An Early-Risers Guide to Boston
What to eat, drink, and do at daybreak.
Where to See the Sunrise
Revere Beach, Revere
Whatever the season, you’ll find stunning sherbet-colored sunrises along the shoreline—plus a few nearby bakeries that are open early should you need a snack. Grab some Moroccan cookies at Casablanca (opens at 6 a.m.) or an empanada at Lupita Bakery (opens at 6:30 a.m.) and stroll the beach. Depending on the time of year, you might catch sight of some rare piping plovers, too.
Castle Island, Southie
Get gorgeous views of dawn breaking over the ocean, not to mention a prime look at early flights taking off from Logan. Bonus: Depending on the time of year, the iconic Castle Island restaurant Sullivan’s—known for its hot dogs and fried seafood—might be open for breakfast.
Memorial Drive, Cambridge
An early-morning walk or bike ride on the Cambridge side of the Charles River yields rewards: Namely, beautiful vistas of the sun waking up over the Boston skyline. Stop off between the Charles River Yacht Club and MIT Sailing Pavilion for the most unobstructed viewpoint.
Where to Eat at Literally Any Hour
South Street Diner
Does anything beat a chocolate frappe while waiting for an early train? One of the only places to get a full, sit-down meal in Boston at any hour, this classic diner is steps from South Station, serving everything from banana-stuffed French toast and breakfast burritos to bacon cheeseburgers.
Leather District, southstreetdiner.com.
Doughboy Donuts & Deli
The doughnut shop and drive-through portion of this Southie favorite are open 24/7 for your late-night/early-morning doughnut and coffee cravings, whether you’re a fan of honey-dip crullers and jelly sticks or chocolate butternut doughnuts.
South Boston, doughboydonutsanddeli.com.
If you’re craving arancini at 4 a.m., this is your spot. Open for nearly a century, the Italian favorite operates around the clock, churning out grab-and-go pastries, calzones, Sicilian slices, and more.
North End, bovabakeryboston.net.
Where to Work Out
Greater Boston has three locations of this popular fitness company, which promises to use HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to get you into the best shape of your life.
Classes start as early as 6 a.m. on weekdays, Downtown and other locations, barrys.com.
No fees, no registration, no experience needed: Just show up to an early-morning workout—locations and workout types vary—and discover a welcoming community. You may find yourself running up and down the Harvard Stadium stairs, doing a strength and cardio circuit at rotating locations in Greater Boston, or jogging up and down Brookline’s hilly Summit Avenue.
Multiple locations, november-project.com.
Redline Fight Sports
Get your blood pumping with a 7 a.m. boxing or Muay Thai class at this martial arts gym, which moved into a beautiful new space steps from the Central Square T stop last year.
Classes start as early as 7 a.m. on weekdays, Cambridge, redlinefightsports.com.
Where to Get Coffee Before Work
This Australian-inspired duo of espresso bars takes its coffee seriously, highlighting custom blends from Brooklyn-based roaster Abbotsford Road—but save room for an Australian meat pie and packaged Aussie sweets such as Tim Tams, classic chocolate-covered cookies.
Opens at 6 a.m. daily, South End and West End, trycuppacoffee.com.
Does your morning commute take you through Lechmere? If so, make the short walk to Curio Coffee, a gorgeous little East Cambridge nook that complements its coffee selection with Liège-style waffles studded with crystals of pearl sugar.
Opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, Cambridge.
Cocorico at the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport
Hotel cafés tend to be a reliable choice for early risers, and Cocorico—from the esteemed team behind Coquette, Yvonne’s, and more—is no exception, with an array of hot and cold drinks to energize your morning. It also offers lovely baked goods like croissants and Boston cream pie doughnuts that are as tasty as they are gorgeous.
Opens at 7 a.m. daily, Seaport, cocoricocafe.com.
Where to Eat Before Catching an Early Flight at Logan
Berkshire Farms Market
Prefer to make it through security before fueling up? Fortunately, Logan has a few early options. Our favorite has locations in terminals A and B: The grab-and-go Berkshire Farms Market offers breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, smoothies, and more, with a focus on local sourcing. You can even pick up a foodie-friendly host gift.
Opens at 4:30 a.m. daily, East Boston, massport.com/logan-airport.
This 30-year-old Orient Heights mainstay slings classic diner-style breakfast dishes—think pancakes, French toast, and omelets—in a homey space decorated with Disney-themed murals.
Opens at 5:30 a.m. daily, East Boston, donnasrestaurant.org.
La Sultana Bakery
Steps from the Maverick T stop, this counter-service Colombian bakery serves up tasty empanadas, strong coffee, and plenty of other savory and sweet treats. There are a few seats inside, or grab a snack to go.
Opens at 5 a.m. daily, East Boston.
Where to Go For a Quiet Nature Walk
Mount Auburn Cemetery
There’s nothing spooky about it: Boasting 175 acres of carefully landscaped paths, this National Historic Landmark is the perfect spot to get your steps in before breakfast. And bring your binoculars—or your paintbrush. Birdwatching and painting are encouraged.
Opens daily at 8 a.m., Watertown/Cambridge, mountauburn.org.
Whether the peacefulness of strolling through 16,000 plants is the morning pick-me-up you need, or you just want to see a lot of cute dogs out for a walk, this Frederick Law Olmsted–designed landmark is an ideal way to start the day.
Opens daily at sunrise, Jamaica Plain and Roslindale, arboretum.harvard.edu.
Middlesex Fells Reservation
With more than 100 miles of trails for hiking, walking, biking, and more, the beautiful Fells could keep you busy for many a morning with different views each time. There are opportunities for fishing and boating, too.
Opens daily at sunrise, with free parking lots opening at 9 a.m., Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester, mass.gov/locations/middlesex-fells-reservation.
My Early-Riser Routine
Pastry chef and co-owner, Flour Bakery + Café
“When I started Flour in 2000, I woke up at 2 a.m. each morning to bake off the croissants and sticky buns. Today we have an incredible team of talented bakers who are baking overnight, but I still wake up before the sun—my body can’t help it! Before sunrise, I go for a run down to the Esplanade with our dog, Beezy (also an early riser). We make our way back home to my husband, Christopher, where my favorite thing to do is make us breakfast with fresh-ground coffee and Flour multigrain toast and pastries!”
Founder, George Howell Coffee
“Every morning, I brew a different cup of my company’s light-roast coffees, sipping it from hot to cold over 20 to 30 minutes, after which I write a review to our roasters. There are days when I find the roast missing and not delivering the full range of nuance a particular farm’s coffee has. Other times the coffee hits a bull’s-eye and leads to what I once called ‘a 30-minute pleasure trip’ at a forum on coffee quite a few years ago.”
Anchor, 7News Today in New England
“When I’m not at work as the sun comes up, I love being outdoors in the early morning. I like hiking in Franconia Notch in summer and fall. My favorite trail there is Artist’s Bluff. It’s an easy and short hike with incredible views. I enjoy starting winter days at the Fells or Blue Hills. Exercising in nature has a calming effect that brings me joy almost immediately.”
Cohost, Billy & Lisa in the Morning
“I arrive at work at about quarter to 4 in the morning, so just about every place is closed. But I do stop at Dunkin’ as part of my morning run. So really, the only early-riser stop for me at 4 a.m. is Dunkin’.”
First published in the print edition of the March 2023 issue, with the headline “Morning Glory.”