The Zamboni finishes its final methodical sweep across the Kendall Square Ice Skating Rink, leaving behind only a smooth, glassy surface. The illuminated floors of the surrounding office buildings and the twinkling holiday lights of the nearby trees reflect vividly off the ice for a precious moment before the calm is broken by scores of skaters spilling out into the rink?sliding, dashing, and casually loping through the cold evening air.
This is the scene at the 2.5-acre Kendall Square each day from mid-December through mid-March, provided the weather cooperates. Skaters can rent hockey and figure skates or bring their own blades for spins around the rink. They can pause between laps to warm themselves with a hot chocolate from the snack bar or a bear hug with an unsuspecting stranger.
The low thrum of an electric bass. The clean jangle of an electric piano. At School of Groove, owner Christopher Vuk presides over instructors as they fill the space with music and help students through scales, rhythms, and eventually full pieces on a wide range of instruments. The teachers have played music alongside musicians including Herbie Hancock, John Mayer, and Paul Simon, and guest rock musicians occasionally lead sessions to impart their skills or explain why they think every smashable guitar is full of candy. In private lessons and group sessions, hands-on practice illuminates the processes of improvising, writing, and recording music. Students at the school can also join a band, where they'll write their own music, build teamwork skills, and perform at venues such as Hard Rock Cafe and Ryles Jazz Club.
With a history of nautical scholarship that dates back to the mid 1930s, Community Boating Inc. has graduated thousands of students from its hands-on sailing school and into the ranks of skipperdom. Seasoned instructors lead classes for all ages, with separate youth, adult, and universal-access programs to ensure that the sweeping vistas, invigorating mists, and albatross necklaces of seafaring can be enjoyed by all. Certified students and members can take jaunts across the Charles River atop a kayak or Mercury sailboat borrowed from Community Boating Inc.?s 100-strong fleet of windblown and man-powered vessels.
The MIT Museum, accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1984 and again in 2002, engages the public with scientific research, design, and a peek into the institution's academic discoveries. The museum's permanent collections, assembled from artifacts the university has collected through scholarly interests, include holograms, a nautical archive, and technological achievements, such as the telephone. Temporary exhibitions storm the museum's towers throughout the year, currently showcasing MIT 150, highlighting 150 years' worth of artifacts–such as race cars and the TX-0 computer–and world domination by MIT students and faculty. The museum also hosts a number of programs for the public throughout the year. Guests can check out the calendar for an up-to-date list of upcoming attractions and events.
Inside Kings, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of clattering sounds and uproarious cheers. The noise might stem from the bowling section, where glowing squares of abstract, retro wall art bookend the alleys. It might also come from ricocheting billiard balls, a well-aimed skee-ball, or a shuffleboard shot in the game room. Maybe someone spotted a celebrity—Bill Murray, Salma Hayek, and Lady Gaga are all on an extensive list of past famous visitors.
Wherever their origins, the telltale echoes of competition and camaraderie beckon to guests throughout the venue. They're accompanied in the air by the scents of comfort food, from staples such as sesame ginger wings to inventive fusions such as cheeseburger spring rolls. Sweeter aromas waft from multiple bars as the staff flavors martinis with gummy bears, pop rocks, and ice cream instead of the traditional fixings, olives or entire lemons on toothpicks.
As for sights, the surroundings blend vintage flair with luminous technology. More than 30 high-definition televisions line the space, broadcasting sports games and bowling scores. Though the game-room amenities differ slightly based on the town—Boston's Back Bay has six Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables, and Dedham boasts four miniature-roller-ball lanes—each Kings location hosts group events, including parties and corporate getaways where you can finally laugh at your boss's ridiculous shoes. Weekly themed nights for the public also encourage dancing, karaoke, and trivia.
The walking expeditions of Art Tours Boston shepherd art-lovers and curious newcomers to galleries along Newbury Street or in the buzzing former mill buildings of the South End. Their leaders are professional artists, curators, and professors, and they're armed with enough knowledge that these local tours double as a survey of the vast arena of traditional, modern and contemporary art. As they travel from spot to spot perfecting their thoughtful head tilt, tour guests find opportunities to meet artists, discuss paintings, photography, and sculpture, and chat with art dealers.