Boston - Around Town : Cambridge & Somerville (part 2) - Offbeat Shops, Places to Mix with the Locals

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The Cambridge Curriculum


Call the Museum of Science early to learn what features are playing at the Omni Theater and book tickets over the phone for an afternoon show. Then begin your morning with a stack of pancakes at Davis Square’s legendary Rosebud Diner. Next, ride the “T” inbound to Harvard and head straight to Out of Town News (0 Harvard Sq) to peruse their mind-boggling selection of international magazines and newspapers. Take time in Harvard Yard to stop at the John Harvard Statue , in front of Charles Bulfinch’s University Hall, to scrutinize its “three lies.” Then return to Massachusetts Avenue and walk east to Quincy Street for a sampling of highlights from the University art collections at the Sackler Museum.


Head back on Massachusetts Avenue toward the square to Bartley’s Burger Cottage (1246 Massachusetts Ave) for a lunch of freshly prepared specialty burgers and irresistible sweet potato fries. You can fully digest on the 20 minute “T” ride to Science Park. Head to the Museum of Science’s Omni Theater and claim your tickets. After an exhilarating, in-your-face feature, retrace your steps toward Cambridge on the “T” as far as Central Square where you can sit back and enjoy a refreshing glass of Guinness in the convivial atmosphere at The Field.

Offbeat Shops

  1. Museum of Useful Things

    From aluminum ring binders to spring-clip photo frames, MUT features quirky items you didn’t know you couldn’t live without.

    • 49 Brattle St, Cambridge

  2. Revolution Books

    Che Guevara and Mao Tse Tung are alive and well here. You can read up on Communism and purchase left-leaning T-shirts, posters, buttons, and stickers.

    • 1156 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

    • Closed Mon & Sun

  3. Abodeon

    Abodeon stocks home furnishings of the decidedly retro variety. Items include 1940s rolling chaise lounges, vintage cocktail services, and even the occasional Wurlitzer jukebox.

    • 1731 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

    Retro goods at Abodeon
  4. Curious George Books & Toys

    This playfully decorated children’s bookstore, which carries more than 25,000 books and toys, pays homage to the timeless travails of its mischievous namesake.

    • 1 JFK St, Cambridge

    Curious George Books & Toys
  5. Hubba Hubba

    If only Cambridge’s Puritanical founders could have seen it: fetishist accessories, spiked belts, sexy leather corsets, and not-so-innocent toys line the shelves of this risqué Central Square boutique.

    • 534 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

    • Closed Sun

  6. Million Year Picnic

    New England’s oldest comic bookstore keeps its faithful customers happy with an extensive back-issue selection, rare imports, and all the latest Indie comics.

    • 99 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge

  7. Greenward

    An exciting range of stylish goods from urban bicycling accessories to cruelty-free cosmetics, all guaranteed to be free of eco-guilt.

    • 1776 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

  8. Games People Play

    Board games, card games, role-playing games, word games, action games, puzzles … if someone plays it, Games People Play either sells it or can get it for you in a couple of days.

    • 1100 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

  9. Colonial Drug

    This old-fashioned pharmacy-cum- parfumerie features more than 1,000 hard-to-find scents that range from Aprège to Zibeline.

    • 49 Brattle St, Cambridge

  10. Porter Exchange Mall

    Take a trip to Tokyo town in this renovated 1928 Deco building, boasting a Japanese-style noodle hall and gift shops with all forms of Far Eastern ephemera.

    • 1815 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

Shops are open daily unless otherwise specified

Places to Mix with the Locals

  1. Memorial Drive

    Memorial Drive is a magnet for joggers and rollerbladers. On summer Sundays, the road closes to vehicular traffic and becomes the city’s best people-watching spot.

  2. The Pit

    On and around this sunken brick platform, street musicians, protesters, punk rockers, and uncategorizables create a scene worthy of a Life magazine spread.

    • bounded by JFK St & Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

    The Pit
  3. The Neighborhood

    Sunday brunch at the Neighborhood brings throngs intent on securing seating beneath the outdoor grape arbors. Equally coveted are the house’s Portuguese breakfast bread platters.

    • 25 Bow St, Somerville

    • 617 628 2151

  4. 1369 Coffee House

    Set in the somewhat detached Inman Square, this branch of 1369 has poetry readings, mellow music, and courteous staff, which give it a neighborly atmosphere.

    • 1369 Cambridge St, Cambridge

    • 617 576 1369

    1369 Coffee House
  5. Brattle Theater

    A Harvard Square institution, the Brattle screens cinema greats daily. Rainy afternoon? Take in a 2-for-1 Fellini double feature for a meager $9.

    • 40 Brattle St, Cambridge

    • 617 876 6837

  6. Au Bon Pain

    Every kind of Cambridge character can be found sipping coffee and munching croissants on the plaza at Holyoke Center. Top amusement? Challenging the chess masters to a speed game.

    • 1360 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

    • 617 497 9797

    • $

  7. Improv Boston

    The improvisational comedy troupe here will often explore the offbeat side of Boston life and invite audience participation.

    • 40 Prospect St, Cambridge

    • 617 576 1253

  8. Club Passim

    The subterranean epicenter of New England’s thriving folk music scene regularly welcomes nationally renowned artists. It boasts an inventive vegetarian kitchen, Veggie Planet.

    • 47 Palmer St, Cambridge

    • 617 492 7679

    • Cash only for food

  9. Richard Trum Playground

    Summer in Somerville is epitomized by one thing: baseball at the playground. On most weeknights, you can watch youngsters take their swings.

    • Broadway, Somerville

  10. Dado Tea

    This Harvard Square hangout, owned by locals, is a serene place to settle in with an exotic cup of tea and healthy pastries, sandwiches, and salads.

    • 50 Church St, Cambridge

    • 617 547 0950

All cafés are open daily

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