Boston is surprisingly compact, giving it the reputation as one of the nation’s most walkable cities. Residents and visitors alike find it easy to explore the city by foot, public transportation, or bike share. Whether you’re traveling to or from Allston, Brookline, Somerville, East Boston, or anywhere in between, the manageable MBTA system can get you there, as it reaches practically every corner of the Boston and Cambridge areas. Emerson makes transportation to and from campus even easier by offering students a discounted T pass each semester. 

Students who are interested in living off campus can utilize a number of resources provided by the Office of Off-Campus Student Services, including a roommate portal. If you’re not familiar with the Boston area, here is an overview of key neighborhoods that you may want to call home as a student. 

Map of Boston

     ★ Emerson Campus

  1. Allston/Brighton
  2. Brookline
  3. Jamaica Plain
  4. Cambridge
  5. Back Bay
  6. Fenway
  7. Beacon Hill
  8. Chinatown
  9. North End

Near Campus

Back Bay

Image on the street in Back Bay

Walk beyond the Public Garden and you will find Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, arguably the city’s largest hub for shopping and dining. Back Bay has a lot to offer, whether you’d like to study at the Boston Public Library, shop at the Prudential Center or on Newbury Street, or stroll down the historic Commonwealth Avenue Mall. 

  • Approximately a 15-minute walk from campus or a 10-minute subway ride 
  • Accessible via the Green and Orange subway lines and buses

Beacon Hill

Alleyway in Beacon Hill

Just on the other side of Boston Common sits Beacon Hill, a picturesque neighborhood with many independent shops and restaurants. Visitors can make a day out of grabbing a coffee on Charles Street and strolling through the winding photogenic streets to admire the historic houses. 

  • Approximately a 10-minute walk from campus 
  • Accessible via the Red subway line and buses


Image of the top of the Chinatown gate

Chinatown—the center of Asian American life in New England—borders Emerson’s campus. Take a walk under the Chinatown Gate to discover Asian supermarkets, famous dumpling houses, and a variety of nightlife. 

  • Approximately a 5- to 10-minute walk from campus
  • Accessible via the Orange, Green, and Red subway lines and buses


Street near Fenway Park

The Fenway neighborhood is situated on the Back Bay Fens, which is part of the Emerald Necklace park system. Apart from being home to the revered and beloved Fenway Park, the neighborhood offers access to a variety of other attractions, including shopping, dining, nightlife, and many music venues. 

  • Approximately a 20-minute subway ride 
  • Accessible via the Green subway line and buses

North End


Street corner in the North End

Known for its rich Italian history and charm, the North End is a popular neighborhood among off-campus students. Not far from downtown, the North End is known for its stellar Italian restaurants and pastry shops and weekly farmer’s markets. It is also a 15-minute walk from TD Garden, the home of the Bruins and Celtics. Located on the Freedom Trail, this historical neighborhood has something to interest everyone. 

  • Approximately a 20-minute walk from campus or a 10-minute subway ride
  • Accessible via the Green and Orange subway lines and buses

Other Neighborhoods


Photo of a mural in Alston

Allston and Brighton are home to a vibrant scene and a younger population, being bookended by Boston University and Boston College. With easy access to the Green Line and many bus routes, Allston and Brighton offer an abundance of music venues, nightlife, restaurants, and shops. Located west of campus, these neighborhoods provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown life, as well as close proximity to Brookline and the Fenway area. 

  • Approximately a 30-minute subway ride from campus 
  • Accessible via the Green subway line and buses


Photo of a neighborhood in Brookline

Brookline is a quieter, family-oriented residential area, juxtaposing the highrises that graze the sky downtown. The Coolidge Corner, Brookline Village, and Washington Square neighborhoods feature restaurants; shops; grocery stores; and tranquil, tree-lined side streets. Brookline provides a proper getaway from city life.

  • Approximately a 25-minute subway ride from campus 
  • Accessible via the Green subway line and buses


A street in Cambridge

Across the Charles River, Cambridge is bustling with many lively neighborhoods of its own. Whether you’re heading to Harvard Square for brunch, walking across the Longfellow Bridge to Kendall Square and MIT, or shopping at the various independent bookstores across the city, there is no denying that Cambridge is rich with culture and things to do. 

  • Approximately a 15- to 25-minute subway ride from campus
  • Accessible via the Red subway line and buses

Jamaica Plain

JP Licks in Jamaica Plain

Jamaica Plain, or “JP” as the locals call it, is another calmer, family-friendly neighborhood. Nature lovers are drawn to its many parks, including Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum and Jamaica Pond. Accessible via the T and numerous bus routes, the Centre Street area provides lots of shopping and dining options, all surrounded by quaint residential areas. 

  • Approximately a 25-minute subway ride from campus 
  • Accessible via the Orange subway line and buses