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Staying in Brookline, Visiting Boston? Don’t Miss These Must-Sees

The shops, schools, and green spaces in Brookline, Mass., have long made it one of the most desirable places to live in Greater Boston, and cheaper-than-downtown hotel prices (for example, ours at The Coolidge Corner Guest House) make it a popular home base for tourists and visitors. If you find yourself in our neighborhood during your visit to the city, don’t hustle downtown or across the river just yet — these are eight Brookline sights to put on your itinerary for a memorable trip.

The World’s Fair Dutch Cocoa House

The World’s Fair Dutch Cocoa House

The Dutch House (above), at 20 Netherlands Road, was built for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, by the Van Houten Cocoa Company. Modeled after the sixteenth-century Franeker City Hall in the Netherlands, it was purchased by a town resident after the exhibition and shipped to Brookline. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and has been under private restoration since 2011. Visit sculptor Beckie Kravetz’s website before you visit to learn about the architectural elements she added to the exterior.

The John F. Kennedy Birthplace

The master bedroom of the blue house with black shutters at 83 Beals Street was actually the birthplace of three Kennedy children: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, and his sisters Kathleen and Rosemary. The family donated it to the National Park Service in 1967 and tours are available daily in the summer, and Wednesdays through Sunday in September and October. From November through May, advance appointments are required.

Clear Flour Bakery

Clear Flour Bread

Voted one of America’s best bread bakeries by Food & Wine and Bon Appetit magazines, and the best in Massachusetts by Yelp, Clear Flour (178 Thorndike Street) opens at 8 a.m. on weekdays and 9 on weekends, and churns out baguettes, sticky buns, rustic loaves, and flaky croissants. Get there early before they run out!

Green Line Growers Boston / Brookline Ma

Green Line Growers

The agricultural revolution is underway in Coolidge Corner. Since 2011, Green Line Growers has run a hydroponic farm out of shipping containers located in a nearby garage. Hydroponic farms allow year-round growing in any climate, maximizing space and resources for a consistent harvest. Visit Green Line Growers (14 Pleasant Street) on Mondays at 3:30 pm and Tuesdays at 6 pm to tour the farm, and then sample some of the best local wares at their neighboring store, Brookline Grown.

Ganko Ittetsu Ramen Boston Brookline MA

Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

Hidden inside the Coolidge Corner Arcade Building (318 Harvard Street) is the most authentic Sapporo-style ramen you’ll find on the East Coast. Ganko Ittetsu opened in 2015 and has had customers lining up the for the 17 seats inside ever since. The menu is simple, with only a few options, but the shop makes up in flavor what it lacks in variety. Reservations are not accepted, so go early or prepare to wait!

Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site

Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site

Olmstead, the founder of American landscape architecture and the designer of Central Park, Golden Gate Park, and Boston’s famed Emerald Necklace chain of parks, ran his offices, Fairsted, out of his Brookline home at 99 Warren Street. The house and surrounding grounds are now a national park, where you can view some of Olmstead’s original plans for parks around the country.

Stops on the Underground Railroad

Two Brookline homes — 9 Toxteth Street and 182 Walnut Street — were stations on the Underground Railroad, used to house enslaved people seeking freedom in the years before the Civil War. Two among them were Henry “Box” Brown, who mailed himself north in a shipping box, and Ellen Craft, who won her freedom, along with her husband’s, by disguising herself as a white man. The homes are privately owned, and can be viewed from the street along with plaques designating their role in history.

Museum of Bad Art

“Art Too Bad To Be Ignored,” as this gallery promises, is on display in the offices of Brookline Interactive Group at 44 Tappan Street. One of three MOBA galleries statewide, this location displays about 40 pieces from the collection, and sells official MOBA merchandise. You can preview the collection online before you go to decide which canvas speaks to you: “No Visible Means of Support,” in which “pink carnations defy gravity,” or “Sunday On the Pot with George”?

Brookline’s Puppet Showplace Theatre

Puppet Showplace Theatre

For more than 40 years, Brookline’s Puppet Showplace Theatre (32 Station Street) has been a performance and training space for puppeteers from around the world. There’s a regular slate of children’s shows, but don’t miss the mature-audiences-only Puppets at Night and bimonthly Puppet Slam.

Looking for central, affordable lodging in Greater Boston! Try my inn, The Coolidge Corner Guest House: A Brookline Bed and Breakfast.

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BROOKLINE MASS

Throughout its history, Brookline has resisted being annexed by Boston, in particular during the Boston–Brookline annexation debate of 1873. The neighboring towns of West Roxbury and Hyde Park connected Brookline to the rest of Norfolk County until they were annexed by Boston in 1874 and 1912, respectively, putting them in Suffolk County. Brookline is now separated from the remainder of Norfolk County.

Brookline has long been regarded as a pleasant and verdant environment. In 1841 edition of the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Andrew Jackson Downing described the area this way:

“ The whole of this neighborhood of Brookline is a kind of landscape garden, and there is nothing in America of the sort, so inexpressibly charming as the lanes which lead from one cottage, or villa, to another. No animals are allowed to run at large, and the open gates, with tempting vistas and glimpses under the pendent boughs, give it quite an Arcadian air of rural freedom and enjoyment. These lanes are clothed with a profusion of trees and wild shrubbery, often almost to the carriage tracks, and curve and wind about, in a manner quite bewildering to the stranger who attempts to thread them alone; and there are more hints here for the lover of the picturesque in lanes than we ever saw assembled together in so small a compass.”

Coolidge Corner, which is located at the crossing of Beacon Street and Harvard Street, is one of Brookline's two primary retail districts (the other being Brookline Village). It includes a number of historically significant sites, including the S.S. Pierce Building, and the Coolidge Corner Theatre.

the Country Club, an exclusive sporting club in the town, was the first private club in the United States formed exclusively for outdoor activities. It is most famous as a golf club; it was one of the five clubs that formed what is now the United States Golf Association and has hosted the U.S. Open three times and the Ryder Cup Matches once.

Larz Anderson Park is in Brookline on the 64-acre (26 ha) estate once owned by Larz Anderson and Isabel Weld Perkins. The park contains the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, the oldest automobile collection in the country, as well as Putterham School, a one-room schoolhouse from colonial times.

The birthplace of John F. Kennedy stands in Brookline and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is maintained by the National Park Service and is open to the public from May through September.

St. Aidan's Church was where John F. Kennedy was baptized and where the Kennedy family and other prominent Irish-Americans were parishioners. The church was designed by architect Charles Maginnis, who was awarded the American Institute of Architects' gold medal. Though it is on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Aidan's Church has been closed and converted into housing.

The Puppet Showplace Theatre, one of the four oldest puppet theatres in the United States, is located in Brookline Village.

The Dutch House, one of only five surviving buildings from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was relocated to Brookline.

John Goddard House, an historic house at 235 Goddard Avenue, was built in 1767 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.