Maybe you’ve been to Boston and checked out some of the major tourist attractions. Or maybe you’re just keen to explore and see another side of town – one beyond Faneuil Hall and Fenway Park. Try these unusual things to do in Beantown and blend right in with the locals.
Rent Hubway bikes and take a spin on the esplanade
If you’re looking to exercise and see a view, biking along the esplanade is the answer. Visitors can rent bikes from various bike shops around town or take advantage of the Hubway public bike share system. Hire a bike from one of the kiosks near the Public Garden, then cross the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge to skirt the Charles River Esplanade. The cost for a day pass is $6, and the first half hour is free. Travel for up to two hours for just $10.
Take a tour of the brewery, cider house or distillery
Boston is full of breweries, cider houses, wineries and distilleries. Choose your favorite type of alcohol, and go for a spin at one of the many venues. Visit the infamous Sam Adams Brewery, or take a trip to Harpoon Brewery – Harpoon has an extensive brewery and the most delicious pastry pretzels, made with their own beer. If you like cider, Downeast Cider is also a good option for an afternoon spin.
Inside Harpoon | © Dave Levy
Visit Lawn on D
Lawn on D is a worthy name as it is simply a green dot on D Street. However, it’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike during the summer months when it turns into an adult playground (kids are welcome too). Enjoy the brewery, play lawn games and listen to music at one of the many concerts. The best part is the giant swings that light up and glow once the sun goes down.
Lawn on D, 420 D St, Boston, MA, USA
Lawn on D | © Ashley Kane
Visit the Mapparium
The Mapparium, located at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, is a world-renowned work of art. The three-story globe is made of stained glass and offers a three-dimensional perspective of the world as it was in 1935. Stay for a presentation that uses music, LED lights and words to talk about geography and changing ideas the world. Be sure to check out the other exhibits in the library.
Mary Baker Eddy Library, 200 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 450 7000
Maparium | © Smart Destinations / Flickr
See the Scarlett O’Hara House
The unique part of the Scarlett O’Hara House is that it’s not a house at all. Located on Revere Street in Beacon Hill, on Rollins Place, the structure appears to be a plantation house with Greek columns, but it is, in fact, an optical illusion. The house was painted over 30 years ago to hide an unsightly brick and concrete wall. Stop by to see if you can tell the difference. Every December a holiday wreath is hung on the “front door” and the rest of the year the flower boxes are kept.
Scarlett O’Hara House, Rollins Pl, Boston, MA, USA
Check out the Bodega store
The Bodega store may not be an optical illusion, but a hidden passageway. Walk into a seemingly normal convenience store and go to the back Snapple Machine, which is a secret door. Sliding open the door takes you to the real Bodega, an upscale clothing store.
Bodega, 6 Clearway St, Boston, MA, USA
Inside Bodega in Boston | © Tom Rose/Flickr
The top of the Hub
The top of the Hub offers a 360 degree view of the Boston skyline. The elegant restaurant offers jazz and upscale American cuisine. Those simply looking for a view can sip a cocktail in the lounge, 52 stories above Back Bay. Music plays after 7:30 p.m. every night.
Hub Summit, 800 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, USA , +1 617 536 1775
Hub Summit | © Linji.Mark/Flickr
Modern Renaissance Museum
Located in Boston’s Somerville neighborhood, the Museum of Modern Renaissance has been a 14-year project and features unique, viable, and original works. The former Masonic Lodge has been transformed into a ‘temple of art’ by its co-founders who are currently seeking to make the museum a National Historic Site in hopes of inscribing it on the UNESCO World Heritage List . While the museum rarely hosts events that are open to the public, it’s well worth a visit to view the stunning artwork outside.
Museum of Modern Renaissance, 115 College Ave, Somerville, MA, USA, +1 617 628 9303
Colonnade Rooftop Pool
During the summer months, take a dip in one of the best rooftop pools in Boston at the Hotel Colonnade. If you’re not a hotel guest, you can still enjoy the cabanas, drinks, and views of the 12-story pool during public access times. Visitors can pay to use it for the day during the week, but it’s cheaper and only $10 for those arriving after 5 p.m.
Colonnade Hotel, 120 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 424 7000
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Located in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, built to look like a 15th-century Venetian palace, is worth a visit any time of the year. summer months when visitors can spend time outside in the beautiful courtyard. Renzo Piano Wing was recently named “Boston’s Most Beautiful Building” in 2016. Visit art collections from Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Asia, the Islamic World, Italian Renaissance and more Again. Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 566 1401
Isabella Stewart Gardner Courtyard | ©Brian/Flickr