Saturday, November 4, 2023

20+ Artsy & Cool Things To Do in Boston, MA

ICA (photo: Francois Soulignac)
By Jacquelin Carnegie
It's wonderful and worthwhile to see all the historic sites when visiting Boston. Taking a walk on the Freedom Trail of Colonial Revolutionary Boston from Paul Revere's house to Faneuil Hall is not to be missed. But, save time for all the fun, artsy and cultural things to do. Here are some suggestions:
South End - Galleries
SOWA Artists Guild, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston 
The South End is an area of town that people used to avoid, then artists set up studios in the abandoned factories (now nicely renovated) and galleries moved in transforming the neighborhood into artsy "SoWa." Art lovers stop by: Gallery Kayafas; Lanoue Gallery; Boston Sculptors Gallery. Head over any day of the week, but things get livelier on the weekends. SoWa Open Market (May-Oct; Sundays 11am-4pm): artisans' stalls & farmers' market. First Fridays (5pm-9pm): Once a month, artists' studios & galleries stay open late at the SOWA Artists Guild building.
Lanoue Gallery, Carrie McGee
Paint Nite - Looking at art might inspire you to try your hand at it. Paint Nite is a fun and easy way to give it a go. An artist leads you step-by-step through the creation of a painting that you can take home and hang over the couch. Back Bay: Check out the galleries along Newbury Street in this nifty neighborhood. Then, stop in to the Trident Bookstore, a really nice venue with a great cafe, poetry readings & other cool, literary events.    
Take a Glass Blowing Class - Test your hand at this fascinating art form or just watch a demonstration of how it's done: North Cambridge Glass School (147 Sherman St., Cambridge;; or Diablo Glass School (123 Terrace St., Boston;
Diablo Glass
The Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum should already be on your "To Do" list, but be sure to check out these wonderful, lesser-known institutions:
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Ave.; Boston; Tel: 617/478-3100;
Right on Boston's waterfront, the ICA has interesting, cutting-edge, post-modern art and fabulous views; a nice cafe too overlooking the water.
Harvard Museum of Natural History - Harvard Museums of Science & Culture
26 Oxford St., Cambridge; Tel: 617/495-3045;
Glass Flowers HMNH
Go to all HMSC's fascinating museums. Of particular interest, at the Natural History museum on the Harvard campus, is the mind-blowing Glass Flowers collection--so life-like they could fool a bee--by the father and son artisans Leopold & Rudolf Blaschka. Now, their glass Sea Creatures are also on display.  Harvard Art Museums  - Now combines the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler museum collections under one newly-renovated roof.
deCordova Museum
51 Sandy Pond Rd, Lincoln, MA; Tel: 781/259-8355;
This estate-turned-sculpture-park is an absolutely lovely place to spend an afternoon. (The Gropius House is also in Lincoln--about a half hour from Boston--so you could combine these visits.)
Museum of Bad Art - It's all a question of taste! Check out these funky offerings. (Gallery now in the Dorchester Brewing Co.)
Boston has a lot to offer food-wise from neighborhood staples such as The Daily Catch in historic Little Italy. You may know Sam Adams beer, but have you tried other Boston standards? Harpoon Brewery and Jack's Abby Brewing offer tours & tastings. Wine lovers can sample vintages made from Boston's south shore grapes at Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery.
Taza Chocolate - Tour
561 Windsor St., Somerville; Tel: 617/284-2232;
While touring this small factory, you'll learn amazing facts about chocolate, taste phenomenal samples, and support a local entrepreneur. Taza is stone-ground, organic chocolate made from ethically-sourced cacao that tastes amazing!
Street Art (Photo: MOTT)
Harvard Square - Cambridge: In July 1775, George Washington took command of the Continental Army here! Today, Harvard Square--with its many shops, restaurants and cultural events--is still a gathering place.
Davis Square - Somerville: Davis Square is starting to supplant Harvard Sq. as the place to hang out. Somerville Theatre (55 Davis Sq; - Offering great entertainment since 1914: films, concerts, plays & other events. 
Carpenter Center - Harvard (24 Quincy St., Cambridge) - This is visionary architect Le Corbusier's only major building in the United States; designed in 1961 to house classes in architecture, film, and the arts. (There's limited tours of the building, but get a glimpse inside by seeing a movie--the Harvard Film Archive film series in held here. Also, the Visual Arts galleries are open to the public as well as a series of Public Programs.)
Stata (photo: Andy Ryan)
Stata Center - MIT (32 Vassar St., Kendall Square/MIT, Cambridge) Renowned architect Frank Gehry designed this building in 2004 so that MIT scientists--from different departments--could work, study, and, hopefully, brainstorm together. You can walk through the lobby area to get an idea.
Gropius House
68 Baker Bridge Rd; Lincoln, MA; Tel: 781/259-8098;
Built in 1938 by famed German architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus design movement, this unique house combines Bauhaus concepts with traditional New England architectural elements.
Getting Around: Boston has a great public transportation system. Get an MBTA T-Pass on a "CharlieCard" or "CharlieTicket" to make your visit easier to neighborhoods such as Back Bay, Cambridge, and Somerville.
Where To Stay: There is every kind of accommodation imaginable in Boston.
deCordova, Jim Dine
The College Club of Boston ( is a hidden gem in Back Bay. Charles Hotel (1 Bennett St., Cambridge; Tel: 617/864-1200; - Conveniently located in Harvard Sq., this delightful spot is filled with original, commissioned artwork. Weekend brunch in their restaurant, Henrietta's Table, is a Boston tradition.

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