Boston’s Winter Wonderland For students who returned to campus after Thanksgiving, Caroline Quinn shares safe yet festive holiday ideas.

This holiday season, Boston College students faced the difficult decision of either remaining in Massachusetts over Thanksgiving Break and through the end of the semester, or returning home and completing their classes online. Normal traditions have been altered for all, to some degree, due to the pandemic, but those who chose to stay on campus have experienced a particularly atypical holiday season. 

Staying in the dorms may not have been students’ first choice for Thanksgiving, but the ability to stay in Boston through December does bring advantages. Just miles from the city, BC students can still enjoy safe activities that provide a sense of normalcy this holiday season, even in the midst of COVID-19.

Snowport Enjoy all of the holiday festivities in one place at Seaport Common.

One opportunity to get off campus and into the holiday spirit is Snowport, which the Seaport neighborhood has been rebranded as for the winter. For the next month, the area will be decked out in festive decorations and will be filled with COVID-19-friendly activities. The abundance of stores in the area are perfect for holiday gift shopping, and restaurants like the Lookout Rooftop and Bar at The Envoy Hotel have set up igloos for heated outdoor dining. 

Each Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., there are Winter Wonder Walks through Seaport, where you can admire the decorated tree in Seaport Common. The Tree Market is selling fresh-cut trees and wreaths. At the market, there are three pop-up restaurants operating out of shipping containers. The Biscuit has baked goods and hot cider, Red’s Best is serving classics like clam chowder and lobster bisque, and Hooked has fresh fish, all of which are accessible only through pre-order. You can also book a complimentary open-air “sleigh” ride around the neighborhood through the Ride Circuit mobile app or you can hail one in Seaport. Curling lanes are also open to the public through Dec. 19 in the Seaport Common, either through reservation or walk-in, and curling lessons are also being offered for those looking to pick up a new hobby. 

Outdoor Light Displays Get a breath of fresh air while admiring lights around the city.

Those looking to get outside can bundle up and see the Christmas light displays around the city. The tree in Boston Common officially lit up for the season at a virtual ceremony on Dec. 3, and this year the Downtown Boston BID will set up stage windows and decorations in storefronts. If you’re craving some fresh air, the Arnold Arboretum, a 281-acre park and historic landmark, is a great place to take a walk and get a nature break. Just a short drive from BC, the Stone Zoo in Stoneham is hosting their ZooLights event where visitors can walk around and see the displays as well as a few animals. Tickets are already sold out through December, but more tickets are available beginning Jan. 1 for students who live in the area.  

Holiday Shopping Whether you’re looking to splurge or stay on budget, Boston has all of your holiday shopping needs covered.

For students looking to do some holiday shopping before leaving campus for Winter Break, Newbury Street offers an abundance of stores ranging from affordable to luxurious. With the trees lining the road lit up with holiday lights and many storefronts twinkling with holiday displays, a trip to Newbury is particularly special during this time of year.

Those looking for more affordable options should check out The Garment District, a thrift store in Cambridge that went viral on TikTok. The store has a wide selection of vintage and designer clothing for both men and women. Although their popular purchase-by-the-pound room is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 health precautions, the store still offers a variety of clothing and accessories for much cheaper than the prices of first-hand stores. 

Although this holiday season looks different, there are still opportunities to partake in safe and fun activities right here in Boston to get in the holiday spirit, despite the challenging times. 

Graphic by Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor

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About Caroline Quinn