Also, where to find the best gifts, fancy groceries, and books in the city.
I can unfortunately no longer deny that summer is over. I always used to say that spring was my favorite season, mostly because it’s not too hot or too cold, but it also seems more hopeful than fall. I always forget that there is so much rain it’s difficult to enjoy the warmer temperatures. Fall always seemed like such a tease. It’s one of the most beautiful seasons, acting as an apology for the freezing New England abyss soon to come. For me, I’ve finally recognized spring’s downsides and fall has officially taken the top spot for “best middle-of-the-road weather”. In order to fully appreciate what fall has to offer, you have to cram in as many seasonal and beautiful activities as you can so you don’t notice that mean old winter is about to knock down your door.
One perfect cozy fall activity is my favorite three-part shopping/strolling extravaganza that can be combined with varying degrees of companionship and followed up with any of the great food options in the area. Obviously you can shop and stroll during any season and any time of day, but I highly recommend this particular trip at night (Fridays and Saturdays are best) during fall or winter. The destinations are in my opinion, best when emitting warm glowing light from the windows like a scene out of an uplifting holiday movie.
Stroll with me…
We’re going to Harvard Square in Cambridge. First stop, Black Ink.
Black Ink is the coolest little toy/gift shop I’ve ever been to. They describe their store as selling “unexpected necessities.” It’s everything that you never knew you wanted. The inventory crammed in every cubbyhole and corner ranges from functional to decorative, vintage to modern and everything in between. You could buy candles shaped like succulents or a tote bag with a repeating pattern of Edgar Allen Poe’s head, or a pocket sized bike repair kit. If you are a gift lover, a pun lover, a decoration lover or a hipster, this is your place.
Next stop is right next door.
Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe, also known as food paradise! It’s got foreign and domestic candy, jelly, coffee, tea, meat, cheese, chocolate… and the list goes on. This place has a huge variety of European candy that brings back memories of my time studying abroad in Germany. It’s also the best place to put together a classy charcuterie or cheese plate to impress your friends or convince your family that you’re an adult. Grab a snack or some groceries for later and let’s scoot to our next and final location:
The Harvard Bookstore. Don’t be fooled; some places say “Harvard” on them and look like a bookstore but they just sell sweatshirts and textbooks. This is the real Harvard bookstore: a one-of-a-kind quaint city bookstore that Barnes and Noble can only make sad attempts at becoming. The upstairs has all kinds of books in many genres, including a fantastic design section, which is rare for the average bookstore. They have book signings and readings and every row is teeming with book lovers exploring. And the hidden gem, my favorite part, is in the basement: the used book section. There are stickers, magazine clippings, drawings and book covers plastered to the bookshelves and walls that give the used book area an underground and rebellious yet welcoming vibe that I can only compare to how a messy yet well loved studio in design school feels. The books are pretty cheap and you’re more likely to find something unexpected and intriguing to buy than something you set out to look for. But that’s the fun part and why I could easily spend hours in this basement shop.
So if you’re looking for something to do on a pleasant fall day, go wander through my favorite three-part shopping/strolling extravaganza and buy or ogle over all the things you never knew you needed!