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Kendall Square, Cambridge – an Urban Oasis

Cambridge

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Posted by Max Grinnell, guest blogger of The Urbanologist

To explore Kendall Square is to know but one corner of Cambridge, but what a marvel it is! Once home to a densely packed milieu of factories turning out soap, candy, and other items, it’s now a biotech hub, thanks to its proximity to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

If you listen closely, you may hear the whisper of patents being filed, the conversations over IPO, and other such 21st century matters. It’s intoxicating, to say the least.

kendall square

A stay on this side of the Charles River also gives you the opportunity to explore public art, take in a bit of scientific edification, look over a celebrated bookish bookstore, and more. Come along with me and let’s wander around, shall we?

On the Charles, An Urban Oasis

Rising high above the Charles River, the Royal Sonesta Boston is a mid-century architectural gem whose recent renovation has restored the glamour to this fine hotel.  There’s something for every taste right here on Edwin Land Boulevard.

Entrance

For those with a penchant for art and design, the Sonesta offers some real gems that invite a complete exploration of the lobby and beyond. Its art collection contains dozens of works by masters working in the conceptual, minimalist, and pop art idioms placed gracefully around the public areas in the hotel. It’s probably best to grab a glass of something from their ArtBar and just wander around to see some of the highlights.

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Of course, you may also want to relax over at the 24-hour health club or spend some time reading by their pool, which has a lovely sun deck. Additional forms of recreation are readily available, as the running path along the Charles River is the place to get acquainted with other runners, strollers, raconteurs, and other folks out to do a bit of wandering.

King Room H

Let us not forget the rooms, shall we? As might be expected, all of the rooms feature some type of view, which is perfect for peeking out amidst the vessels along the Charles, examining the urban milieu, or just watching the sunset or sunrise, depending on your personal whims. Of course, there are a range of room types and the modern amenities make for a wonderful stay, regardless of you are traveling for business or leisure

 A Tower of Faces and Other Artful Moments

Stepping outside of the Royal Sonesta, you can make your way to at least a half dozen wonderful pieces of public art. Created as part of the Percent-for-Art program administered by the Cambridge Arts Council, these works include the powerful “Tower of East Cambridge Faces”. Masterfully executed by artist James Tyler, this bronze tower highlights the faces of area residents reflective of the area’s tremendous diversity. You can use this fantastic online map to venture out to other nearby works of art. It’s a fine way to spend a morning or afternoon and a great way to learn about this part of the city.

Computation, Urbanism, and Philosophy: Oh My!

After getting your fill of public art around East Cambridge, you’d do well to step up and into the MIT Press Bookstore right in the heart of Kendall Square. Tucked into an unassuming looking building, this bibliophile’s dreamland has weighty tomes such as Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest and Fracking the Neighborhood: Reluctant Activists and Natural Gas Drilling. The bookstore has an impressive array of magazines, notecards, writing journals, and more. Plan on wandering around for at least an hour and don’t forget to peruse the remainder racks right outside the door for excellent bargains.

Via Voltage, A Caffeine Break

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Take a moment to wander down 3rd Street to Voltage Coffee & Art  for a bit of refreshment and relaxation. Here you’ll find a rotating art gallery of works by local artists and superb coffee drinks. I’d recommend the “Beyond the Sea”, which features homemade caramel and sea salt. Don’t forget to peek in the Analogue Room, which contains typewriters, shelves of books, and a range of telephones from decades past.

Catch a Flick

You can also pay a visit to the Kendall Square Cinema, which is famous for selecting eclectic indie and foreign films as well as mainstream ones. The cinema also has regular events with producers, film critics and documentarians who are in town.

kendall square cinema

We couldn’t get it all in one blog. There’s plenty more to do in and around Kendall Square.

For information on visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com.

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  • Kendall Square in Cambridge is truly one of the gems of the city. Whether you’re simply walking around, running along the Charles River, or eating a fabulous meal at one of the area restaurants, there is truly something for everyone. It’s definitely worth the short trek it takes to get here from Downtown Boston!

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