It’s fall, and we’re back in business (school). Boston locals share the must-not-miss experiences in our little neighborhood.
A markedly different fall semester took off in late August, with not just RCs arriving on campus but ECs beginning their first classes in person. With Massachusetts declaring itself “fully reopened,” outdoor life largely returned to normal for the HBS community. As the academic programming kicked off with the START week, the parallel social curriculum launched hand in hand with a slew of small group activities and dinners. Every new activity listed on the associated Google Sheet filled up within seconds of getting posted. There is a clear conclusion: there is a wide array of experiences to have in Boston, and there is a large appetite for all of them at HBS. For those of us still discovering how Boston is truly a city for everyone, the Harbus put together a list of must-not-miss experiences beyond food, curated by the locals of Boston within the HBS community.
For the sports buff
Be it baseball, football, basketball, or hockey; sports are deeply entrenched in Boston’s culture. The Harvard Stadium adjoining campus is the oldest concrete stadium in the country. A little ways away, Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox—Boston’s very own Major League Baseball team—is America’s oldest ball-park. Graduate students get access to discounted tickets through the Student9s program for those on a budget. “The energy is electric, and it’s so much fun to get a group of friends together and go watch a Sox game,” says Katelyn Sweeney (MBA ’23). If prices are not much of a concern, another RC calls sitting on top of the Green Monster “an unparalleled experience.”
For the nature nerd
Boston is home to the Emerald Necklace, a “chain” of parks including the Boston Commons and the Arnold Arboretum, managed by Harvard University. Maya Sathaye (MBA ’23) says, “a walk around the Arboretum is very peaceful, especially during the fall or spring. And visiting the original J.P. Licks nearby afterward is a nice ending to the trip!”
Sweeney takes us beyond city limits, “Middlesex Fells and Blue Hills reservations are both a car ride away and great places for nature trails. Further away, White Mountains in NH make for some beautiful hikes; Zealand Falls and Lonesome Lake are two of my favorites. And if you’re a more experienced hiker, you can try to take on the NH 48 4,000-footers. Mount Moosilauke is a great starting point!”
Emily Roberts (MBA ’23), who grew up on the North shore of Boston, recommends the AllTrails app to find some of the best foliage in the country. “I’ve loved visiting Woodstock, Stowe, and Lake Winnipesaukee, but you really can’t go wrong with the larger northern Massachusetts area.”
For the theatre kid
Sweeney strongly encourages “keeping an eye out for speakers and shows at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. They have an impressive lineup of shows every season!”
This article narrowly missed the annual window when Shakespeare on the Common plays at the Boston Commons, but for the thespians among us, it is a crucial Boston attraction. On the same time horizon, there is an annual tradition of watching the Boston Pops play their annual independence day concert every Fourth of July at Hatch Shell. In addition, the Faneuil Hall routinely has street performers showing off unimaginable acts of juggling and acrobatics, along with free concerts for passers-by.
For the history enthusiast
Boston occupies a central role in American history, from its settlement by the Puritans to its American Revolutionary battles to its storied universities. Founded in 1635, the town of Concord—a quick ride out of Boston—is home to the Lexington and Concord battlefields, where the first battles of the American Revolution bore fruit. The Minute Man National Historical Park offers a plethora of guided tours, talks, and exhibits. “The town itself is very quaint, still lined with colonial-style houses. I spent my childhood visiting the town and its Colonial Inn. It’s a treasure,” remarks Roberts.
Concord is also home to the Walden Pond, a small body of water that inspired Henry David Thoreau’s book by the same name.
For the art fiend
A 19th-century art collector founded and built the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston to house her expansive personal collection, the pursuit of which made her the first American to own a Boticelli. Over and above the 7,500 paintings and sculptures, the museum also holds archival items that include correspondence from T.S. Elliott and manuscripts by Dante. “Make sure to watch This Is A Robbery on Netflix to learn about the infamous theft that occurred here in 1990 that still remains unsolved!” Roberts quips, referring to the documentary about the greatest known property theft in history—13 artworks worth a cumulative $500 million.
Rockport, Gloucester, a little way out of town, is home to the Rocky Neck Art Colony—an artists’ colony with a quintessential New England charm. Dozens of working artists, from painters, potters, and textile designers to photographers and jewelry makers, display their work in Rocky Neck galleries during the summer months.
For everyone else
Boston caters not only to those fitting into one of the above buckets but to a broad spectrum of interests.
Harvard Square is home to not just one, but three long-standing comic book stores huddled close to each other. Roberts also recommends Planet Records in Harvard Square for the vinyl heads.
Sathaye urges the HBS community to venture beyond Harvard and Central square, “Porter, Davis, and Inman square all lie within walking distance, and offer boutique shops, eateries, and bookstores.”
If you’re looking for a quick trip nearby, Roberts recommends the coastal town of Essex. “Essex is renowned for its antique stores. I love spending the day hunting around the stores and ending the day with ice cream at DownRiver or watching the sunset over the marsh with a cocktail (or IPA if you’re so inclined) at C K Pearl.”
In the weeks leading up to Halloween, Sathaye suggests taking a trip to Salem, infamous for its witch trials in the 17th Century. However, Salem is still home to modern Pagan and Witch communities. Leaning into its reputation, the town organizes the Haunted Happenings annual festival throughout October. The festival features costume balls, psychic readings, haunted harbor cruises, ghost tours, and more.
Sapan Shah (MBA ’23) hails from India. Before HBS, he worked in consumer goods and non-profit healthcare, and during the latter had been vital in the implementation of India’s HIV/AIDS control strategy. He spends his leisure time immersed in popular culture and quizzing.