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23 Boston hacks to make your life easier

Written by
Time Out contributors
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We’ve got nine millennial championships, a rising-star senator and a hotly debated 2024 Olympic bid. Boston is officially on the map. After moving to Boston, your first year is full of learning and experiencing: What’s a triple decker? Who’s Dave Epstein? What’s in a medium regular anyway? After a few more years, you’re able to tick off most rites of passage. Now it's time to become master of your domain. Be the boss of Boston with these tips accumulated over decades of living here. As for the green line, well, some things can’t be fixed.

1. Take a water taxi to the airport
Okay, there’s no stress-free way to get to Logan, but the two-if-by-harbor method is far and away the most picturesque; no less than three different services can whisk you from downtown to the airport. It’s a year-round service, but needless to say a tad more pleasant during the months we’re not buried underneath 72 inches of snow.

2. Consult Traffic Hackers before hitting the road
Started by a trio of data and engineering dorks (we mean this in the most complimentary way possible), the brand-new beta site predicts the city’s traffic patterns based on both current and historical reports from MassDOT. We dig the “traffic nerd” factoids like this one: “Like most toll roads, the Mass Pike was funded and partially built before the Interstate Highway act was signed in to law in 1956, and was grandfathered in to the system.”
 
3. Heading to Toro/Cinquecento/The Gallows/Coppa? Check out Shawmut and Plympton.
We really, really hate to reveal this one, but here goes: Did you know there are a limited number of non-residential, non-metered spots in the South End? Shawmut toward Mass. Ave and Plympton between Albany and Harrison both harbor such unicorns. You owe us.
 
4. Download an app to avoid Uber surge rates
To avoid 15x Uber fares after Red Sox playoff games or Tom Petty Fenway concerts, download the app SurgeProtector to see the areas where the ride-sharing service is not charging rent-level rates.
 
5. Fly away. Quickly.
No one gives our hub its due, but Logan has expanded its routes exponentially in the last eight years and currently offers a plethora of international nonstop flights to such bucket list spots as Istanbul, Costa Rica, Beijing and St. Lucia, with Hong Kong coming in May. And we’re the only city in the U.S. that provides year-round nonstop access to the Azores, the bucolic Portuguese volcanic islands.

6. Order a secret burger
The off-menu, limited-edition burgers at Highball Lounge, Alden & Harlow and Drink are three of the best patties in the city; pull off the hat trick and you’ll earn legit Chowhound cred.
 
7. Drinks and steaks at Bogies Place
It’s as close to a speakeasy as we get. In the back room of JM Curley sits an “Adults Only” respite serving mature cocktails (Ward 8, French 75, Old Fashioned) as well as caviar and four different beef cuts. Time to dine like a grown-up.
 
8. Eat well at Fenway
It’s doable. Yawkey Way earns you a legit Cuban sandwich at El Tiante and fried clams and lobster rolls from the Fenway Fish Shack. The Big Concourse now deals in Kosher snacks and pulled pork sandwiches. The right field roof deck serves everything from Maine crab cakes to poutine. Regional craft beers from Goose Island and Cisco Brewery can be found throughout the park. And the bar on the third-base deck offers cocktails as well as beer and wine; there’s also a Tasty Burger down below.
 
9. Speaking of…
Did you know that you can get a beer after the seventh inning? Who’s on First out on Yawkey Way serves well through the end of the game; it’s a bit of a trek, but that’s what rain delays were made for.  
 
10. Follow restaurants on social media
We follow pretty much all our favorites on Twitter and Instagram to find out about specials and last-minute tables. Kirkland Tap and Trotter, for example, unveils a photo of its Monday night hot dog on Instagram each week. And when we got hit by the Great Snow of 2015, hashtag #OpeninBOS let us know who had shoveled out and what dining deals were available.
 
11. Tea at the Boston Public Library
The main branch’s little-heralded restaurant overlooks the most beautiful architectural spot in town—the Italianate courtyard inside the McKim building—and serves an afternoon tea with sandwiches (lobster salad, smoked salmon), scones and petit fours Wednesday through Friday. It’s how you do Europe without leaving town.
 
12. Book your dinner through Reserve
When you secure a coveted table through the Reserve app, you’re promised top-notch treatment, even if it’s your inaugural visit. You also pay the check through your phone, so there’s no lag time between dessert and the bill. Just know that if you’re a no-show, you’ll be charged $10 to $25 for your rudeness.
 
13. Skip Neptune Oyster and head to Winthrop
We are by no means dismissing Neptune’s epic hot butter lobster roll. But Belle Isle Seafood, right over the bridge from Eastie, doles out an overstuffed, lightly dressed roll that is as good if not better and costs you six bucks less.
 
14. Deliveries direct from the liquor store
Sure, third-party delivery services like Drizly and Foodily bring booze to your doorstep, but chances are good one of your local stores offers the same service—and you’ll save them money to boot. Among the spots that currently door-to-door it are Urban Grape, Bauer Wine and Spirits and Social Wines, to name but three.
 
15. Call ahead to the Clam Box
There’s some honor in waiting an hour-plus for your whole bellies, but North Shore vets know to call in your order to the Ipswich institution and then pick it up at the side window. It’s hard not to swagger when you walk past the queue.
 
16. Drydock Cafe. Just go already.
No website, no social media presence, hidden signage, undersung gem. It was the late Mayor Menino’s all-time favorite restaurant and is New England seafood at its most dressed down and delicious. No longer BYOB, but still an in-the-know must. 

17. Score free museum tickets at the library
Want to take a discounted or gratis trip to a museum without borrowing some friend’s pass? Head to the BPL and check out a pass to the ICA, Harvard Art Museums, Isabella Stewart Gardner, the Aquarium and more. Just be sure to reserve the passes online ahead of time.
 
18. Hit Crane Beach in the off-season
One of the prettiest beaches in the state also has a steep entrance fee: $25 per car. But admission is free around the second weekend in September, and dogs and horseback riding are both allowed starting October 1. Which means your least expensive and most bucolic New England day is likely to happen during one of those Indian summer weekends we all long for.
 
19. If you’re a movie buff, use Moviepass.com
For just $34.99 a month, this frequent watcher’s card allows users to see a different film every 24 hours (no 3D or IMAX). Large-chain Boston theaters like AMC participate, as well as indie spots like Somerville Theatre and the Capitol.

20. Massages for less
We’re academic, overachieving careerists—our shoulders are boulders. The Massage School in SoWa offers $30, hour-long massages three times a week (on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) with no tipping. The students do a better job than a lot of the chichi spas around town; you just must be comfortable receiving a rubdown in a communal space.  

21. Nab a $10 day pass at the Kroc Center
Did you know an indoor waterslide exists right in the middle of Boston? The Kroc Center in Roxbury also offers lap lanes and aquatic aerobics, plus a fitness area and group classes in spinning, yoga, Zumba and kickboxing.

22. Game day tickets to the Sox
This is how we saw Game 3 of the ALDS series against the Cleveland Indians. Every game day the Sox release a limited number of standing room and single tickets at Gate E on Landsdowne (sold on a first-come, first-served basis), beginning 90 minutes before game time.

23. Become a stress-free urban hippie
You hate waste, but your garden consists of a covered second-floor back deck. Bootstrap Compost picks up your table scraps once a week—you just leave them on the curb in a provided bucket—and puts them to actual good use. 

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