Just moved to Boston? Here’s how you can discover the city in a pandemic

Check out street art at Ink Block.

Boston - 07/03/19 -  People enter the Underground Ink Block, which shares space with public parking.  Victor and Liza Quinonez (both cq), both Boston natives, are the founders of Street Theory, a creative agency that brokered the deal between public and private partners to create the Underground Ink Block, a park and evolving street art mecca under the I-90 in the South End.  (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter:  (Stout/Miller)  Topic: (03baker)
People enter the Underground Ink Block, a park and evolving street art mecca under the I-90 in the South End on July, 3, 2019. –Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Boston is a city of students, and every fall its colleges and universities welcome thousands of new freshmen and returning students from across the globe.

After Massachusetts was hit hard by the coronavirus, the state has since reopened with a positive test rate of 1.8 percent, but some are worried that an influx of new students could cause a second wave. The University of Connecticut and Holy Cross in Worcester have already posted warnings and evicted students from on-campus housing. 

As students heading to campus, it’s our responsibility to slow the spread by staying masked up and socially distanced to prevent a surge in coronavirus infections in Boston. But it doesn’t mean you can’t discover the city amid a pandemic. Here are 8 things incoming students can do to explore your beautiful new home while keeping your community — and yourself — safe. 

Union Oyster House, Regina Pizzeria, and Mike’s Pastry

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Boston is chock full of must-try restaurants, and since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, more of them than ever are offering delivery and safe takeout options. Union Oyster House is the oldest continually-operating restaurant in the country, Regina Pizzeria is considered Boston’s favorite pizza restaurant, and Mike’s Pastry has been serving up cannoli since 1946. Some other iconic Boston eateries offering delivery include Santarpio’s Pizza, the Warren Tavern, Sam LaGrassa’s, and Flour Bakery

Walk the Freedom Trail

Boston’s Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile red brick line on the sidewalk that will lead you to 16 of Boston’s most historic landmarks, including the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old North Church, and Paul Revere’s house. Although certain stops are closed to visitors due to the pandemic, many are open with social distancing measures in place, and all of the stops can be viewed outside for free. 

Arnold Arboretum

Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum is a 281-acre preserve in the heart of Boston, a “living museum” that is home to over 3,500 different species of plants. The Arboretum is free and open to the public daily, and large enough to allow for easy social distancing. If you’re missing more traditional museums, the species in the Arboretum’s living collection are also very well marked, and there are several digital self-guided tours offered. 

Bluebikes

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If you’re wary of getting into an enclosed Uber or train car, but you’d still like to get out and see the city, Boston’s Bluebikes system offers a fresh-air alternative. There are over 300 stations scattered throughout Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Everett, and Somerville where you can check out a bike for $2.50 per half hour, and the bikes can be returned at any station. To use the service, download the Blue bikes app and purchase a pass, and you’ll be sent a code to unlock your bike. 

The Emerald Necklace

The dream of American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (who is best known for designing Central Park in New York City), the Emerald Necklace is a 7-mile chain of parks and parkways stretching around much of Boston. From the manicured Public Gardens to the lush Riverway, the Emerald Necklace offers outdoors spaces tailored to a wide range of uses. The Franklin Park Zoo at the end of the Necklace is also open now, but tickets are timed and visitors must adhere to mask and social distancing rules. 

The Charles River Esplanade 

This 17-mile stretch of land runs along the bank of the Charles river and offers space for socially-distanced picnics or games of spikeball, as well as miles of paths for jogging, biking, strolling, roller-blading, and more. From the Esplanade, you can also walk across the Massachusetts Avenue bridge to Cambridge for stunning views of the Beacon Hill skyline. 

The Museum of Fine Art’s Mural Project

Although the Museum of Fine Art is currently closed, they are still working to bring art to the public through the Mural Project. You can download the museum’s free Mural Project Guide and Map to learn more about public art and murals, and be directed to some of Boston’s most stunning murals and find out more about the artists who made them, all without setting foot indoors. 

Underground at Ink Block

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Opened in 2017, Underground at Ink Block is an 8-acre underpass at the edge of the South End that has been transformed into an urban park full of street art. The park was an experiment in repurposing under-utilized urban spaces, and received Boston Magazine’s 2020 Best Outdoor Museum Experience award. Ink Block, which maintains the park, is also offering some outdoors fitness classes

Bonus advice: Don’t try to take your moving truck down Storrow Drive. Just don’t

Do have any recommendations for newcomers to Boston? Let us know in the comments below!  

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