Sober Fun in Boston

By Sean Clifford 08/03/17

Is sober fun real? Various activities in Boston prove yes.

Woman taking a selfie in front of Boston Harbor

One of the hardest things to confront about your newfound sobriety is the fact that many places where you once enjoyed spending time now trigger thoughts of drinking or drug use. Whether it be a former favorite bar or a park that evokes a painful memory from your past, living sober might at first feel like walking through a minefield without a sweeper. 

However, we’re here to show you plenty of new places and activities ready to be explored with newly sober eyes, especially in a city as historic and diverse as Boston. In fact, The Fix has named Boston their number one city for sober living!

Find Your Inner History Junkie

One of the perks of being newly sober is that you can replace the often sedentary activities associated with your addiction with a more active lifestyle. Maybe you join a gym or find a pickup basketball league.

However, we live in the most historic city in America, so why not get some exercise while taking in a history lesson? Walk around the city without looking for your next beer or score for a change. Maybe you were a history junkie in school before you got distracted by drugs and alcohol. Cue the Freedom Trail, which you can follow across the city of Boston and see the sites of our past as a catalyst of the Revolutionary War.

You’ll be able to visit landmarks from Boston Common, to the Old State House, Paul Revere’s House, the Bunker Hill Monument and many more. The trail is 2.5 miles long and would make for a good group activity day for sober history buffs.

Cross Home at Historic Fenway Park

No summer in Boston is complete without taking in a Red Sox game at the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. See why baseball fans from across the world make the pilgrimage to one of the most sacred sites in America’s Pastime. The BoSox are in a tight race for the A.L. East, with the hated Yankees’ record being too close for comfort, so come cheer for a team in the thick of the pennant race. If that isn’t enough of an incentive to catch the defending divisional champs, maybe the exciting Killer B’s (Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr., and Benintendi) or new ace Chris Sale will entice you to journey down Yawkey Way. They say baseball is a great way to take your mind off of your anxieties, just watch any cheesy sitcom with a sex scene, and this is no different for a recovering alcoholic or addict. So sit back and take in another Red Sox victory.

Bored? There’s a Museum for that

We live in a city with some of the best universities and museums in the world, so why not cultivate your creative and intellectual side by visiting as many as you can? No need to worry about price either, as the Boston Public Library system gives out free passes for the city’s museums. Are you an art aficionado? Then the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art offer enough art for whatever your taste may be. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pressures and temptations of sobriety the Isabella Stewart Gardner center has a peaceful and beautiful courtyard in which to contemplate.

Fun fact: the Gardner was also the site of the largest art heist in history and the crime remains unsolved.

Perhaps you’re more of a science person. Hit up the Museum of Science, the MIT Museum and the Aquarium for an enlightening day trip. Or maybe you’re into modern politics. Check out the Kennedy Library at UMass Boston or the Kennedy birthplace in nearby Brookline. What I’m trying to say is that Boston has a museum for just about any interest you might have.

Meet, Greet and Commiserate with Fellow Addicts on 

Perhaps your old friends don’t understand or accept your newfound sobriety, engage in tempting activities in front of you or just dredge up painful memories. You may want to find a group of people who understand what you’re going through. We live in a digital era, so use the technology at your disposal to meet other sober people in Boston.

One of the best places to meet like-minded people for coordinated activities is You’ll be able to find a group of sober people to do whatever activity you’re most interested in and meet up with them regularly. Whether your interest is dancing, basketball, a book club, poker, etc., you can find people to help you through your sobriety while having fun. There is nothing like a supportive group of people going through the same thing as you to hold you accountable in your sobriety.

Escape your Past, Escape the Room

If you have the courage to get sober and change your life, then you definitely have what it takes to escape a measly room. You’ve probably heard of Escape the Room by now, as it’s a popular group activity that is now in cities across the country. Get your crew together, perhaps a sober squad you met on, and see if you have the collective brainpower to get out of the room. You will need to work together to solve puzzles and find clues in order to get closer to figuring your way out of the room. However, you only have an hour to escape, so think fast!

Get Out on that Dirty Water

Spring is almost here and there’s no better way to embrace it than getting out on the river that runs through Boston by renting a kayak from Paddle Boston. A single kayak only costs $15 per hour or $60 per day to cruise down the Charles at your own pace. Being out on the water and soaking in the Boston sun is a great way to get perspective on your new sobriety. There is something undeniably serene about floating through the city you love and seeing it in a new way.

Explore New England

Sometimes city life can be overwhelming, especially when you’re newly sober, so take some time to clear your head and get out of the city. There are thousands of things to do in Massachusetts and New England in general, ranging from hiking Blue Hills just outside of the city to heading to Western Mass to ski in the Berkshires, to hitting the beaches of Cape Cod.

One company that allows you to get back in touch with nature is Getaway, which gives you the best of both worlds with a minimalist log cabin in the woods that still has running water and a toilet. This way you can be out in the wilderness but still have some of the comforts of home. Or maybe you can rent an Airbnb in Burlington, VT or Portland, ME to see what other New England cities have to offer. Experiencing new places can offer a fresh perspective invaluable to your recovery.

Bottom Line: Do What You Love

Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, Boston is sure to offer an outlet for you to go out and do it. The key is to shake out of your old and toxic routine related to your addiction. Positive experiences are out there just waiting for you to seize them. Find a strong support system and do what you love, not what old enablers might expect from you. Boston is the perfect place for you to redefine what fun means to you as a sober person.

As you feel more and more resolute in your sobriety you may want to reconnect with non-sober friends in your old stomping grounds. These people mean a lot to you and you don’t want to let your sobriety cut them out of your life. If this is the case you need to set some ground rules for yourself to keep you from giving into temptations. Hanging out in a bar with your old friends who still drink or use drugs is often triggering for recovering addicts, which is why you need to be careful. Therefore, you need to be able to have fun and remain comfortable in a bar without drinking. Pick a favorite non-alcoholic beverage to have in your hand, play some pool or darts, get lost in conversation, make sure everyone knows you will not be drinking/using under any circumstances, etc. 

Sean Clifford is a freelance writer living in Boston, Massachusetts. He has experience working in drug treatment centers and has seen the toll drug addiction has taken on many people in the area and beyond. He loves his city and wants to highlight the endless array of sober-friendly activities one can engage in on any given day.
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