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Best of the New

A dozen new things to do in Greater Boston

From zoo babies to matchmaking services, these newly-debuted diversions will keep you entertained the whole year long.

Lawn on D. Dina Rudick/Globe staff/file

Blazing Paddles

Located on the newly renovated lower level of Fenway mainstay Game On!, this spiffy Ping-Pong bar features 10 championship tables, craft beers, and bar food. With tables rented for a specified time, the setup is more like a bowling alley than, say, the complimentary dartboards in a dive bar. Balls are unlimited and staff fetches errant hits.

82 Lansdowne Street, Boston, 617-351-7001,

Great Wolf Lodge

Ready to win Parent of the Year? Book an overnight stay this winter at the Great Wolf Lodge. The indoor water park has doubled the size of the Fitchburg site’s previous park, CoCo Key, and features a six-story funnel ride, a raft ride, tunnel slides, a multistory interactive treehouse, and lots of manageable areas for wee ones. The lodge also includes activities ranging from mini-golf, bowling, and arcade games to a laser maze and a 30-foot-high climbing course. You may hate every minute, but, trust us, your kids will thank you.

150 Great Wolf Drive, Fitchburg, 866-678-9653,


Harvard Art Museums

Renzo Piano crowned Harvard’s art collections with glass, letting in the sky where only track lighting once dared to go. By joining works from the Fogg, Sackler, and Busch-Reisinger museums, the new space enables a nonlinear stroll across centuries and continents — from Rembrandt’s lush portraits to anonymous Gothic Madonnas to David Smith bronzes. The ground-level cafe is perfect for sipping tea and nibbling delicate macarons.

32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, 617-495-9400,


Crave streaming media on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone but don’t like seeing your bills go up with each download? This free digital streaming service lets you download movies, TV shows, music, and audiobooks using your local library card. The Boston Public Library began offering Hoopla to its patrons in March, and it’s also available to some libraries within the Minuteman Library Network. Hoopla lets you download the title you want immediately, then makes it unavailable after a certain period. Goodbye, late fees!


The Lawn on D

Last August, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority transformed 2.7 acres on D Street into Boston’s first interactive outdoor space. The $1.1 million experiment featured lounging furniture, games like cornhole and table tennis, and events ranging from live music to family-friendly festivals and interactive art exhibits. (The glow-in-the-dark tire swings were a huge hit.) With a beer/wine bar on-site and a rotating lineup of food trucks cruising by, Lawn on D quickly became a popular hangout spot, attracting roughly 30,000 during its three-month debut. Look for winter pop-up events and renewed programming in the spring.

D Street, South Boston Waterfront,

Joe McKendry

Legoland Discovery Center

Got a kid who can explain the difference between Chima and Ninjago? Then this place just might be mecca. After a much-anticipated opening last May, Assembly Row’s bastion of bricks features a mix of short 4-D movies, two amusement park rides, some hands-on building opportunities, and other attractions. Don’t miss Miniland: a room filled with Boston’s famous sites and structures built with Legos, which light up as day turns to night every few minutes.

598 Assembly Row, Somerville, 866-228-6439,

Little Lovage Club

After outgrowing its original space inside Coco Baby boutique, this clubhouse for the South End stroller set moved into roomy new digs this summer, adding thoughtful comforts like nursing and changing areas, plus a sunlit studio. The site offers everything a modern family might crave: prenatal yoga, postnatal Pilates, movement and art classes. There are also educational resources for novice parents, such as infant CPR, feeding, and sleep classes. The space hosts birthday parties, and the staff will help coordinate food and entertainment.


778 Tremont Street, Boston, 857-201-0282,

Love Connections

For those too camera-shy to try the Globe Magazine’s Dinner With Cupid, Boston singles now have several new ways to make a love connection. Three Day Rule ( employs compassionate couplers who handpick and vet candidates before pairing them up; Marriage Material ( crowd-sources for mates, with members assigning dollar values to dating milestones; and Rekindle, an app available in the iOS App Store, lets users reconnect with old flames and friends.

Newbies at the Franklin Park Zoo

Snuggled with mom in the Little Critters building is one of the Children’s Zoo’s most entrancing creatures — a Linne’s two-toed baby sloth. With the baby born on August 12, it’s still too soon to determine the sex, but like most of its South American kin, it spends most of the day hanging upside down from branches, dozing, or lazily chomping on chunks of fruits and veggies. Equally adorable is the male red panda cub born in June, which started venturing outside in September. But don’t be alarmed if you hear eerie cackles, howls, and whoops on your next visit — the zoo has acquired its first-ever pair of spotted hyenas.


1 Franklin Park Road, Boston, 617-541-5466,

Edgar Allan Poe statue. Stefanie Rocknak/Steff Rocknak

Edgar Allan Poe statue

Galvanizing politicos, war giants, and sports messiahs have ruled Boston’s statuary scene, but one representative of the new blood never had any problem spilling some: We’re talking Edgar Allan Poe, whose bronze likeness now haunts the corner of Boylston and Charles. Sculpted by Stefanie Rocknak, our boy is beleaguered by a raven as a human heart drops from his satchel. This is the big E coming at you, and not, presumably, on his way to the Garden to hang out with the flying Bobby Orr.

Boylston and Charles streets, Boston

Ready, Set, Kids!

This enrichment mini-plex replaces the gap left by the late, lamented Isis Parenting in Arlington Center. Happily, it offers even more services for families. There are parent workshops run by the Boston JCC; Yak Academy language classes in Spanish, Mandarin, and French for tykes as young as 1; and all-ages fitness classes like mom-and-baby yoga, toddler Zumba, and kickboxing, overseen by Happy Healthy Kids Fitness Studio. The space is available for party rentals, too.

284 Broadway, Arlington, 781-646-3849,

Stone Zoo’s New Playground

On November 8, Stone Zoo in Stoneham opened a new playground built from the ground up by more than 200 volunteers and inspired by drawings created by children from the community. In a really nifty example of collaborative engagement and crowd-sourcing, children attended a special design day in September to sketch their dream playgrounds. Many of those ideas, such as the horizontal loop ladder and the catwalk, were incorporated into the finished design.


149 Pond Street, Stoneham, 617-541-5466,

Best of the New contributors: Sara Mason Ader, Ami Albernaz, Cheryl Alkon, Kara Baskin, Ellen Bhang, Karen Campbell, Gary Dzen, Devra First, Colin Fleming, Patricia Harris, Sheryl Julian, Marni Elyse Katz, David Lyon, Rachel Raczka, Catherine Smart, Shira Springer, and Tina Sutton. Send comments to