Home to both Harvard and MIT universities, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a compact college town tucked right up next to bustling Boston. It’s separated from the larger city only by the Charles River, so you can easily hop between the two. Although it’s so close to such a major city, Cambridge has retained its distinct identity. Its streets are bursting with history and culture and a unique community atmosphere that serves the student populations of both prestigious universities.
There are many things to do in Cambridge and places to visit day or night. You can spend your days exploring historic buildings and taking advantage of the wealth of world-class museums. Later, there’s a lively nightlife scene with plenty of trendy bars, restaurants, and breweries to indulge in. Our best things to do in Cambridge will cover all the ways to spend time without going into busy downtown Boston. If you love browsing museums and perusing art galleries, you’re definitely in luck.
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Cambridge
- 1- Meet Up In Harvard Square
- 2- Browse The Harvard Art Museums
- 3- Get Up Close To History At the Museum of Ancient Near East
- 4- Poke Around The Scientific Instruments At Putnam Gallery
- 5- Walk Through Time At The Harvard Museum of Natural History
- 6- Discover Something Interesting At The Peabody Museum
- 7- Take A Tour Around Harvard Yard
- 8- Haunt The Old Burial Ground
- 9- Spot The Civil War Monument
- 10- Look Around The MIT Museum
- 11- Admire The Great Dome
- 12- Get The Facts At The Museum of Science
- 13- Unwind In Riverbend Park
- 14- Take A Break In John F Kennedy Memorial Park
- 15- Cross The Longfellow Bridge
- 16- Explore Fresh Pond Reservation
- 17- Wander Through Alewife Brook Reservation
- 18- Enjoy The Peace Of Mount Auburn Cemetery
- 19- Appreciate The Millers River Potato Monument
- 20- Have A Drink At Lamplighter Brewing Co
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Public Tour – explore with an enthusiastic student.
- Boston: Harvard University Guided Walking Tour with Student – explore Harvard with a student.
20 Things To Do In Cambridge
1- Meet Up In Harvard Square
Harvard Square is one of the city’s oldest parts, with roots dating back to Cambridge’s founding in 1630.
It’s a quaint spot at the heart of town, packed with cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Close to many of Harvard’s museums and historic buildings, it’s a perfect meeting spot to explore the college district from.
There’s plenty to keep you entertained while waiting for your friends to arrive.
It’s also the starting point of several tour groups if you’d rather have a guide show you around.
Harvard Square is in Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
2- Browse The Harvard Art Museums
Fogg Art Museum is the oldest of Harvard’s many museums at the east of the main Harvard campus.
It is accompanied by two other art museums, the Busch-Reisinger and Arthur M. Sackler Museums, and, between them, they display art from across the world.
Fogg Museum has a collection of paintings and sculptures from America and the western world.
Opened as the Germanic Museum, Busch-Reisinger focuses primarily on central Europe. Finally, the Arthur M. Sackler museum is centred around Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean works.
Fogg Museum is at 32 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
3- Get Up Close To History At the Museum of Ancient Near East
If you are interested in the histories of countries like Egypt, Syria, and ancient Mesopotamia, you must pay a visit to the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East.
It was previously known as the Semitic Museum due to its focus on Semitic-speaking countries, such as Israel and Babylon.
The museum contains exhibitions of artefacts and relics from across some of history’s most vibrant civilisations.
From stunningly well-preserved mummies in their elaborate sarcophagi to ancient carvings, there are tons to marvel over.
Pop into Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East at 6 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
4- Poke Around The Scientific Instruments At Putnam Gallery
If you are interested in the tools used to make all the impressive scientific discoveries celebrated at most science museums, the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments is not to be missed.
It’s also a great way to see how scientific methods have developed over the years.
One of the largest collections of these instruments on Earth, the collection is a comprehensive array of intricate equipment from across a range of scientific disciplines.
The various instruments displayed have been used in scientific research and development over the past few centuries.
Browse the collection at 1 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
5- Walk Through Time At The Harvard Museum of Natural History
The Harvard Museum of Natural History is an extensive collection of natural artefacts ranging from impressive geological items to arrays of preserved and mounted insects.
One of their most revered and treasured exhibits is the collection of over 4,300 intricate glass flowers.
Within the Museum of Natural History is the Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Home to an archive of millions of fossils, skeletons, and taxidermied specimens, the Museum of Comparative Zoology is a fascinating look at the evolution of various species across the breadth of our planet’s history.
Stroll along to 26 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
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6- Discover Something Interesting At The Peabody Museum
Attached to the Museum of Natural History is the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
This museum is perfect for those particularly interested in human history and development throughout the ages.
The museum covers various ancient civilisations, with artefacts from numerous cultures across the world.
The archive contains over a million items, with thousands on display and thousands more available to view in their photo library.
Head to 11 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
7- Take A Tour Around Harvard Yard
Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the United States.
Its campus is a treasure trove of historical buildings and locations.
Harvard Yard is right at the heart of the oldest section of the historic campus and there are tons of fascinating things to explore.
Visitors can take tours around the yard, guided by current students at Harvard University.
The tours offer unique insights into the histories of the various buildings and statues around the yard, as well as the experiences of current college students.
Harvard Yard is at 2 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
8- Haunt The Old Burial Ground
Just across from Harvard Yard, the historic 17th-century cemetery known only as the Old Burial Ground is the final resting place of many of Cambridge’s original residents and some of Harvard’s distinguished professors and presidents.
Dating back to 1635, the cemetery is a significant aspect of the town’s history, bearing the names of various people who have helped it develop into the vibrant city it is today.
It’s fairly compact, so you can easily wander around the little graveyard in between hopping around the more prominent sights.
The Old Burial Ground is at the corner of Massachusetts Ave and Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02140, United States.
9- Spot The Civil War Monument
Settled at the heart of Cambridge Common, the Civil War Monument is a towering stone monument surrounding a bronze statue of President Abraham Lincoln.
Around the base of the monument, you can find plaques inscribed with the names of Massachusetts men who fought in the war.
The rest of Cambridge Common contains several other memorials and notable sights, including the Washington Elm and the Prince Hall Memorial.
The common is a lovely green space perfect for taking a break in between dashing around Cambridge’s historic locations.
The Civil War Monument is at Cambridge Terrace, Cambridge, MA 02140, United States.
10- Look Around The MIT Museum
Cambridge is also home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, another world-class university.
Down by the river opposite downtown Boston, the college’s main museum is a showcase of the institute’s scientific advances.
The cutting-edge museum displays a brilliant array of installations, from cybernetic dinosaurs and holograms to deconstructed computers.
Other exhibits demonstrate how various technologies have developed, from initial concepts to modern advancement.
The displays are constantly changing and developing, in keeping with the continued progression of technology, so there’s always something new worth visiting for.
The MIT Museum is in the Gambrill Center, 314 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02142, United States.
11- Admire The Great Dome
The Great Dome is arguably the most iconic structure of MIT’s architecture.
Sitting atop Building 10 of the neoclassical Maclaurin Buildings surrounding Killian Court, it is precisely the kind of grand statement piece you would expect to see at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Spot the dome at Memorial Dr, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States.
12- Get The Facts At The Museum of Science
This varied museum is a fantastic opportunity to get the whole family excited about science and tech.
Along with its typical exhibits on topics like dinosaurs and space, the museum is also home to a zoo with over 100 animal residents, a planetarium, and New England’s sole, domed iMax theatre.
Multiple live shows daily, regularly changing exhibitions, and a packed calendar of events ensures that the Museum of Science always has something for everyone.
The Museum of Science is at 1 Museum Of Science Driveway, Boston, MA 02114, United States.
13- Unwind In Riverbend Park
Settled along a curve in the Charles River, Riverbend Park is a lovely spot to spend a quiet afternoon recuperating from running around the city.
The park has lovely views of the pretty John W. Weeks Footbridge and the Anderson Memorial Bridge, as well as the stunning Weld Boathouse.
Just 200 metres from Harvard Yard and central Cambridge, Riverbend Park is super convenient to get to.
It’s perfect when you just need a quick break from the urban crush.
Riverbend Park is at 344 Broadway, 2nd Floor, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States.
14- Take A Break In John F Kennedy Memorial Park
Just the other side of the Anderson Memorial Bridge, John F. Kennedy Memorial Park is another attractive option when you need rest and relaxation.
Aside from its leafy pathways and riverside seating areas, the park is home to a monument to the Boston-born president.
Located among the trees at the park’s northern end, the memorial consists of a low fountain etched with notable quotes from John F. Kennedy.
Find the park along the Dr Paul Dudley White Bike Path, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
15- Cross The Longfellow Bridge
One of several bridges connecting Cambridge to downtown Boston, Longfellow Bridge is particularly notable for the series of stone towers dotted along its length.
These iconic towers have won it the affectionate local nickname of Salt and Pepper Bridge.
Both motor and pedestrian traffic can cross the bridge.
If you choose to walk across the bridge, you will be treated to a lovely view across the river and of the Boston skyline.
16- Explore Fresh Pond Reservation
Escape from the city without actually leaving by visiting Fresh Pond Reservation.
Dominated by a vast lake, the reservation is a thriving ecosystem rich with wildlife from deer to waterfowl.
Fields and forests surround the lake, providing a natural tranquillity to get lost in.
When you need a break in the fresh air, spend an afternoon wandering the various walking trails and looking out for the local critters.
Head in at 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
17- Wander Through Alewife Brook Reservation
Covering 120 acres, Alewife Brook Reservation is another haven for wildlife at the heart of the city.
The woodlands along the river’s edge are protected habitats for various animal species.
Trails run along the edge of the reserve, providing a scenic place to take a relaxing walk and maybe spot some interesting furry or feathered friends.
Start off at Alewife Brook Pkwy, Cambridge, MA 02140, United States.
18- Enjoy The Peace Of Mount Auburn Cemetery
Just a short walk from the historic Old Burying Ground, this sprawling modern cemetery demonstrates how far Cambridge has progressed.
The cemetery is the final home of various notable residents, whose tombs and headstones you can search for amongst the winding trails.
Various other monuments and sights are scattered around the cemetery along with the graves.
One of the most notable is Washington Tower.
Perched on a hill at the south of the cemetery, visitors can climb the tower to be rewarded with a fantastic view across the city.
Go up to 580 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
19- Appreciate The Millers River Potato Monument
You can find a curious little monument on the other side of the train tracks and the Northern Expressway.
The Millers River Potato Monument consists of a statue depicting four burlap sacks piled on top of one another, with the top sack spilling its load of potatoes.
The monument was created to memorialise the massive potato sheds which once stood at the site, receiving and distributing the city’s supply of the staple vegetable till the shed burnt down in the 60s.
A bronze plaque on the ground in front of the statue provides more context for its existence.
Look for it along Millers River Littoral Way, Boston, MA 02114, United States.
20- Have A Drink At Lamplighter Brewing Co
Being a bustling student town, Cambridge’s hospitality and nightlife scene is particularly lively.
A visit to the Lamplighter Brewing Co. is a great way to sample both the town’s distinctive, laid-back party atmosphere and some excellent local products.
Opened in 2015, they already have an impressive menu of unique offerings, from chamomile honey wheat beer and cherry sour ale to your more typical IPAs.
You can enjoy your drinks in a bright and airy taproom right next door to the brewery where they’re created or grab a selection to take away.
Beer isn’t all they serve, either.
They also have an in-house coffee shop with a range of seasonal beverages and snacks.
Head over to 284 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States.
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