookline, Murphy's Pub (more commonly known as Matt Murphy's) is a good bet, and a triple threat: fantastic food (try the shepherd's pie or fish sandwich), a congenial neighborhood crowd of locals and college students, and rollicking live music (everything from reggae and jazz to funk, soul, and hip-hop) all evenings except Wednesdays, which is trivia night. On weekends especially, diners clamor for a spot at one of the rustic farm tables. No reservations are accepted, so expect to wait. To bypass the crowds, drop by for the Irish Sunday brunch, assuming you fancy rolled oat porridge with a trickle of whiskey.

Nantucket Nightlife

There are two kinds of nightlife on Nantucket—carousing with the locals, or coasting with the navy-blazer-and–Lilly Pulitzer set (although as the night wears on, those lines begin to blur). Restaurant bars get lively once the kitchens stop serving (generally by 10) until closing time at 1 am. The busiest are the bars at LoLa 41 (15 South Beach St.; 508-325-4001), 21 Federal; Boarding House, and the Straight Wharf, which tend to attract a blend of young visitors, all-summer bluebloods, and welcoming locals. The Club Car, a former railroad car that somehow also has room for a piano is a favorite of the over-50 bracket (1 Main St.; 508-228-1101; A jazz vocalist and trio entertains from 6 until 10:15 pm at the White Elephant's harborside Brant Point Grill, and there's somewhat more sedate piano music at the Piano Bar at the Summer House in Sconset, where you're likely to rub elbows with multimillionaires and CEOs (17 Ocean Ave.; 508-257-9976; As the night rolls on, those in the know descend on Slip 14, a party for anyone over 21 right beside the water, with an open-air bar; but the biggest party on the island is just outside of town at the Chicken Box, a onetime restaurant (it still serves fried chicken) with live music three nights a week from June through August. Here all distinctions—local, visitor—disappear on the dance floor or over a game of pool or a Whale's Tale at the bar (16 Dave St.; 508-228-9717;

Nightlife in Edgartown

Compared to the hangouts of Oak Bluffs, the watering holes of Edgartown are more upscale and attract an older crowd. After dinner at David Ryan's, a pedestrian-looking restaurant, the capri-pants-and-Top-Siders set gets loud and lively on frozen daiquiris (11 North Water St.; 508-627-4100; Tanned couples gather at Détente's soapstone bar to sample from the impressive wine list (Nevin Square; 508-627-8810; Henry's at the Harbor View Hotel (131 North Water St.; 508-627-7000; and Newes from America (23 Kelley St.; 508-627-7900; are staid alternatives for quiet conversation (both close at 11; the kitchens close at 10). Flip-flops and bathing suits are acceptable attire at Sea Shanty, a kitschy bar where stiff-upper-lip types from the neighboring Edgartown Yacht Club move early in the evenings and loosen up in time to party with the younger, rowdier crowd that shows up around 11 pm. Its fun harbor-view deck is the best feature, but there's also a personable bar staff, live music, and free-flowing beer and booze (31 Dock St.; 508-627-8622).

Nightlife in Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs, particularly Circuit Avenue, is party central for the young and unruly—where college kids come to let off steam from their summer jobs driving taxis and waiting tables. Hordes of them congregate at Island House, a rollicking sports bar (11 Circuit Ave.; 508-693-4516), and Sharky's Cantina, a tiny Spanish and Mexican eatery where the tequila flows freely—although it's the larger and newer Sharky's location on Upper Main Street in Edgartown that's the most hopping place on the island (31 Circuit Ave.; 508-693-7501; Things can get pretty sweaty on the dance floor of The Lampost, where the live music includes reggae and rock bands (111 Circuit Ave.; 508-696-9352). When it's time to cool off, head for the string of outdoor bars and fried-fish restaurants (just a short stagger away) along the harborside wooden boardwalk known as Dockside Marina. However, the best bar on the Vineyard isn't on the Oak Bluff's harbor or main drag; it's the Offshore Ale House, a microbrewery one block over from Circuit Avenue, with excellent food, spirited conversation, live music, and great beer made in those big vats just above your head. Distinguished by the carpet of discarded peanut shells on the floor (it's known around town as the "peanut bar"), the Offshore Ale House also has an open kitchen that turns out sophisticated takes on pub food and wood-fired, brick-oven, thin-crust pizza—try the truffled variation (Kennebec Ave.; 508-693-2626;

North End

A stroll through the North End's narrow cobblestoned streets is a romantic way to end a night. Mike's Pastry attracts hordes of tourists, but skip it and cross the street to the smaller and more modest-looking Modern Pastry Shop for éclairs, lemon squares, and Boston cream pie. You'll want to get your treats to go, though, since there's just a smattering of tables. If you prefer to linger, settle in at a marble-topped table at Caffe Vittoria and ask the no-nonsense waitresses to bring some cappuccino and ricotta pie. All-night establishments are a rarity in sleepy-eyed Boston, but when every other shop is shuttered, Bova's Bakery is still serving up fruit tarts, cookies, and cannoli, 24 hours a day. And if you'd like something more savory, Bricco serves a wood-oven Margherita pizza (and, if you ask nicely, pretty much anything else on the menu) until 2 am.—updated by Jon Marcus

Red Lantern
39 Stanhope Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 262 3900

For Boston, Red Lantern, an Asian-themed restaurant and nightspot that churns out tasty small plates until late, is definitely something different. The product of a deep-pocketed local nightclub group, the place is a little over the top, with tranquil stone Buddhas, red lanterns, and Vietnamese seashells hanging from the 20-foot ceilings, big arched windows, and black-lacquered appointments. But the food that comes out of the open kitchen, sushi bar, and wok stations is decent, the crowd enthusiastic—often local business types entertaining clients, and the hangers-on who want to meet them—and the vibe exotic. If you prefer to visit in the daytime, try Red Lantern's dim sum brunch on Sundays.—Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5 pm to 2 am, Sundays noon to 4 and 5 pm to 2 am; food served nightly until 1 am.

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DoubleTree Guest Suites
400 Soldiers Field Road
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 562 4111

We can't say much for the setting—a room that looks like a banquet hall in a chain hotel beside a train yard—but Scullers has the best jazz in Boston, a mix of legends and up-and-comers, with cabaret seating and a modest stage just a few feet from the front tables. You never know who might turn up. One night it could be 1960s soul singer Bettye LaVette; another, singer-songwriter Marta Gómez performing Latin jazz. Let's not forget the cheeky cabaret attractions, either—Charo, anyone? For more jazz, three other good bets are the Regattabar (two seatings per night, closed Sundays and Mondays), Ryles and the classic Wally's at the Roxbury edge of the South End.—updated by Jon Marcus

Shows start at 8 and 10 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays.

90 Exeter Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 236 1134

In the well-situated Back Bay basement space that was once Saint, Storyville is an homage to an even earlier jazz club (named after the red-light district of New Orleans) that operated at this address in the 1940s (Billie Holiday recorded a live album there). While it now features DJs playing club music, it looks like a cool combination of jazz club and bordello, with red damask and overstuffed leather sofas. The vibe is welcoming, the clientele is of all ages, and the music isn't so loud that it drowns out conversation.—Jon Marcus

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays 5 pm to 2 am.

The Woodshed
Brewster Inn & Chowder House
1993 Main Street
Brewster , Massachusetts
Tel: 508 896 7771

Tucked behind the Brewster Inn & Chowder House, the Woodshed is a no-frills nightspot that hosts great up-and-coming New England bands (mostly rock and R&B) for a young crowd of visitors and locals that mingles around the bar. When there's live music, there's a cover charge, usually $5.

Open daily 4 pm to 1 am, April through October.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.