Donald: Bursting the BU Bubble – Finding Boston’s Less-Frequented Neighborhoods

Last fall, I took a fascinating class called Urban Sociology (SO 244). One day, we had a guest speaker who was an expert on Boston come give our class a lecture. To start off, he gave us a blank map of the city of Boston and told us to fill in all of the city’s neighborhoods. Like most BU students, I quickly found Kenmore/Fenway, Allston, and I managed to scribble in Brookline. Yet, after that, even if I could name other neighborhoods, I had no idea where they were.

As BU students, I’m sure we’ve all heard of the “BU Bubble” – an imaginary boundary that includes our campus and nearby areas – that BU students never seem to escape. During my sophomore year, I realized how true this assertion was, and I took it upon myself to explore the actual city of Boston before I graduated. Here are just a few spots that I’ve loved exploring that aren’t so close to campus.

Jamaica Plain
Overview: Jamaica Plain (JP) is an eclectic community that truly has a small-town feel. The neighborhood, with large LGBTQ+ and Latino communities, is a diverse conclave with a very activist-minded vibe. This is exemplified by some of the shopping spots in the neighborhood, such as Boomerangs, a thrift store whose proceeds all benefit the AIDS Action Committee. 
Favorite Spot: It’s honestly hard to pick. Although the first ever J.P. Licks ice cream store is located in JP, I’m going to go with the Jamaica Pond for this one. If you’re looking to feel like you’re away from the city for a while, the Jamaica Pond is a beautiful getaway, while miles of running/walking/biking paths around it. 
How To Get There: Getting to JP is a little tough. However, there are several stops on the Orange Line that will land you in JP, including the Jackson Square and Forest Hills stops. 

Overview: Often referred to as the “Brooklyn of Boston,” Somerville is a trendy, hip neighborhood home to a lot of recent college graduates and young professionals. Just past Cambridge, Somerville has a number of excellent restaurants and cool sites to visit.
Favorite Spot: By far, my favorite place to visit in Somerville is Union Square, especially during one of weirder community festivals they have. In the past, I’ve been to Fluff Fest – a festival dedicated entirely to marshmallow fluff. A few weeks ago, they hosted Pity Party, an event celebrating sadness and sulking. Definitely check out a calendar to see what cool events may be coming up soon.
How To Get There: Somerville is a bit tricky. But, if you hop on the B line to the Chestnut Hill Ave stop, you can hop on the 86 bus and be there in a few minutes!

Central Square
Overview: I mean this in the best way possible, but if you’re looking for a crowd of weird people, Cambridge is the best place to be. And no other area of Cambridge exemplifies that like Central Square. With a mixture of restaurants, concert venues, and small shops, Central Square is an eclectic group of both college students and older adults.
Favorite Spot: Out of the Blue Too is an art gallery and concert space in the heart of Central Square. It’s one of my favorite venues to visit because it usually hosts local bands in a small, intimate setting. Plus, there are a ton of really cool art piece along the walls, so you can peruse some cool art while listening to great music.
How To Get There: It’s super easy! Just hop on the 47 bus, which has a stop in South Campus close to Warren Towers, and you’ll be there in 15 minutes!

Overview: Many BU students talk about being afraid to visit Roxbury, but it’s actually a very welcoming and warm community that deserves more attention than it gets. Roxbury is the heart of the African-American community in Boston, with many family-owened establishments and a vibrant community-feeling.
Favorite Spot: I love the Hayley House in Roxbury, a great cafe with some of the best quesadillas I’ve had in Boston. The Hayley House often has spoken word poetry nights, which are a must-see!
How To Get There: Roxbury isn’t super accesible via public transportation, but there are several stops on the Orange Line which can get you there if you have time to spare.

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