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25 things to do on a Saturday

Ask not what your country can do for you
Located behind the University of Massachusetts, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum faces out to the ocean. Although it doesn’t see the tourist numbers that the Freedom Trail pulls in, its well-designed, multimedia tour of the former president’s life and time is ten times more fascinating—and still emotionally resonant decades down the line. 9am–5pm. Columbia Point, Boston (617-514-1600, jfklibrary.org)

Be a Hero, just for one day
If ‘80s goth glam is what scratches your alternative itch, Saturday night’s Heroes at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge may provide just the right hue of nail polish. DJ Chris Ewen spins a playlist that pays homage to the likes of the Cure, David Bowie, The Ramones, Siouxsie and the Banshees and all their musical kin. If you can’t dance to that, you can’t dance period. 9pm. 10 Brookline St, Central Square, Cambridge (617-492-0082, ttthebears.com)

Be your own Dude
There are few sounds more pleasurable than the crash of all ten pins falling down at the far end of the bowling lane, and few other achievements make you feel more like a king. Whether you consider bowling an activity, a sport or just something to do while drinking beer, there’s no denying its entertainment value and suitability for groups. Top favorites in Boston include Kings in the Back Bay (11am–2am. 50 Dalton St, Boston. 617-266-2695; kingsbackbay.com), Boston Bowl (Open 24 hours. 820 Morrissey Blvd, Dorchester. 617-825-3800, bostonbowl.com) and Sacco’s Bowl Haven (10am–midnight. 45 Day St, Davis Square, Somerville. 617-776-0552; saccosbowlhaven.com).

Belt one out
C’mon, admit it. You know you’ve fantasized about being in the spotlight, onstage and belting out your favorite number—or maybe you’re just a fan of good old-fashioned schadenfreude. Well, leave your shame at home and get to one of the many karaoke joints in town. These days, the chic set sings it up at the Limelight (8pm–2am. 204 Tremont St, Theater District, Boston. 877-557-8271; limelightboston.com). For a more pub-type audience, try Pugliese Bar & Grill (8am–1am. 635 Cambridge St, East Cambridge. 617-491-9616; pugsbarandgrill.com).

Booze like Will Hunting
Deep in the heart of Southie you’ll find the L Street Tavern, which has wholly resisted selling its soul to the Hollywood glam machine after its famous role in the Matt Damon vehicle, Good Will Hunting. Other than a movie poster and one table modestly decorated with film memorabilia, the bar still retains its authentic townie charm complete with well-worn wood bar stools and super cheap Guinness. Noon–1am. 195 L Street, Southie, Boston (617-268-4335)

Catch a midnight flick

Since 1933, the Coolidge Corner Theatre has been one of the main rivets holding Brookline’s entertainment district together. Having survived demolition several times in its long history through the efforts of its passionate patrons, it stands even sturdier today as a mecca for art house flicks and film festivals. Saturday night’s ”@fter Midnite” movies remain the favorite for fans of all things cult and ridiculous (think The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pink Flamingos and The Room). 290 Harvard St, Coolidge Corner, Brookline (617-734-2500, coolidge.org)

Check out the Freedom Trail
In addition to improving your score on the American history category on Jeopardy, a full day tour on the Freedom Trail is a hell of a workout. From the 294 steps up the obelisk at Bunker Hill, the 2.5-mile route through revolutionary Boston takes you through 16 fife-worthy sites, including the oldest warship in the world that’s still afloat, the bedroom of Paul Revere and the graves of lots of famous dead guys. Even if you think you’ve seen it all, you probably haven’t. (freedomtrail.org)

(Don’t) feed the animals
As fascinating as lions and tigers, and uh… kangaroos are on the TV screen, they’re far more impressive live. The Franklin Park Zoo in Jamaica Plain has them all, as well as zebras, gorillas, giraffes and a host of other exotic animals that wouldn’t normally set foot in the wishy-washy climate of New England. Whatever your feelings towards zoos, you have to admire Franklin Park’s mission to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations. 10am–4pm. 1 Franklin Park Rd, Boston (617-541-5466, zoonewengland.org)

Exhale your troubles away

Everyone deserves a good pampering now and then. The Exhale spa offers a wide-ranging menu of treatments of herbal cleanses, skin treatments, and massages. What we’ve got our eyes on is the 60-minute, four-handed fusion massage administered by two practitioners who work in synchronicity to bring you to “another level of revitalization.” Sign us up. 8am–8pm. 28 Arlington St, Boston (617-532-7000, exhalespa.com)

Explore Fresh Pond Reservation

Each time you drink a glass of water in Cambridge, consider that it comes straight from this source. Located just under two miles northwest of Harvard Square, the 162 acres of open space features a golf course, a butterfly meadow, woods, several ponds and a 2.25-mile perimeter road to walk, jog, or amble around. Take note of the restroom at the Rangers’ station in case all that water has you feeling, er, inspired. Dawn–dusk. 200 Fresh Pond Pkwy, Cambridge (617-349-4762, cambridgema.gov)

Get a bullseye
Sure, target shooting with a gun takes a steady hand and a keen eye, but a bow and arrow requires the whole body, making your first bullseye a true achievement. The professional trainers at ArcheryUSA in Dedham are more than happy to provide equipment and assistance to get you playing Robin Hood in no time. Group rates are available. 1pm–6pm. 606 Providence Highway, Dedham (781-320-3606, archeryusa.com)

Hang at the Middle East

What began as a Lebanese eatery in 1970 has steadily grown into one of the city’s premier locations for live music. Almost every night of the week, the club will crank out a show on each stage—Upstairs, Downstairs, and the Corner. Saturdays are especially busy, with frequent matinee concerts popping up on both the Downstairs and Upstairs stages. Each Saturday night the complex’s fourth branch—the bar and restaurant ZuZu, hosts Soul-le-lu-jah, a funky throwdown fueled by classic soul tracks. 11am–2am. 472–480 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square, Cambridge (617-864-3278, mideastclub.com)

Indulge in chocolate
Think you’ve run out of things to do with chocolate? Not according to the folks behind Boston Chocolate Tours, who offer Saturday excursions throughout the city to explore the newest manifestations of the divine cacao bean. If just eating is not enough, they also run classes and workshops to create your own masterpieces at home. Make sure to bring tissues in case of excessive mouth watering. Various times and locations. (781-784-7469, bostonchocolatetours.com)

Laugh it up at the Improv Asylum
No matter how you’re feeling by Saturday night, Boston’s famed Improv Asylum gives you an outlet to laugh your face off. A blend of Saturday Night Live and Whose Line is It Anyway?, Improv Asylum’s Main Stage Show show continues to draw praise from both critics and word-of-mouth, and it’s never the same show twice. 8pm, 10pm, midnight. 216 Hanover St, North End, Boston (617-263-6887, improvasylum.com)

Might as well jump
Remember when it was a badge of honor to jump the highest? Bring back the kid in you at the brand new Skyzone, a 10,000-square-foot indoor trampoline park near Dedham. It’s not just about getting air but also a cool way to hop out of that fitness rut via open jumps, “skyrobics,” or 3D dodgeball. What’s more, the park offers plenty of times to check out the scene without the tiny little tykes bouncing underfoot. Saturday night’s “sky jam” is reserved for 18+ and includes pizza, soda and 90 minutes of jump time for just $15. We recommend consuming the pizza and soda post-bouncing. 10am–midnight. 91-B Sprague St, Dedham (857-345-9693, boston.skyzonesports.com)

Paint your own pottery
The goal at the Clay Room in Brookline is just to have fun. The all-ages, paint-your-own pottery studio facilitates a festive atmosphere in which to bedeck your own piece of pottery to your own creative whims. Pieces average $10 each plus an $8 studio fee to take part. Discounts are available for groups. 10am–6pm. 1408 Beacon St, Brookline (617-566-7575, clayroom.com)

Raise a pinky at the Bristol Lounge
Affectionately known as “Boston’s Living room” (albeit by people with exceptionally nice living rooms), the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons serves a high tea Saturday afternoon worthy of a monarch, absolute or otherwise. $32 dollars gets you a pot of premium tea, scones, finger sandwiches, and that classic English combination of strawberry jam and Devonshire cream. $8 dollars more adds a glass of Kir Royal for Your Highness. 3pm–4:15pm. 200 Boylston St, Boston; 617-338-4400, fourseasons.com/boston)

Sex it up
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the bedroom, your partner has just brought back a bag of goodies from one of Boston’s six sex shops. Whether it be a leather bustier from Hubba Hubba (noon–8pm. 534 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square, Cambridge. 617-492-9082; hubbahubba.com), a butterfly kiss from Good Vibrations (10am–10pm, 308A Harvard St, Coolidge Corner, Brookline. 617-264-4400; goodvibes.com) or a crème-filled tall Texan from Sweet-n-Nasty (11am–6pm, 90A Massachusetts Ave, Back Bay, Boston. 617-266-7171; sweet-n-nasty.com), it’s certainly the cheapest way to spend Saturday night.

Shake and stir at Top of the Hub

The only thing more delicious than the pomegranate martini at Top of the Hub is the view. Although the restaurant turns a bit more exclusive and it’s often difficult to get a table on Saturday evenings, the afternoon is more than open for lighter fare and some of the best cocktails in the city. It’s also perfect for showing off your hometown to visiting friends. 11am–1am. 800 Boylston St, Boston (617-536-1775, topofthehub.net)

Shop the Haymarket
After nearly collapsing during the darkest days of the Big Dig, Boston’s historic open-air market has bounced back and then some. It’s thanks to the tenacity of the vendors and customers who continued to show up for the heavily-discounted wholesale fruit, vegetables, and fresh fish. If anything, it’s one of the few opportunities left to take part in Boston history without the masses of tourists. Dawn–dusk. Blackstone St, Downtown, Boston

Slurp some historic oysters
There are plenty of places in Boston to savor one of the region's true delicacies: raw oysters. But none have the history and provenance of America’s oldest restaurant, the Union Oyster House. Opened in 1826, the semi-circular bar not only introduced the nation to the toothpick but also served many of the characters in your high school American history textbook—including plenty of Kennedys plus Daniel Webster, who famously consumed about three dozen oysters per day there. 11am–10pm. 41 Union St, Downtown, Boston (617-227-2750, unionoysterhouse.com)

Storm the castle

Locals sometimes forget about the 1850 granite bastion known as Fort Independence, poised at the ocean end of South Boston on Castle Island. In addition to the landmark, today’s Pleasure Bay also offers 22 acres of beach, bike paths, picnic areas, fishing grounds and picturesque views. It’s a good spot for an all-day picnic, or to pretend like you’re going on a medieval raid. Free tours of the fort are available year round. Tours: noon–3pm. Day Blvd, South Boston (617-727-5290, mass.gov/dcr/parks/metroboston/castle.htm)

Take a pastry tour of Beacon Hill

If you’ve got a sweet tooth and penchant for brick, Charles Street in Beacon Hill affords a perfect path for pastry lovers. Start with a hand-filled cannoli at Café Bella Vita (10:30am–11pm. 30 Charles St. 617-720-4505) move on to a chocolate croissant at Café Vanille (6am–7pm. 70 Charles St. 617-523-9200; cafevanilleboston.com), then a triple chocolate cupcake at Isabelle’s Curly Cakes (10am–9:30pm. 81 Charles St. 617-720-2260; izzyscurlycakes.com) and finish with an apple strudel at Panificio Bistro and Bakery (9am–3:30pm. 144 Charles St. 617-227-4340; panificioboston.com).

Tour Harvard
There’s far more on the grounds of Harvard Yard than elite pupils and posing tourists. The iconic redbrick walls contain some truly stunning stories and a who’s-who of American history. As a Boston local, you should probably know some of this stuff—beyond all that social media magnate malarkey. Each Saturday, three free student-led tours leave the Holyoke Center at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm for a one-hour tour at the nation’s top university. 1350 Massachusetts Ave, Harvard Square, Cambridge (617-495-1573, harvard.edu)

Wander the Common

Boston Common has far more going on than you think. If you’re not skating on the Frog Pond, playing softball in the fields, tennis in the courts, or simply lounging with a book, there’s plenty of quirky history to take in that’s not always obvious, like that plaque dedicated to the now-fallen tree once used for public hangings, the Great Elm. Visitor’s Information Center: 9:00am–5:00pm. Tremont St, Downtown, Boston (617-536-4100, cityofboston.gov/freedomtrail/bostoncommon.asp)

Work your hands
For people who like to do more agile things with their fingers than pressing tiny keys, tapping touch screens or clicking mice, a number of craft shops in Boston offer an escape. Learn how to string beads at the Boston Bead Company (10am–7pm. 23 Church St, Harvard Square, Cambridge. 617-868-9777; bostonbeadcompany.com), crochet wire at Abeille (11am–6pm. 45 Harvard St, Brookline. 617-232-4343; abeille.us) or paint silk at Bead and Fiber (10am–4pm, 460 Harrison Ave, South End Boston 617-426-2323, beadandfiber.net). And that’s just scratching the surface.

Comments
Well, it is good to know that some things have not changed since I moved to London (UK)19 years ago. I used to cross country ski around the chestnut hill reservation, and Fresh Pond, and in the worst humidity of the dog days of summer, my friend and I would head straight for Castle Island. It was always 20 degrees cooler than in town or the suburbs like Brookline or Arlington. It is not easy to get to the coast from London - enjoy yourselves, Bostonians, and appreciate the size and location of our home town!
By ngoat (not verified) on 8/29/2012 at 5:12 pm
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