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Warm-weather fun right here in Massachusetts

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Warm-weather fun right here in Massachusetts
Great Brewster Island (left), Middle Brewster Island (left rear) and Little Brewster Island (right, with lighthouse) in Boston Harbor as viewed from Fort Warren on Georges Island. Photo: By Chris Wood/

Summer fun doesn’t have to require an expensive tropical vacation. Boston offers low-cost summer activities close to home.

Hop the commuter rail

The MBTA’s new $10 summer weekend ticket entitles riders to unlimited commuter rail rides on any line, inbound or outbound, all weekend. This program will be offered through Sept. 2. Children 11 and younger ride the commuter rail free when accompanied by a paying adult.

With these new affordable fares, take a day trip to Salem to visit the Urban Art Museum, an outdoor museum of over 50 murals by local and international artists. While there, stop in at the Peabody Essex Museum for more art and history, or take a ghost tour through the historic town center.

Looking to relax? Newburyport is experiencing a foodie renaissance with endless options to sit by the water and snack on oysters, cocktail in hand. On July 21, Newburyport Brewing Company hosts their 5th annual reggae festival. Featuring brewery tours, live music, face painting and kids’ games, the afternoon has something for everyone. Kids and pets are welcome; 21+ guests should order tickets ($10) in advance.

MBTA $10 Summer Weekends:

Get your groove on

Boston is home to a number of free summer music series. Plan the schedule right and you can be bumping and shaking every day of the week.

Berklee’s Tito Puente music series celebrates Latin music every Thursday in July and August. This year’s headliners include Puerto Rican salsa band Orquesta El Macabeo, Colombian soul singer Lizje Sarria and Zayra Pola 3nity, the first female Latin band based in Boston. 3nity spans three cultures — Latin, American and African. Every event is free but the locations vary, so check the schedule online in advance.

The Boston Public Library hosts biweekly concerts in the Central location’s courtyard on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Friday at 12:30 p.m. Free and open to the public, the genres range from jazz and classical to world and funk. On August 1, Madagascar native Niu Raza will blend jazzy vocals with Caribbean beats and a touch of African groove.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra redefines classical music at the DCR Memorial Hatch Shell every Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. from July 11 through August 29. On July 25, the group will be tearing up the “West Side Story” score. On August 22, the Boston Ballet II will accompany the performance of “Swan Lake.” Pack a picnic to maximize this Esplanade adventure.

Tito Puente music series:

Take to the Sea

The Boston Harbor Islands are just a boat ride away, but it can feel like exploring a whole new world. The islands have an action-packed summer event calendar, so plan your day trip around a festival or exhibit.

Go back in time on Georges Island to learn what adults and children did for fun 100 years ago. Every Sunday and Thursday from 12 to 2 p.m., learn about lawn games of the 1860s and try your hand at a hoops race or a game of graces. Georges Island also houses Fort Warren, a Civil War-era fort said to be haunted by a ghost called Lady in Black. If you’re brave enough, take the Lady’s ghost tour on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:15 p.m.

Tap into your inner artist every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on Spectacle Island. Visitors can borrow pencils, pastels, watercolors, crayons, coloring books and more and draw their artistic inspiration from the natural beauty of the island. Spectacle Island also offers a beach and a number of short hiking trails that deliver stunning views of Boston.

On Friday, August 10, boat rides to the Harbor Islands will be free, courtesy of the Highland Street Foundation. Two-for-one passes to the islands are available on a continuing basis at the BPL.

Boston Harbor Islands:

Punto Urban Art Museum:

Newburyport Brewing Company:

Boston Public Library:

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