What's there to do in Boston?
March 16, 2009 12:11 AM   Subscribe

My friends and I are going on a roadtrip to Boston. What should we do there? (We are not 21)

We are going from New Jersey to Boston to visit a friend. What can we do there that I can afford. keep in mind that i'm a college student on a small budget :(

We are also open to the idea of stopping to see interesting stuff on our way there and back.
posted by shatteredverve to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (11 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Go to Cape Ann

Stop off at Cape Cod

Walk down Newbury Street

Walk through Harvard Yard

Walk down the endless corridor (MIT)

Go sailing on the Charles (or sculling, or kayaking)
posted by zia at 12:54 AM on March 16, 2009

The New England Aquarium is excellent.

A whale watching tour is very cool!

Eat a $12.00 lobster dinner at the Marriot on the Long Wharf.

All three of the above activities are within about 100 yards of each other.

What I did was hit the aquarium, went on the whale tour during which I met some great locals who told me about the killer deal on the lobster dinner and then dined with those same folks. It worked out well.

The Museum of Fine Arts is world-class.
posted by wsg at 2:14 AM on March 16, 2009

One more thing, go to the top of the Prudential building (the tallest building in the city) for some great jazz (at night) and the best view.
posted by wsg at 2:17 AM on March 16, 2009

Park at the Alewife T station ($5 per day) and get off at every single stop on the Red Line between Davis Square and South Station. Each stop is half a day's worth of free sightseeing. What are you most interested in, specifically?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:13 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here are some things unique to Boston that are on the cheaper side:

If you walk along Newbury Street (mostly upscale shopping) try the Trident Cafe for cheap eats.

The Mapparium is unique to Boston, and free, and not far from Newbury St..

Head out to Allston and walk along Harvard Ave. Much more of an offbeat college scene with lots of odd shops and cheap eats.

In Cambridge, head to Harvard Square and walk around. Good book stores and a few music and comics shops (Million Year Picnic, New England Comics, Newbury Comics). Cheap (and delicious) eats at Le's (formerly Pho Pasteur) and Algiers.

Harvard's Museum of Natural History is cool and $7 for students. Plus you get a nice walk through Harvard Yard to get to it.

The Middle East Restaurant/Club in Central Square has all ages shows. Not sure what your musical tastes are, but there you go.

Back in Boston, the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) is free Thursday nights from 5-9pm. It's in a not-ready-for-prime-time neighborhood, which makes it doubly interesting in my book. While you're down by the water, check out the ships that dock at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal or visit the Fort Point Art gallery.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is $5 for students with ID. It's got loads of fine art which sometimes bores me, but the setting of the house is amazing and the courtyard in winter is an amazing place to escape the cold.

Jamaica Plain is off the beaten track for many visitors, but it's an amazingly fun neighborhood. This month on Mondays there's free bowling and all you can eat Pizza ($7) at Milky Way Lounge (because they're closing :-(( )

The Arnold Arboretum is hands down one of the nicest urban parks in the country, so if you have any itch to get outside among trees and such, head there (it's in JP, too). While you're in JP, you might as well have ice cream at JP Licks. Also, lots of good restaurants in JP.

I love the Aquarium and Prudential Skywalk, but they might be on the expensive side for a student ($20 and $10 for students).

Some of these are much easier to get to with a car, but when you say roadtrip, I assume you have a car.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:23 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ooh, I like Saucy Intruder's idea. And obviously I need to expand my repertoire of adjectives to include more than "amazing".
posted by cocoagirl at 4:29 AM on March 16, 2009

If you're a baseball fan, swing by Fenway park - game tickets are the most expensive in MLB (if you can actually get them), but they do tours of the park relatively cheaply. The tour takes you through various seating areas, and (I believe) into the dugout, but I might be wrong on the latter point. If it's a nice day, and you're a history buff, walk the Freedom Trail from Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument, and stop at the historic sights along the way - some charge a fee, but many (most?) are free. If you do this, though, remember that it's the Freedom TRAIL, not the Freedom LOOP, so at the end you'll be stuck out in Charlestown and looking at an equivalent walk back to civilization. The Omni theater at the Museum of Science in Cambridge can be cool, depending on what is showing when you're here.

If you have any specific questions, mefi mail me and I'll be happy to answer as best I can
posted by um_maverick at 5:10 AM on March 16, 2009

Pick up a copy of the Weekly Dig when you arrive - it's a free paper that lists all the events going on in town. If you're into music, there should be several all ages or 18+ shows that you can get in to. Keep in mind that Boston is a big college town, so bars and clubs do aggressively ID their patrons.

I have no idea what you like, but Boston is great for all things:

Geeky - Harvard Natural History Museum, MIT Museum, Museum of Science, Computer Museum (does this still exist?)

Artsy - Museum of Fine Arts, Gardner Museum (right next door), DeCordova sculpture park (out in Lincoln), lots of small galleries - the Dig should be able to tell you if there are any open when you arrive

Physical - depending on the weather, naturally, there are walking/bike paths that follow the Charles from the Zakim Bridge all the way out to Brighton. There's also a bike trail that starts in Somerville and will take you out to Bedford. River sports are big here, so rent a sailboat (if you know how), a kayak, rowboat, bathtub, whatever.

Outdoorsy - Boston Harbor Cruises will take you out to the Harbor islands, where you can hike around or have a picnic. Boston Common and the Public Gardens are good for people watching (and being accosted by Scientologists, so watch out). Columbus Park by the North End has a fountain that you can run through, and it's a good vantage point to watch the water. Long Wharf is also a good place for that.

Foodie - Italian food in the North End. Get a slice at the original Pizzeria Regina. Dim Sum at the China Pearl. Lobster is still (relatively) cheap, I think. Be aware that the restaurants in the touristy areas (especially on Boylston St. near the convention center and around Fanueil Hall) all turn into bars/clubs at night and will start carding after 7 or so.

It's a good time to come visit the area - the tourists don't really start pouring in until May or so.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:16 AM on March 16, 2009

The Gardner Museum is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Go go go go!

At Harvard, there will almost certainly be a free show in the Loeb Experimental Theater. Shows there this spring are: IGP 10: Summer Camp! (that's the Instant Gratification Players, an improv group), The History Boys, The Birthday Party, Lysistrata, The Quad, and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore.

The Harvard museums are world class.

Boston has the best ice cream in America. Get some at Toscanini's in Central Square (or try their hot vanilla!), at Christina's, and at Herrell's. Flavors I have loved (I forget which was where): Guinness, cinnamon, cake batter, banana.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:26 AM on March 16, 2009

The ICA is free on Thursday nights.

Club Passim is also all-ages.

Improv Boston in Central Square has a cheap late night show.
posted by mkb at 9:25 AM on March 16, 2009

I really enjoyed the Duck Tour I went on when I was in Boston (land/water tour in a WWII amphibious vehicle). We got to see a lot of sights in and around the Harbour, and the tour guide was entertaining and informative--very knowledgeable about the city's history. It's on the pricier side, but they do have group rates and student rates. As someone who had never been to Boston before, I felt it was worth it. Dress warmly, though--I was there around this time last year and it was COLD in the Duck.

If you like art, the Museum of Fine Art mentioned upthread is definitely worth a visit. I recommend taking a guided highlights tour (included in admission fee) as a nice way to see the museum without getting too overwhelmed.

Apart from that, it's nice to spend time just walking around the city. I was staying in the Beacon Hill district at the John Jeffries House and found it easy to walk to the Commons and downtown, and across the bridge toward Harvard (I actually walked all the way to Harvard one day, and it was lovely).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:14 PM on March 16, 2009

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