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Emerson’s Neighborhoods of Boston: Around Campus & Downtown

Fall is underway! With sweater weather in full swing, we visit some of the must-see spots for the season in and around Emerson’s downtown neighborhood—according to Emerson students.

Neighborhoods of Boston is a recurring series of posts written by Emerson students that will highlight some of their favorite finds in the city of Boston. Check back soon for the next installment. This post was written by Emily Tully, ’18.

Coffee and Food

There is no shortage of places to grab coffee near Emerson. If you’re looking for a quick cup, we’re lucky enough to have two Dunkin’ Donuts locations and two Starbucks locations within a five-minute walking distance. But if you’re looking to sit down for a while, there’s plenty of places students can bring their laptop for a study session. Top choices include Thinking Cup, Caffè Nero, Jaho, and Boston Common Coffee Company.

“Boston Common Coffee Company used to be a big hangout for me freshman year, because it was just right next to Paramount but far enough away from everything else that it felt like an escape,” says Tessa Pollock (Marketing Communications ’18). BoCoCoCo, as it’s nicknamed by students, also offers a 10% discount to Emersonians when you present your ID.

Boston Common Coffee Co. | Photos: Derek Palmer

Jaho Coffee Roaster & Wine Bar | Photo: Derek Palmer

If you’re looking for a good breakfast sandwich, Mike and Patty’s is a little-known gem. With a small shop and incredibly limited seating options, plan on eating outside in one of the parks nearby or while strolling through the historic streets of the Bay Village neighborhood.

Mike & Patty’s | Photos: Derek Palmer

Want to make breakfast a little sweeter? Nearby, you can find Blackbird Donuts in the South End. The only artisanal doughnut shop in Boston that bakes on site, their menu of flavors is always changing, sending you back for more. Another option is Kane’s Donuts in the Financial District. “The Financial District is full of incredible seating areas outside that I used to really really love when I wanted to get away for an afternoon,” says Pollock. Her suggestion? Grab a Kane’s doughnut, sit outside, and people-watch for a while.

Blackbird Donuts | Photos: Derek Palmer


If you want something to do on a weekend, SoWa’s open market is less than a twenty-minute walk away from campus. SoWa, short for “South of Washington,” features New England artists, farmers, music, chefs, brewers, and food trucks in the South End. It is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM-4PM throughout the fall, the last day being October 29.

Another popular market twenty minutes away from campus is the Boston Public Market, an indoor, year-round marketplace that houses vendors from across New England, ranging from produce and meat to flowers and baked goods. A special exhibition there is the Kitchen, where Bostonians can learn about regionally-sourced food via cooking demonstrations, lectures, and community events.

Boston Public Market | Photos: Derek Palmer

Down the block from the Boston Public Market is Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. With 49 shops, 18 restaurants and pubs, 35 quick-service eateries, and a history dating back to 1742, this spot is a must-see. If you don’t feel like spending money, check out the many street performers that make the market their stage.


Emerson claims the Theatre District as its home. With a student ID, Emersonians can rush for tickets at many of the neighborhood theaters, including the Boston Opera House, the Wang Theatre, and the Shubert Theatre. Through our very own ArtsEmerson, you can get a free ticket to performances at our Emerson-owned performances venues, like the Paramount Center and Cutler Majestic Theater, when you go to the box office two hours prior to a show.

Performance venues on Washington Street, including the Emerson Paramount Center | Photo: Derek Palmer

If you are looking for a quieter source of entertainment, check out Brattle Book Shop and Commonwealth Books for a wide collection of secondhand books, antique prints, and maps. If you just want to borrow a book for a while, any Emerson student can get a library card from the Boston Public Library when they present documents proving their Emerson address.

Commonwealth Books, one of Emerson students’ favorite book shops near campus | Photos: Derek Palmer

Boston Public Library | Photos: Derek Palmer

Visible from many students’ windows is the AMC Loews Theatres, with its distinct, glowing red marquee. But the latest film releases aren’t the only type of entertainment you’ll find here—“Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Loews is something I think everyone should experience,” says Chris Kramer (Visual Media Arts ’18).

AMC Loews Theatres on Tremont Street | Photo: Derek Palmer

The Outdoors

Another great view from Emerson’s windows? Boston Common. While we share the park with the rest of Boston, the Common has become a background for student films, headshots, and class projects. A popular spot to sun yourself is on Flagstaff Hill, the slope just below the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. A view of the Hancock, the old John Hancock, and the Prudential Center provides you with a great Instagram post.

Boston Common & Boston Public Garden | Photos: Derek Palmer

A newer place to stoop are the stairs in Downtown Crossing, which also serve as the roof to the Orange Line MBTA stop below. Just a few blocks away is the Financial District, which Erin-Jean Hussey (Entertainment Business Management ’18) also recommends. “It’s full of incredible seating areas outside that I used to really, really love when I wanted to get away for an afternoon.”

Steps at Downtown Crossing | Photo: Derek Palmer

An Emerson favorite? “The Esplanade is a nice place to sit, have a snack, hang out with friends, jog, ride bikes, take pictures, etc.,” says Sofia Alvarado Mendoza (Visual Media Arts ’18). “There are so many activities to do there and you get an amazing view of the Charles River.” Close out your day of adventuring around Boston at the Esplanade, watching the beautiful sunset in the evening. 

The Esplanade | Photo: Derek Palmer