It’s September, so I’m packing my bags and making my way back to Boston University. There are some struggles inherent in being a BU student, but in between playing Frogger in Commonwealth Avenue traffic and picking snow out of our hair, we Terriers like to have fun. If you’re ever in Boston and find yourself near BU, don’t turn around and head back downtown – check off some of the sights, eats, and events featured here on StreetTrotter’s comprehensive Boston University College Tour.
If you take one look at Warren Towers, the three prison blocks looming above Comm Ave, you might get a bad first impression of our campus. I understand. But forget that image and look at this one.
Much better, right?
Boston University doesn’t have much green space or pretty architecture, but what we do have, we love. Bay State Rd. is right off Kenmore Square and runs parallel to Comm Ave. Its graceful brownstones and fall foliage can almost make you appreciate walking to class, and it ends at the BU Beach, the closest thing BU’s “urban campus” (translation: concrete wasteland) has to a quad.
In the fall and spring, it’s a warm spot for students to hang out and admire the sparkling Charles River (not dirty anymore!) and use the roar of Storrow Drive to blast any school-related stress out of their brains. In the winter, there’s plenty of space for snowball fights and snow angels.
The Esplanade gets Bostonians even closer to the Charles, winding along the riverbank all the way down BU’s campus. It’s a beautiful alternate path to classes, and a perfect place for visitors to stroll in any weather.
When we can’t handle one more dining hall hockey puck burger, Boston’s restaurateurs are there to help. If you’re feeling fancy (or if your parents are in town and paying), try Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square. The interior is beautiful – lots of dark wood paneling and soft yellow lighting – and so is the food.
However, for a meal that caters to the student budget, try Crispy Crepes near the BU East T stop, which offers enormous amounts of food for very little money. They serve their titular dish in both sweet and savory iterations, as well as lots of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern munchies. I usually get the spicy falafel wrap. It’s as big as my face, and costs a little over $6. Cue angelic chorus.
Other campus favorites include Sunset Cantina, a haven for booze and Mexican food; T Anthony’s, BU’s late-night drunk pizza destination of choice; and Raising Cane’s, a restaurant specializing in chicken fingers and a proud sponsor of the Freshman 15. All three are in BU’s West Campus.
Walk a little farther past West and find yourself in the Allston neighborhood. Allston’s nickname is “Rat City.” I wish that was some neighborhood inside joke alluding to something unrelated to rodents, but it’s not. There’s just a lot of rats. Try to keep this fact out of your head when checking out the restaurants on Brighton Ave. There’s a taquería, an Italian place, a ramen joint, a vegetarian restaurant, and much more, all on the same stretch of road. Brighton Ave. is America’s melting pot in delicious miniature.
Earlier this year, New York magazine published an article titled “Can Boston Ever Be Fun?”. BU students often wonder the same thing. Boston shuts down at 9 PM – thanks, Puritans – and for such a big city, it can sometimes feel like the small towns many of us tried to flee when we came here. Boston University tries its best to counteract Boston’s no-fun-allowed policy through a range of academic, social, and cultural events.
On Wednesday nights, the Coit Observatory, located above the 5th floor astronomy department in the College of Arts and Sciences building, holds a Public Open Night. With an online reservation ahead of time, you can take a free peek at the stars. Open Nights are cancelled for cloudy skies, but you can get updates and cancellation notices on Twitter, @buobservatory.
On the artsier side of things, the College of Fine Arts puts together a diverse season of theater and music performances that Boston University students and the public can enjoy. The 808 Gallery, across the street from CFA, regularly holds art exhibitions and openings, and the Agganis Arena, in between hockey games, hosts concerts. Recent acts include Twenty One Pilots and Macklemore, with upcoming shows from Troye Sivan and Two Door Cinema Club.
BU’s cultural clubs don’t skimp on their celebrations, either. Every year, the BU Hindu Students Council hosts its annual ‘Holi’ celebration on a quiet street behind the College of Communication building and Warren Towers. This year, when I went with my friends, there were hundreds of attendees, wearing white shirts and throwing colorful powder at one another. Even though April in Boston was still freezing, there was so much running around, so much music and dancing, that I didn’t think about the cold at all.
With all the things to see, eat, and enjoy on campus, you can treat Boston University as a school and a destination, whether you’re a student, a parent, or just passing through. I do love it there. I’m well fed and well entertained, and hopefully, by the end of my four years, I’ll be well educated, too.
- Want to tour some art in Boston? – Check out our roundup of Boston Art Museums.
- While you are in Boston and looking for more things to do and places to visit in the city – Don’t miss to check out our walking tour post on Boston in a day!