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The Cheers bar in Boston is where they say everybody knows your name.
It’s also the place that inspired the hit TV show Cheers, which aired on NBC from 1982 through 1993.
As a longtime fan of the show, I just had to visit the original Cheers bar — formerly known as the Bull & Finch Pub.
In this post, you’ll see exactly what it’s like to visit Cheers in Boston. Plus, my tips to help you make the most of your trip there!
First, Some History About The Real Cheers Bar
My first visit to the famous Cheers bar came many years after the TV show that it inspired came to a close.
Let’s delve into the fascinating history of this Boston landmark…
What Is The Name Of The Cheers Bar In Boston?
The Bull & Finch Pub opened in 1969 at 84 Beacon Street in Boston.
The quirky basement bar became known as one of the friendliest places in the city for a drink. In fact, in 1982 Boston magazine called the Bull & Finch Pub the best neighborhood bar in the city.
In 1981, the bar received a couple visits by NBC producers. They were looking for inspiration to create a TV sitcom about a Boston bar and its patrons. And they found just the place they wanted to recreate on their new show!
When Did The Cheers TV Show Air?
Cheers debuted on September 30, 1982.
Initially, the show received poor ratings — but NBC executives gave the series a chance to improve in popularity. By its 1985-86 season, Cheers had consistently earned top 5 and top 10 placement in the Nielsen ratings and was TV’s number-one rated show in the 1990-91 season.
The series finale aired on May 20, 1993. The last episode ranked second place for the all-time largest audience to watch a single episode of a television show (behind the final episode of M*A*S*H a decade earlier).
Even long after the show ended, Cheers inspires countless numbers of people to visit the Bull & Finch Pub — officially renamed Cheers Beacon Hill in 2002.
What It’s Like Visiting The Original Cheers Bar
I grew up watching Cheers with my family during the show’s first run from the mid 1980s into the early 1990s. In my adulthood I viewed the entire series as syndicated reruns and on Netflix.
My mom was a major fan of the show. Originally from the Weymouth area between Boston and Cape Cod, she wanted to visit the Cheers bar in person someday — but she passed away before she had the opportunity to do that. So my visit to the Cheers bar was, in part, to honor Mom’s memory. I took my sister to the bar a few months later so she, too, could enjoy the iconic landmark.
Prior to this, I made a similar fandom pilgrimage to the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania — the setting of one of my favorite sitcoms, The Office (another popular NBC series).
RELATED: What It’s Like To Visit Landmarks From The Office In Scranton
Where Is The Cheers Bar In Boston Located?
I made my way to the Cheers bar following a leisurely walk through nearby Boston Common — the Central Park of Boston.
A beautiful urban green space called Boston Public Garden serenely sprawls across Beacon Street from the Cheers bar.
Fans of the show will recognize the view of the bar from the north side of this popular park:
It’s the same view of the Cheers bar seen during the opening song of Cheers!
It pretty much looks the same today from that angle as it did in the 1980s.
After getting my obligatory photo of the Cheers building, it was time to go inside for a drink!
What Does The Original Cheers Bar Look Like Inside?
On the show, the setting for the Boston bar is a basement below a fine seafood restaurant called Melville’s.
In real life, the establishment above the Cheers bar is The Hampshire House, a fancy restaurant that also serves as a popular wedding venue in the lovely Beacon Hill neighborhood.
If you’re a fan of the show, you will instantly recognize the exterior basement stairway. Its black, wrought iron railing leads you down below the street level to the front door of Cheers.
What Is It Like Inside The Basement Bar?
And now we’re inside!
Here’s looking back toward the bar itself. Notice any similarities?
Well, maybe it’s not quite what you expected. The basement bar doesn’t look exactly like the set you’ve seen in the show. But it’s a quaint place with lots of local memorabilia, Tiffany-style lamps, colorful glass squares, and a dark decor. In those ways, the bar features many aesthetic hallmarks from the Cheers set we’ve all come to know and love on the show.
On the right side of the Cheers set, there’s a hallway with pay phones, restrooms, and a door to a billiard room and game area. In real life, there’s also a similar hall on the opposite side of the pub’s front door. The corridor takes you to restrooms and an attached seating area for diners who want to eat lunch or supper at Cheers.
The food menu is full of great plates named for popular Cheers characters — and many inside jokes relating to the show.
Also down the hall is a spiral stairwell that takes you upstairs to The Hampshire House. Near the front of The Hampshire House is a ground-level bar set up to more closely resemble the set on Cheers.
There are 2 gift shops at the original Cheers bar location:
- A small gift shop downstairs where you can buy T-shirts, magnets, and other Cheers swag.
- A larger gift shop with a wider variety of Cheers-themed gifts upstairs, adjacent to the Cheers set bar.
Did You Know?… Children are allowed at Cheers from opening until 10 PM — that’s when the establishment switches over to adults 21 and over only.
The “Other” Cheers Bar
There are actually 2 Cheers bars in Boston:
- “The Original” location on Beacon Street
- A replica at Boston’s Faneuil Hall
Cheers Faneuil Hall, located in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, was designed with the idea of recreating the Cheers set as seen on the show.
There are a number of awesome relics from the show on display — including character Sam Malone’s Red Sox jacket.
Cheers Faneuil Hall Marketplace also has outdoor seating and live entertainment throughout much of the year.
My Best Tips For Visiting The Cheers Bar In Boston
So far, I’ve visited Cheers in the mid spring and late winter.
From my experience, Cheers is much busier in the spring than in the winter. Spring is the start of tourist season in Boston — so it makes sense there would be more visitors then.
When To Go
The crowds make a difference. I received service right away when I walked into the bar in the winter. During my spring visit, there was a long line of guests. But the experience is still worth the wait! I definitely recommend carving out plenty of time — whether you come in the winter, spring, summer, or fall.
What To Get
I’ve had various menu items at the Cheers bar and haven’t gone wrong yet. I love the Fenway Special with chili — which includes 2 hotdogs on grilled buns and French fries. For beer? I enjoyed a Sam Adams lager. But what else do you get at a New England bar located in the hometown of Samuel Adams himself?
How To Save Money
Want to save a little money on your trip to Cheers? Cheers Bucks coupons can be used to save on merchandise bought at the retail store in the bar on Beacon Street or Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Also, look for special discount coupons on your bar and restaurant receipts after you enjoy a drink or meal at Cheers!
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I’m a Florida native, a roller coaster junkie, and a frequent traveler. (Long road trips are my favorite.) Born and raised in Tampa, I grew up visiting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. I authored the book Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Images of Modern America, which details the colorful history of the Busch Gardens theme park. As a local historian, I’ve also written about other popular landmarks and attractions for a variety of publications. Here, on this Travel Guide, I like sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about all the places I’ve been — so you will have a good idea of what those places are like and what you should know before you go. I especially enjoy helping others plan fun trips… on a budget!