Take a Break and Explore Boston...s Museums and Parks
By Marissa Vogt
When classes begin in a few days, you’ll soon find yourself struggling to balance life, school, and sleep. My advice? Take advantage of Pass/No Record grading and go out to spend some quality time exploring the city — you won’t regret it. These are a few of my favorite places to visit and things to see:
Museum of Science
1 Science Park
Boston, MA 02114
The museum is within walking distance of MIT — just a little bit past the CambridgeSide Galleria — or you can take the green line to the Science Park T stop.
Open daily, Saturday–Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., wth extended summer hours that end Sept. 4.
Admission: Free with MIT ID; additional charge for some shows or presentations.
The MoS is a must-see during your tenure at MIT. My favorite room is the math room, but there are lots of great shows and presentations, including the Omni Theater (IMAX) and the Planetarium. Additionally, the Theater of Electricity features daily lightning shows using the world’s largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator, which was donated to the museum by MIT.
Community Solar System
Visiting this scale model of the solar system is a fun and nerdy way to explore new places in the Boston area. It begins with the Sun at the Museum of Science and extends as far as Newton, where a model of the dwarf planet Pluto can be found at the Riverside T station. Mars is the closest model to the MIT campus and is located on the second floor of the Cambridgeside Galleria. The planets are free to visit and some are within walking distance, but I suggest buying a daily T pass if you plan on exploring the outer limits of our solar system in one day.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $7 with student ID, free for Massachusetts residents on Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. (September through May) and every Sunday morning (year-round) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., free for Harvard students.
The Harvard Natural History Museum, one of my favorite museums in Boston. is reminiscent of similar natural history museums in New York and Washington but has the added benefit of being right up Mass. Ave. The best part is the Hall of Mammals, which has huge rooms full of taxidermied animals, but the geological galleries and glass flowers are interesting too.
The Freedom Trail
This quintessential Boston tourist destination is a collection of the most interesting historical sights around the city, and walking from place to place is a convenient form of exercise. My favorites include the Old North Church (be sure to stop and get some pastries while you’re in the North End) and the graveyards near the Park Street T stop. The Bunker Hill Monument has been closed for construction all summer but is supposed to reopen today, so call ahead to check before heading over to Charlestown: 617-242-5601.
Boston Public Garden and Swan Boats
Downtown Boston; bordered by Arlington, Beacon, Boylston, and Charles Streets
Admission: Public Garden is free; $2.75 for a Swan Boat ride
Located just East of Boston Common, the Public Garden is beautifully landscaped and is a great place to sit and rest your feet after shopping at Downtown Crossing or walking the Freedom Trail. The Swan Boats are a short but fun ride and considering the price it’s definitely worth riding them at least once during your time at MIT.
Museum of Fine Arts
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Open daily; Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 10 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Admission: Free with MIT ID
Like the other places listed above, the MFA is easily accessible by T — just take the green line E train to the MFA stop.
Another great deal with your MIT ID, the MFA boasts an impressive collection of American art, including Paul Revere’s silverware and the portrait of George Washington that was used on the dollar bill. Musical instruments and Egyptian artifacts are also among the museum’s collections, but my favorite is the Impressionist / 20th Century European art room, which includes works by Van Gogh and Monet.