Boston Commons & Swan Boats: Tips For Students Visiting Boston

Boston - the 'that'll do' land of the Irish. They've got the lumpy city, the attitude, but they don't have Supermac's. Boston's still a great city and my favourite place to visit in the states next to Huntington Beach, California. It offers a lot in the way of things to do, the people are both friendly and diverse, and if you like walking, then it's a great city to turn your feet into a bloody mess.


A lot of people might be heading there on their J1 this summer, or just going for funsies, so it's good to have an idea of how to best to enjoy your free time there.

1) Boston Commons.


A lovely open green area, it's an ideal place to stop and have lunch and work on the aul' tan. They also sometimes put on free plays, and not the crazy homeless man screaming in a park kind, but proper high-quality ones that are actually fantastic to watch, especially if you incorporate a little crouching tiger, hidden naggin into the mix.


2) New England Aquarium.


If you like fish (alive that it is) then this is the place for you. It's super cool and has lots to explore, and best of all it has a freaking shark and ray petting pool! The Rays there are also like puppies, they come over and splash excitedly around till you pet them, freaking cute as balls so it is. It also has penguins which are my favourite animal of all time so yep, I will never skip out on the chance to go there.

3) Swan Boats.


The swan boats are good fun and a nice chance to enjoy a bit of nature in the public gardens. You get to go on a little ride on a boat that can only be described as a #bebostunner. It's definitely suited for the day you want to go have a fun, relaxing afternoon in the sun.


4) Museum of Science.


Who doesn't like science? Well, a lot of people actually because it's boring and hard to understand. But the museum of science is interactive, wacky and has Star Wars Memorabilia in it. So yeah, you can at least enjoy that kind of science I hope.

5) Harvard University.


Sure you think it's that amazing, smarty pants college only for future prodigies or billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Wait a minute... they both dropped out. Harvard didn't produce them, it produced George W. Bush Jr. Well, at least it's a gorgeous place to visit anyway and one with a hilarious and rich history so still worth spending the day there.


6) Skywalk Observatory Tower.


Go to this one at night. You'll get a sparkly, pretty view of the city and, if you plan ahead, you can hit up the (expensive) bar and restaurant on top and really enjoy the view.

7) Marthas Vineyard.



It's not actually a vineyard, sorry. It's actually an island. Perfect place for a weekend by the beach. Also depending on how mature you are, you can visit 'Gay Head', make a donation somewhere, and then you can say you gave head for only $5 dollars. Elaborately planned immature hilariousness.

8) Cape Cod.


Just beside Marthas Vineyard is the Cape Cod peninsula, a place that looks like it's straight out of the set of jaws, minus the sharks (I hope). Another chance to enjoy some fun in the sun, for a weekend beach getaway and it also has some nice museums and food that's to die for.

9) Rhode Island.



You know at this point I'm just listing general areas that have a somewhat decent beach. Rhode Islands a tiny province in the US, but it's a lovely  place to visit and explore. It offers plenty in the way of tourist attractions by day, and by night it's best to just find a beer garden, sit back and relax.

10) Philadelphia.


Even if you just go to see the Liberty Bell while you eat a cheesesteak sandwich, it's totally worth the six hours it takes to get there. Sadly, if you're a fan of the show "Always Sunny In Philadelphia," the exterior shots of Paddy's Pub is Starman Building in Los Angeles, so you won't be able to enjoy that. You can throw rocks at trains, though.

 11) New York.



The big apple, the city that never sleeps, the city of serious claustrophobia (for me anyway). Only four hours away, New York has plenty to offer any tourist and can be a lot of fun if you're ok with being surrounded by really tall buildings. Hit up the sights like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Times Square. If I have one suggestion, you should go to Toys "R" Us in Time Square, it's ridiculously cool and magical. Great for a weekend getaway if you're in Boston.

12) Food and Drink.


If we're honest, a lot of the American cuisine we immediately think of is probably something that will clog your arteries and kill you. This is true, but when it comes to New England, fish is a big thing so don't miss your chance to enjoy it, especially the chowder. Other foods that should be added to your dining bucket list include a hot dog from a street vendor, five guys burgers, cheesecake factory, Boston cream pies, American Pancakes and Boston Baked Beans. Alcohol also generally has a higher percentage over there, so you'll have the opportunity to get drunk faster and for less, which is something to keep in mind to help pace yourself.

13) Transport.



Within the confines of Beantown, you'll be grand to get the train or bus. It might take a little bit of time, but you'll get your head around the system quick enough and if not you can walk it yourself; don't be such a lazy git. If you're leaving the city, you can get to most places by train or bus, but if you want to maximise your time, money or make the trip a little more custom and memorable, you'll want to look into renting a car.


Cars are available to rent for people under the age of 25, but this is only with certain companies and these companies might apply additional charges to you because they're ageist pricks. An Irish driving licence is normally fine for these companies, but you can also get an international driving permit if you so wish. Just remember that over in the states it's more common to drive manual cars, and a lot of the cars are BIG, so if you're not used to either, take your time breaking the girl in when you get her.

14) Taxes and Tipping.



A confusing thing if you haven't heard of it before, but the price stamped on the label isn't actually the price you pay. The tag price is before tax so when you go to buy it, it'll show up more expensive than you thought. Tax in Boston normally works out at 6.25% except for food and clothes bought that is under $175.


For tipping, you have to tip otherwise you're an asshole. Thems the rules. You're expected to tip at restaurants, but tip jars are optional. For a restaurant, anywhere between 13-20% of the bill is a good amount to tip and it's normally safer to tip based on the bill including tax. Be aware that depending on the place you eat, if you either don't tip enough or not at all, you could be yelled at by your server waiter or waitress. Fun times.

15) Clubs and Nightlife.


If you want to party like it's 1999 then go in a group where everyone is under 21. Boston's tightened the belt in recent times around foreigners and drinking. Now most places will only accept a valid passport as an ID if you don't hold a state-issued ID, so good luck at getting a fake. If you're all grown up, then you're in luck. There's some great nightlife in Boston, so you'll have a chance to hit up all kinds of cool and trendy spots.

Mark Byrne
Article written by
Has always wanted to write since he learnt to. When he was told he had to be able to spell and use proper grammar he considered a job as a binman, but thankfully he got over his fear of learning how to use proper english. Anything else? I dunno, he likes penguins, I guess. Just facebook creep on him like a normal person.

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