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A great art collection in a venetian style courtyard mansion in the Fenway. What part of that is not to like? There's some great art here, and the museum as a whole does a pretty good job of transporting you back in time, and probably up a few tax brackets too if you think about what it took to amass this collection). It's possible there might have been some vaguely compulsive souvenir collecting (seems like she might have bought the contents of an entire church) but the result is somehow harmonious. Much Roman, some Chinese and Egyptian. Bit of a shame that you can't walk into the courtyard area anymore, but it's easier to enjoy it without other people there, so that's probably just as well. Definitely worth a walk through if you've never been, and an enjoyable afternoon activity in any season.
There is so much stuff here you will never make it through in one visit, so just aim for whatever strikes you as being most interesting when you get there, whether it's part of a featured installation or the permanent collection. This is a world class museum and an interesting place to spend the day. Sometimes it may seem like it's trying to do too many different things, but fine art shouldn't be stagnant, so the trick is finding a balance between curating a collection, encouraging the new, and attracting visitors. So far they seem to be doing well. Probably worth mentioning this is also a great place to get lunch. I can totally recommend outside dining at the Bravo restaurant if the weather is good. Decent value.
Finally got out to a couple of the harbor islands: Spectacle island and George's island. This is a good outing, especially if you have a mixed age crowd. In this case the youngest was 5 and the oldest was 80. A good time was had by all, but make sure you bring sunscreen and a water bottle. It can get pretty warm in the sun. Boston harbor is really an archipelago, even if it's not usually referred to that way. Definitely worth heading out into it at least once just to see things from that perspective. Short of having your own boat and cruising around, this is a really good way to go. I'm not into camping, but that's also a possibility. Have a look at the boat schedule to plan a bit. Touring around for 4 hours seemed like a pretty good excursion length, and you can comfortably do a couple of islands in that timeframe. Fort Warren is kind of neat to walk around in, then pick one other where you can at least put your feet in the water.
activity Urban AdvenTours   80
Those crazy tandem bikes. What's it like to ride one solo? What's it like to ride it with someone else? Seems like it would be hyper efficient and cool with two people, probably not too much more hassle with just one. Is it too big to make it work well? Those are all questions that I've been wanting to answer for a while, so I'm very happy there's a place in town where I can rent a decent one and find out. Looking forward to this...
activity Mugar Omni Imax Theatre   40
Back in the day, this egg shaped theater was an awe inspiring experience. There were specially created high quality movies built for the curved display so it really felt like you were in a giant helicopter traveling through things. The projector area was treated as a clean room to avoid getting any dust on the film, and everything was top notch. It was a short but highly memorable experience. I can still recall traveling through a rendition of some crystal lattice structure in 3D. It was really good. These days, not so much. There's dust on the film sometimes and nobody cares. The special movies usually have some agenda of their own. Not quite infomercials, but heading towards that. It seems like there's a lot of unrealized potential, and overall I've left feeling somewhat dissatisfied the past few times. It's probably going to be a while before I go back.
activity Gibson House Museum   80
While this might not appeal to everyone, I think a tour of a house built in 1860 (and largely preserved without changes since 1930) is a pretty interesting time capsule. I like seeing how things from the time were made, what the materials were, how they were used in a home, and what was considered nice. That may not be worth $9 for everyone, but I think this is an interesting afternoon experience.
After having been to the ICA recently, taking in an outdoor sculpture park seems like it might be worth a 50 minute drive out into the far suburbs. Just waiting for a time when the timing and weather cooperates to go check this out.
Apparently the tour used to be way more open, but is still quite good even though it has become more rigid and crowd conscious. Harpoon is not exactly the best beer in town, but heading down to the waterfront for a brewery tour sounds pretty good to me for an afternoon activity, and apparently the pretzels are very good. Looking forward to checking this out. At the time of this writing, you get tickets in person on the day of the tour. If it's a weekend or other popular time, then it's probably best to go by when they open at 11:00am to be sure that you get in when you want.
This just sounds like it could be a blast to try out. There are several locations (it's a franchise operation) and even though there is one technically in Boston, it's further than Everett if you are coming from downtown. YMMV. Leave significant extra time to get there since apparently it can be difficult to find. You will need to sign a waiver. Wear socks that go above your ankles and loose fitting clothing you can move in. Don't eat beforehand. May or may not be dirty. Probably going to be loud. Very likely going to be lots of rule enforcement, possibly by rude individuals. Apparently bouncing on a trampoline is significantly lower impact than jogging, but there is a significant risk of over-exertion if you aren't used to it, so take it easy.
activity Fuller Craft Museum   70
This is about 20 minutes south of Boston by car, but after visiting the Renwick Gallery in DC this made my list as something I want to go check out. Sometimes craft art doesn't seem to get the visibility it deserves. Hopefully this will be one of those times.
activity Waterworks   80
Beacon St is one of my alternative routes to/from westward of the city when I have the time for it, and I remember looking in this building one time when I was much younger and marveling at the machinery. Now it's a museum so I can go in and marvel more closely. Probably not everyone is as geeky about this kind of thing, but I'm looking forward to checking this out.
activity Mapparium   70
This is a three-story walkthrough stained glass globe housed at the Mary Baker Eddy Library. Libraries are cool. Stained glass is cool. Definitely seems worth checking out. You have to be on a guided tour to see it, but that's apparently $6/person and tours depart every 20 minutes or so. Last I checked the museum was open Tue-Sun 10-4. Looking forward to this next time I have time on a rainy day.
The run from Castle Island along the Harbor Walk to the opposite point over by the JFK library is about 3.5 miles, so if you hit both points from anywhere and return it's about 7 miles. For me, the best way to enjoy the view while accelerating the trip slightly is to inline skate it. Good exercise and a great view of the water.
activity The Boston Harborwalk:   90
You can pretty much walk along the water from the North End Coast Guard station all the way to Legal Harborside in South Boston. It's quite a hike if you do all the ins and outs around the buildings, but if you like being by the water it's an enjoyable afternoon. A slightly abbreviated and enhanced tour is to start from the Court House Station silver line stop and walk along the water up to Columbus park doing however many ins and outs around the buildings as you want. The next two wharves after the park are water taxi stops, and and for $10/person that will take that back to Legal Harborside. From there you can walk back to the silver line or catch a regular cab to your next destination. Some of the interpretive signage near the courthouse is worth pausing to take a look at. There's one with a map showing all the areas that were filled in since the city first started. For example Castle Island was actually an island originally.
Finally took advantage of the free Thursday evening admission at the ICA, and I'm remembering how much I like this place. The art is consistently well selected. Not everything there appeals to me, but it's worth checking out, and some of the pieces I've seen there are amazing. Like other great modern art museums, the space is also beautiful. The elevator is an experience, and the walk between the galleries overlooking the harbor is one of the better views in Boston. Worth checking out on a regular basis. Actually considering membership.
These kinetic sculptures are definitely worth the $10 admission to the museum. If you are in the Central Square area of Cambridge for an hour or two this is worth checking out. The museum itself is actually a bit underwhelming. Just as much info (or more) on the web, so skip the video oriented installations. A few other cool things to look at (like holograms). Fine place to bring kids, although it is not specifically oriented towards young people so you might have to guide them a bit.
activity Back Bay Ringers   90
Bell music is one of those things that you really need to hear live. Even if a studio was able to reproduce the room and other spacial effects, the overtones wouldn't survive the sampling. These folks are one of the most talented groups in Boston and well worth checking out.
activity Home   60
So the new Hall of Life exhibit has some good things to check out, but still suffers from too many video screens and not enough shareable interaction. They really need less web design and more toy/industrial design or maker input. Also they need to watch out for having the sponsor run the message. On the other hand the electricity demo with the enormous van de graaff generator is always awesome and worth the entire cost of admission.
  1. A link with a reason why it is memorable.
  2. An open source project available free at membic.org