Summer in the City
The insider’s playbook to summering in Boston like a pro, from the hottest rooftop pools to the best festivals.
FIREWORKS-PEEP LIKE AN AGORAPHOBIC BOSS.
Three Fourth-tide viewing spots for the crowd-averse.
When it comes to negotiating the traffic, kayaks may be your best bet. So skip the riverbank for the river itself. Charles River Canoe & Kayak leases boats from outposts in Allston/Brighton, Kendall, Newton, and Waltham.
The lawn outside Building 10 provides terrific views of MIT’s famed Great Dome, and odds are you’ll end up standing next to someone who can explain how fireworks, well, work. Better yet, befriend a student or professor with rooftop access.
In the Park
See skyrockets in flight from hilltop parks in several close-in suburbs. The edge goes to Arlington’s Robbins Farm Park for its 50-foot slides, glorious city-skyline views, and giant-screen Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular simulcast. —Carmen Nobel
PLAY PING-PONG IN THE PARK.
To recap: We’re thrilled that Fenway has a shiny new Ping-Pong mecca in the form of Blazing Paddles, with its dozen tables arranged around a bar meant for quenching the kind of thirst that comes only from whacking a tiny plastic ball. It’ll be fantastic…in about five months. Until Snowpocalypse 2014 becomes but a distant memory, however, we’d suggest getting your volleys al fresco at Cambridgeport’s Old Morse Park, where two massive Henge tables—forged from 2,600 pounds of sculptural concrete apiece—await those in pursuit of that healthy backhand tan. Serious about your topspin? The bounce of the table adheres to International Table Tennis Federation regulations. —Margaret Heidenry
MAKE LARGE-FORMAT MAI TAIS LIKE LYDIA SHIRE.
The legendary chef likes to go big when it comes to entertaining friends in her Weston backyard—libations included. This classic tiki drink is her summertime go-to, made all the more luxurious by calling for 10 limes.
— Mai Tais for a Crowd —
20 oz. amber rum (Shire recommends Mount Gay)
20 oz. dark rum (such as Myers’s)
20 oz. light rum (such as Bacardi Light)
7 ½ cups pineapple juice
1 ½ cups orange juice
¼ cup Cointreau
½ cup orgeat syrup
Juice of 10 limes
Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl, then sample. Trust your taste buds, Shire says, and “keep adding whatever makes sense. More orgeat if it needs to be sweeter, more rum if it’s too sweet.” (Shire always errs on the more-booze side.) Serve over ice in rocks glasses.
WATCH THE STARS…UNDER THE STARS.
The Mendon Twin got a new lease on life in March when Dave, Dan, and Michael Andelman (of Phantom Gourmet fame) purchased the beloved drive-in from its retiring owners. Expect heaping portions of first-run, family-friendly action flicks and gobs of ooey-gooey romantic comedies, all for $25 per car.
508-473-4958, mendondrivein.com. —Jolyon Helterman
OGLE UNDERSUNG ARTWORK
Heard of the MFA? Right, and so has the mob scene of looky-loos invading the city just about…now. Foil the throngs in alt-art style.
Beacon Hill’s Boston Athenaeum served as the city’s art museum until it loaned parts of its collection to the MFA in the 1870s. But the landmark retained enough superb works to while away a golden afternoon ($5). Giovanni Paolo Panini’s Interior of St. Peter’s, Rome (1756–1757) is nearly as breathtaking as the real thing, and Roxbury’s never looked so idyllic as in John Rubens Smith’s 1828 watercolor.
Real estate developer Norman Leventhal’s impressive collection of rare maps covering the Magellan Gallery in Boston Harbor Hotel’s lobby traces our region’s history from the first map to name New England, drawn by John Smith in 1614, through cartographical works of art of the Dutch Golden Age, to modern navigational charts of Boston Harbor—all conveniently accessible from the HarborWalk.
Scattered around MIT’s campus (pictured) are dozens of contemporary paintings and sculptures. Sol LeWitt’s Bars of Color Within Squares (2007) blankets one entire floor—literally—of the physics building with bright geometric patterns. Meanwhile, Alexander Calder’s La Grande Voile (1965) weighs in at 33 tons but seems light enough to float away. Use the List Visual Arts Center’s handy interactive art map as your guide.
617-253-4680, listart.mit.edu/public-art-map. —Michael Blanding
Clip and save this short-list of aggressively air-conditioned respites for whenever that hot, sticky, miserably sultry day shows up (like it always does) in late July or August.
Ben & Jerry’s, Newbury Street
Thermostat set at: 55–60 degrees
Because the best way to beat the heat (short of plunging into the Charles, four blocks north) is downing a pint of icy Chunky Monkey in an ambient temperature fit for a fine Bordeaux.
Frost Ice Bar
Thermostat set at: 21 degrees (yup, Fahrenheit)
Flirt with frostbite at this glorified-igloo watering hole in Faneuil Hall, where you can take advantage of the gloves and insulated capes that come with the price of admission (starting at $12), or not.
Uni Sashimi Bar
Thermostat set at: 65 degrees
When the crisp climes of the Eliot Hotel lobby meet the cool, velvety swaths of delicately primped hamachi at this Back Bay jewel, the combo cuts the internal body temp like, um, a fresh-steeled sushi knife.
Regal Fenway stadium 13 & RPX
Thermostat set at: 69–73 degrees
Sometimes it’s less about the extremeness of the temperature than the length of time (roughly 90 to 100 minutes) you can linger before looking suspicious.
617-424-6111, regmovies.com. —Samantha Pickette
KILL A COUPLE OF HOURS IN WOODS HOLE OR HYANNIS.
You missed the ferry, and it was totally his/her/your/its fault. No question about it! As you wait for the next one, parse out relative culpability in a setting worthy of the brinksmanship.
If this bakery-cum-bistro ever opens up shop in Boston, it will give the city’s best bakeries and bistros serious competition. The menu runs the gamut, from almond croissants and open-faced croque-madames to hamachi crudo, dry-aged sirloin tartare, coq au vin, and house-made ricotta cavatelli with braised lamb shank. Flawlessly brewed espresso and a fine selection of French wines will help ratchet up the blame game to a fever pitch.
This year, the team behind the beloved Quicks Hole taco stand transformed the tired Leeside Restaurant into a new tavern specializing in cocktails strong enough to make you forget the ferry altogether (or further fuel the debate). You’ll also find a roster of inventive comfort food, including quahog chowder, an entire “gourmet grilled cheese” section (one with dill havarti, Jonah crab, and roasted-red-pepper aioli), and roasted chicken confit.
508-495-0048, quicksholewickedfresh.com. —Michael Blanding
BUY SOX TICKETS WITHOUT THE HASSLE.
Time was, you needed about six months of advance planning—plus an insider connection—to score tickets to Red Sox games. These days, the team may still be defending champs, but the demand is soft. Last-minute buyers can hit the official team-sanctioned “No Scalp Zone” to score seats at face value or better, but the truly savvy know how to play StubHub, the giant ticket reseller website. For home games, the StubHub market closes two hours before game time, so log in just before the cutoff and watch panicked ticket sellers—fearful they’ll get nothing at all for seats they’re trying to unload—lower their the prices as you refresh and refresh again. Then make like Big Papi and strike at the last possible moment. —Jason Schwartz
MEMORIZE THIS CAPE AND ISLANDS CHEAT SHEET.
You’ve been rocking the urban-warrior cape all season, but that doesn’t mean you have to sound clueless during Hub-side conversations with the bridge-and-ferry set—or daresay, you trip the Sagamore fantastic yourself. A crash course on the new and noteworthy.
— The Cape —
White Lion Baking Co.
Basics: Gluten-free, grain-free, chemical-free (but thankfully not flavor-free) baked goods for the celiac, Paleo, and naturalist crowd—and those who love them.
Talking point: “No, believe it or not, I did remember your diet. This Paleo-approved crust I picked up is made of cashew flour…and magic.”
Mashpee, 774-228-2946, whitelionbakingco.com.
Basics: Slated to open in July, a casual restaurant serving hand-cut fries, made-from-scratch soft-serve, cans of craft beer, and locally sourced seafood, beef, and produce.
Talking point: “I hear the owners are the family heirs to the Kreme N’ Cone and Cooke’s Seafood dynasty.”
Basics: Cute small-batch chocolate shop offering handcrafted truffles, bars studded with foraged local cranberries, flights of Mexican drinking chocolate, and ample sampling.
Talking point: “Not only do they roast their own beans, but the bourbon-caramel bonbons are addictive.”
North Truro, 774-538-6249, chequessettchocolate.com.
Basics: The scrappy major airline launches direct flights to the Cape from New York’s JFK, June to December.
Talking point: “Seriously? If I see another Yankees cap in Chatham I swear I will stab myself in the eye.”
Hyannis, 774-538-6249, jetblue.com.
— Nantucket —
Basics: Opened this spring, this eatery serves elevated street food with fusion flavors, specializing small plates, craft cocktails, and family-style “feasts” for small groups.
Talking point: “I hear the chef worked at Clio, Uni, and Toro, so why don’t we go with a few bites from the Asian-tapas section?”
The Nantucket Summer Music Festival
Basics: The two-day event takes place at Tom Nevers Field, with stunning ocean views and headliners like Bruce Hornsby, Guster, Steel Pulse, and Wrentham’s own Ayla Brown.
Talking point: “Boston Calling will be an absolute zoo this year, but they’re limiting this one to 4,000 tickets.”
$280, 8/2–8/3, 508-228-0400, nantucketmusicfestival.com.
21 Broad Hotel
Basics: A one-minute walk from the ferry, this dramatic renovation of the island’s oldest (1876) inn boasts 27 boutique rooms, vitamin C showers, a juice bar, and white-on-white interiors designed by Rachel Reider.
Talking point: “Sort of the White Baby Elephant, no?”
B-ACK Yard Barbecue
Basics: A new BBQ joint at Straight Wharf serving up heritage pork, Wagyu beef, hand-cut fries, and bourbon-centric cocktails.
Talking point: “The guy manning the meat is the former executive chef of the Brant Point Grill.”
— Martha’s Vineyard —
Basics: Opened in May, the third outpost of this popular coffeehouse/retail concept serves breakfast pastries and housewares by day, craft cocktails and eclectic small plates by night.
Talking point: “Yup, the old Oak Bluffs A&P—all told, it was a $2.4 million renovation.”
Farm Field Sea
Basics: An impresario of culinary outings with island purveyors, including dinner and lodging at the Beach Plum Inn, as well as private excursions.
Talking point: “Let’s just say I’m 100 percent sure it’s local.”
774-538-6249, ffsmv.com. —Janelle Nanos