50 things to do this spring
Cambridge Science Festival
According to our homeboy from across the pond, Sir Isaac Newton, “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” The Cambridge Science Festival—with its smorgasbord of lectures, debates, exhibitions, concerts, plays and workshops—is sure to exert a force that will get you off your couch and up to Cambridge, April 30 through Mary 8. Just a sampler: On May 5, you can have lunch with Walter Gilbert, 1980 Nobel prize winner in Chemistry—no biggie. And from on May 6, Nerdnite Presents Nerdtacular, an event that invites all you poindexters to get down with your smartypants selves at the MIT Museum. Events take place throughout the city.
Go all out for Derby Day
Churchill Downs may seem like a long way off when looking at a map. But at in East Boston, you’ll swear you were in Louisville. The Downs throws what it calls “Boston’s Biggest and Best Derby Party,” with a big screen outside, live music and barbeque. Plans are still being finalized for this year’s revelry (live racing is scheduled to start up at the Downs on May 21), but it promises to follow in annual tradition. Even if you’re not risking it all on steeds like Mucho Macho Man, just go to have a mint julep—or four. And what’s a day at the races without a hat to rival Eliza Doolittle’s? For proper head cover, jet over to in Jamaica Plain , which has 6,500 hats to choose from, including its own line of women’s Derby hats.
Acoustic music bonanza
Spring is in the air, and so begin seasonal mating rituals like serenading your lady/manly love. If you’re looking to get your fiddle in tune, , between Harvard and Central Squares, features lessons, repairs and instruments for purchase (banjo, mandolin, guitar) as well as an “Old Timey Music Jam” every Monday night. Once you’re strumming along, go listen to the dulcet sounds of the Cambridge Spring Dulcimer Festival (April 29 to May 1) with workshops and performances by the likes of Fennig’s All-Star String Band.
This multi-venue celebration of technology and the arts once wandered nomadically amongst various gallery spaces in the city. But now, it’s no longer homeless. Atlantic Wharf, a new 31-story tower in Fort Point will be cyber central for the sprawling festival as well as for the entire year to follow. From April 22 through May 8. (bostoncyberarts.org/festival)
Get thee to a food truck
There’s a whole world of food truck cuisine just waiting to be devoured. Of course, in true Boston style, these scrumptious offerings may not be screaming at you as you walk by. Comfort food abounds: M&M Ribs aka Big Moe’s serves up barbecue with soul food sides, all packaged up as take-out in the corner of a deserted lot (Hamden Street near Melina Cass Blvd; 617-306-0788). Better for your soul than for your waistline, Boston Speed Dog slings some of the city’s best hot dogs, with its famous “secret” sauces. Fillbelly’s is the place to find chicken and waffles. The recently opened Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese sets up shop on Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue in Cleveland Circle. But there are healthy options, too. One of the crowned victors of the City of Boston’s Food Truck Challenge last year, Momogoose, offers vegan and non-vegan Asian cuisine including an impressive list of curries, plus a dessert bar. Conveniently, they’re relocating to City Hall Plaza in April this year. MIT-area favorite Clover Food Lab found a brick-and-mortar home this past year in Harvard Square, but the original iteration can be found parked in a lot on the MIT campus or in the Financial District’s Dewey Square.
Three flavors of Midsummer
If you’re a fan of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s comedy about confused, horny people running around the woods, you’re in luck. This spring in Boston, you can check out three different iterations of the show. The Boston Ballet performs George Balanchine’s 1962 danced-through adaptation at the (Apr. 7–17). Then in May, ArtsEmerson brings David Leddy’s Susurrus to Boston Common. It’s an audiovisual adaptation of Midsummer that involves a solo walk around the park with an iPod, lots of trees and no actors. We don’t know what that all means, but we do know that it killed at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest last year (dates TBA). And if you’re feeling clubby, the A.R.T.’s disco version of Midsummer, The Donkey Show, continues to glitter-coat Oberon every Saturday night.
Stop for a scoop
is a local institution, with shops in the Back Bay, Coolidge Corner, Davis Square, Harvard Square and (duh) Jamaica Plain. The local chain is known for its funky atmosphere, hip scoopers and flavors so good they'll bring you to your knees, so expect to wait in line on hot days. A bit tougher to get to—but worth the trek—is in Inman Square. It’s a favorite among local restaurateurs looking to amp up their dessert menu with the shop's painstakingly crafted, beautifully realized seasonal flavors like fresh rose, burnt sugar and ginger molasses. is another Cambridge spot with out-there flavors. The staff constantly works to create new and interesting varieties like the salty bacon and the smoky sweet burnt caramel (which was actually made by accident).
—Mike Dunphy, Alexis Hauk, Andrea O'Meara, Jessie Rogers, Jenna Scherer, David Wildman