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The Landscape Architect’s Guide to Boston is an online collection of tours through 26 neighborhoods, including South Boston, Jamaica Plain, and a few in Cambridge, many off the tourist track. The point is to give Boston’s 12 million-plus annual visitors and its residents a richer understanding, from a topographical perspective, of how and why the city has evolved.
One ideal half-day trip is a 10-mile loop called The Boston/Cambridge Bike Network, incorporating long stretches of car-free pathways. The guide suggests starting at the New England Aquarium; bring along a bike on the MBTA, or rent one from the adjacent kiosk for Hubway, the city’s bike-share program. Ride along Commercial Street toward the North End, the traditional Italian neighborhood (an ideal stop for lunch, gelato, or pastries), then head onto Causeway Street, taking a sharp right just before North Station/TD Garden, to access one of the city’s most ingenious additions to cycling infrastructure: the 690-foot North Bank Bridge that curves under the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, through the Charles River Locks, and into Paul Revere and North Point Parks, which offer picnicking and sunbathing. Past those is the Museum of Science.
Then the tour U-turns back to Boston, picking up the Storrow Drive/Esplanade bike path. Take that to the Harvard Bridge, which returns riders to Cambridge, at the edge of MIT. Follow the guide’s map along Memorial Drive, taking a right just before the Hyatt Regency, then another onto the Vassar Street cycle track, which runs into a transformed Kendall Square (stop for a meal at Area Four, or ice cream at Toscanini’s). Then wind back to the Aquarium through the historic Back Bay (via Commonwealth Avenue) and the Downtown Crossing shopping district. At a leisurely pace, with no stops, the trip would likely take two hours.