A common ice breaker question I have been asked is what did you miss in quarantine?What did you miss about Boston? While most people respond “hanging out with friends,” I answer “walking from place to place.” I come from a town in suburban New York that is about 20 minutes away from a popular state park and various trails. What says living in the woods more than naming a middle school after a mountain. There are no sidewalks and minimal street lights. The evenings are pitch black without the rushing lights of passing cars. The views are breathtaking, but there aren’t that many places to walk to.
I adore the location of Northeastern. Anything you might need is in a 20 minute walking radius from campus, and we have a conveniently placed MBTA station. As someone with little sense of direction, taking the T or an Uber leaves you with little understanding of the relationship between places. On top of that, extracurricular activities afforded me little time in my day to consider walking. Now that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, my use of public transportation has decreased, and my free time has soared. Walking from place to place has made me realize how connected everything in Boston is. I have spent these past two weeks doing my best to explore a city I have yet to get to know. The end goal is to understand Boston like the back of my hand— to become a walking travel guide to anyone who needs day plans.
Here is a guide to places I have walked since coming back to campus (and some of my pictures). I tried to include places where one can easily be socially distant. I am always looking out for patches of green– reminders of my scenic home in New York. This list is by no means exhaustive of places to go. I have lots more to explore!
A 20-30 minute walk away:
Newbury is a classic spot for most shopping needs. I love that all the shops and restaurants look like brownstones.
Fenway is a trusty place for dorm essentials because Target, Star Market, Marshalls, and a large Blicks are clustered together. There is a Blackbird doughnuts but if you don’t get there in time (like me haha note to self it closes at 3pm!) there’s a Union Square Doughnuts in TimeOut Market. I noticed that TimeOut has a lovely patch of grass with marked spots for social distancing– a great place to work or eat outside.
I had to include the Goodwill in Roxbury Crossing– a gold mine for me and one of my best friends! It is the closest thrift store to Northeastern so I encourage you to combat fast fashion by shopping second hand.
There are many local businesses to support on the Hill such as Milkweed, Mike’s Donuts, and Lily’s Gourmet Pasta Express. There’s also a boba place called Boba Me! While some restaurants offer outdoor seating, I recommend going to their parks to enjoy a socially distant meal. There is a playground across the street, and there’s the Kevin Fitzgerald Park with hilltop views.
The Charles River Esplanade is so pretty and peaceful. I love seeing the community take advantage of the green space; you will see people of all ages walking, biking, skating, jogging, working, reading and catching up. If you’re walking down Mass Ave, there’s a cute plant shop to check out on the way. The Esplanade is a great place to do work on a nice day (if you don’t need wifi haha).
The Prudential Center is hard to miss– it’s a very large mall with different restaurants and popular brands. Recently, I explored the garden area in the center of the mall and loved how tucked away it felt. The sky was defined by borders of the tall buildings that enclosed the space. I was surprised to see people reading and doing work. It’s a hidden patch of green in the midst of a city shopping center.
Boston University has beautiful architecture that I love to gaze at. The deep red brown stones covered in vines offer a picturesque scene of the Boston you would see online. You can have a picnic or get work done at the Esplanade or the campus “beach.” Also, they have insomnia cookies! It’s a great treat after your walk.
A 45 minute – 1 hour walk away
An hour may sound intimidating but all of the routes to these places went by really quickly, especially if you have a friend with you! Don’t knock it until you try it!
Of course I had to visit Chinatown! On the way, I like to cut through the public garden and Boston Commons for a scenic route. Chinatown is full of great places to eat! Support those local businesses who may be struggling from the pandemic and the resulting xenophobia. I personally love grabbing bread from the Hong Kong Style bakeries. There is also a new public art project with different murals that I got to admire the last time I went.
I walked to the North End with my roommates to get cannolis Mike’s Pastry. On the way, I noticed different personalities of Boston architecture– some more contemporary, some more historic. We stopped by Haymarket (which is open every Friday and Saturday!) to get fruits and vegetables for steep prices. The North End has many restaurants with cute outdoor seating, but if you would rather bring food to a more spacious patch of green, I recommend the North End Parks (with porch swings!) and Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.
I walked with one of my best friends to Cambridge to visit Harvard Square. It was a long straight line down Mass Ave. Along the way, we stumbled upon different second hand stores, a record shop, and HMART. We also walked through different neighborhoods, some with more modern buildings and some very residential. When we got to Harvard Square, there were many places to eat. I was impressed by Harvard University’s vast patch of green– there were plenty of places to sit and be socially distant.
The first time I visited Brookline, I went to an independent bookstore for a poetry reading as a freshman. This year, I walked to Brookline for one reason only: to see the large Trader Joes. My review is that the Trader Joes on Boylston St. does the job and in a 20 minute walk. However, I would go back to Brookline for the views; the architecture resembles a quaint old town. I need to explore it further and maybe find a patch of green.
That concludes my walking tour. I hope this encourages you to ~enjoy the journey~ Plus, there is nothing more satisfying than checking that step count on your phone. I’ve been aiming for 10,000 steps a day. Before the weather gets cold and gray, grab a mask, a friend, and go outside and explore Boston!