I live in Cambridge, MA. That means my stomping grounds are the cities of Cambridge, Boston, and Somerville. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for almost 12 years. Here are some of my favorite things to do in the city, and some things I haven’t gotten to yet.
Check out my tours on Vayable, too.
Places to visit
Do not miss the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for its excellent new wing, comfortable living room, and exquisite courtyard. (Fenway)
Walk up the hill along Mount Vernon Street for the perfect old Boston experience. (Beacon Hill)
Visit the hidden gem Gibson House Museum, a “Victorian time capsule.” (Back Bay)
Decorative arts, cultural artifacts, and creative curating in the Museum of Fine Arts — Art of the Americas Wing. Open late on Thursdays!
Minerals, mollusks, and whale skeletons at the Harvard Museum of Natural History (Cambridge). Talk to the volunteers! They have an excellent program.
Boston Children’s Museum has a multistory climbing structure and a wealth of science, history, and culture exhibits.
Get out on the water with a visit to the Boston Harbor Islands, one of my favorite parts of the city.
A stroll around the Arnold Arboretum and a visit to their horticulture exhibits.
Mount Auburn Cemetery is a gem, especially in fall.
Roxbury Heritage State Park (Roxbury) has the church founded by my ancestors when they arrived in the 17th century, and a lovely house museum.
Shawmut Avenue and Union Park is one of the most picturesque addresses in the city (South End)
Anyone can sign in to visit the collections at the Schlesinger Library (Harvard). Hold historic cookbooks and family heirloom recipes in your hands!
Walk down Brattle Street & visit the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House (Cambridge)
Visit the boathouse on the Esplanade, or in Brighton (one of the best buildings in Boston!) and kayak on the Charles.
The best place to contemplate the harbor on a gorgeous or especially moody day is the ICA (Fort Point). Walk there from South Station.
Cambridge Public Library is a great place to work – there is a new wing and an old wing with lots of space.
Places to shop
For art: Vessels, Boston Sculptors Guild on Harrison Street (South End)
For food: Formaggio Kitchen (South End, and Cambridge), Polcari’s (North End, Boston), Central Bottle (Cambridge), Siena Farms Shop (South End)
For home: Michelle Willey, Farm and Fable, and Lekker Home (South End), Didrik’s (Cambridge), Acquire (North End), Gather Here (fiber arts, Cambridge), shop pod/fog linen work (Cambridge)
For vintage: Bobby from Boston (South End), Artifaktori (Davis Square, Somerville), Oona’s (Harvard Square, Cambridge)
For books: Raven and Harvard Book Store (Harvard Square), Trident (has a cafe in it! on Newbury Street), Porter Sq Books (Porter Square)
Festivals and Fun Stuff
North End Feasts (in summer)
Haymarket (Fridays and Saturdays, Downtown/North End)
South End First Fridays
Revels performances and sing-alongs
See a show at the renovated Paramount or Modern Theaters (Downtown), or at the fun and quirky Oberon (Harvard Square)
A movie at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square
Sunday afternoon chamber music at the Gardner museum
Thursday evening wine tastings at Central Bottle, and Scrabble Sundays at Belly Wine Bar
Thursday lunchtime organ recitals at Harvard
Classical music (especially Boston Baroque!) at Jordan Hall
Places to eat + drink
* needs reservations in advance!
*Oleana and its little sister (which I prefer!) Sofra (Cambridge, near Mount Auburn Cemetery)
* Sportello and Drink (Fort Point, near the ICA)
Belly Wine Bar (Cambridge)
* Bondir (Cambridge)
* TW Food Restaurant (Cambridge)
* Bronwyn (Union Square, Somerville)
Deluxe Town Diner (Watertown)
The Butcher Shop (South End)
Toro (South End)
Coppa (South End)
Haley House Bakery Cafe (Dudley Square, Roxbury)
Pepper Pot (Dudley Square, Roxbury)
Hei La Moon Dim Sum (Chinatown)
Gourmet Dumpling House (Chinatown)
Dosa Factory (Central Square, Cambridge)
* Journeyman (Union Square, Somerville)
Midnight Ramen at Uni (Back Bay)
Sapporo Ramen (Porter Sq, Cambridge)
Puritan & Co (Inman Sq, Cambridge)
Kirkland Tap and Trotter – order something from the wood oven (Cambridge)
Alden and Harlow (Harvard Square, Cambridge)
Garden at the Cellar (Cambridge)
East by North East (Inman Sq, Cambridge)
Central Kitchen (Central Square, Cambridge)
Veggie Planet, for Sunday brunch in particular (Harvard Square)
Burdick’s Chocolate (Harvard Square – there’s also one on Newbury St now)
Cafe Algiers (Harvard Square)
dwelltime (Central Square)
Spoke Wine Bar (Davis Square, Somerville)
Hi Rise (Cambridge)
Qingdao Garden (Cambridge)
if you’re on Newbury Street: Cafe Jaffa (Back Bay)
for ice cream: Toscanini’s (Central Square), Christina’s (Inman Square)
for oysters and clam chowder: Union Oyster House, Neptune Oyster, * B&G Oysters, * Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34
for the bar: Bergamot (Somerville), Eastern Standard (Fenway), Clio (Back Bay), Beacon Hill Pub (dive bar), Shay’s (for the patio!)
for music: the Middle East (rock – Cambridge), Wally’s (jazz – South End/Roxbury), the Burren (Irish – Davis Square), Club Passim/Veggie Planet (folk – Harvard Square), the Druid (Irish – Inman Square)
for the fireplace (not the food): Red House (Harvard Square)
Do the North End Right
spinach calzone at Bova’s
squid ink pasta aglio olio at Daily Catch
sfogliatelle (“SFOY-a-dell”) at Maria’s
ricotta pie and torrone at Modern
bread at Parziale’s
cheese at Fresh Cheese
Rubio Balsamic Vinegar + more at Salumeria Italiana
Out of Town
Essex National Heritage Area (Saugus Iron Works, Peabody Essex Museum – you can get to Salem by ferry from Boston!, Russell Orchards, Woodman’s, Crane Beach, Essex Marshes, Lowell’s Boat Shop, Salisbury Beach, Plum Island National Seashore, Bob Lobster, Newburyport Farmer’s Market, Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, NH)
Pioneer Valley (Montague Book Mill, Mt Toby, Emily Dickinson House, McCray’s Farm, Hadley Sugar Shack, Red Fire Farm, Hungry Ghost Bakery, Amherst Coffee, Esselon)
Mohawk Trail and the Berkshires (Mass MoCA, Nudel, Bash Bish Falls, Tanglewood, Rubi’s Coffee and Rubiner’s Cheesemongers)
New Bedford + surrounds (Whaling Museum, Seamen’s Bethel, Whaling Historical Park, Harbor Tour, Travessia Winery, Antonio’s, Westport Rivers Winery, Horseneck Beach, Fuller Craft Museum)
MetroWest (DeCordova Museum + Sculpture Park, Walden Pond of course, Garden in the Woods)
Still on My List
Walk around Jamaica Pond and Fresh Pond Reservoir
Minuteman National Park
Explore East Boston
Fort Independence and Castle Island
Boston Harbor Lighthouse Tour
Music at: the Plough and Stars (Rock), the Cantab (Bluegrass)
Storytelling night at J Foley’s
Sandwiches at Mike & Patty’s