Traveler’s Guide to the Orange Line
Have you ever asked yourself: what is Oak Grove? What’s at Forest Hills besides more trains? Questions like these probably surround young travelers who are just trying to go from Point A to Point B. What if we told you, you could slow down and take in the area around each stop?
Yes that’s right, there is actually stuff around Forest Hills besides countless bus stops and train tracks. Please continue reading to get ‘The Traveler's Guide to the Orange Line’, one of the MBTA’s most traveled lines.
1. Forest Hills to Roxbury Crossing
Let’s start with the southernmost stops which includes: Forest Hills, Green Street, Stony Brook, Jackson Square and Roxbury Crossing. Honestly the best thing Forest Hills has to offer is its connections. Forest Hills has more bus connections than any other Orange Line stop and it also connects to the Commuter Rail. Forest Hills is also directly connected to the Arnold Arboretum, a beautiful park that is home to various types of plants and a great place to visit with friends or family. If you are looking for something to eat around Forest Hills, Mike’s Donut Shop sells breakfast and is located right in the station. On the street, the Oriental House provides Chinese food and Achilito’s Taqueria provides Mexican food.
Green Street and Stony Brook are only a short trip away from Forest Hills and much of the same pros and cons apply in terms of connections. The Green Street stop leaves you within walking distance of Centre Street which is home to good ol’ J.P. Licks.
Jackson Square is at the intersection of Centre Street and Columbus Ave, making it a traffic hellzone. Despite this, Jackson Square not only provides access to il Panino Cafe and Grill, but also a shopping center further down Centre Street.
2. Ruggles to Tufts Medical Center
Jumping over to Ruggles, you can expect to see a Forest Hills-looking station, with Ruggles also being surrounded by large new developments and a whole bunch of bus connections. If you are really hungry and find yourself at Ruggles or Back Bay all hope isn’t completely lost. Back Bay is in the heart of Boston’s South End, which is highly populated by restaurants and tiny shops. My personal favorite coffee shop, Pavement Cafe, has a location on Newbury Street. The rest of the businesses are really nice restaurants and bakeries. Your wallet might hurt a bit after but at least your stomach won’t.
Just looking to have fun? Ruggles is right near the Emerald Necklace, a large, expansive, skinny strip of green that is a pretty nice bike ride or walk. If you're in the Tufts area, the Boston Public Gardens and Boston Common are only a short walk away. Weekends can be hectic with an influx of tourists but generally these places are definitely on the bucket list of places to go in Boston.
3. Chinatown to North Station
Our third section brings us from Chinatown all the way to North Station, the heart of Boston. This is a pretty expansive area, teeming with history, fashion, culture, cuisine, shops and entertainment. From Chinatown, not only can you explore the Chinese-owned and inspired restaurants and shops, but you can also easily access the Boston Common, including Frog Pond, the Swan Boats and the Public Garden.
Next up is Downtown Crossing, which immediately surrounds you with mega stores such as Macy’s, Primark, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Old Navy. It also connects to the Red Line, the only stop on the Orange Line to do so. Downtown Crossing is super close to Escape the Room Boston, which is self explanatory so check it out!
Right after Downtown Crossing is State Street which is close to the Old South Meeting House, a staple in Boston's history. State is the only Orange Line stop that connects to the Blue Line. Haymarket is situated right across the street from City Hall and also right next to, you guessed it, the Boston Public Market. The Public Market is chock full of organic, local individual businesses that put great care into their work. From seafood to apple cider, there is something for everyone at the BPM.
Our last stop in this section is North Station. While Haymarket makes room for plenty of bus lines, North Station houses four Commuter Rail lines and just like Haymarket, it houses two Green Line tracks. North Station has what scientists call “superior position” as it is on the edge of the city, making it a great place to start any commute. Of course one of the biggest draws of North Station has to be TD Garden, the home of the Bruins and Celtics. If you can snag a ticket, go! Finally, North Station is located in the North End, obviously well known for its Italian influence and the delicious food!
4. Community College to Oak Grove
What lies beyond North Station is a mystery to many Bostonian travelers. Few riders of the Orange Line have ever been to Oak Grove, and if so, definitely not frequently. Well, we decided to take the plunge and go all the way from Forest Hills to Oak Grove. Having gone the whole way we can say for a fact that there is very little to do at Oak Grove. If you want to head in that direction looking for something to do, definitely stop at Malden Center instead where there is a lot to do. Before we get to our experience in Malden, the stops in between need to be covered.
Wellington and Assembly are on opposite sides of the Mystic River. Wellington is an important station as it is the repair hub of the Orange Line, making it one of the larger stations. Assembly is home to the noteworthy Assembly Row, sprawling across 45 acres of shops, restaurants, and other entertainment locations. Some notable mentions include the AMC, Legoland, Mike’s Pastry, Banana Republic and Lucky Strike Social, a cool arcade and bowling alley. Sullivan Square is another stop worth mentioning due to its proximity to Assembly Row and its own row of local shops.
Going north into Malden there is lots more to do. We encountered the Wanyoo eSports Center, a gaming cafe funded by a Chinese gaming company. You pay a certain amount of dollars per hour of play. We had lots of fun with the racing simulator and the virtual reality setup. We were also given a quick tour of the facilities. The cafe is equipped with high quality gaming equipment and has multiple private rooms for private parties. There is also a menu of Asian imported cuisine. Speaking of which, Asian cuisine dominates downtown Malden, giving you plenty of delicious options.
The Orange Line is one of the busiest lines in Boston and rightfully so. There are tons of great places to check out and you are truly missing out of what makes this city so great if you're not getting out there.