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Greenway Conservancy

Where to #OptOutside, according to Boston’s biggest sports fans

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This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, REI, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Boston and sports go together like lobster rolls and clam chowder. With hockey, basketball, and football seasons kicking into high gear, Boston turns into an all-encompassing destination for any major sport. So why not channel your favorite Bostonian athlete and check out the many places in Boston to play some ball, go for a run, or simply enjoy the outdoors sustainably. We asked Gabrielle Starr, blogger at Girl At The Game, Marisa Ingemi, Boston Bruins beat reporter for the Boston Herald, and Joon Lee, writer at ESPN, how they #OptOutside in Boston and beyond.

Inspired to make some environmental change after reading about these outdoor destinations? You can join REI on Black Friday to #OptOutside for a nationwide day of action and kick off a year of change. REI will be co-hosting cleanups with Leave No Trace and United by Blue all across the U.S. You can find your nearest cleanup at REI.com/opt-outside.

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Rose Kennedy Greenway

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The Greenway was built in an area of the city that used to be a massive highway overpass, and it absolutely transformed the area near Boston Harbor. It’s now home to a completely organic landscape, where  urban wildflower meadow, a “pollinator ribbon” and beehives sit akin to public art installations and public park space for urbanites. There are lots of free outdoor workout events in the city, many of which happen on the Rose Kennedy Greenway (Starr is a fan of the pilates boot camps on the weekends) and even a beer and wine garden, with Trillium Brewing Company, Westport Winery, and City Winery on tap. (BYO insulated growler or wine tumbler to cut down on single use plastic while imbibing.) Even though events ramp down in the fall, the Boston Public Market still operates a seasonal farmers market with fresh seafood, meat, and produce. 

Courtesy of the Greenway Conservancy

Chestnut Hill Reservoir

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“I like to take my dog for a walk or jog around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir,” says Starr. The reservoir, which was created in 1870 on existing marshes, has a 1.5-mile jogging loop that’s perfect for people looking to take either a long or short route. The loop can get pretty crowded, so pick your time of day wisely.

Luciof on Wikimedia Commons

Blue Hills Reservation

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Unplug from your email for a day and head outdoors. It’s nice to try to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and be in the quiet beauty of nature. “I grew up in the city, so on weekends, my family would often try to get out of it,” explains Starr. There are gorgeous hikes of all levels in the Blue Hills, just a 20-minute drive out of the city, and they include a spectacular view of the city itself. The 6,000-acre state park covers parts of Milton, Quincy, Braintree, Canton, Randolph, and Dedham. So many people don’t realize that there’s such great hiking so close to Boston.

Bob P. B. on Flickr

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

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Ingemi recommends The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Jamaica Plain as a beautiful place to take in some fall foliage. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and it’s the largest “link” in Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a 1,100-acre chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston and Brookline. The Arboretum has tons of free events that continue throughout the fall and is a great place to bring kids.

Plant Image Library on Flickr

Boston Women’s Heritage Trail

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Boston is best known for its Freedom Trail, a two-and-a-half-mile walk that takes you on a tour of the city’s Revolutionary War history. Less well-known are the Boston Women’s Heritage Trails, walks through various neighborhoods that highlight places of historical significance to women’s history. The Chinatown/South Cove trail starts at the Elizabeth Peabody Book Shop (13-15 West Street) and offers a ton of history related to labor organizing and economic justice in the city. You’ll learn about the 8,000 female telephone operators who went on strike, see the landing place of African-American poet Phyllis Wheatley, and learn about the roots of the New England Chinese Women’s Association, all in a compact, hour-and-a-half-long walking tour.   

Ricardo Barros

Larz Anderson Park

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“As the temps drop, I shift from outdoor yoga classes to ice skating, which I’ve been doing at Larz Anderson Park since I was two years old,” says Starr. People often think of the famous Frog Pond when they want to skate in Boston, but Larz Anderson Park in Brookline is a hidden gem. It’s got a gorgeous outdoor rink with music, affordable skate rentals, and hot cocoa to warm you up after a brisk turn on the ice. (Bring your own thermos to cut down on single-use cup waste, plus keep your cocoa warm longer.)

VanveenJF on Unsplash

The Esplanade

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“Take a walk on the Esplanade by the Charles River,” says Lee. “One of the most beautiful places in the entire city, hands down,” and it has bike paths and running paths and benches to let you stop and take in the scenery. It stretches three miles, from the Museum of Science to Boston University, and there are especially great views of the foliage during the fall. Once the busy summer season has passed, the rush of tourists leaves the Esplanade, leaving mostly locals who know the secret: that it’s a great place to enjoy year-round.

Brent Doscher

Boston Public Garden

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“Autumn brings the prettiest colors out of the city,” says Lee, and the Public Garden is one of the most popular spots in the city for a reason. To be surrounded by so much natural beauty while in the heart of Boston is incredibly special, and walks around the Public Garden have inspired plenty of books, like the famed Make Way For Ducklings. The swan boats may be done for the year, but the beauty of the park is year-round. And if all those gorgeous gardens have you really inspired, there are lots of volunteer opportunities through the Friends of the Public Garden. Show off your green thumb tending rose beds with their Rose Brigade, or help show visitors around with the Tour Guides. 

Selina on Flickr

Coolidge Corner

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One of the best — and affordable! — things to do in the city is just to walk around. Ingemi lives in Allston, so her favorite place to walk to and around is Coolidge Corner, which is a short trip on the Green Line in Brookline. It’s a really nice stroll and a good way to stay active, especially on fall days. Bring a reusable bag for all of your shopping and eating, too, as you’ll find lots of local shops, an indie bookstore with used books galore, and eateries along the way. 

Bill Damon on Flickr

Tony C's Sports Bar & Grill

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Take advantage of the spots with rooftop and outdoor patio seating while you still can, before Boston retreats back into its shell for the winter. Named in honor of Boston-born, Red Sox legend Tony Conigliaro, Tony C’s on Boylston has great views of Fenway Park at sunset, and their televisions are always showing games. Even if the Red Sox aren’t playing in the World Series, you can still catch the teams that are.

Courtesy of Tony C’s

Boston Bike Polo

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For the extra adventurous, give bike polo try. Yes, you read that right, bike polo — a unique mashup of street hockey and polo that involves playing hockey while riding a bike. Totally free and open to anyone, the bike polo club usually meets Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons in Cambridge’s Corporal Burns Playground. So if you’re up for a challenge, check their Facebook or join their Facebook Group for details. 

Courtesy Boston Bike Polo

Nashoba Valley Ski Area

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If you’re looking for a great ski destination this winter that also isn’t a huge trek, Nashoba Valley Ski Area could be your new go-to. Opened back in 1964, this full-service ski area now offers lessons, rentals, snowboarding, and skiing, of course. It also boasts the largest snow-tubing facility in New England and its on-site restaurant, the Outlook, can’t be beat for its mountain views, classic American fare, and live music. 

Courtesy Nashoba Valley Ski Area

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

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Thirty-four islands and peninsulas conveniently situated just miles from the city center, the Boston Harbor Islands are perfect for a quick, nature-filled getaway. And although it might not be camping or kayaking season, as we inch closer to winter, the mainlands parks—Deer, Nut, Webb Memorial, and World’s End, are open to the public all-year and accessible by car or public transportation. If you’re looking to get involved and help preserve these islands’ natural resources during your visit, check the park calendar (which has open events like Stewardship Saturdays year-round) or sign up for one of their volunteer programs

Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection on Flickr

Urban AdvenTours

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If you’re new to the Boston area—or are looking for a fun way to show visiting family around—Urban AdvenTours is definitely worth a try. They offer a variety of bike tours all across the city, from their flagship City View tour to a bike around Cambridge to see some of Boston’s famed universities. There’s also an all-ages tour so you can bring the kids along, or a Sunset Cycle to get some beautiful views along the Charles River. Better yet, Urban AdvenTours is a local, independent “green company,” keeping a sustainable approach across their entire business, while, of course, advocating to opt for a bike while traveling to help “burn carbs, not carbon.”

Courtesy Urban AdvenTours
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, REI, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Rose Kennedy Greenway

The Greenway was built in an area of the city that used to be a massive highway overpass, and it absolutely transformed the area near Boston Harbor. It’s now home to a completely organic landscape, where  urban wildflower meadow, a “pollinator ribbon” and beehives sit akin to public art installations and public park space for urbanites. There are lots of free outdoor workout events in the city, many of which happen on the Rose Kennedy Greenway (Starr is a fan of the pilates boot camps on the weekends) and even a beer and wine garden, with Trillium Brewing Company, Westport Winery, and City Winery on tap. (BYO insulated growler or wine tumbler to cut down on single use plastic while imbibing.) Even though events ramp down in the fall, the Boston Public Market still operates a seasonal farmers market with fresh seafood, meat, and produce. 

Courtesy of the Greenway Conservancy

Chestnut Hill Reservoir

“I like to take my dog for a walk or jog around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir,” says Starr. The reservoir, which was created in 1870 on existing marshes, has a 1.5-mile jogging loop that’s perfect for people looking to take either a long or short route. The loop can get pretty crowded, so pick your time of day wisely.

Luciof on Wikimedia Commons

Blue Hills Reservation

Unplug from your email for a day and head outdoors. It’s nice to try to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and be in the quiet beauty of nature. “I grew up in the city, so on weekends, my family would often try to get out of it,” explains Starr. There are gorgeous hikes of all levels in the Blue Hills, just a 20-minute drive out of the city, and they include a spectacular view of the city itself. The 6,000-acre state park covers parts of Milton, Quincy, Braintree, Canton, Randolph, and Dedham. So many people don’t realize that there’s such great hiking so close to Boston.

Bob P. B. on Flickr

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Ingemi recommends The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Jamaica Plain as a beautiful place to take in some fall foliage. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and it’s the largest “link” in Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a 1,100-acre chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston and Brookline. The Arboretum has tons of free events that continue throughout the fall and is a great place to bring kids.

Plant Image Library on Flickr

Boston Women’s Heritage Trail

Boston is best known for its Freedom Trail, a two-and-a-half-mile walk that takes you on a tour of the city’s Revolutionary War history. Less well-known are the Boston Women’s Heritage Trails, walks through various neighborhoods that highlight places of historical significance to women’s history. The Chinatown/South Cove trail starts at the Elizabeth Peabody Book Shop (13-15 West Street) and offers a ton of history related to labor organizing and economic justice in the city. You’ll learn about the 8,000 female telephone operators who went on strike, see the landing place of African-American poet Phyllis Wheatley, and learn about the roots of the New England Chinese Women’s Association, all in a compact, hour-and-a-half-long walking tour.   

Ricardo Barros

Larz Anderson Park

“As the temps drop, I shift from outdoor yoga classes to ice skating, which I’ve been doing at Larz Anderson Park since I was two years old,” says Starr. People often think of the famous Frog Pond when they want to skate in Boston, but Larz Anderson Park in Brookline is a hidden gem. It’s got a gorgeous outdoor rink with music, affordable skate rentals, and hot cocoa to warm you up after a brisk turn on the ice. (Bring your own thermos to cut down on single-use cup waste, plus keep your cocoa warm longer.)

VanveenJF on Unsplash

The Esplanade

“Take a walk on the Esplanade by the Charles River,” says Lee. “One of the most beautiful places in the entire city, hands down,” and it has bike paths and running paths and benches to let you stop and take in the scenery. It stretches three miles, from the Museum of Science to Boston University, and there are especially great views of the foliage during the fall. Once the busy summer season has passed, the rush of tourists leaves the Esplanade, leaving mostly locals who know the secret: that it’s a great place to enjoy year-round.

Brent Doscher

Boston Public Garden

“Autumn brings the prettiest colors out of the city,” says Lee, and the Public Garden is one of the most popular spots in the city for a reason. To be surrounded by so much natural beauty while in the heart of Boston is incredibly special, and walks around the Public Garden have inspired plenty of books, like the famed Make Way For Ducklings. The swan boats may be done for the year, but the beauty of the park is year-round. And if all those gorgeous gardens have you really inspired, there are lots of volunteer opportunities through the Friends of the Public Garden. Show off your green thumb tending rose beds with their Rose Brigade, or help show visitors around with the Tour Guides. 

Selina on Flickr

Coolidge Corner

One of the best — and affordable! — things to do in the city is just to walk around. Ingemi lives in Allston, so her favorite place to walk to and around is Coolidge Corner, which is a short trip on the Green Line in Brookline. It’s a really nice stroll and a good way to stay active, especially on fall days. Bring a reusable bag for all of your shopping and eating, too, as you’ll find lots of local shops, an indie bookstore with used books galore, and eateries along the way. 

Bill Damon on Flickr

Tony C's Sports Bar & Grill

Take advantage of the spots with rooftop and outdoor patio seating while you still can, before Boston retreats back into its shell for the winter. Named in honor of Boston-born, Red Sox legend Tony Conigliaro, Tony C’s on Boylston has great views of Fenway Park at sunset, and their televisions are always showing games. Even if the Red Sox aren’t playing in the World Series, you can still catch the teams that are.

Courtesy of Tony C’s

Boston Bike Polo

For the extra adventurous, give bike polo try. Yes, you read that right, bike polo — a unique mashup of street hockey and polo that involves playing hockey while riding a bike. Totally free and open to anyone, the bike polo club usually meets Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons in Cambridge’s Corporal Burns Playground. So if you’re up for a challenge, check their Facebook or join their Facebook Group for details. 

Courtesy Boston Bike Polo

Nashoba Valley Ski Area

If you’re looking for a great ski destination this winter that also isn’t a huge trek, Nashoba Valley Ski Area could be your new go-to. Opened back in 1964, this full-service ski area now offers lessons, rentals, snowboarding, and skiing, of course. It also boasts the largest snow-tubing facility in New England and its on-site restaurant, the Outlook, can’t be beat for its mountain views, classic American fare, and live music. 

Courtesy Nashoba Valley Ski Area

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

Thirty-four islands and peninsulas conveniently situated just miles from the city center, the Boston Harbor Islands are perfect for a quick, nature-filled getaway. And although it might not be camping or kayaking season, as we inch closer to winter, the mainlands parks—Deer, Nut, Webb Memorial, and World’s End, are open to the public all-year and accessible by car or public transportation. If you’re looking to get involved and help preserve these islands’ natural resources during your visit, check the park calendar (which has open events like Stewardship Saturdays year-round) or sign up for one of their volunteer programs

Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection on Flickr

Urban AdvenTours

If you’re new to the Boston area—or are looking for a fun way to show visiting family around—Urban AdvenTours is definitely worth a try. They offer a variety of bike tours all across the city, from their flagship City View tour to a bike around Cambridge to see some of Boston’s famed universities. There’s also an all-ages tour so you can bring the kids along, or a Sunset Cycle to get some beautiful views along the Charles River. Better yet, Urban AdvenTours is a local, independent “green company,” keeping a sustainable approach across their entire business, while, of course, advocating to opt for a bike while traveling to help “burn carbs, not carbon.”

Courtesy Urban AdvenTours

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