Out on the Town: Coolidge Corner

In case I haven’t made myself clear, I love the City of Boston. The proximity of many different neighborhoods, each with is own distinct feel, makes for a very enjoyable experience. In my quest to see all these different neighborhoods, I stumbled upon the gem that is Coolidge Corner. I’m pleased to report that this small area, nestled halfway between the Berklee School of Music and Boston College, has quite a lot to offer.

Unfortunately, the shuttle service currently replacing trains from Alewife to Harvard on the Red Line makes the trip a little longer than it otherwise would be. From Harvard, you can take the Red Line to Park Street and transfer to the C train on the Green Line towards Cleveland Circle. Alternately, you can board the 66 bus towards Dudley from Harvard station, riding 17 stops to Coolidge Corner. As usual, the bus route is slightly more expensive, but offers a nicer view.

I was pleasantly surprised as soon as I got off the train. Before me, a strip mall of faux-Victorian buildings stood out from the brick backdrop of the surrounding area. From the outbound train, I took a right onto Harvard Street and started walking. The character of Coolidge Corner was quickly apparent. The area combines the vibrant energy and youth culture of lower Allston, just a few blocks north, with some of the quietly impressive flair of the neighborhoods further into Brookline to the south.

Right near the T stop sits Brookline Booksmith, a heavenly two-story bookstore. The massive shop offers more than just books too. One section of the store is dedicated to maps; another features racks and racks of rad socks. If you’re looking for a good place to buy a present for the upcoming holiday season, I recommend checking out the festive baubles there. The lower floor features used and budget books. It has a beefy selection of comedic memoirs, dusty sci-fi novels and children’s books. The next time I need a bedtime story for my child, I’m totally heading down to Coolidge Corner.

Exiting the bookstore, I saw the Coolidge Corner Theatre across the street with its grand neon signage. Like many theaters in Greater Boston, the theater offers a mix of new and old films for all moviegoers. Last week, they screened the Wes Anderson classic “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Next, I walked east on Beacon Street towards Boston. This, too, proved to be a treat. There is a massive synagogue on Beacon Street, and I took time to marvel at the huge domed roof. Another notable piece of architecture is tucked away on Powell Street, north of Beacon. There is a stunning bright yellow house just a few feet down the block, with a lattice helping ivy to climb the side of it. Even further east down Beacon, I found the Hall’s Pond Sanctuary, a surprisingly tranquil walking path and pond complete with a gazebo and wooden docks for viewing ducks. I felt removed from the bustling traffic on Beacon Street.

Coolidge Corner is very kind to its tourists and pedestrians, and offers a distinct experience from other parts of Greater Boston. For those looking for a calm neighborhood that still has things to see and do, Coolidge Corner is just the place for you.