Founded in 1630 as the colonial village of Newtowne, Cambridge's thronged central square today is filled with chain stores and roving students—not exactly the cauldron of American intellectual life that it was in the 19th and 20th centuries. But it still has plenty of tweedy charm; bookstores are stocked with every imaginable title, and coffee shops are bustling with pontificating grad students and absorbed dissertation-writers.
Tip: Take a free walking tour on Saturdays with the Historic Cambridge Collaborative (www.cambridgema.gov).
Tip: Stop in at Café Algiers, 40 Brattle St.; 617/492-1557.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.