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Things to do under $5: Boston, north

Beacon Hill

Go window shopping and snack on fries
Who needs the tourists of Newbury Street when you can browse with the sophisticates of Charles Street? The boutiques scattered across this picturesque Beacon Hill hub carry some of the most lusted-after items in the city, most of which unfortunately exceed our $5 budget. However, window-shopping doesn’t cost a dime. After you’re browsed out, retire to local eatery the Paramount for a basket of their famous $4 sweet potato fries. 44 Charles St (617-720-1152, paramountboston.com)

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Have breakfast at Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe
This diner is plastered floor-to-ceiling with old photos of the Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe family and celebrity noshers past. Inside, a diverse mix of regulars chat at the breakfast bar while a few off-the-street visitors snack nearby. But whether you have a stool with your name on it or you’re a newbie, Charlie’s feels like home. Reasonably priced, comfortable and accommodating, this is the place to go for straight-up American grub. We recommend a classic two-egg breakfast and a mug of endless coffee. 429 Columbus Ave (617-536-7669)


Downtown

Visit the Falafel King
A good falafel is usually hard to find, but this local gem is hidden in plain sight, tucked within a prominent pocket of Downtown Crossing. Generally, we say, “the more arrogant the name, the more disastrous the outcome,” but this King has earned his crown. And he isn't stingy when it comes to sharing his jewels: If you're deemed a “chosen one,” a member of the court will offer you a free falafel ball as you wait for your $4 sandwich. 48 Winter St, Downtown Crossing, Boston (617-338-8355, falafelkingwinterstreet.com)


North End

Sip cappuccino at Café Vittoria
This coffee and pastry bar is about as Italian as it gets. Resist the urge to down your caffeine in a cardboard cup, and order a smooth and creamy cappuccino the way it was meant to be imbibed—in a real mug. Relax in a window seat along the brick-covered street; you're likely to forget that you’re only feet away from Bruins throwdowns and Celtics mayhem. 296 Hanover St (617-227-7606, vittoriacafe.com)

Barter for fruit
Is there any better way to spend a Saturday morning than haggling over the price of bananas? The thrill and thrift of Haymarket, Boston’s weekly produce-stand extravaganza, is a Boston tradition worth exploring. The odor, the yelling, the aftermath that leaves the block looking like the Normandy of vegetables—it’s all worth it for the high-quality, low-price haul you'll take home. Extend your afternoon by lounging with a 10-cent apple along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, one of the fruits of the Big Dig. Every Fri and Sat; Blackstone St between North and Hanover


Waterfront

Chug for charity at the Harpoon Brewery
The only thing better than drinking is drinking for a cause. At this waterfront suds haven, $5 gets you a brewery tour, samples and a snazzy souvenir tasting glass. Part of the fee goes to charitable organizations. 306 Northern Ave (617-574-9551, harpoonbrewery.com)

Watch sea animals for free and get ice cream
If you don’t feel like shelling out $21.95 for admission to the New England Aquarium, you can still get your aquatic-creature fix at the outdoor seal exhibit. The 42,000-gallon tank is full of Atlantic harbor seals doing their adorable thing, and you can watch for free. If you’re feeling flush, grab an ice cream cone at nearby Emack & Bolio’s. Spring for a large—at $4.90, it’s within the budget. New England Aquarium: 1 Central Wharf (617-973-5281, neaq.com); Emack & Bolio’s: 255 State Street (617-367-0220, emackandbolios.com)

Go to the Institute of Contemporary Art’s free Thursdays
After 70 years of wandering, the ICA has officially parked its metaphysical grocery cart of astonishing modern art along the Waterfront. The Institute for Contemporary Art was founded in 1936, and since then it's set a precedent for other museums of its kind. The stunning new building—a work of art in itself—is home to some of the world's greatest works. On Thursdays from 5 to 9pm, admission is free. 100 Northern Ave (617-478-3100, icaboston.com)

 

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Comments
The odor, the yelling, the aftermath that leaves the block looking like the Normandy of vegetables—it’s all worth it for the high-quality, low-price haul you'll take home. Extend your afternoon by lounging with a 10-cent apple along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, one of the fruits of the Big Dig. Every Fri and Sat; Blackstone St between North and Hanover
By gucci shoes (not verified) on 4/04/2014 at 4:05 am
Nice plug for Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, but it's in the South End, no where near Beacon Hill. If you want to do Boston ya gotta get the neighborhoods right!
By NorthShoreWoman (not verified) on 12/22/2010 at 5:45 pm
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