You’re a college student in a completely new city, and it’s all a little overwhelming. You want to get to know the city around you, but finding out where you should go in addition to getting your work done just doesn’t seem possible. Here is a guide to solve all your problems: eight places for which it’s worth leaving campus.
Boston Common, and the Boston Public Gardens
Right in the center of the city, the Common and the Public Gardens should be at the top of your list—mainly because they’re the most fun when it’s warmer out. Bring a picnic and stretch out with your friends, or just explore on your own for a while. Although the Common and the Garden are filled with tourists, you can still and enjoy, listen to the musicians, ride the swan boats, or just sit under a tree on the bank of the lake—it’s just enough nature to get you out of the city for a minute.
Located a short walk from the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner (ISG) Museum is a real-life treasure trove. Originally Isabella Gardner’s private (and palatial) residence, Gardner opened the building as a museum in 1901 so that she could share her stunning art collection with the world around her. That collection is just as spectacular today, and even the building itself—modeled after a Venetian palace—is worth a trip to see. So make your way there for the art, the architecture, or the stunning gardens—none will disappoint. Also, make sure to keep your eye out for the ISG museum’s special programing. The museum’s Third Thursday program takes place monthly, and is known to draw college students from around the Boston area.
The Prudential Center
Even if you don’t like malls, the Prudential Center—more affectionately known as the Pru—is worth a visit. The Pru is the building that you see brightly lit up in many classic Boston photos, and it holds more shopping options within its sprawling walls than one could possibly list. So even if you don’t like shopping, pop in to understand how you can walk through a huge chunk of the city without ever leaving the building—very handy in the winter—or even just to grab a bite to eat at Eataly.
Boston’s famous shopping street, Newbury St. runs parallel to Boylston St., with one end running into the Public Garden, and the other running into Mass. Ave. The street is a vibrant area always packed with tourists and locals alike, and can be found packed with people even in the dead of winter. With high-end boutiques like Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana at one end, and an Urban Outfitters and Uniqlo at the other, Newbury is another one of those places that seems to have everything. When you’re hungry, pop into one of the restaurants or coffee shops, such as the Thinking Cup, or grab a flower-shaped ice cream at Amorino.
The Rose Kennedy Greenway
Another escape for students hungry for a taste of nature, the Greenway is a stunning stop that cannot be missed. In the space that was originally a highway—which the City relocated in a series of tunnels underground—the Greenway is a huge park that spans through Boston. Containing plazas, huge open spaces, gardens, and walking paths, the Greenway is the perfect place to spend a beautiful afternoon with friends. Should you get hungry along the way, just stop at one of the many food trucks that park around the Greenway, or stop off in Boston’s Chinatown (the Greenway has a garden that borders the Chinatown gates) and experience some authentic dim sum. As you stroll through the Greenway, keep your eyes peeled for some of the art installations and murals scattered throughout the park—just make sure to avoid getting too close to the geese.
Cambridge might seem like a world away, but taking the time to visit Harvard Square at least once is worth it. Go to see Harvard in person—the buildings are stunning—and to explore the fun shops and restaurants surrounding the bustling square. With trendier options like the New York transplant Liquiteria right there, or more eccentric options like the shop entirely devoted to Curious George paraphernalia, Harvard Square has something for everyone. And if you’re feeling adventurous, explore a couple stops on the Red Line, and hit up places like Honeycomb Creamery (they have homemade ice cream tacos) and Bagelsaurus.
The North End
If you haven’t been to the North End yet, go this weekend and you’ll thank me. Wander down Hanover Street with a few friends and go into any one of the restaurants that line the street (my favorite is the tiny Pomodoro). After filling your belly with pasta, visit Paul Revere’s house, or maybe just grab some dessert. Decided for yourself whether the Italian pastries at Mike’s or Modern are better, or if you’re there late stop into the delectable 24-hour Bova’s Bakery for a late-night snack that will go down in history.
Boston Public Market
Like a farmer’s market on steroids, the Boston Public Market is a destination worth any foodie’s time. Not only can you grab the local fruits and veggies that you might be craving, but you can sample some of Boston’s trendiest cuisine. With bakeries like Somerville Bread Company, mini-restaurants like Noodle Lab, and countless other options, this is a place where there is a cuisine and an option for everyone. In fact, you will find yourself returning because there are just too many dishes that you want to try for one sitting.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins, Kaitlin Meeks, Lizzy Barrett