Let’s skip the sugarcoating. Boston can be a tricky place. We’re a grouchy lot, set in our ways. Our winters are cold, our bars close too early, our rents are too high, and the chip we wear on our shoulder turns us into grizzled provincial hunchbacks. But before you hop a bus back to mom and pop in Dallas or Trenton or Butte, please know, it’s not all bitching and bitterness. In fact, what you’ll find here — if you let it, and you should — is that Boston provokes a singular sense of loyalty.
Over time, slowly, it will burrow beneath your skin, lodge itself in your heart and head. As you shotgun beers in sweaty Allston hovels. As you feel the heady press of humanity riding on the Green Line. As you cross the Mass Ave bridge, on foot or bike, and your heart swells to see Boston rise above the river in all its grace and majesty. If it doesn’t happen right away, don’t fret. You’ve got a lot to learn; Boston’s got a lot to teach you. And lucky for you, wide-eyed younglings, freshmen and -women, we’ve been wandering this city for a while. Below, staffers here discuss some of the things they wish they’d known about Boston, and offer tips on how to get the most out of this place, your new home.
I wish that someone had told me sooner to get a bike, and ride it everywhere, even in the winter. Sure, narrow streets and aggressive drivers abound, and pedaling around the place is frightening at first. But what you’ll quickly learn is that pretty much anywhere you want to go is easy to get to by bike. Cambridge to Allston? Fifteen-minute ride. Newbury Street to South Boston? Twelve minutes. And there’s the added bonus that you can always park right in front of wherever you’re going. No longer will I sacrifice hours of my life searching for the only two visitor parking spots that exist in the North End. And you don’t need to go to the gym because it’s a workout just getting to and from where you want to go. Take that, freshman 15!
— Caitlin E. Curran
Can the Natty Ice and know your local brews
There may not be more breweries per capita in Boston than in any other American city, but the ones we do have are truly world-class. So here’s some advice: drink well.
Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams is the granddaddy, of course. It was first brewed in 1985 and helped foment the fermentation revolution that is American craft brewing. Try their flagship Boston Lager, but also seek out the excellent Chocolate Bock and Hallertau Imperial Pilsner. Harpoon was founded the following year, and its beers have been enjoyed by thousands upon thousands of Boston’s college students. Try their delectable staple IPA, or, if it’s not hoppy enough, Rusty’s Red Rye Ale (the latest in Harpoon’s limited-edition 100 Barrel Series).
Or consider growlers of fresh-made ales and lagers from greater-Boston’s brewpubs. At BU or BC? Head down Comm Ave to Beer Works in Kenmore Square, where the Fenway Victory White and the Patriot Pilsner flow freely. Crunching numbers at MIT? Kendall Square’s Cambridge Brewing Co. is renowned for envelope-pushing recipes, such as the Belgian-style Petit Mort Tripel and the barrel-aged YouEnjoyMyStout. And Crimson-wearing Cantabrigians can quaff large draughts of the classic Nut Brown Ale and All American Light Lager at John Harvard’s Brew House (a chain, but don’t overreact).
Natty Ice and PBR have their place, of course. But you’re on your own now. Explore your new home. And learn to drink like a grown-up.
— Mike Miliard
There are plenty of things you can do as a college student to ensure that the disdain directed towards you (accept it) never reaches a full boil and converts to pure animal rage. Don’t flip our cars over when our sports teams do something sporty; don’t spit up your nasty Sparks Light in the back of our cabs; don’t drive your U-Haul under the “No Trucks” sign and onto Storrow Drive. But here’s a big, serious one: please, please, keep it down on the subway. Honestly. We’ve researched this extensively, and there’s not a single person in this city who gives a piping hot shit about how mean your RA is, how mean your Psych teacher is, how cute your boyfriend is (wait, you date guys named Bryce?!), or any of the trivial tirades you have queued up for your next shrill broadcast to the innocent riders of the B Line. Just put a sock in it, get your degree, use it to attain a job that has nothing to do with your passions, and ride the train in defeated, anguished silence like the rest of us. This will really help us not kill you.
— Michael Brodeur