Cambridge, Massachusetts: Boston's Funky Sister
Cambridge, the "City of Squares," is just across the Charles River from Boston, but sometimes it seems like another continent. Only in Cambridge can you walk in the footsteps of Thoreau and Emerson, sample a scintillating array of cuisine from around the world, listen to Andean flutes and gritty blues playing side by side in the streets, shop in the waterfront CambridgeSide Galleria full of specialty boutiques, and watch the world walk by from your seat in a European-style cafe... all in the same afternoon. It's impossible to capture everything in Boston's historic "sister city," but here is a square sample of where to start.
Just up Mass. Ave. from MIT, Central Square has a rich, multicultural identity. It's a veritable "United Nations of Dining," boasting a variety of ethnic restaurants, serving everything from pad thai to lamb biryani. Carry cash only for the Chinese specialties at Mary Chung's or defy food categories at Oleana. For a relaxing cup of of cappuccino go to the 1369 Coffee House. During the summer, Central Square explodes with cultural flair. In August, Mass Ave. shuts down for several days to celebrate customs from around the globe at the Cambridge Carnival International.
Between Harvard and Central, Inman Square is definitely a worthy divergence from the beaten path. It's first come first served Friday and Saturday at The East Coast Grill, which spices it up with an eclectic assortment of food. For breakfast try the S&S Deli, a sacred spot for locals, or later in the day enjoy esoteric flavors at Christina's Ice Cream.
The heart and soul of Cambridge emanates from the twisting streets surrounding historic Harvard Yard. Browse unusual titles in the "Book Mecca of the World." Listen to well-known folk musicians at Club Passim or budding stars performing outdoors along Brattle Street. Take in a play at the ground-breaking American Repertory Theatre or explore the many museums at Harvard University. Then watch the Chessmaster at work near Au Bon Pain's outdoor patio with the bustling square as your backdrop.
A mile north of Harvard Square, the often overlooked Porter Square offers treasures of its own. Walk along Mass. Ave. and shop at the unusual antique stores and funky boutiques. When you're finished shopping, stop at the Porter Exchange, where you can enjoy sushi and smoked eel at one of several Japanese eateries.
Transformed from its industrial roots to accommodate a new high-tech revolution, Kendall Square hosts some great restaurants and hotels. Be sure to order a hand-made wrap from the cafeteria-style K2 Cafe, right outside the T, before you take a trek along the mile-long MIT campus. After four years of college you will only scratch the surface of what Cambridge has to offer. But it will only take one trip to see that nothing could be less square than Cambridge.