By: Brennan Carley, Taylor Cavallo, and Dan Siering
Now that the weather is heating up, it’s time to get off campus and see what Boston has to offer. With its variety of exciting spots to visit, ranging from thrift store clothing hunts to hearty brunches at Zaftigs Delicatessen, the city only five miles away has something for everyone to explore. Nothing is better than sitting in Boston Commons on a sunny day following an entertaining feature at Coolidge Corner Theatre or a day of fine art at the MFA. With its eclectic mix of neighborhoods, Beantown’s atmosphere is one of a kind. The Scene put together some of our favorite hot spots in the metro area and provided routes and recommendations for a perfect spring day.
Begin your day with a hearty brunch at Zaftigs, a Jewish delicatessen in the back of Brookline’s infamous Coolidge Corner district. With an expansive menu that includes everything from pickled herring to potato pancakes, everyone can find something to enjoy at Zaftigs. The food is reasonably priced, generously proportioned, and allows for the daring few in the group to try something they’ll get nowhere else. Zaftigs is ideal for a family to feed hungry tots or for a group of friends to recount stories from the night before. If you’re going on the weekend, be wary of long wait times. We’re not the only ones in town who enjoy the Zaftigs experience.
Craigie On Main
Even if I was given a full 24 hours to do whatever I wanted in Boston, I’d want to wake up late, but the first place I’d visit would be Craigie On Main, a restaurant bursting at the seams with energy and originality. Chef Tony Maws was recently nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award, and his work reflects his commitment to the culinary arts. The restaurant’s brunch is a bit pricey for college students but worth every single forkful. With dishes like Maws’ homemade donuts (fresh from the fryer and the best damn pastry you’ll ever have the fortune to crunch on), a house smoked ham and cheddar panino with a fried egg on top, and a side of grilled pork belly (the most mouthwateringly melt-in-your-mouth bacon you can imagine), Craigie On Main delivers time and time again.
I wouldn’t be able to go into Boston without partaking in my favorite activity: shopping. There are two prime locations for shopping that offer entirely different experiences. Although they are slightly far apart, Newbury Street and Harvard Ave. have fantastic places to stop and shop, whether you’re actually buying or just window-shopping. On Newbury you can find the usual stores, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, and American Apparel, but they have one thing that I can’t live without: Marc Jacobs, an essential staple of my wardrobe. On Harvard Ave, Buffalo Exchange is an amazing thrift store that always has great deals and unique finds and is located around other secondhand stores to explore.
Coolidge Corner Theater
Continue your day by taking in a feature at Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston’s most unique and luxurious viewing venue. Sitting in the center of Brookline’s hippest region, Coolidge Corner offers an expansive spectrum of cinematic selections, from the most obscure independents to the Oscar darlings. What makes this theater special is the uniqueness of Coolidge’s four theaters. Buy a ticket to the main movie house to see one of the week’s biggest independent flicks or, if you’re feeling scholarly, snatch up a ticket to an unknown feature in the Gold Screen. If you choose the latter, make sure you book in advance, as the cozy room only seats 14 patrons. With a personal and old-timey feel, Coolidge Corner is a great way to start your excursion.
Let’s say that this day was taking place in the weeks leading up to Christmas. If that were the case, I’d spend the early hours of the afternoon wandering around the twists and turns of Back Bay’s residential neighborhood, easily one of the most underappreciated pastimes. It’s the cheapest way to enjoy the city’s best holiday sights, as the elegantly adorned houses display their lavish Christmas trees and decorations in their gigantic windows. It’s like being transported to another period in history, one with candlelit windows and wreaths lining the cobbled streets, and there’s truly nothing like it in the world.
Museum of Fine Arts
My single most favorite place in Boston is, without a doubt, the Museum of Fine Arts. While the average person might not enjoy it as much as the art geek inside me does, it is definitely worth a visit. The architecture of the building itself is beautiful, the aggressive geese on the lawn are always entertaining to pass by, and of course, the art is unbelievable. The Impressionist room is my favorite, and the MFA features classic pieces by world famous artists such as Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, and my favorite, Vincent van Gogh. Students are admitted for free, which makes it even better (and easier to convince people to come along with me).
After departing from Coolidge Corner, make your way to the Harpoon Brewery and hop on a weekend tour of the brewing facilities. With an up close and personal view of the brewing and bottling process, the tour guides eagerly describe the intricacies of the small local company. Grab a cup at the end of the tour for a generous taste testing of the product, as the tour guides serve guests various brews from their Harpoon and UFO selection. If you’re willing to dig into your wallet a bit, the Harpoon staff is willing to cook up your own personal lager, letting you choose your own spices and flavors.
It shouldn’t come as a shocker that my next stop would be at another restaurant, but after all that walking, who wouldn’t need a snack? Bon Chon in Allston is the franchise’s first Boston-area location. They offer Korean delicacies like bibimbap but their true specialty is their fried chicken, which comes drenched in either soy, garlic, or hot sauces. The most succulent and crispy pieces of meat you’ll eat, Bon Chon’s chicken come, with a side of pickled radishes and a refreshing coleslaw. They’re the perfect way to finish a long day, or a great way to conclude a long night of drinking-either way, the chicken tastes like heaven.
A fantastic restaurant where I had a fantastic meal is The BeeHive on Tremont Street. While there, I couldn’t decide what was better, the atmosphere or the food, but all I know is I probably ate my body weight in cheese, personal pizzas, and various spreads on bread. The menu is short but varied and the prices are reasonable. One of the special things about this restaurant in particular is the live music-my friend and I danced along to an entire live jazz band while eating our meal. On an ideal day in Boston, this would certainly be my dinner locale of choice.
Porter Belly’s Pub
End your Boston excursion with a trip to Brighton’s hole-in-the-wall pub Porter Belly’s. Located on Washington Street, Porter Belly gives visitors all the authenticities of an Irish pub, from its distinct draft selection to the Gaelic twangs of their bartenders. If you venture to the bar on the weekend, chances are you’ll see one of the many local bands that are always open to requests, and chances are you’ll be enticed to dance with the friendly patrons. Without a stage and narrow corridors, the musical performances are always loud and intimate, and with the bar only a few feet away, there’s really no need to depart from the dance floor.
Paradise Rock Club
Though the House of Blues has the flashier stars, the Paradise has awesome crowd control and offers a smaller venue in which to see music’s rising stars. It boasts a much smaller capacity than the HOB, which lets fans get up close and personal with their favorite musicians. In the spring of my freshman year, I had the chance to see Florence and the Machine before “Dog Days Are Over” exploded, and similarly caught Miike Snow maybe a month before “Animal” took over rock radio that summer. Though it has played host to bigger acts like U2 and Snoop Dogg, it’s the best venue in Boston without a doubt, and only several stops away on the B-Line. Make it your next stop after those Bon Chon wings.
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Boston on a beautiful day is sit in the Common and people-watch. The park is located at the heart of the city, right near great lunch spots and a movie theatre if you get bored, but bored is definitely something I’ve never been in the Common. There’s live music, ducks to feed, different paths to walk, and most importantly, people to watch. Sitting on a blanket, and enjoying the new spring weather (while getting tan of course) is the perfect, relaxing addition to a busy day in the city. Personally, I think three o’clock to five o’clock is the best time of day.