23 things to do on a Sunday
Become an urban explorer
Travel back in time in the Great Mammal Hall at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, constructed to look and feel like the original 1872 version, envisioned by Swiss zoologist and Harvard professor Louis Agassiz; or wander through the 4,000 glass flowers permanently on display. Free to Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning, from 9am-noon. 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge (617-495-3045, hmnh.harvard.edu).
Go for mostly Mozart
Founded in 1903, the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum has served as a musical centerpiece since the days when it was known as Fenway Court. A vivacious world traveler and patron of the arts, Gardner used to invite her friends to enjoy Bach, Mozart and Schumann in the lush indoor gardens of the central courtyard. That tradition continues with the Sunday concert series, featuring a diverse line-up of international performers (including Paavali Jumppanen & Elaine Hou Dec. 12, and A Far Cry on Dec. 19). Sundays 1:30pm, $23. 280 The Fenway, Boston. (617-278-5156, gardnermuseum.org)
Strike out in Dorchester
This oft-maligned nabe is actually a good place to spend an old-fashioned Sunday. Start with brunch at McKenna’s (109 Savin Hill Ave; 617-825-8218, mckennascafe.com), where you have a choice of nearly two dozen omelettes. Appropriately fueled, roll over to Boston Bowl (820 Morrissey Blvd; 617-825-3800, bostonbowl.com), where you can get two hours on the lanes for $19.90. Bonus: BB offers both candlepin and ten pin games.
See an offbeat flick
You can check out blockbusters any day of the week, so why not opt for something different? Drop by Coolidge Corner Theater (290 Harvard St, Brookline; 617-734-2500, coolidge.org), for its array of film treasures every Sunday morning. That could be “Talk Cinema,” a sneak preview of quality indies curated by a featured film critic, screenings of operas or dances recently performed at world-renowned halls including La Scala or the Salzburg Festival, or films by emerging German directors hosted by the Goethe-Institut Boston. A post-film espresso and crepe at next-door Paris Creperie (278 Harvard St, Brookline; 617-232-1770, thepariscreperie.com) is an ideal way to cap off the morning.
Hit the reset button
Whether you want to detox from an overly indulgent Saturday night or get grounded for a tough week ahead, yoga should do the trick. For just a ten-spot, you can work the kinks out in a traditional Vinyasa class or step it up a notch with Hip-Hop Yoga, backed by some mean beats. All classes are 90 minutes and drop-ins are welcome. Just be prepared to sweat—all rooms are heated to 85 degrees. $10; 1032A Commonwealth Ave, 2nd floor, Allston (sweatandsoulyoga.com)
See humans fly
It’s not exactly the big top, but the mini-ramp at Orchard Skate Shop is a great place to take in some pretty awesome feats of daring. Check out members of team Orchard perfecting their tricks—or if you’re game, bring your board and your best ollie. When you’ve had your fill of vicarious thrills, visit the free upstairs Extension Gallery for exhibits featuring seriously dope stunts. 156 Harvard Ave, Allston (617-782-7777, orchardshop.com).
Take to the sea
As Ishmael says in Moby Dick, “Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul […] I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can.” Yes, Bostonians, the water is an exalting place year-round and for less than two bucks you can get a great fix. Hop on the commuter ferry to Charlestown, breathe some sea air, and gain inspiration from the legions of seafaring heroes our shores have hosted. $1.70 one-way; Departs from Boston from 10am–6pm weekends. One Long Wharf, Waterfront, Boston (617-227-4321, bostonharborcruises.com).
Take your best medicine
Anything can happen on Sunday night at the long-standing Improv Boston (in Cambridge, go figure)—and that’s part of the fun. The Improv Comedy Jam combines three of the week’s shows into one, resulting in a 16-player all-out bonanza. And hey, don’t be shy, ’cause audience members are incorporated into the fun. $5; 7pm; 40 Prospect St, Central Square, Cambridge. (617-576-1253, improvboston.com)
Get a Fenway fix
If you’re missing your beloved Sox during the off season, you can still visit their stomping ground—you know, the almost century-old stadium that hosted Ted Williams, Cy Young and, infamously, the Babe—for a 50-minute walking tour of the grounds. There’s nothing more astounding or surreal than the Green Monster covered with snow. After you’ve walked in the footsteps of greats, head to Bleacher Bar (82A Lansdowne St; 617-262-2424, bleacherbarboston.com), which features a full-on view from underneath the field, and settle in for pint or two while figuring the days until spring training starts. $12; tours during off-season from 9am–4pm daily, every hour on the hour (617-226-6666, mlb.com/bos/ballpark/tour.jsp)
Go beat with poetry and jazz
Every Sunday, the sultry Lizard Lounge below Cambridge Common warms up its snapping fingers for a poetry slam at 8pm followed by the Jeff Robinson Trio at 9:30pm, jamming with the featured poet of the week. The rhythm and rhymes are all the more potent after a few beer punches from the upstairs bar. $5; doors at 7:30pm; 1667 Massachusetts Ave. (617-547-0759, poetryjamcollective.org or lizardloungeclub.com).
Make your own Bloody Mary
If you are fortunate enough to sit where you can watch your brunch assembled at ECG, take in the glee with which these cooks prepare your food. Be sure to get there with early (or with your waiting shoes on), since the line usually stretches down the block for this place. The stars of the show are the raw bar and the Make-Your-Own Bloody Mary bar, where you can pick your own mix and garnish from a huge array of each. 11:30am-2pm; 1271 Cambridge St, Inman Square, Cambridge (617-491-6568, eastcoastgrill.net)
Clean up your act
On the third Sunday of each month, the Boston Vegetarian Society sponsors an educational seminar with an expert guest speaker, along with a multi-course social dinner at Asian-fusion vegan mecca, Allston’s Grasshopper (1 N Beacon St., Allston; 617-254-8883, grasshoppervegan.info). Past speakers have included Veggie Planet chef Patti Bugge and the President and Co-Founder of Farm Sanctuary, Gene Baur. Even if you’re not strictly veggie all the time, the meal will satisfy anyone with refined taste buds and a desire for a healthy diet. Times vary, so check before you go. No RSVP needed. Lecture free, meal $10 (617-424-8846, bostonveg.org)
Pay your respects
In a city rife with historical monuments, some of the most intimate and moving tributes to our cultural heroes can be found at their final resting places. At Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain (95 Forest Hills Ave; 617-524-0128, foresthillscemetery.com), you’ll find the gravesites of poets Anne Sexton and e.e. cummings. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy are interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge (580 Mount Auburn St, Harvard Square; 617-547-7105, mountauburn.org). While there, take time to amble among impressive tombstones of lesser-knowns, feed the ducks in the pond and ponder eternity beneath 100-year-old willow trees.
Make brunch of a bagel
Since many consider the bagel to be an art form, you might call Toscanini’s Bagel Bar a kind of studio workshop intensive. Choose your “palate” out of a variety of toasted Iggy’s Bagels, then paint with any topping—cream cheese (plain, chive or bacon scallion), fruits, lox and scores of other enticing edibles. 10am–1pm; 899 Main St, Central Square, Cambridge (617-491-5877, tosci.com)
Fall in puppy love
Sometimes we all need a little unconditional love, especially the slobbery kind. Drop by the MSPCA-Angell Animal Care and Adoption Center (1pm–5pm; 350 South Huntington Ave, Jamaica Plain; 617-522-5055, mspca.org) to adopt a wiggling, fuzzy bundle of happiness. Not ready to commit? Swing by one of the city’s many dog parks to see all the yipping, chasing fun you’re missing out on. Two of the best are Peters Park’s Joe Wex Dog Recreation Space in the South End (6am–10pm; Washington St, between E Berkeley and Waltham Sts; peterspark.org) or Ronan Park’s dog recreation space in Dorchester (Adams St, between Linden and Robinson Sts; friendsofronanpark.org).
Get artistic inspiration
If you’re looking for the epicenter of artistic activity in Boston, just remember this number: 450. That’s the address on Harrison Avenue in the SoWa (South of Washington) district that serves as a home and haven for more than 30 individual artists, with galleries and craft stores in one central browsing location. The events schedule varies, so see the website for details. (sowaartistsguild.com)
Jazz up your breakfast
Jazz and brunch are a combination as American as baseball and hot dogs. Do your patriotic duty at Ryles (10:30am–2:30pm; 212 Hampshire St, Inman Square, Cambridge; 617-876-9330, ryles.com) over three different types of French toast, eggs Florentine and Copenhagen; or at Johnny D’s in Davis Square (9:45am–2:30pm; 17 Holland St, Somerville; 617-776-2004, johnnyds.com) where the legendary Jazz Brunch features all the regular fixin’s–omelettes, French toast, pancakes–along with specialties such as steak tips and fried catfish.
Visit some Irish folk
Tucked away on the bustling main street of Davis Square, the Burren offers Irish fare as authentic as a Seamus Heaney poem. While Fridays and Saturdays can draw a rowdy crowd, Sunday evenings focus on acoustic music, attracting local artists as well as traveling minstrels from as far as the Emerald Isle herself. Begins at 8pm, continues as long as there’s Guinness flowing. 247 Elm St, Davis Square, Somerville (617-776-6896, burren.com)
Feel free to be a hot mess
Underbar touts it Hot Mess Sundays as a night for “gay, bi or just very cool people”—this is you, of course. The hot, boogey-down extravaganza features DJs in the main room playing mash-ups, Top-40, and hits from the ’80s and ’90s. If you need a little juice to get you feeling messy, grab a cocktail the ever-intriguing Mangina Lounge. $10 after 11pm; 10pm–2am; 275 Tremont St, Boston (617-292-0080, underbarsuperlounge.com)
Wreck the decks
Vinyl is the name of the game every Sunday afternoon at Toad. Sign your name on the list and you get to play two songs each turn. Bring your own record collection and marvel at (or perhaps covet) the collections of others. In a world where MP3s reign supreme, unite with fellow old-school LP lovers. Admission is free, and range of brews on tap will give you that extra bit of confidence to share your favorite B-side. 3pm–8pm. 1912 Mass. Ave, Porter Square, Cambridge (617-497-4950, toadcambridge.com)
Join the Rat Pack
At Lucky’s Lounge in Fort Point, the Rat Pack reigns supreme: pictures of Frank, Sammy and Dean are plastered (pun intended) along the walls. As soon as you descend the narrow flight of stairs into the dimly lit booths inside, you’ll be calling your own mother a dame. The Al Vega Trio, featuring Adam Herbert, sends up a weekly tribute to the Chairman of the Board every Sunday at 7pm. Full menu served until 11pm. 355 Congress St, Fort Point, Boston. (617-357-LUCK, luckyslounge.com).
Discover your roots
A project put together by bandleader Christian McNeill, the Sea Monsters’ Sunday night jam session features a rotating cast of some of the ’Ville’s most talented musicians. While they aren't taking the stage as regularly as they have in the past—they were Somerville's most reliable Sunday night for three years—they're still penciling in a few dates on special nights. After a couple hours of straight-up roots rock, you’ll be ready to kick it for another whole work week. 10pm. 70 Union Square, Somerville (617-623-9211, precinctbar.com)
Sure, 3-D movies are all the rage these days, but we have yet to see anything on the big screen as jaw-dropping as the Imax movies at the New England Aquarium. Find yourself swimming alongside sharks and coral reefs in Under the Sea 3D, or floating amongst planets and black holes in Hubble 3D. The shows are extra mind-bending post-spliff. Check website or call ahead for exact show times. $9.95, Central Wharf, Boston (866-815-IMAX, neaq.org)