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Things to Do in Cambridge

If Boston is Massachusetts’ boldest, hippest son, Cambridge is the state’s somewhat nerdier but just as cool, older brother. Rightfully so, as the city is home to Harvard University (the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (the country’s most prestigious), just to name a few. A walking tour of each provides a great starting point for any visit to the city, but there are so many more historical and sightseeing opportunities for visitors.

The inaccurately named Harvard Square (it’s actually triangular shaped) is the de facto hub of commercial activity for its namesake school. For decades, it has served as a cultural crossroads where “yuppies” and urban conservatives share the sidewalks and streets with counterculture punks. Travelers can make an entire day of strolling nearby bookstores, coffee shops, shopping outlets, bars, and eateries. Cinema buffs will appreciate the Square’s long history as a backdrop for films from the 1970s Paper Chase, through to more modern releases such as Good Will Hunting and The Social Network.

Just near Harvard Square sits Cambridge Common - a large swath of urban greenery with a history that dates back to the American Revolutionary War. Like Boston Common, this public park offers ample green space within the city limits where visitors are often seen playing all manner of college-appropriate sport, such as frisbee, kickball, and soccer.

For armchair historians, Tory Row is a must-see on any visit to Cambridge. This tiny subsection of Brattle Street is so named for the seven historically key Loyalist mansions built there at the time of the Revolutionary War. Lastly, no visit is complete without seeing the Charles River. Whether you choose a quiet stroll or, better still, a quiet row by boat along the city’s most famous waterway, it’s the best way to get a feel for the city, the people and the history of one of the state’s most beautiful destinations.
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Charles River
7 Tours and Activities

The Charles River is a meandering waterway that runs through 80 miles of eastern Massachusetts, including Boston and Cambridge, before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. “The Charles”, as it’s often called, plays a role in the lives of many Bostonians. Walkers, joggers, cyclists, kayakers and anyone who loves to quietly relax by the water can be found along its banks every day. It is a picture-perfect snapshot of the pulse and pace of both cities.

The Esplanade, a green, three-mile path that meanders along the Boston side of the river, is the best option for visitors looking for a relaxing river stroll. Simply start near the Museum of Science and continue west to the Boston University Bridge. Along the way, you’ll pass plenty of joggers, wild geese, lemonade stands, and boat rental opportunities. Without question, the best time to visit is for the city’s annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
33 Tours and Activities

When visiting Cambridge, Massachusetts, one not-to-miss attraction is the well-respected Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This private research university set on 168-acres (68 hectares), is home to five schools and 34 academic departments, research laboratories and innovative programs, and has a strong focus on technology, science and engineering. Although it’s an urban campus, you’ll see a mixture of interesting buildings and peaceful green spaces for an aesthetically-pleasing experience.

One reason many people enjoy touring the MIT campus is to take in the beautiful architecture. The Maclaurin Buildings refer to buildings 3, 4 and 10, which are typically shown in media and postcard shots, forming a U-shape around Killian Court. Building 10 is particularly interesting, with a colonnade facade and massive dome reminiscent of Rome’s Pantheon.

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Harvard University
36 Tours and Activities

Harvard University in Cambridge, located just north of Boston, is synonymous with prestige and accomplishment. This Ivy League university accepts only the best and provides a curriculum to students that challenges and inspires them to succeed (faculty and alumni hold over 45 Nobel Prizes!). The country’s first institution of higher learning ever established, Harvard University is a historical school that is also constantly looking toward the future and creating new innovations in education, science, technology, the arts and beyond. Looking at a list of notable graduates of Harvard University -- some of which include Barack Obama, Theodore Roosevelt, Rashida Jones, Norman Mailer, Helen Keller and John Quincy Adams -- it’s easy to see that the school has a rich and diverse heritage.

Luckily, you don’t need to be a straight A student to explore the campus, which is full of historic buildings, monuments, beautiful architecture and scenic green spaces.

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Things to do near Cambridge