There’s Nothing like Summer in the City: 6 Free/Cheap Ways to Spend Your Summer in Boston

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College student, Ope
Ope Falako Class of '22
Authored on July 09, 2021

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As the school year ends, I notice a significant shift in my attitude brought on by the arrival of good weather.

The transition from spring to summer is my favorite time of year because the barren trees give way to flowers and green leaves, the sun stays in the sky longer, and the breeze becomes a little less chilly. Although this can be observed as early as mid-April, most students leave campus before they can experience its full glory, particularly the conclusion of which is the beautiful summer weather. Besides the pleasant weather, Boston is a wonderful place to spend the summer because of the numerous activities that students can take part in at free or discounted rates. Here are 6 places and activities you can check out if you’re in the city for the summer: 

Plan a Beach Day: 

Given that it’s the summertime, it’s imperative that you spend the day at the beach at least once during your stay. The northeast is known for its beautiful beaches, and Massachusetts is home to a good number of them. In my opinion, the best beaches require traveling; thankfully, a lot of them are accessible by the T, so make sure to keep Google maps handy. You can take the subway via the Red Line then transfer to the Green and Blue Lines to arrive at Revere Beach, or you can take the commuter rail to Manchester by the Sea, a cozy little town that’s home to Singing Beach, which has glistening water and fine sand. Admission to most beaches is free, but for Singing Beach and a small handful of others, they do charge an entry fee, so be aware of that. Regardless, make sure you grab your sunscreen, a beach volleyball, and your bathing suit for a fun day out in the sun! 

We took this cool picture at Singing Beach using my friend's sunglasses

A Day at the Beach

Ayana Gray

Lawn on D:  

The name of this place tells you everything you need to know: this large green space is found on D Street within the Boston Seaport District next to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. It is home to lawn games like ping-pong and Giant Jenga, a gorgeous swing set, and live entertainment on the weekends. Admission into this outdoor space is always free and only closes for severe weather and private events. Personally, I believe this is a terrific way to end a full day of activities and plan for the next one. You can take the Red Line towards South Station then transfer to the Silver Line to the World Trade Center stop; you can also make the 20-minute walk from South Station.  

Nubian Square:

As the last stop on the #1 bus which picks up right in the heart of Harvard Square, Nubian Square is a bustling commercial center in the middle of Roxbury, a predominantly Black neighborhood in Boston. It’s home to the Black Lives Matter mural and several Black-owned businesses, and Tropical Foods, an international supermarket with a wide selection of produce and snacks at reasonable prices. At the beginning of the summer, I attended the Buy the Block Party where I got to shop from many Black-owned businesses from around Boston, attend a free concert put on by local artists, and experience the creation of a mural of the area’s zip code. It is also home to the Black Market, an incubator committed to uplifting Black entrepreneurship, and Nubiana, an outdoor art gallery and marketplace.  

here is a mural of the Nubian Square zip code.

Paint by Numbers

Local artists paint the area's zip code during a Buy the Block Party event in early June. Opeoluwa Falako

Cafes:

Up until this point we’ve discussed activities you can do on the weekend or on weekday evenings. If you’re looking for a place to do work over the summer that's not your room, I recommend the cafes in Cambridge/Somerville Area. My personal favorite is Mr. Crêpe found in Davis Square. This cute little café serves sweet and savory crepes along with other beverages and pastries. They have free WIFI, air conditioning, and enough seating for you and a couple of friends to have a work session. You can find it right off the Davis Square T Stop off the Red Line.  

Art Museums:

I’ve always been interested in the arts, so when I decided to stay in Boston for the summer, I was excited to see what the city’s artistic landscape had to offer. Boston is home to the Isabella Stewart Gardner MuseumMuseum of Fine Arts, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, and many more establishments. Earlier this summer, I went to the "Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip Hop Generation” exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts and it was amazing to see the art of Basquiat and his contemporaries and the critical analysis provided by the exhibit’s curators. Additionally, the ICA launched Summer Sessions, an event that takes place every Friday evening where local artists perform and patrons mingle in the open-air terrace by the waterfront. Admission is free to most of these institutions with your Harvard ID, but you can get discounted tickets for the special exhibitions as well.  

For Juneteenth, the Museum of Fine Arts offered everyone free admission, including to the special exhibits, so I went with my friends to see the one featuring Basquiat. Here I am admiring one of his untitled pieces.

Patron of the Arts

For Juneteenth, the Museum of Fine Arts offered everyone free admission, including to the special exhibits, so I went with my friends to see the one featuring Basquiat. Here I am admiring one of his untitled pieces. Ifeoluwani Omidiran

Baseball Games:

If you’re a fan of the Boston Red Sox or you just enjoy sporting events, the Boston Red Sox provides students with $9 tickets to 4 different home games at Fenway Park. I've never been a sports fan but I’m excited to go to a game later this summer for the experience. You can get to Fenway Park by going from the Red Line to the Green Line and getting off at the Fenway Stop. 

 

The things that I described above are just the tip of the iceberg. Although bigger events like the Cambridge Dance Party and Boston Pride were postponed due to the pandemic, there are tons of other ways to explore Boston. I recommend searching on Facebook Events and Eventbrite to take advantage of these awesome opportunities. The only thing that requires extra brain power is figuring out transportation. Throughout this article, I’ve heavily referenced the T, which is part of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the public transit system that services the Greater Boston area. Fares range from $1.70 to $13.25 depending on the mode of transportation that you are using and your destination. If you plan on being relatively active in your exploration, I recommend buying the monthly pass for the bus and subway lines. You don’t have to stop to reload money on your Harvard ID which saves you time and stress. The Blue Bikes are another eco-friendly way to travel around Boston. The extensive network of bikes is supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield with stations in Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, and many other neighborhoods in Boston. If you want to take a quick trip, it’s $2.95 for 30 minutes or unlimited 2-hour trips within 24 hours for the $10 Adventure Pass. You can find out more about how Blue Bikes work here as well as all the places that are Blue Bike accessible. If all else fails, you can Uber or Lyft to your location. It’s the most expensive choice but if you loop in enough people, it can be as cheap or cheaper than the other options. Additionally, I’ve found the other two options are much quicker due to the increased wait times for rideshare services.  

In my opinion, summer is the best season in Boston, but due to the structure of our school year, not every student gets to experience it. Be sure to check out these activities and if you’re looking for more, feel free to check out these blog posts

Ope Falako Class of '22

Hi there! My name is Opeoluwa Falako, but I usually go by Ope. I am a junior in Eliot House, and I hail from Saint Louis, MO.

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