Boston Suggestions
December 16, 2019 6:43 PM   Subscribe

I will be traveling to Boston soon, and am looking for some more out of the way things to see. In previous trips, I've mostly been to Camberville things, so I'm looking for things in Boston or other areas to look at. No day trips though, I'll only have a day or two to explore wherever and then will be in Cambridge area for the rest of the time.

I've been to the Gardiner, the MFA, MOS, the Harvard Art Museums, the Harvard Natural History Museum, the MIT Museum, and Paul Revere house. I generally like unique stores, consignment/thrift stores, museums, books, cd stores, old houses, nature, taking walks, queer stuff, weird artsupply/surplus stores. Stuff you can't find anywhere else.
Currently thinking of going to Jamaica Plain. I'd love other Boston neighborhood recommendations, recommendations of unique stores/streets/houses/museums/restaurants. Thanks!
posted by azalea_chant to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're headed to JP and the dates line up the Lucy Parsons Center should be your first stop.
posted by jessamyn at 7:09 PM on December 16, 2019

Best answer: The Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site at Fairsted. The website doesn't do it justice. This isn't about the grounds, which are relatively small and not that impressive. What is impressive is the perfectly preserved workshop of the world's "first full-scale professional office for the practice of landscape design," including the drafting tools and giant 19th century blueprinting machines.

It qualifies as out of the way, but worth it if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:14 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh, and it's just a hop skip and a jump from JP.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:17 PM on December 16, 2019

The Gibson House in the Back Bay is worth a visit, it's 4 story 19th century townhouse that became a museum in 1957. It's guided tour only, but a fantastic trip into the Boston Brahmin past.
posted by jeremias at 7:23 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

A totally different direction than JP, but Waltham has the Charles River Museum of Industry which is cool as heck. The museum is right next to the river and across the nearest bridge is the Moody Street business district in Waltham, which has tons of great food (my top 3 for dinner: Solea, Backroom at Moody's Deli, Amuleto; for dessert, Lizzy's Ice Cream) and lots of little shops ranging from import stores to local craft galleries and I think there's a comics store in there somewhere too?

In the same general direction, the West Newton business district has some fun stuff for an evening out. The Paper Mouse and Artitudes are two terrific independent businesses with lots of cool arty stuff, paper or otherwise. If you like art house movies, the West Newton Cinema is right next door (with that authentic, shabby art house movie theater feel). My favorite places to eat in the neighborhood are at the far west of the district--Blue Ribbon BBQ for a very casual meal, the Local for something rather more pulled together.
posted by Sublimity at 8:10 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

I just remembered that Gore Place and the Jackson Homestead (which was a stop on the underground railroad) are out in the Newton/Waltham direction as well.
posted by Sublimity at 8:12 PM on December 16, 2019

Best answer: You probably know about this one already but just in case not: if the weather cooperates, you can't beat the Arnold Arboretum for a winter walk.

JP also boasts Tres Gatos, a tapas bar with a used record and book shop inside. (Tiny, charming, very pricey!)
posted by prewar lemonade at 8:21 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: These are in the wrong neighborhoods, but since you mentioned weird art supply/surplus stores I couldn't resist: Playtime in Arlington is a wonderful lumbering dinosaur of a store: a huge multi-floor space chockablock with art and craft supplies, stationary, games, fabric and notions. And the Beautiful Stuff Project in Somerville carries recycled material for use in artmaking.
posted by prewar lemonade at 8:40 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks Prewar Lemonade! I do take suggestions in Camberville if they're awesome things I might not have been to before. I'm trying to focus on Boston but don't worry if you have a suggestion in Camberville.
posted by azalea_chant at 8:44 PM on December 16, 2019

If you like halva, Jamaica Plain is home to Espresso Yourself, which offers something you can't get anywhere else: FOURTEEN kinds of halva.
posted by oxisos at 9:09 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, if you're thrifting, surely you'd want to hit up the Garment District if you haven't already.
posted by praemunire at 10:00 PM on December 16, 2019

Totally go check out the Christian Science Center and the mapparium chamber. It’s maybe like 30mins to an hour. Then go hit up SOWA!
posted by floweredfish at 3:06 AM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

The MIT Museum is a small technology exhibition centre which features Arthur Ganson's funky kinetic sculptures.
posted by fairmettle at 3:41 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Absolutely seconding the Olmsted site -- we stumbled on it years ago and it is utterly fascinating.

If you're into the Kennedy mythos at all, the JFK Birthplace in Brookline is low-key interesting. They play an audio narration recorded by Rose Kennedy from many years ago and show a very nice tribute film about her, making the whole experience feel very much about her rather than JFK. The JFK Memorial Library is also a good visit and is easily reached on the Red Line.
posted by briank at 6:47 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been to the Gardiner, the MFA, MOS, the Harvard Art Museums, the Harvard Natural History Museum, the MIT Museum, and Paul Revere house.

Not seeing the ICA on your list, and they are pretty great. Though it looks like tickets to their current special exhibit are sold out for January. And the waterfront area is much nicer to walk around in summer anyway.

I generally like ... taking walks...

Everyone knows about the Freedom Trail, it's well marked and signed, but if you are willing to print your own map and guide, the Black Heritage Trail is a great walk around Beacon Hill. Bonus if you time it to end at the African Meeting House while they're open, it's beautiful and has a real feeling of the weight of history.

I see you aren't favoriting the Waltham stuff sublimity is suggesting, which is fair enough given your constraints (getting there from JP is a pain even with a car, and not worth considering without one), but thought I'd point out that from Cambridge you can take the commuter rail from Porter Square and hop out basically right on Moody next to the Charles River Museum of Industry. Gore Place is about a 20 minute walk from there, too.
posted by solotoro at 7:35 AM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In JP, I'd second the Lucy Parsons bookstore, Tres Gatos, and the Arboretum. There's also a small independent bookstore in JP, Papercuts. And in Boston I agree that the Black Heritage trail is great. Even if you don't go into the ICA, walking along the Rose Kennedy Greenway and then the harbor trail along the north end and into the seaport is a nice walk.

Have you been to the Public Library in Copley Square? It's a really beautiful building with some great sculpture, murals, and frescos, and the courtyard is very pretty. There's also a tea cocktail bar now! and, depending on when you're here they may have the ice sculptures and other things in Copley Square.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:49 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not sure this is out of the way but I love the Mapparium in the Mary Baker Eddy Library.
posted by vunder at 7:56 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seaport: if you end up going to the ICA (which is awesome) you could also pop into the Society of Arts and Crafts. It's a neat little gallery and shop.
posted by prewar lemonade at 3:19 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this fits, as I’m unfamiliar with Boston geography, but when I visited, my friend took me to the beautiful and historic Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. It was the first garden cemetery in the U.S., and is a lovely park setting full of glorious old tombstones and monuments. It might be too cold in the winter, but it was my favorite place that we went to, so if not this time, maybe next time!
posted by sumiami at 11:44 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Along the lines of sumiami's suggestion, Forest Hills Cemetery is in JP and is also a garden cemetery, and very beautiful. Also where ee cummings is buried.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2019

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