Boston is an amazing place to go to college. Thousands of students from every corner of the world come here to experience all the city has to offer every year. BU students especially love to frequent Boston’s famous North End, Newbury Street and Boston Common, but there are many parts of the city and area that go unseen by the vast majority of students and visitors. In this series, we’re writing about the Boston neighborhoods and areas outside of the BU bubble that are just as worthy of exploration as downtown and the Back Bay.
Somerville is a vibrant city just north of Boston. It was established in 1842 and has recently become a center of creativity and diversity. Students, artists and families all mix together in the most densely populated municipality in New England. In recent years, Somerville has grown its already huge repertoire of attractions and restaurants, making it a very popular destination for young people to visit or move to.
Somerville is home to multiple interesting museums. One of the more well known is the Museum of Bad Art. One of the three Greater Boston area gallery locations is in the basement of the famed Somerville Theatre in Davis Square and is home to some terribly bad artwork. In fact, the Museum of Bad Art is the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving and exhibiting bad art. Somerville is also home to another unique museum: the self-proclaimed world’s smallest art museum, which can be found in an alleyway near Union Square. The gallery space is a mere eight inches deep and 16 inches wide and hosts multiple exhibits throughout the year. The museum is available for viewing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge.
Other interesting attractions in Somerville include the Round House and the Old Powder House. The Round House is a, well, perfectly round home on Atherton Street that was built in the 1850s. The cylindrical building has three stories and is actually occupied now by a private resident. It can still be fun to walk or drive by to see this anomaly among the other, boxy houses. There is also a much older round building in Somerville, the Old Powder House. Built around 1704, it is the oldest stone building in Massachusetts. It was originally constructed to be a windmill, but the mill was later taken down and in 1747 the building was sold to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was used as a place to store gunpowder. It played a key role in a few events throughout the Revolutionary War, and today it’s in a park owned by the city which is open to the public everyday.
The diversity and culture in Somerville has led to an incredible array of restaurants popping up over the years. Since there are so many, you might be better off just going and trying whatever looks good to you. A few places to think about starting with might include Union Square Donuts, a longstanding doughnut shop popular for its unique flavors. The Independent is a pub popular among locals and visitors alike, offering up comfort food and classic pub fare. Another popular stop for comfort food is the Highland Kitchen on Highland Avenue, with fried chicken and a spicy goat stew being two notable inclusions on the menu.
The truth is, there are far too many great restaurants and places to visit in Somerville, but these are a few ideas to get you started. Definitely make an effort to go explore this vibrant city. It will be well worth it.