Hot spots to cool off

It’s July, which means summer is in full swing in Cambridge. And with longer days and mild temperatures, you might be looking for ways to get out and about in a pool, at the beach, or in the shade of an elm tree. Or maybe you just want a fun place to spend a few hours (with air conditioning!). Here are some of Harvard Law School’s favorite pick-up spots that you can access from one of Boston’s best amenities – the MBTAor the T.

***Revere Beach

Credit: Diane Paxton

Also known as America’s first public beach, over three miles long, Revere Beach is a fun place to meet up with friends, swim in the ocean and enjoy the party atmosphere. Time your visit well and you might catch the annual sandcastle sculpting contest, usually held at July. Architecture or history buffs (or those who need a bit of shade) will also appreciate the Victorian pavilions and other original features. Sample classic Boston cuisine at Kelly’s, located just across the street. A roast beef on the beach? It’s less strange than you think.

People who stand out from Kelly's Roast Beef.

Credit: whopper_sangwich via Flickr

From Harvard Square: Take the red line towards Braintree or Ashmont. Exit at Downtown Crossing. From there, walk a few blocks north up Washington Street to the Blue Line. Take the blue line north to Revere Beach or Wonderland stations.


Arnold Arboretum

A first path surrounded by green grass and trees.

Credit: Arnold Arboretum

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind New York’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, a 281-acre reserve, celebrated its 150th anniversary this year. The hills, ponds and paths of the Arboretum contain an impressive collection of plant and tree specimens from around the world. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, including a bonsai garden, and something is always blooming. Take one of the park’s many guided tours, see an art exhibit, or just bring your walking shoes and explore on your own.

From Harvard Square: Take the red line to the Downtown Crossing stop, then change to the orange line towards Forest Hills. Get off at Forest Hills stop, follow signs inside station to Arnold Arboretum and walk a few minutes up Arborway to Forest Hills entrance.


Castle Island

People standing outside a red brick building, sign on the building reads: Sullivan's Castle Island

Credit: Thea Prum via Flickr

Enjoy the Great Ocean Views (and Breezes) with a Trip to South Boston Castle Island. First, walk or bike the waterfront trail around the park, then explore Fort Independence, a site that has been occupied since at least 1634, although the existing structure dates from the mid-19e century. Once you’ve worked up a sweat, take a dip in the cool, clean waters of Pleasure Bay or one of the many other nearby beaches. Are you feeling hungry? Stop at at Sullivan’s, a seaside institution on Castle Island, for a packet of wax-wrapped fish and chips and a lime-raspberry rickey. Don’t forget the ice cream cone for dessert.

From Harvard Square: Take the red line towards Braintree or Ashmont and get off at Andrew station. If you’re feeling adventurous (or up for a long walk), you can stroll from the station to the shore via Preble Street and walk along the beach east of the park. Or you can take the 10 bus from Andrew Station to P St. & E. 2n/a Holy stop.


Charles River

A woman in the water on a kayak holding the paddle facing the Boston skyline in the distance.

Credit: Shutterstock/Kan Kankavee

As it meanders 80 miles between Hopkinton, Massachusetts and its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean, the beautiful Charles River offers many opportunities for recreation and contemplation near Cambridge and Boston. If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a canoe or kayak to Kendall Square for a round-trip river cruise. Or take a walk in Esplanademaking your way to Herter Parkwhere you can catch a concert at the amphitheater and have a cold drink at the beer garden.

From Harvard Square: This one is easy! You can walk to the Charles River from the Harvard campus. Take the Red Line to Kendall Square for a kayaking experience or to Charles/MGH Station to walk the Esplanade.


Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

People walk and sit on a beach.  Blue sky with puffy white clouds.

Credit: The Cricket

Named for the musical quality of sand when walked on, Singing range is a pristine half-mile-wide stretch that includes a 1920s bathhouse and a refreshment stand. Although there is a $10 per day user fee, Singing Beach is quieter and less crowded than Revere, and its cool, clear waters are sure to rejuvenate you. When you’re done playing in the waves, you can also stroll through Manchester-by-the-Sea, a historic seaside resort that’s so much more than the movie of the same name.

From Harvard Square: Take the red line to Downtown Crossing, then change to the orange line towards Oak Grove. Get off the Orange line at North Station and take the Newburyport/Rockport commuter line to the Manchester-by-the-Sea stop.


Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Close up of orange flowers, a yard with greenery and columns in the background.

Credit: Kim Wright/HLS Team Photographer

Are you too hot to be outside? Instead, enjoy the air-conditioned bliss of one of Boston’s quirkiest and most interesting institutions. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – which was also the site of one of the most notorious art heists in history – contains an impressive collection of Asian, European and American works. Gardner’s bequest required that nothing of her collection be sold or moved from where she originally placed it in the building, so you can enjoy the museum in the same way its first guests did in 1903 – apart from a few empty frames where the stolen works once hung.

From Harvard Square: Take the red line towards Braintree/Ashmont and change to the green line (E) at Park Street towards Heath Street. Get off at the Longwood Medical Area stop.

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