Here is your ACN-Approved Healthy City Guide to the best vibrant living Boston has to offer!
Home to the best hospitals in the world, colleges as far as the eye can see and an often-imitated-never-quite-duplicated accent, the historic city of Boston is well known for many things, and we can now include among its winning traits is being one of the healthiest cities in America. Named Healthiest Place in the US three years in a row, and one of the country’s top fittest cities, you’ll find health-conscious restaurants, boutique fitness studios, and juice bars in just about every neighborhood.
Where to Eat in Boston
Dig Inn. A veggie-heavy newcomer to Copley Square, Dig Inn is a go-to for a nutritious breakfast or lunch, to be enjoyed in the most Instagram-worthy dining room in the neighborhood. Food is sourced from local farms and trusted producers whom they monitor for best practices, and is cooked from scratch on site. This means hormone-free meat, cage-free eggs, wild-caught fish and chemical-free produce.
Sweetgreen. Sweetgreen is one of my favorite stops for mid-day fuel. It’s a national chain, but each of its Boston outposts makes sure to stock non-GMO, organic and seasonal ingredients from local farmers and suppliers. The line gets pretty massive during lunchtime, but it moves quickly. If you want to get ahead of the crowd, order via the Sweetgreen app for easy pickup.
Life Alive. Located in Cambridge’s Central Square, Life Alive is one of the healthiest and eco-conscious eateries in the Boston area, serving “a world of delicious, organic, and therapeutic food.” Their freshly prepared meals satisfy all kinds of dietary needs, and they place a huge focus on sustainability, so you know everything from the produce in your salad to the to-go box it came in was chosen with the environment in mind. Pro tip: Check out the menu online and call ahead, the line gets pretty long here during lunch.
Clover. Another all-natural option with a major focus on “clean flavors” and totally fresh and local ingredients. To illustrate just how fresh, not a single Clover location has a freezer, and that’s because the menu changes daily with seasonal ingredients and dishes made from scratch right in front of you, with all ingredients prepared as close as possible to when you’re going to eat them.
Toro. If you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant rather than an on-the-go meal, Toro is an excellent choice, that is if being in the World Society for the Protection of Animal’s Eat Humane database is your kinda thing. Celeb chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette work with numerous local suppliers and sustainability partners, are committed to waste reduction and energy conservation, use local ingredients whenever possible (nose-to-tail, too), and offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free menus for all to enjoy.
Myers + Chang. Joanne Chang may be known for her sticky buns and chocolate chip cookies at Flour Bakery, but if you head over to the restaurant she owns with her husband Christopher Myers in the South End you’ll find healthful and delicious Taiwanese soul food and Southeast Asian street food. They use local ingredients as much as they can, and cater to a variety of dietary needs with separate gluten-free, nut-free, shellfish-free and vegetarian menus.
Tavern Road. “Globally inspired, locally sourced” is the slogan for this Fort Point hot spot. They do everything in-house from butchery and charcuterie to making their own pasta and bread, also supporting local agriculture by using the finest New England ingredients in each dish. They even offer a Resolutions Menu for those following Whole 30, with cooking classes to follow.
EVOO. Local, seasonal, and organic – that’s what you’ll find in the daily-changing offerings at EVOO in Kendall Square, a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified Restaurant. The menu boasts a list of local farmers and suppliers showing where exactly each of their ingredients come from, including herbs from their own rooftop garden.
Best Juice Bars in Boston
Jugos. This teeny tiny juice bar in Back Bay station may not have much room to move around while waiting, but the cold-pressed juice made to order is so worth it. You can smell the freshness in the air, which extends to scratch-made smoothies and acai/pitaya bowls, too. Also on the menu: dairy-free milk beverages, sandwiches and chia pudding – a health nut’s dream.
Cocobeet. All my friends who work downtown rave about Cocobeet, serving over 30 different organic cold-pressed juices, along with a variety of breakfast, lunch and snack options that read like a “Clean Eats” Pinterest board (avocado toast, quinoa burgers, vegan chili). One of the most unique options I’ve seen is The Black Rose: rosewater, coconut water, lemon, activated charcoal and agave.
Mother Juice: MoJu has three convenient locations in Kendall Square (Cambridge), Newbury Street and Boston Public Market, so you can get your green juice fix all over town. Go for the Kale Yeah (my favorite on their menu that was the inspiration for the juice I make every Sunday) or the beet-heavy, sweet and earthy Unicorn Blood.
Best Markets in Boston
Boston Public Market. Our new marketplace is home to more than 40 local vendors from around New England, offering everything from organic produce, honey and baked goods to meat, seafood, bone broth, prepared foods and more. The market also hosts cooking demos, fitness classes, lectures and other great events in its BPM Kitchen space. It is attached to a large parking garage, and any vendor will validate your parking with a purchase for a total of $3 for 3 hours or under.
Copley Square Farmers Market. Every Tuesday and Friday from May through November the space in front of the historic Trinity Church fills up with regional vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, cheese, meat, seafood and baked goods. It’s also located right across the street from the Boston Public Library, which is a must-see on your visit!
SoWa Open Market. This Sunday market in the South End is an excellent place to spend an afternoon, with dozens of small and local businesses selling their artwork, antiques, clothing and more. There are food trucks if you get hungry, a farmer’s market and a massive indoor antique store as well if you’re in the mood to sift through rooms upon rooms of vintage goods.
Yoga and Fitness in Boston
YogaWorks. This is where I began my yoga journey and its excellent teachers got me immediately hooked. Classes and workshops are available for all levels, and the studios offer convenient amenities for travelers like lockers, showers and mat rentals. Located in Back Bay, Allston and Chestnut Hill.
The Handle Bar. One of the best indoor cycling studios in town (you can catch me at the Fenway location 2-3 times a week!). The instructors have contagious energy, even at 5:30 on a Friday, and playlists are always on point. Amenities include free towels and shoe rentals, a water station and occasional glowsticks.
Btone Fitness. One of my favorites for a slooow burn, Btone offers Megaformer Pilates-based classes in multiple locations around town. Instructors are knowledgeable and super helpful for newbies, and even if you hardly break a sweat you will definitely feel it the next day in muscles you didn’t know you had.
Pure Barre. Walk through the double glass doors and you have officially entered the shake zone – no turning back. Super friendly instructors will guide you through small movements that pack a lot of power, gently correcting form and encouraging you to embrace the shake. This isn’t typically a sweaty workout, so it’s good for a mid-day break from shopping on Newbury Street.
Kick It By Eliza. Eliza Shirazi has created a fempire here in Boston with her music-driven, 13-round, kickboxing-inspired cardio workouts where you’ll break a big sweat and make a friend or two, thanks to the rounds where you partner up and encourage each other to give it your best. You can find her at the Kick It Pop-Up Studio in Allston, or a class with any of her awesome instructors at Janji.
MoveWith.com. There are tons of free and inexpensive classes all over Boston at gyms and pop-up studios, but where are they? The MoveWith app is the best place to find them. You can search by location, by the type of “move” you’re looking for and by teacher. I suggest yoga with Emily McLaughlin or Meghan Rozanski, HIIT with Cassie Brown, and Sweat and Superfoods with Jennifer Hanway, where you do a high-intensity workout and get rewarded with a nutritious brunch.
Natural Spas in Boston
Balans Organic Spa. We still have a little ways to go in Boston with greening our beauty routines. Balans is our first and only organic spa, and the serene space comes with a beautiful view of Newbury Street. They are committed to using only organic products and have “zero tolerance to all synthetic ingredients” for your facials, body wraps, massages and more.
Michael Roffi Salon. Also on Newbury Street, this salon is on board with the eco-friendly movement, using wind-powered electricity and other energy-saving practices, recycling everything down to color tubes,and serving fair-trade coffee in porcelain mugs.
Cambridge Naturals. This community-owned natural health store in Porter Square, Cambridge, features socially conscious products and a helpful, knowledgeable staff. From organic food to clean beauty items, yoga equipment and high-quality nutritional supplements, Cambridge Naturals favors local, ethical products from businesses owned by women and the underprivileged.
Follain. This clean beauty shop tucked away in the South End offers high-performance, sustainable skincare without all the harmful ingredients we’re used to seeing in beauty aisles, and even offers in-store refills on select products to avoid contributing to plastic waste. They carry over 40 American brands and are strict in their selection – no product contains any of these restricted ingredients.
Activities in Boston
Blue Hills Reservation. Hiking, biking, skiing, nature walks, and more, Blue Hills is a 7,000-acre sprawl that offers a year-round escape for city dwellers. With everything from “coyotes to copperheads, dogwoods to lady’s slippers, and turkey vultures to dragonflies” to see, who wouldn’t want to go for a jaunt to witness the beautiful New England flora and fauna? There’s also plenty of events throughout the year – see what’s going on while you’re in town here. Getting here on public transportation is tricky, so you may want to consider renting a car or bike.
Hubway. Speaking of bikes, if the MBTA system confuses you, try our bike-share program on for size instead. There are over 180 station across Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville and you can rent a bike for just $6/day. The catch, however, is that you can’t take one bike out all day. Rides under 30 minutes are free, so they’re great for getting from A to B, and B to C, and so on for just the $6, but not so much for keeping out all day long.
Emerald Necklace. The Emerald Necklace is a chain of parks that go through Boston and Brookline, connected by parkways and waterways that provide a serene setting for a run or a long walk. These include Boston Common and the Public Garden, which are must-sees for general site-seeing, but if you’re looking to go for a jog without bumping into throngs of other tourists, I suggest Jamaica Pond or the incredibly gorgeous Arnold Arboretum. The Arboretum is also a great place to relax and enjoy a quiet moment in the city.
Charles River Kayaking. The sailboat club at MIT doesn’t get to have all the fun – you can make your way down the Charles too in your choice of canoe, kayak, paddleboard, paddleboat, or rowboat. And don’t worry about that “dirty water”; although the river has a bad reputation, the water quality has improved a lot in recent years thanks to a number of environmental cleanup programs.
Festivals: Each year our city sees plenty of festivals, with many health-focused events included that all happen to be in the fall. We have the the Vegan Food Truck Festival, Boston Social Fitness Festival, Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, and Boston Local Food Festival hosted by the Sustainable Business Network.
Where To Stay in Boston
The Lenox Hotel. Located in the heart of Back Bay, the Lenox is a green-certified hotel near many of the recommendations on this list. They use the greenest cleaning products available and even have rooftop bees inspiring cocktails and dishes you can enjoy on their menu.
Irving House at Harvard. If you’re spending time across the river, this eco-friendly bed-and-breakfast is situated among a rich culture of arts and education in Cambridge. Enjoy a breakfast in the morning made with local ingredients (when available) before exploring what Harvard Square has to offer.
Godfrey Hotel. This Downtown Crossing hotel is brand new, housing a 24-hour fitness center and offering complimentary bicycles for you to explore the city in a fun and sustainable way.
InterContinental Boston. Believe it or not, Boston has two hotels with rooftop bees. The waterfront InterContinental hotel added its apiary in 2010, which has since grown to over 150,000 bees that pollinate nearby parks like the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston Common, and Public Garden. The honey is harvested for use in restaurant cocktails and spa treatments.
Are you from Boston? Taken your own healthy adventures here? What did we miss? What are your favourite health spots?