5 Top Things to Do In Somerville MA: An Upcycled City Near Boston

WHY GO: Most of the things to do in Somerville MA revolve around three “Squares: Davis Square, Assembly Square (home to Assembly Row), and the up and coming Union Square.

The Row Hotel @ Assembly Row in Somerville MA highlights the growing public interest in repurposed industrial areas. But that’s not all Somerville has going for it.

Take a taste of Davis Square, learn the history and shop the outlets of of Assembly Row, and discover a new repurposed industrial storage building in Union Square on this Getaway Mavens Boston area shopping and eating getaway.

Looking for more couples weekends in Massachusetts? Get ideas from our Best Romantic Getaways in MA post.

Things to do in Somerville MA: Assembly Row, Union Square and Davis Square

Legoland Discovery Center Somerville MA
Legoland Discovery Center Somerville MA

DO: Lego Discovery Center, Assembly Row

If you’re a Boomer with Grandkids, this Lego-assembly-plant space is a no-brainer. Just one block from The Row Hotel, Lego Discovery Center will delight Lego builders of all ages. Check website for hours and ticket costs.

SHOP: Upscale Outlet Stores, Assembly Row

You’ll find Le Creuset, Saks 5th Ave, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Brooks Bros., J-Crew and dozens more factory or outlet stores right outside the door of The Row Hotel.

GO/SHOP/EAT: Bow Market, Union Square

What happens when you take a eyesore industrial storage building and turn it into a home for jewelry and clothing designers, innovative chefs, and entrepreneurs: in other words, a hub for creatives? You get a destination like Bow Market. 

From seafood sold by the fishermen themselves, to vintage clothing, pizza, gooey sandwiches, tacos, Mexican and Japanese crafts, a tailor, a pinball parlor, fiber craft kits – 30 businesses under one roof, surrounding a lively courtyard – Bow Market has become a hot attraction.

My favorite business, though, has got to be Dearly Studio – a “micro” wedding chapel, where you can get hitched by a JP in 30 minutes (longer if you want to spend more bucks and have more than 4 guests). Who needs to fly out to Vegas when you’ve got Somerville MA?

FOOD TOUR: Davis Square Food Tour by Off The Beaten Path Food Tours

The airy confection, Marshmallow Fluff (one half of the Fluffernutter Sandwich) was invented in Somerville MA in 1917. The town’s culinary scene has been improving ever since. You’ll have to drive a few miles from Assembly Row to get to this suburb of Boston, close to Tuft’s University, but you won’t be disappointed.

Somerville Theater Somerville MA
Somerville Theater Somerville MA

Off The Beaten Path Food Tours and Experiences was founded in 2017 by Somerville couple Lizzie Bell and Sam Schlussel. The duo live in the heart of Davis Square, and started their Food Tour Company to promote small local businesses. BTBPFT has since expanded, offering tours of Harvard and Kendall Squares, downtown Boston, and Lowell MA.

The Davis Square Food tour musters at the Somerville Theater (when the now closed for renovations Museum of Bad Art is located). Built in 1914, the theater drew people during the depression with lighthearted Vaudeville, providing “laughter in a dark time.” It’s still an operating movie theater.

Qs Nuts Somerville MA
Qs Nuts Somerville MA

Walking a mile and stopping at eateries along the way, you’ll encounter spots favored by in-the-know Tuft’s University students. The following represents just some of the places you might go.

Q’s Nuts

Beth and Brian Quinn, of Q’s Nuts, began roasting artisanal spiced nuts, bought a street cart, and then graduated to this fantastic corner store where patrons can buy sweet, savory and exotically-flavored nuts of every variety.

Opa Greek Yeero’s

At Opa Greek Yeero’s (spelled like gyros are actually pronounced), you can get a real authentic Greek sandwich, complete with French Fries, tzatziki, and choice of meat bundled tight in a wrap of deliciousness.

Davis Square Hand-Crafted Donuts & Bagels

Next, Davis Square Hand-Crafted Donuts & Bagels dishes out larger than normal holey disks of cake. Some are stuffed with the Marshmallow Crème that put this town on the quirky-foodstuffs map.

Saccos Bowl Haven Somerville MA
Saccos Bowl Haven Somerville MA

Saccos Bowl Haven and Flatbread

But perhaps the coolest stop of all –the last one – has been here since 1939. It combines a peculiar local form of bowling with unique wood-fired pizzas. Sacco’s Bowl Haven – features the very New England’y Candlepin Bowling and Flatbread Company.

Just try to knock down small bowling pins that look like Colonial candles (hence the name) with a Skeeball-sized ball, especially when you’re in the midst of chomping on a beet and arugula pizza pie. There’s a lot going on, but its all good fun. And, after 3 hours of walking, history, and stuffing your face, you won’t need dinner. Check website for hours and days open. 

Where to Stay in Somerville MA

Reception The Row Hotel at Assembly Row Somerville MA
Reception The Row Hotel at Assembly Row Somerville MA

STAY: The Row Hotel at Assembly Row – Autograph Collection, Somerville MA

The “Assembly” of Assembly Row, a mixed use development just outside of Boston, refers to the factory on this site that produced Ford automobiles, including the doomed Edsel, from 1926-1958.

The developers of Assembly Row in Assembly Square – a relatively new neighborhood in Somerville MA – have revitalized this once blighted, formerly industrial 45 acres. It’s now populated with outlet stores, a cinema, restaurants, and the excellent Row Hotel at Assembly Row, an Autograph Collection boutique.

First Impressions of The Row at Assembly Row

Row Hotel at Assembly Row Staircase Somerville MA
Row Hotel at Assembly Row Staircase Somerville MA

The vast open lobby could feel cold and impersonal were it not for clusters of seating and eclectic furnishings, inviting intimate conversations. Warm sunlight streams through floor to ceiling windows. Its a juxtaposition of industrial elements and sophisticated design that works. The sweeping spiral staircase, edged in glass and galvanized metal, leads to the 2nd floor where you’ll find an indoor pool and well-equipped fitness center.

Textured tiles that evoke cast iron molds – nods to the site’s former identity as a Ford Assembly Plant – back antique mirrored reception desks.

Friendly and helpful staff seem unfazed by the hordes of kids and their parents who check in for “Staycations.” (The pool upstairs and Legoland Discovery Center down the street are both huge draws).

Artwork, mostly sculptural, that plays off the area’s industrial past, is in abundance throughout The Row Hotel. Whimsical “Magiscopes” – sculptures made of glass prisms and lenses atop reclaimed automotive parts – created by Artist Feliciano Bejar, play with refractions of light.

They embody both the location’s history and, according to its stated description, “the hotel’s promise to open guests’ eyes to a delightfully uncommon experience of Boston.” The lobby lounge-restaurant, Reflections, in fact, is named for Bejar’s fabrications.

Rooms at The Row at Assembly Row

Hallway Sculpture The Row Hotel at Assembly Row Somerville MA

Small steel sculptures outside each guest room evoke a sense of the location’s industrial past while honoring (and benefiting)  artists of today.

Travelers are welcomed by name . You’ll find this personalized welcome projected on a huge flat screen TV that takes up most of one wall. It’s a great touch that humanizes the first few moments of a stay here.

The Row Hotel at Assembly Row Guest Room
The Row Hotel at Assembly Row Guest Room Somerville MA

Each of The Row’s 158 rooms is dressed handsomely in earth tones, with leather seating, tailored and ultra-comfy Serta beds, a huge “smart” flat screen TV, and sculptural area rugs and art.

In room amenities include CO Bigelow Toiletries, Illy espresso machines, and Dammann Freres French tea. Thankfully, there are outlets and USB charging ports on bedside tables, so no need to search on hands and knees for a place to plug in.

Trendy bathrooms sport reclaimed barn-wood walls. They blaze with light from above and around a large mirror. (Thank you, Row Hotel designers, from the bottom of my makeup-applying heart). Frosted glass doors lend privacy to both the toilet and artful mosaic rain shower.

Dining at The Row Hotel at Assembly Row

There are plenty of options right outside the hotel door. And, there’s an entrance to La Cucina Italian Restaurant right through the lobby.

Lobby Bar The Row Hotel at Assembly Row Somerville MA

But, should you just want to stay in and share small bites, you’re all good. Lobby Bar restaurant, Reflections, offers some of the best. In the past, hits included Heirloom Tomato and Maplebrook Burrata Salad with crumbled olive, basil, and Maldon sea salt; Pollen Dusted Salmon with sunchoke puree, artichoke and radish salad; and “Uncommon Carrot Cake.”

Amenities at The Row Hotel at Assembly Row

Fitness Center The Row Hotel at Assembly Row Somerville MA

A very large soaring 24 hour fitness center features Martrix® cardio and training equipment. These include treadmills, total-body elliptical, and cross-training machines, spin bikes, a full line of free weights and Fitness on Demand.

Indoor Pool With cabanas The Row Hotel at Assembly Row Somerville MA

Though small, the indoor swimming pool is an eye-catching oasis. It’s flooded with natural light and bordered by cabanas and lounge chairs.

Autograph Collection Hotels have partnered with FilmBuff to offer a curated collection of critically acclaimed independent films to guests via wi-fi enabled devices.


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  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine, Shape.com, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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