Communities

Cambridge

Cambridge is perhaps best known for its universities, but there’s more to appreciate. The universities bring in all sorts of people from all over the world, making Cambridge a hub of intellectualism, multiculturalism and diversity. With its by and large liberal demographic, residents jokingly refer to as “the People’s Republic of Cambridge.” Cyclists find Cambridge streets much more bike-friendly than the sometimes-harrowing streets of Boston. Though the buildings in the city have been largely urbanized throughout the 20th century, many historic and Victorian homes are preserved. Furthermore, a swath of innovative and artistic architecture had been introduced by the universities.

Kendall Square

Historically a hub of technology and innovation—what else to expect from the home of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology?—Kendall Square has developed from a jungle of tall concrete buildings into a destination for food and nightlife. The Kendall Square Cinema shows a wide range of films, from blockbusters to art films. The center of the square serves as an ice skating rink during the winter—an alternative to the oft-overpopulated Boston Common rink—and as a venue for concerts and a huge farmer’s market during the warmer months. A great centralized spot, there is easy access to the highway, downtown Boston, the Museum of Science and the Charles River.
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Central Square

Located between Harvard and MIT, Central Square is one of Cambridge’s prime destinations for music, food and nightlife. Central Square Theater. Life Alive. Cantab. Take a class at the Central Square Dance Studio, or dance to your heart’s content at one of many popular clubs on Massachusetts Avenue. Central Square truly offers a variety of diverse venues, from bluegrass at the Cantab to reggae at the Western Front to salsa at the Havana Club. Cambridgeport, the area south of Massachusetts Avenue jutting into the Charles, is composed primarily of tree-lined streets and single-family homes, with a few parks scattered in between. Also very accessible to Boston University and Longwood Medical Area, Cambridgeport is one of the area’s most sought-after destinations in terms of housing. CENTRALSQUARECAMBRIDGE.COM

Inman Square

Inman Square, Union Square and Kirkland Village form a lively triangle slightly off the beaten track from the Red Line, yet still close to major universities. Right on the Cambridge/Somerville line, Inman Square has a focus on independent, local merchants—chain stores are officially banned from the square. Pick up a book or three at Lorem Ipsum (or catch a free movie screening), get a sweet treat at Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream, sample Indian fare at Punjabi Dhaba or Mexican small plates at Ole, or survey the artwork and diverse music acts at the Lily Pad. Union Square, just a 10-minute walk to the north, boasts one of the best farmer’s markets in the area on summer Saturdays, as well as several thriving pubs, music venues and a variety of studios, small local shops, and ethnic cuisine. Kirkland Village, about a 15-minute walk from Harvard Square, is home to the ever-popular Dali, a restaurant that was serving tapas before tapas was cool. Also home to Savenor’s Market, indie bakery and cafe The Biscuit, and the Kebab Factory, Kirkland Village is well worth the walk.

Harvard Square

There’s more to Harvard Square than one of the world’s most famous universities. Home to a huge variety of shops, from indie record stores to high-end boutiques to large chains—not to mention world-famous restaurants and cafes—the square is always bustling. Catch a show at the American Repertory Theater (or its louder sibling, Club Oberon), enjoy an espresso at Cafe Algiers, feast at world-famous Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers, or relax in one of the many green spaces in between, like Cambridge Common or Harvard Yard. Though one of Cambridge’s busiest destinations, streets just a few blocks out that have a quiet neighborhood feel. HARVARDSQUARE.COM

Porter Square

Porter Square is perhaps the most residential of its Red Line cousins. Just a block away from the Shaw’s Supermarket shopping center in any direction leads to a relatively quiet neighborhood street. The square is home to unique shops and venues, such as Toad, one of the only music venues in Boston guaranteed to never charge a cover, as well as recognizable chains. Porter Square Books, one of the area’s largest and most active indie bookstores makes its home in this square as well. Porter Square is close to the Minuteman Bike Trail and very accessible to Harvard, as well as the rest of Boston via the Red Line and several bus lines.

Davis Square

Davis Square has been revitalized in the past 20 years—yet still retained its independent spirit—so that it is almost to the point of being called “the new Harvard Square.” Close to Tufts University and North Cambridge, Davis is home to a number of independent retailers and restaurants, including Irish pubs like The Burren, which features Irish folk music, and Johnny D’s jazz club. The center of the square is often a venue for music in the summertime, such as the HONK! Festival, and permanently home to the ice cream shop J.P. Lick’s and the Somerville Theater, a cinema that plays both contemporary and classic films. The Minuteman Bike trail runs right through the Square, making for an easy escape into nature. http://yourdavissquare.com/

Alewife

Alewife marks the end of the Red Line (with a huge commuter parking garage) and the beginning of a more car-dominated landscape. Still, the 77 bus runs right by the neighborhoods, as does the Minuteman Bike Trail. Close to Russell Field and a community pool, the Alewife area is about as far away as one can get from Boston while still maintaining easy accessibility to any destination on the Red Line. Close to family restaurants like Bertucci’s and the Summer Shack. Though walking distance to both huge companies and blocks of quiet residences, Alewife is a great area for car-commuters who want to linger on the cusp of the city while maintaining easy access to the great beyond-Boston.

Huron Village / West Cambridge

Huron Village, located about a mile west of Harvard Square, has a slightly different vibe from the rest of Cambridge. Centered around a stretch of boutiques and cafes, such as Formaggio Kitchen and Hi-Rise Bakery, this community has a residential feel while maintaining sophistication and accessibility. It is also close to Mt Auburn Cemetery, which, despite its connotations, is one of the most beautiful green areas in the city. Several bus lines run directly to Harvard, and a little farther north, convenient shopping centers are joined together by traffic circles along Fresh Pond.

Somerville

Home to lively squares, Tufts University and over 75,000 people, Somerville is an evolving community that has come out as one of the Boston area’s best places to live and commute from. Houses span each of the seven hills of Somerville, including Spring Hill, Prospect Hill and Winter Hill. Its industrial past is best remembered for the Fluff (the marshmallow creme) factory; a “Fluff Festival” is held each year in Union Square to commemorate the unique product. Somerville underwent an artistic renaissance of sorts in the 1990s and is now home to numerous galleries, music venues and performance spaces. While being very bike-friendly, like Cambridge, Somerville is also very accessible to major highways and the commuter rail.