Boston isn’t short on famous sites and busy tourist attractions. But what should you do if you want to escape the crowds? From hiking Spectacle Island to exploring abandoned bear dens, here’s our list of offbeat activities to enjoy in the Massachusetts capital.
On October 16, 1846, in what is now known as the Ether Dome within Massachusetts General Hospital, a Boston dentist successfully conducted the first public surgery using ether as an anesthetic. Over 8,000 operations were performed in this elegant, light-filled amphitheater between the hospital’s inauguration in 1821 and 1868, and it’s still used as a teaching theater today. Also on display are a mummy, a skeleton and a small collection of antique surgical implements. Staff in the hospital’s reception will point you to the Ether Dome.
When the Franklin Park Zoo opened in 1912, people flocked to see its wild bears. Although the zoo closed due to declining popularity in 1954, the large open-air enclosures in which these magnificent animals lived were left standing and are still intact today, as are some detailed stone engravings of their former residents. The Old Bear Dens are found by taking a path that leads through woodland off Playstead Road (near the White Stadium), in a forgotten corner of what is now called Zoo New England.