“I think I’ll go to Boston…”

By Kate MacDonald

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There is a reason that Boston is called “The Hub.” It is a great cultural haven, where American culture and patriotism began. There is an abundance of activities to take part in during the summer. However, for college students with a short budget, working around summer work schedules, the list is considerably shorter.

There are still plenty of things college kids can do for fun in the city without breaking the bank. Here are the top 10 things, in no particular order, to do in Boston during the summer of 2010.

1. Check out Faneuil Hall – Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a great location to hang out during the summer. Street performers line the sidewalks on nice days, more than 40 food stands inside have delectable treats and, once outside, popular stores like American Eagle and Urban Outfitters entice passersby. On Wednesdays, grab free samples from the stands.

2. Duck Tours – If you want to splurge, or convince the parents to, Duck Tours are always a fun excursion. You spend either 50 minutes (for a reduced tour) being driven around the city by a chauffeur, then your vehicle hops in the water for a unique look at the city, all for under $30.

3. Summer Movie Nights – The Boston Public Library puts on free movie nights in the summer on Mondays. In June, expect to see baseball-themed classics, while July holds ocean-centered thrillers. If you want something a little newer, head to the Hatch Shell on Fridays. Not only do they show great movies, but vendors have giveaways and free food samples.

4. Dragon Boat Festival – Starting June 13, the free Asian festival begins, featuring Chinese and Japanese drummers, Asian food of all sorts, karate demonstrations and the like. It all culminates in a dragon-shaped boat race, which anyone can enter ahead of time.

5. The Fourth – America looks to Boston on Independence Day. There probably isn’t a person in New England who hasn’t at least heard of what goes on at the Esplanade on July 4. Boston Pops’ conductor Keith Lockhart takes the stage for hours of American music, accompanied by hit singers. When the “1812 Overture” is finally played, fireworks light up the Boston skyline. It’s completely free for spectators, but it fills up quickly. Not interested in music? Many Boston buildings have deals for prime viewing opportunities, including Top of the Hub and the Museum of Science. Or if you want to view for free, head up to an apartment rooftop or plop a towel along the banks of the Charles.

6. Fenway – No list concerning Boston and summertime could forget about the Red Sox. It’s only right that every member of Red Sox Nation should check out Yawkey Way in the summer. While seats start at $328 for dugout boxes, more affordable seats are out there, on the upper bleachers or standing room for 12 and 20 bucks, respectively. If they sell out, there’s always the numerous bars flanking the park, so grab a beer, meet some fellow fans and watch the Boston boys slaughter the Yankees.

7. Freedom Trail – Most kids in Massachusetts have taken field trips to the Freedom Trail. But it’s always nice to relive the very beginning of American history by walking the 2.5-mile brick trail. It’s free, unlike gym memberships, and covers 16 important American sites, from Boston Common to the USS Constitution.

8. Irish Heritage Trail – There is another fairly unknown trail in Boston, the Irish Heritage counterpart. In three sections, covering about 70 sites, it brings the large Irish-American population back to its roots. For example, it hits the Famine Memorial and Castle Island, which holds music and dance festivals on Sundays.

9. Feast of St. Anthony – From August 27 to 29, a great show of Italian heritage will be on display in the North End. The weekend is marked by numerous parades, hundreds of push carts lining roads, some of which have free samples, and a carnival with games. Authentic, amazing Italian food is offered at “The feast of all feasts,” as penned by National Geographic.

10. Earthfest – Summer in Boston is kicked off by the free Earthfest concert at the Hatch Shell. 2010’s concert features Collective Soul, Gin Blossoms, Marcy Playground and Crash Kings on May 22.

If you are spending any time in Boston this summer, at least one thing off this list should be accomplished. Whether it’s eating ice cream strolling down the Freedom Trail or grabbing a Fenway Frank on Yawkey Way, Boston’s sure to be a great respite from the college life.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]