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City and town clerks across Massachusetts are sharing their favorite places to go for culture, nature, and relaxation in the cities and towns they know so well. Do you want to see your favorite city or town featured? Let us know in the survey below or e-mail [email protected].
Belmont, a suburb of Boston, packs a lot into its 4 1/2 square miles, said Ellen O’Brien Cushman, lifelong resident and town clerk for the past 11 years.
From its vast green spaces to its many restaurants, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your time there, she said.
“Though we have a population of 26,000 people, we still act and feel like a small town,” she said.
Ahead, discover Cushman’s picks for where to go and what to do in Belmont.
Dine at a variety of restaurants
“I grew up in Belmont. We used to have one pizza place and we had a Chinese food restaurant and a doughnut shop,” Cushman said. “There weren’t really restaurants here at all. And then in the early 2000s, suddenly it erupted like a flower that just blossomed. And now Belmont has become this gastronomic destination.”
Hungry visitors will find everything from breakfast cafes to high-end dining to ice cream shops, she said.
“I think there are 13 restaurants in Belmont Center, which is less than a quarter of a mile long,” she said.
Here are a handful of places Cushman likes (the full list is considerably longer): Bakehaus and Vicki Lee’s for breakfast and lunch; Linda’s Donuts, where Cushman has been eating handmade treats since childhood; Savino’s, an Italian Mediterranean restaurant; The Wellington for eclectic American cuisine, Patou Thai for Thai cuisine; and Italian restaurant Il Casale, located in a converted firehouse and “great for a celebratory dinner and sitting out on their beautiful patio,” she said. Oh, and don’t forget Mexican street food at La Victoria Taqueria, which just opened this spring.
Bellmont Caffe, which is open for breakfast and lunch, is the perfect place to meet up with a friend, Cushman said.
“They have terrific salads and great sandwiches and paninis, and the patio is open 365 days a year,” she said. “Everything is homemade. It’s incredibly fresh.”
For dessert, head to Rancatore’s Ice Cream & Yogurt, or “Ranc’s,” as it’s affectionately called by the locals, Cushman said. Her go-to? A micro sundae with vanilla ice cream, which she described as “a mini mini mini sundae with hot fudge and marshmallow to die for.”
Spend time at the historic Pine Allée
“The hidden gems of Belmont are our open spaces,” Cushman said.
Her favorite is Belmont conservation land Lone Tree Hill, which offers trails and more than 100 acres.
“There’s just a really lovely variety of ecological habitats there ranging from meadows to woodlands,” Cushman said. “It’s a nice place to go to enjoy some lovely vistas and opportunities to see wildlife and some native plants.”
Cushman, a Justice of the Peace, has even married couples there at its historic Pine Allée.
“There’s this beautiful feature on the property called the Pine Allée, a very purposeful planting back in the mid 1800s with 300 white pines forming a grand sort of allée at the edge of the property,” Cushman said.
The land allows visitors to “take a walk on the wild side, even though we are so close to Boston in a suburban environment,” she said.
Experience live music and art history
During the summer, visitors can catch live music every Wednesday night at the Payson Park Music Festival, a free open-air concert and 30-year Belmont tradition. Last year the festival had an abbreviated season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and this year’s schedule has not yet been posted.
“People go and lay down their blankets and bring chairs, and the kids are playing on the playground equipment or running around, and the music is always wonderful,” Cushman said.
It’s also worth checking out the 1853 Homer House, where 19th-century American landscape painter and printmaker Winslow Homer once spent time and created art, Cushman said. It’s now the headquarters of the Belmont Woman’s Club, which saved the mansion from destruction in 1927 and hosts a speaker series and other programs.
The house, which belonged to the artist’s uncle, was the inspiration for a number of his early illustrations and paintings, according to the Belmont Woman’s Club website.
Bring the kids to a ‘magical pool’
The spray deck, a popular place for families in the summer, also features benches, a picnic area, and a playground.
“It feels like the kids are playing on rocks, and they just happened to have found this magical pool,” she said. “It’s really, really, really shallow — I think it’s only up to 3 inches of gathered water — and the water comes spraying out of these rocks, and the kids are just running around and hooting and laughing. It’s just joyful.”
Cushman also loves the Underwood Pool, which her family has enjoyed for generations. Visitors can purchase daily pool passes throughout the summer.
“They offer a nice kind of oasis for kids,” she said about both spots.
What readers say about Belmont:
Readers had the following food and beverage recommendations:
As for things to do, readers recommended the following:
Finally, @risakim97 offered the following itinerary for those visiting Belmont: Get greek yogurt at Sophia’s, ice cream at Rancatore’s, or baked goods and coffee at Bakehaus, and then enjoy a picnic on Lone Tree Hill.
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