Welcome to Boston
by Tom Burke, Wellesley College
Boston is by American standards an old and historic city, but thanks in large part to its great universities and colleges, it is also a culturally vibrant place, so there is lots to do if you find yourself with time away from the conference.
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the idiosyncratic but beautiful Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the new Institute of Contemporary Art are all a short ride away on the "T," the Boston subway system. Across the Charles River in Cambridge (and also an easy ride on the T) are the Harvard Art Museums, the MIT Science Museum the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. Beyond the T to the west of Cambridge are the beautiful deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and a Bauhaus landmark, the Gropius House.
The Freedom Trail, not far from the Conference Center, winds two and half miles through some of Boston's most famous historical sites; another perspective on American history is provided by the Black Heritage Trail. Walden Pond, where Thoreau famously contemplated an individual's place in society, is a dozen miles to the west, in the town of Concord. A couple of miles north of Walden Pond is the site of the first battle in the Revolutionary War, Minute Man National Historic Park.
Average temperatures in Boston for the period are around 55 for the low and 70 for the high. If you want to enjoy the outdoors, there are a lot of options, starting with the Charles River, about a half mile from the Conference Center, where you can take a stroll, a run or a bike ride along the paths on either side. The Charles is a great place for people- and city-watching on a nice day. A walk along Massachusetts Avenue across the river takes you to Cambridge and, in order, MIT, Central Square, Harvard University and Harvard Square. Restaurants, stores and nightclubs line the blocks along the way. Boston has a bunch of beautiful parks, starting with the Public Garden & Boston Common, a few blocks from the hotel; especially gorgeous are the plants and trees at The Arnold Arboretum. If you prefer sticking closer to the water, Boston Harbor Cruises and boat rides to the Boston Harbor Islands are another option. There's also a first-rate Aquarium.
Alas, during the conference the Red Sox are away playing their hated rivals, the Yankees, but the Boston Symphony Orchestra will be in town performing a "pops" concert in June 1, Music From the Mad Men Era. The concert hall is fantastic. Both Cambridge and Boston have rock, folk, jazz and dance clubs too numerous to mention, and a lot of theater as well; a good roundup is provided at the Boston Phoenix website.
I could go on: There's much more, including all the neighborhoods made famous by Hollywood in recent years (South Boston, East Boston, The Back Bay, the towns along the Mystic River), all the universities and colleges and their associated museums, and all the beaches and parks up and down the coast. If you want to investigate further, take a look at the Boston Tourism and Massachusetts Tourism websites.