June 30, 2015

Corey’s Thoughtful Summer Activities List

With the summer comes time that needs to be filled: family, friends, or even just your own sense of adventure will all be urging you to get outside and do things. While we love lounging on the beach or walking in the woods as much as anyone, we also like to take some of the summer’s newfound free time for some thoughtfulness, and we’ve compiled this list with that in mind.

Corey’s Thoughtful Summer Activities List (June/July 2015)

Go to an art festival: Artbeat, Friday, July 17th, 6 PM – Saturday, July 18th, 6 PM. Davis Square, Somerville. Free.


(Photo: Somervillema.gov)

Summertime in Boston is packed with festivals of all shapes and sizes, but one we think is particularly thoughtful (and fun) is Artbeat, hosted by the Somerville Arts Council. Set in Davis Square, this two-day festival features musical and dance performances, a massive variety of craft vendors, and of course, plenty of delicious, local food. Find out more about the festival at SOC’s website.

Explore Boston’s secret art museum: Boston Athenaeum, 10 1/2 Beacon Street, Boston, MA. Hours vary. Admission $5.


(Photo: Boston Athenaeum, bostonathenaeum.org)

Every tourist in Boston will be making time to visit the MFA and ICA this summer, with good reason: they’re wonderful museums. But if you want a unique, less-crowded experience, visit the Boston Athenaeum, located on Beacon Hill across from the State House. It’s got an impressive collection of fine art and rare books, and is well worth the $5 admission just for a stroll through the grand 19th-century building itself. Think of it like the MFA and Boston Public Library had a baby, except in this case the “baby” is actually the oldest of the three. Visit the Athenaeum website for more information on the museum itself, current exhibits, and visiting hours.

Attend one (or more) of the Highland Street Foundation’s “Free Fun Fridays”: Various locations, every Friday. Free.


(Photo: Boston Children’s Museum, bostonchildrensmuseum.org)

All summer long, the Highland Street Foundation is sponsoring free admission to various attractions around Boston and Eastern Massachusetts. You can visit the Free Fun Fridays website to see the full lineup of attractions, but we’ve also taken a few minutes to go through the lineup and pinpoint events of note:

    • On July 3rd, Free Fun Fridays comes to the Boston Children’s Museum, a big, fun museum full of hands-on activities that kids of all ages will love. Satisfy your kids, or just your inner child, and then grab dinner in downtown Boston when you’re finished playing. (Note: adults satisfying their inner child have to leave a photo ID at the admissions desk, and may receive strange looks). Visit their website for more information.
    • On July 17th, Free Fun Fridays is offering free admission to the MFA, Boston’s premiere arts and antiquities museum, normally a privilege afforded only to museum members and local college students who don’t know how lucky they have it. In addition to their must-see collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, they’re currently showing their collection of works by the great Japanese artist Hokusai, the largest such collection outside of Japan. Visit their website for more information.
    • On July 31st, Free Fun Fridays comes to the ICA, offering free admission to the museum. Their collection is small, but eclectic and utterly cool. Even if you’ve visited previously, their constantly changing displays and featured exhibits mean you’ll see something new and potentially mind-blowing.  Afterwards, put that admission money towards a dinner with a view at one of the Seaport’s seemingly endless supply of waterfront restaurants. Visit their website for more information.
    • On August 14th, Free Fun Fridays is opening the doors of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Come for the striking architecture and gorgeous waterfront views, stay for the cool history-nerd attractions like tapes of Oval Office arguments recorded at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Visit their website for more information.
    • On August 21st, Free Fun Fridays is offering visitors free admission to the Franklin Park Zoo, the biggest and best zoo in New England. Relive childhood memories or bring your own kids–everyone likes the zoo, especially when it’s free. Visit their website for more information.

Spend an evening at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA. 5-8 PM, July 9th, July 23rd, and August 6th. Free.


(Photo: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, gardnermuseum.org)

Three evenings this summer, the Gardner Museum is hosting “Neighborhood Nights”, each with a different theme and set of activities. Even if you’re not an activities kind of person, it’s a great opportunity to see yet another one of Boston’s unparalleled art collections. Each neighborhood night is an all-ages event, and the best part? You don’t have to be named “Isabella” to get in for free. July 9th, July 23, and August 6. Find out more at the Gardner website.

Take the MIT art tour: MIT campus, Cambridge, MA. Hours vary by location. Free.


(Photo: Flickr.com)

For an “Institute of Technology,” MIT sure loves art. They love it so much, in fact, that they’ve scattered tons of great contemporary art and sculpture around their campus: it’s up to you to find it, using a neat (and free) interactive map guide provided on the List Visual Arts center website. Spend an afternoon on your art scavenger hunt, and then get dinner at one of Kendall Square’s many restaurants.

Attend a free outdoor concert: Various locations and times. Free.

ICA Harborsounds_0

(Photo: The Boston Calendar, thebostoncalendar.com)

Berklee College of Music, Boston’s biggest musical arts college, is putting on an extensive “Summer in the City” concert series. All summer long, various locations will play host to over 300 (!) free, outdoor concerts in a variety of musical styles. Browse through the whole list and plan your musical consumption at Berklee’s website.

Make your own artVarious locations and times. Free.


(Photo: Boston Globe, bostonglobe.com)

After a summer of looking at other people’s creations, you may feel thoughtful and inspired enough to try making something of your own. Luckily for you, Massachusetts Plein Air Artists hosts free weekly “Paint-a-Thons” at various scenic locations around the state. Other artistic media are, of course, welcome, so bring your easel, sketchpad, or giant hunk of marble and paint, sketch, or chisel away. Find out more on their website.

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