Secret Bargains of Boston
A native Bostonian shows us how to live for under $15
During my time as a college and graduate student, struggling young professional, and long-term denizen of Beantown, I've learned that, indeed, in Boston the best things in life are free (or at least very reasonable). I pass along to you the top Boston secret bargains I've discovered-most free, and none more than $15. But first, for low-cost digs in Beantown, go to the historic Back Bay neighborhood. A good budget B&B called 463 Beacon Street (463 Beacon St., 617/536-1302, 463beacon.com) rents kitchenette-equipped doubles with shared bath starting at $69 a night. And then, tucked into a charming, tree-lined street, the 20-room Copley Inn (19 Garrison St., 617/236-0300, copleyinn.com) offers clean, quiet accommodations with doubles starting at $75 a night. And finally, the bargain MidTown Hotel (220 Huntington Ave., 800/343-1177, midtownhotel.com) is located near Symphony Hall, music schools, and several subway (or "T") stations, and serves up double rooms starting at $79 a night.
Chinese transportation secrets
You can get to Boston for as little as $10 each way from New York City on Chinatown shuttles. Information: fungwahbus.com, sunshineboston.com, and travelpackusa.com. Or you can fly cheaply on Southwest Airlines into Providence, then take the airport shuttle to Providence's railway station ($9), and the commuter rail line to Boston's South Station ($5.75). If you fly instead to Boston's costlier Logan Airport, take the T to many convenient points throughout the greater Boston area for a cool $1; a shuttle bus services the various airport terminals and takes you free to the T station. The Boston three-day Visitor Pass ($11) is your best value for a long-weekend visit. Information: mbta.com.
Very fine art
Founded in 1870, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Ave., 617/267-9300, mfa.org) boasts an impressive collection, ranging from the ancient world to American artists and more Monets than you can shake a water lily at. Avoid the $15 admission by going on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., when the contribution is voluntary. If you go to the MFA, you'll get $2 off (within two days of that MFA visit) the $10 admission to the celebrated Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (280 The Fenway, 617/566-1401, gardnermuseum.org), with sculptures, tapestries, and paintings spanning 30 centuries, and all housed in a fifteenth-century, Venetian-style palazzo surrounding a lush courtyard of plants that bloom year-round.
If you prefer more cutting-edge art, the 65-year-old but young-at-heart Institute of Contemporary Art (955 Boylston St., 617/266-5152, icaboston.org) has introduced Boston to many important artists, including Picasso and Warhol. Best of all, it's free Thursdays after 5 p.m. ($7 admission otherwise).
Get into Harvard for pennies
At Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Institute of Politics (79 JFK St., 617/495-1360, iop.harvard.edu) offers sensational free lectures, timely, topical, and at times controversial, with speakers like Arianna Huffington, Senator Edward Kennedy, and Angela Davis; check the Web site or call. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (60 Garden St., Cambridge; 617/495-7461, http://cfa-harvard.edu) sponsors free Observatory Nights for the general public on the third Thursday of every month, featuring a nontechnical lecture and telescope time from the observatory roof (weather permitting). Visit three famous Harvard museums-the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, and Fogg Art Museum-for free on Saturdays before noon. For information, call 617/495-9400 or log on to artmuseums.harvard.edu.
Go to Boston, see Chicago
The much-heralded Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (617/747-4468, commonwealthshakespeare.org) presents summer productions of Shakespeare's plays for free on Boston Common. At BosTix (two locations: Copley Square and Faneuil Hall; artsboston.org), obtain half-price, same-day tickets to performances all over town.
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