As trees shed their leaves, now’s your last chance to explore the outdoors before the snow arrives in full force. Check out these five areas in and around Boston, each with their own outdoor space and a nearby eatery for a spot-on end of fall experience.
Peruse the historical landmark of Fort Independence, a granite fort made in the early 1800s and active for both world wars. After getting a dose of history, wander toward the sandy beaches of Pleasure Bay and Carson Beach. A paved trail along the coast, public restrooms and a playground makes for a good family destination. With Sullivan’s closed for the season, if you need a break from the strong sea breeze, Local 149 welcomes its guests with street-art inspired silk screens bursting in color across the walls and treats like its pear and gorgonzola ravioli.
Local 149, 149 P St., Boston (617-269-0900) local149.com
Beside the popular Arnold Arboretum is the lesser known, 24-acre Bussey Brook Meadow, home to a range of diverse ecosystems. Wander into the hollow where you’ll find a wilderness comparable to Narnia. While the Arboretum offers a manicured space ideal for biking and rollerblading, Bussey Brook presents a quiet, more feral escape for reading or having a picnic.
On your way out, stop at Centre Street’s Blue Nile, offering Ethiopian fare with every dish served on injera. Be sure to wash your hands because the traditional Ethiopian sponge bread is your fork and knife.
Blue Nile, 389 Centre St., Boston (617-522-6453) bluenilejp.com
Head to the observation tower of Isle Marsh, once called Hog Island, to take in views of the waving beach grass, expansive wetlands and the city’s skyline. The Reservation’s 188 acres holds a delicate ecosystem of plants and animals that thrive in estuaries, where freshwater rivers meet the sea. Strap on your boots and follow the winding rivers through Boston’s last salt marsh.
On your way back downtown, stop into Taqueria Jalisco, a trifecta of quick service, a hole-in-the-wall atmosphere and authentic Mexican food. Nosh on carnitas on a soft shell taco topped with freshly sliced avocado, drizzle one of their three housemade hot sauces for an extra kick, and save a little space for complimentary salsa and chips.
Taqueria Jalisco, 291 Bennington St., Boston (617-567-6367) facebook.com/Taqueria-Jalisco
Hammond Pond Reservation is located less than a 10-minute walk from Newton Centre, surrounded by various walking paths and sandstone rock formations to scale or observe. The reservation is connected to Houghton Garden, a recognized National Register of Historic Places with stout umbrella pines and a picturesque lagoon.
When you’re hungry for more than the sweeping views, a break in the trees leads back to the modern world, where Cafe St. Petersburg sits on an easily overlooked side street. Treat yourself to zakuska—a Russian hors d’oeuvres of pickled vegetables and cured meats traditionally served with vodka—or borscht if you have a hankering for a hearty beet soup to warm your insides.
Cafe St. Petersburg, 57 Union St. #1, Newton (617-467-3555) cafestpetersburg.com
Made by the melting of the Laurentide Glacier more than 15,000 years ago, Fresh Pond has a long history. The pond has shifted through the centuries from being used as a fishing spot for Native Americans to a present-day reservoir serving several nearby counties. With an off-leash path for dog lovers, an abundance of migratory birds and songbirds for dedicated ornithophiles and more than 2 miles of green paradise for naturalists, this is the spot to disappear from the screeching Green Line and slip into the nature’s silence with the occasional gleeful dog bark.
Ideal for a pre- or post-adventure snack is Sofra Bakery; “Sofra” meaning “a picnic” in Turkish. These spicy treats are perfect for packing an outdoor snack with Fresh Pond as a backdrop.
Sofra Bakery, 1 Belmont St., Cambridge (617-661-3161) sofrabakery.com