Maybe you’ve been to Boston and checked off some of the top tourist attractions. Or maybe you’re simply eager to explore and see another side of the city – one beyond Faneuil Hall and Fenway Park. Try out these unusual things to do in Beantown and fit right in with the locals.
Rent Hubway bikes and take a ride on the esplanade
If you’re looking to get in exercise and see a view, biking along the esplanade is the answer. Visitors can rent bikes from various bike shops around the city or take advantage of the accessible Hubway public bike-share system. Rent a bike from one of the bike stands near the Public Garden, and then cross over the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge to ride along the Charles River Esplanade. The cost for a day pass is $6, and the first half hour is free. Ride for up to two hours for only $10.
Take a brewery, cidery or distillery tour
Boston is brimming with breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries. Pick your favorite type of alcohol, and go and take a tour at one of the many venues. Visit the infamous Sam Adams Brewery, or take a tour at Harpoon Brewery – Harpoon has an expansive beer hall and the most delicious doughy pretzels, made with their own beer. If you’re into cider, Downeast Cider is also a good option for an afternoon tour.
Lawn on D is a befitting name as it is simply a green spot on D Street. However, it’s a popular place for locals and visitors alike during the summer months when it turns into an adult playground (children are welcome too). Enjoy the beer hall, 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 sets.
The Mapparium, located at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, is a world-famous work of art. The three-story-tall 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 speak about geography and ideas that have altered the world. Be sure to check out the library’s other exhibits.
The unique part about the Scarlett O’Hara House is that it is not a house at all. Located off Revere Street in Beacon Hill, on Rollins Place, the structure appears to be a plantation house with Greek columns, yet 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. Each December, a holiday wreath is hung on the “front door,” and the rest of the year, flower boxes are kept up.
The Bodega store may not be an optical illusion, but it is 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 will bring you to the real Bodega, an upscale clothing store.
The Top of the Hub offers 360-degree views of the Boston skyline. The elegant restaurant features jazz and upscale American food. Those just looking for a view can enjoy cocktail drinks in the lounge, 52 floors above Back Bay. Music plays after 7:30 pm every night.
Located in the Somerville neighborhood of Boston, the Museum of Modern Renaissance has been a project for the past 14 years and features unique, viable, and fresh art. The former Masonic lodge has been turned into a “temple of art” by its co-founders who are currently looking to place the museum as a National Historic Landmark in the hopes of then getting it listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. While the museum rarely holds events open to the public, it is worth walking by for the stunning artwork on the outside.
During the summer months, take a dip in one of the best rooftop pools in Boston at the Colonnade Hotel. If you aren’t a guest at the hotel, you can still enjoy the cabanas, drinks, and views from the 12-story-high pool during public access times. Visitors can pay to use it for the day during the week, though it is less expensive and only $10 for those who arrive on or after 5 pm.
Located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, built to resemble a 15th-century Venetian palace, is worth visiting year-round but is especially stunning during the spring and summer months when visitors can spend time outside in the beautiful courtyard. The recently added Renzo Piano Wing was labeled “the most beautiful building in Boston” in 2016. Stop by to view art collections from ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Asia, the Islamic world, Renaissance Italy, and more.