Being a college student is expensive. With tuition rates higher than ever, Boston college students are looking for a way to have fun in the city without adding to their student loans. So, here’s a list of 10 free things to do around Emerson College, resting less than a block away from downtown.
1. Spend the day in the Boston Common.
There is always plenty to do in the Boston Common. It’s a nice little grassy spot in the hub of city buildings where people are always walking and moving. Between protests, food trucks, a dog park, sunbathing picnic spots, and the occasional “Caturday,” where cats literally roam around the common in the sun with their owners, it’s always a good time.
And, if you’re missing the summer sun and greenery, students have a discount of ice skating at the Frog Pond in the common when they show their ID (extra $ needed, skates available for rent), which isn’t too expensive. It’s always a good time.
2. Walk to the Boston Public Gardens.
Right across from the Boston Common are the Boston Public Gardens. There are always people sitting on benches just watching the pond and walking their dogs. The scenery is more artsy than the common, good for a cute Instagram photoshoot with your friends or just a nice walk in the spring breeze.
When the weather’s nice, you can even get a swan boat ride (for extra $). And at the end of the garden and trimmed hedges is Commonwealth Ave. and Newbury St. to continue your journey. Let the window shopping begin.
3. Walk to the Charles River Esplanade.
It’s a bit more of a walk than the first two, but also something fun to do with a group of friends. From Emerson College, just continue through the Boston Common, Boston Public Gardens, and keep going over the pedestrian bridge. On that other side, there’s a huge playground that’s almost college-student sized and the pier. It’s good for just hanging out and taking pictures of, but really, the fun is in the journey.
4. Visit the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts).
The museum has numerous different modern and historic pieces within its different sections. It costs money for the general public, but if a student enters through the ‘Students and Groups’ entrance with their Student ID, then tickets are free.
It’s a great way to spend the day appreciating art on a date or group outing. New exhibits come to shake things up as well.
5. Catch a Movie at the AMC Lowes Theatre.
Although movies for regular Bostonians cost money, for Emerson Students there is a Facebook group that offers free movie tickets to pre-released movie screenings. But, show up early, around 7 pm for the typical 8 pm showing, in order to make sure you get a good seat. There’s a limited number of seats and they will shut you out. Popcorn and snacks not included.
6. Take a yoga or Zumba class at the Emerson College gym.
This one only applies to Emerson students. Other gyms that offer these services may make you pay.
But, at Emerson College, students have access to scheduled yoga, Zumba, spin classes, and more. It’s a neat change between your regular workout to help keep the freshman 15 at bay while interacting with your fellow Emersonian. And, along the way, there’s fresh air and often street performances to keep your attention, being that the gym is currently temporarily downtown.
7. Explore Downtown Boston.
Only a block away from the Boston Common, Downtown Boston is a cute place to walk around and window-shop if you have no money, or actually buy if you do. The culture is tangible and often lively, split between the Boston Opera House and Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
There are street food vendors and performers and constant walkers. There are all different kinds of stores and restaurants mixed around the historical monuments like the Irish Famine Monument and Old South Meeting House. The cobblestones add a vintage touch as well as old buildings and details throughout, perfect for pictures. And, more towards South Station, towards the east side of downtown, there’s lots of cool art to look at.
8. Go to Faneuil Hall.
Besides Copley Square and expensive stores at the Prudential Center, this is the closest mall. It has big chain stores like American Eagle and Victoria’s Secret, but also little independent shops in the Boston Public Market like The Boston Honey Company.
But, there’s no need to buy anything. As almost an extension to Downtown, there’s always shows and musicians set up, plus places to window shop and eat free samples. Though, during orientation week, Faneuil Hall Marketplace does give away membership cards with coupons that one can use at specified stores (with extra $).
Unlike some other things on this list, there’s enough walking to make a whole day trip or skim it for an afternoon. It’s doable, but definitely a walk from the Boston Common and central Emerson College campus.
9. Go to a speech or forum on campus.
Being that Emerson College is a communications school with a strong theatre and performing arts background, there is never a shortage of free speeches and forums to check out on campus, most of them are open to the public as well, so long as you know where to find them.
Plus, many of the speeches have free food beforehand; good stuff like pizza and cookies, perfect for the struggling college student.
10. Explore the Boston Public Library.
Yes, a library. It sounds boring, but during your college career, the library will become your best friend. The Boston Public Library has become a frequent go-to for many students recently.
Only a 15-minute walk from central campus, there are several huge murals for art enthusiasts, in addition to the already impressive architecture, a cafe (for extra $), and even tours. Plus, it’s near Copley Square, so there’s plenty of things nearby to let the adventure continue.