Boston, Massachusetts is packed with abundant must-see attractions that range from Fenway Park to the Freedom Trail. Historic buildings keep company with trendy eateries, and what’s more refreshing than a boat tour? While there’s undeniably a lot to do during your visit to Boston, don’t overlook these unique, unusual sites situated off the beaten path. These attractions might not be on the top (or even the bottom) of your list, but they will be the highlight of your trip. After booking your Boston vacation rental, check out these hidden gems.
1. The Mapparium
The Mapparium is a giant stained-glass globe at the Mary Baker Eddy Library that reaches three stories in height and has a hollow inside. This means that you can walk inside. “A World of Ideas” plays while you tour the inside, a conglomeration of music, words, and LED lights that illustrates how all people are connected through ideas. After experiencing the Mapparium, browse the library exhibit, which tells all about the Mapparium’s construction, history, and architecture. The Mary Baker Eddy Library and Mapparium are located in the Back Bay area just next to the Columbus neighborhood, which boasts plenty of vacation rentals close enough for walking.
This Bodega in the Back Bay is the definition of “hidden gem” because of its front as a convenience store. However, if you know where the secret door is, you can get to the holy mecca of shoe shops within. Even if you don’t like shoe shopping, it’s worth the visit just to be admitted to this secret world. As an added bonus, you can pick up your milk, cereal, and toilet paper while there. The Bodega is right next door to the Mary Baker Eddy Library, so you can hit two off-the-beaten-path places at once.
3. The Museum of Bad Art
You’ve probably been to a ton of art museums, but it’s unlikely you ever had quite as much fun as you would at the Museum of Bad Art where hilarity and laughter are the norm. Each piece in the carefully curated collection has something unusually, horrifically bad about it; many even come from real artists who had a bad moment. Afterwards, stop by at the museum shop for a mug or shirt to prove you actually went. The museum is located in Brookline in the southwest Boston metropolitan area, an ideal place for a vacation rental with a slower pace.
4. Corey Hill Park
Corey Hill Park is also located in Brookline. What this area has that the rest of Boston doesn’t is an overlook park without the crowds. You can get a great view of the Boston skyline with only the locals–both birds and humans–keeping you company. The 4 acres include walking paths and trails, seating, a playground, and a dog park. Placed in a residential neighborhood, you can grab one of the vacation rentals lining the park and spend long afternoons enjoying the view.
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5. Skinny House
The Skinny House is exactly what it sounds like: a super-narrow house that’s about 10 feet at its widest point and 6 feet at its narrowest with just over a 6-foot ceiling. What’s even more interesting is the history behind this bizarre living area which includes family disputes and revenge dating back to the American Civil War. While you need to walk by–don’t blink–to witness this narrow home, you can’t go inside. It might be a historic site, but it’s also a family home. Take advantage of its location in downtown Boston just a few blocks from the waterfront and the Charles River, and take a walk along the waterfront or pick up the nearby Freedom Trail.
6. Brattle Book Shop
The Bodega isn’t the only unusual shop in Boston; the Brattle Book Shop sells used, rare, and antique books. While it’s not the first choice with Boston Commons and Boston Public Gardens just down the street and historic sites dotting the downtown, it’s a great way to while away an afternoon whether rain or shine. As an added bonus, it’s one of the oldest book shops in the country. During dry weather, an outdoor bookshelf lining the empty lot next door is open for perusal.
7. Forest Hills Cemetery
Historic cemeteries boasting interesting historic figures are plentiful in downtown Boston, so finding a hidden Victorian cemetery off the beaten path without the crowds is a delight. Stroll the paths around the cemetery, enjoy the miniature village, and take in the peacefulness of the lake in the center. Located in the Jamaica Plains neighborhood, the cemetery allows you to experience trendy without overcrowding. Stop next door for a stroll through the Shattuck Grove and around the Scarboro Pond.
8. Caffe Vittoria
While trendy restaurants come and go, delighting tourists for a brief, flashing moment, Caffe Vittoria in the downtown area is here to stay. It’s the first Italian Cafe in Boston, established in the early 1900s, featuring traditional Italian coffee, pastries, and gelato (like ice cream but better). While tourists flock to Mike’s Pastry, Bova’s Bakery, and other shops for the best cannolis, the locals smile and head to Caffe Vittoria for truly the best cannolis along with the best cheesecake, tiramisu, and biscotti.
9. Monica’s Mercato
Speaking of Italian, if you want to have a true Italian sub, and the best in the city, go to Monica’s Mercato. This shop features meats, cheeses, breads, and beverages from its European namesake. Get a pound of thin-sliced prosciutto along with some soft mozzarella and crusty bread during your stay, or just go for the Italian sub that has freshly shaved meats and cheeses and a balsamic reduction sauce that changes your worldview. Monica’s Mercato is just down the street from Caffe Vittoria, so chase your Italian sub with a cannoli.
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