Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Places to Go (not) in Boston

Most Boston guides suggest a trip to the North End for cannoli or gelato, a walk along the Freedom Trail, a stroll through Boston Common, visiting Fenway and Harvard, and maybe a venture to the Sam Adams Brewery.

But that means coming over to the Cambridge side of town for just 1 thing. There’s SO much to do and eat in Cambridge, Somerville, and north of the city. I’m a bit biased as I live on this side of town, but if you read any “top restaurants” in Boston guide, a good chunk are over here.

If you want to experience the city beyond the usual, here are some of my favorite spots to hit up.

Union Square Donuts


While Dunkin Donuts was founded in Boston, and you can’t go anywhere without walking by at least 1, there’s a doughnut shop bringing fresh flavors to town. Located in Somerville’s Union Square, this tiny shop is only open Thursday-Sunday and once they’re out, they’re out. With flavors like Sea Salted Bourbon Caramel (which I can attest is DIVINE), Honey Almond, and Grapefruit Juniper Cream Filled, you can’t go wrong. They rotate flavors constantly, and there’s often a line around the block on Saturday mornings. You can also find them at a few farmers markets and pop up shops because they’re that good.

Tip: near Union Square is Taza Chocolate where you can tour a Mexican-style chocolate factory. Because chocolate.

Inman Square

Neighborhoods clustered around intersections are called squares around here even though most are not squares per se. Inman Square is right on the edges of Cambridge and Somerville and home to a ton of great restaurants, bars, and shops. Want authentic Indian street food? Try Punjabi Dhaba. A gazillion different flavors of ice cream like Honey Lavender, Ginger Molasses, Bergamot, or Rhubarb? Try Christina’s Ice Cream. A bar with a brunch dish called the Ron Swanson? Go to Lord Hobo. Two of the top spots in the Boston area? Go to East by Northeast or Puritan and Co.

Davis Square

Tacos at Five Horses Tavern

Tacos at Five Horses Tavern

Located in Somerville between Tufts and Harvard, this is another great neighborhood for food, shopping, and entertainment. There’s a farmers market on Wednesdays from May-October, ArtBeat in the summer, Honk Fest, Porch Fest, and lots of other events. Davis Square Theatre has concerts, plays, and comedy acts while Somerville Theatre (dating from 1914) shows movies, film festivals, concerts, and other acts such as Slutcracker (just Google it). Five Horses Tavern is great for hefty, eclectic bar food and tons of beer choices. Diesel Cafe is a funky coffee shop with pool tables. You can find Himalayan, falafels, Mexican, BBQ, Italian, and Indian as well. Boston Shaker is a cute shop full of every bar item you could think of from tonic syrups to make your own tonic to special ice trays to every bitters flavor you can think of.

Harvard Museums

The stairwell at Harvard's Sackler Museum is super colorful with purple and yellow stripes.  The whole lobby is color blocked.  It's a little Michael Graves-ish, but it's a fun contrast to the art on display.

The stairwell at Harvard’s Sackler Museum.

Don’t just tool around the “yahd” and pretend you’re Zuckerberg or in Good Will Hunting. Go to one of the 12 museums on campus. Yes, 12! Many are free such as the Warren Anatomical Museum or the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. Their art museum is reopening in the Fall of 2014 in a Renzo Piano designed building.


The suburb you may remember from the lockdown/shoot out last April. Watertown has a large Armenian population so you can try Armenian food in many of the small markets with cafes. There’s also the Armenian Library and Museum dedicated to Armenian art, history, and culture.

Everything listed is accessible by either the T or the bus so you don’t need a rental car to get away from the “typical” spots.

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2 Responses to “5 Places to Go (not) in Boston”

  1. 1

    Ashley — January 22, 2014 @ 10:11 am

    Those tacos look delightful! I’m a sucker for pickled onions (which are hard for me to find in SF), so any restaurant that serves them is immediately endeared to me.
    Ashley recently posted..The de Young Museum, San Francisco, CaliforniaMy Profile

    • ehalvey replied: — January 22nd, 2014 @ 10:17 am

      I’m a sucker for pickled anything right now. That’s weird that pickled onions aren’t common in SF. What do they have against them?

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