Best of the New

Things to do

22 diversions for night and day.

Written by Ami Albernaz, Kara Baskin, Ellen Bhang, Karen Campbell, James Cronin, Gary Dzen, Geoff Edgers, Michael Farrell, Devra First, Carolyn Johnson, Susan Johnston, Sheryl Julian, Marni Elyse Katz, Deborah Kotz, Michael Morisy, Dan Morrell, Anne v. Nelson, Cristin Nelson, Martine Powers, Shira Springer, Francis Storrs, Tina Sutton, Beth Teitell, Rachel Travers, Eugenia Williamson, Glenn Yoder

ArtWeek Boston

  • In a way, ArtWeek does for Boston-area arts organizations what Restaurant Week does for its eateries: gives patrons a twice-annual blowout event to anticipate. Presented by Highland Street Foundation, the fall festival featured 50 events (half of them free) in 12 neighborhoods, including pop-up dinner theater, choreography workshops, Spanish opera, and an immersive photography exhibit. The next installment is slated for April 25 through May 4.


Brian Babineau

A Very Big Statue  . . . 

  • Celtics legend Bill Russell finally — finally! — gets his public-art due, with his likeness immortalized in bronze and permanently holding court on City Hall Plaza. Sculptor Ann Hirsch does the basketball legend proud with her muscular, larger-than-life statue of the 11-time champion.

  • City Hall Plaza (State Street side), Boston

Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff

 . . .  And a Very Small One

  • On a much smaller scale, the Newton Free Library’s whimsical Pooh and Eeyore sculptures now have as company petite pal Piglet, a work commissioned by Sonja Calabi in memory of her beloved brother, whose nickname was “Piglet.” Nancy Shon, famous for her “Make Way for Ducklings” installation, created all three.

  • Newton Free Library, 330 Homer Street, Newton, 617-796-1360,

George Rizer/Globe Staff

Boston Bike Party

  • Three future friends and fellow cyclists started this monthly bike party in May, leading several hundred bicyclists through the city with a different route and theme each month (costumes encouraged). August brought a beach-themed ride, September celebrated back-to-school season, and December’s “Sparkle Motion” led participants past the city’s holiday lights and decorations. Each ride ends at a different after-party location, such as a bar or an art studio.


David L Ryan/Globe Staff

The Boxer Boston

  • Following a $3 million gut renovation, the former Bulfinch Hotel reopened as The Boxer Boston in the spring. This 80-room boutique hotel is in the West End’s 1904 Flatiron building and features nostalgic touches, like an old Boston map on the ceiling of the lobby, mixed with more modern ones, like in-room Keurig machines. Finch, the hotel’s restaurant and bar, serves New England comfort food and a selection of craft beers, wine, and cocktails.

  • 107 Merrimac Street, Boston, 617-624-0202,

Essdras M Suarez/Globe staff/file

Franklin Park Zoo Babies

  • Every zoo birth is cause for celebration, but 2013 welcomed some especially notable newbies at Franklin Park Zoo. In addition to two breeds of zebra, two bongos, and ring-tailed lemur twins, a rare female Baird’s tapir named Moli was born June 18 after a 13-month gestation. The babies are not just adorable, but often vital to maintaining stable populations of endangered animals.

  • One Franklin Park Road, Boston, 617-541-5466,

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

Frost Ice Bar

  • Decked out like a high-end igloo, the Frost Ice Bar is as cool as it gets: a constant 21 degrees, to be exact. Though the establishment is made entirely of ice — walls, floor, bar, booths, drink glasses, an ornate chandelier, and a giant swan you can sit in — the lighting and Boston-themed cocktails (some nonalcoholic) are quite colorful. Admission prices for a 45-minute visit include the use of insulated gloves and furry ponchos. You’ll need them.

  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, 617-307-7331,

Jessica Rinaldi For The Boston Globe

Greenway Carousel

  • This delightful carousel is decidedly a horse of a different color. First off: No horses. Instead, giddy riders hop onboard New England-centric animals like a lobster, harbor seal, squirrel, and skunk. Local sculptor Jeff Briggs created the characters inspired by drawings submitted by Boston public school children. Specially designed to be handicap-accessible, this merry-go-round is fun for all.

  • The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove, Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston,

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Hit Wicket

  • Greater Boston has more than its share of sports bars from which to cheer on the Sox, Pats, B’s, and C’s. Now, thanks to Hit Wicket, cricket fans have a place to get their fix while noshing on dishes inspired by the cuisine of cricket-playing nations (think Aussie meat pie, South African bunny chow, and Jamaican jerk wings). In addition to screening cricket and other global matches, Hit Wicket hosts a Tuesday night trivia and weekend brunch.

  • 1172 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 617-945-9259,

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Hopsters Brew & Boards

  • Launched “to create craft awareness,” according to owner Lee Cooper, Hopsters is a make-your-own beer establishment in Newton Corner. Patrons brew on commercial equipment with staff help, selecting from 30 recipes. While your beer boils you can snack on “boards” of cheese and house-made charcuterie; there’s also a bar with 20 local craft beers on tap. In two weeks, you return to bottle your beer and take it home.

  • 292 Centre Street, Newton, 617-916-0752,

Laurie Swope for The Boston Globe

Laugh Boston

  • Owned by the team behind Improv Asylum, Laugh Boston is no dive. Rather, the 6,000-square-foot 300-seat space is an ideal date spot; you could even bring your parents. Filling the hole for a mid-size stand-up comedy venue and located at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, it features local and national acts, along with decent fare (like portobello flatbread and waffle fries with chili), beer, wine, and signature cocktails (like the That’s What She Said).

  • Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, 425 Summer Street, Boston, 617-725-2844,

Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Mayor Thomas M. Menino Park

  • Adjacent to the new LEED gold-certified Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, this $4 million space is the city’s first universally inclusive playground. That means it’s fun and fully accessible for all kids, whatever their physical abilities. There are 60 pieces of accessible play equipment in all, including a carousel that can accommodate wheelchairs, four slides, swings, and a climbing area.

  • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, 300 First Avenue, Charlestown,

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

New England Aquarium’s Giant Ocean Tank

  • Part of a $17.3 million renovation, this overhauled centerpiece to the aquarium is home to some 2,000 sea creatures — more than twice as many as before — set amid a new handmade coral reef. Crystal-clear acrylic windows offer a continuous view as you travel four stories up the encircling walk to the top, where you can look down at the whole spectacle.

  • 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 617-973-5200,

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

Odyssey Opera

  • Seemingly out of the ashes of Opera Boston, Gil Rose’s new Odyssey Opera launched its inaugural season in September with a multi-hour marathon concert performance of Wagner’s rarely heard Rienzi. The adventurous programming reflects this smaller, leaner company’s mission to present important yet underappreciated classical works as well as contemporary operas.


Jessica Rinaldi For The Boston Globe

Showcase SuperLux

  • Upscale to the max, this sleek, luxurious complex of six movie theaters in Chestnut Hill has a lobby bar and features in-seat dining/drink options ranging from fries and beer to lobster campanelle and sparkling wine. With its reclining leather chairs, the only trick is staying awake during the slow parts.

  • The Street, 55 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, 800-315-4000,

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

The Sinclair

  • Harvard Square’s much-anticipated new live music venue opened to the sounds of Concrete Blonde. The attention to detail, like a multilevel design that eliminates sightline obstruction, made this 525-person venue an instant hit among bands and fans alike. The Sinclair’s calendar focuses on indie rock, but includes country, comedy, and folk.

  • 52 Church Street, Cambridge, 617-547-5200,

  • ***



  • Brooklyn Boulders

  • This Somerville climbing gym offers bouldering, top roping, and lead climbing, with introductory classes available for all three styles and routes designed for all abilities. Bouldering, a.k.a. climbing without ropes, is among the most beginner-friendly, with no certification requirement, 15- to 22-foot-tall walls, and thick pads to cushion falls. Open until midnight seven days a week, there’s plenty of time to learn the ropes.

  • 12A Tyler Street, Somerville, 617-623-6700,

  • ClimbClub

  • Turning workplaces into workout centers, ClimbClub participants scale stairs of Boston office buildings (you must work at one of 15 select locations). Sessions take place several times per week. The Brigham and Women’s Hospital-backed initiative aims to increase heart disease awareness.

  • 855-932-5462,

  • Equinox Chestnut Hill

  • Ballet-inspired barre workouts take a different turn with these classes at Equinox. Incorporating yoga, strength and resistance training, as well as ballet, Figure 4 classes target the thighs, arms, abdominals, and glute muscles with beat-driven, choreographed workouts that would put any dancer through her paces.

  • 200 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, 617-531-7077,

  • Flywheel

  • This stadium-seating cycling studio first opened in Manhattan in 2010, and it’s a chic workout. Ride to a playlist designed by an in-house DJ and track your resistance, speed, and exerted energy on tricked-out bikes. Low lighting means no one has to see you sweat.

  • 800 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-300-0388,

  • Iron Body Studios

  • The oddly shaped kettlebell (pictured), a training tool often described as a cannonball with a handle, figures prominently in hourlong workouts that follow the Russian Hardstyle method. But don’t expect a Rocky IV montage at this Needham gym; instead you’ll find exercise sequences that engage all muscle groups.

  • 67 Fourth Avenue, Needham, 703-582-7050,

  • Olympia Fencing Center

  • Former Romanian national team fencer Daniel Hondor likens wielding an epee to playing “chess at 100 miles per hour.” That’s largely why his Cambridge club specializes in teaching use of the weapon, a modern version of the dueling sword, to all comers. The sport is easy to learn but hard to master. Epee students range from 5 to 66.

  • 127 Smith Place, Cambridge, 617-945-9448,

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