Thursday, March 25, 2010

The PAX visitor's guide to Boston: Stuff you don't want to miss

Whether you're here just for PAX, or you're spending a little extra time in our fair city, there are lots of cool things to see and do that you might not know about. I would really encourage you to take some time to explore the city, because it has so much to offer. Here are just a couple of my favorite things about Boston that you might want to do if you have the time.

Check out the views

Boston has a pretty bitchin' skyline if you can see it from the right angles (not necessarily from "right angles"). My two favorite spots are halfway across the Mass Ave bridge at night, and on the Red Line from Kendall to Charles/MGH. Look out the right side of the train, and you'll see the skyline seem to spring up from the river.

Visit the First Church of Christ, Scientist

You've got to see this sweet church that is just steps from Hynes Convention Center, bordering both Huntington and Mass Ave. It's incredible -- it looks like something you'd see in ancient Babylon, and there's a stunning reflecting pool outside of it. This would be a great place to go to get away from the hubbub of the show, and maybe you could even consider examining some of the Christian Science pamphlets I have here. No? Okay.

Visit the first church of baseball

Fenway Park, one of the last remaining shrines of baseball in the country, is just one T stop away from Hynes Convention Center (which means, of course, that you should walk there). It's pretty neat just to circle the place and get a sense of it, but there are also guided tours available that will give you an up-close look at icons like the famous Green Monster, the Ted Williams seat, and the stairs in section 10 where I saw a guy with a Dropkick Murphys shirt punch a hot dog vendor.

(That didn't actually happen, but you believed it for a second, right?)

Stroll the neighborhoods

There's a lot of diversity within the small urban space of Boston. Walking around Beacon Hill, with its centuries-old rowhouses, always makes me think I've been transported to Europe. Back Bay has lots of grand brownstones -- one nice route to take is along the Commonwealth Avenue mall, but I prefer the narrower and quieter Marlborough Street, one block over.

Then there's the densely settled North End, which has changed over the years but retains its Italian flavor, and the South End, which is an up-and-coming neighborhood that has restaurants and boutiques sprouting all over.

Across the river, Harvard Square is a bustling and energetic neighborhood with good shopping and caf├ęs, Central Square has famed music venues, and Davis Square welcomes all hipsters.

Finally, you can go to Allston-Brighton if you want to see how long a dead rat can decompose on the sidewalk without anybody doing anything about it.

Enjoy green space

The Public Garden and the Boston Common together account for about 74 acres of green space in the heart of the city. The Garden is a little more famous than the Common, thanks to its prominent role in Make Way for Ducklings, and the Swan Boats that patrol the lagoon in warmer months. But you're also not really allowed to play frisbee or anything there, like you can in the Common.

Walking and biking paths run along the Boston side of the Charles River, which on a sunny day can be a gorgeous place to be. Head eastward to see the Hatch Shell and the Esplanade, the center of the annual Fourth of July celebration.

The city has vastly improved the waterfront area near the North End in recent years, and now there's plenty of outdoor space to walk and sit, and take in the views. It's a bit of a hike from where PAX will be, but a great way to spend a few spare hours.

Support alternative journalism

Pick up a Phoenix! They're in red newspaper boxes all over the city, and they're absolutely free. You get top-tier arts criticism, an unrepentant left-leaning editorial page, and magazine-style features, plus a huge section of adult personal ads you will be ashamed to be seen with. Seriously, it's a great paper and you should grab one, even though I don't have anything in it this week.

Visit a world-famous institution of higher learning

Nestled at the intersection of Boylston and Tremont Streets is Emerson College, the alma mater of such gaming luminaries as Veronica Belmont, Russ Frushtick, Bill Gardner, Abbie Heppe, and some dope named Mitch Krpata. That college owes me so much money it's ridiculous.

Oh, you can also check out the campuses of some dumb schools like Harvard and MIT, if you want to be lame. They are kind of interesting, what with their "architecture" and "campus commons" and all.

Things I beg you not to do

Please don't take your picture outside of Cheers, attempt to speak with a Boston accent, or wear any New York Yankees paraphernalia. On the flipside, if you buy Dunkin' Donuts coffee instead of Starbucks, jaywalk mercilessly, and sing along to the chorus of "Sweet Caroline" whenever you hear it, you will find that you are among friends.

Welcome to Boston!


Sparky said...

For anyone who has even a passing interest in art, I would strongly recommend a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which is literally someone's giant house that has basically every wall covered with a painting or a tapestry or a pretty-looking chunk of masonry she found in India. There's not really any other museum in the world quite like it. Also, if your name's Isabella, you get in free. It's a few stops away from Hynes on the T, but it's probably not too far to walk down Huntington Avenue or along the Fenway.

Mitch Krpata said...

Not to mention, it's the scene of the biggest unsolved art heist in history!

Unknown said...

The reflecting pool by the church has been drained for some reason. :( Still a great little area though.

Mitch Krpata said...

Foiled again by the Christian Scientists.

Garrett Martin said...

also if you're looking for good comic book shops or record stores in Boston you can find a brief overview at this otherwise completely useless website.

Unknown said...

I believe you meant "wear as much New York Yankees paraphernalia as possible."

Mitch Krpata said...

My heart, it breaks!