Located north of Boston and across the beautiful Charles River, Cambridge is the fifth most populous city in Massachusetts and is perhaps most notably the home of Harvard University. Whether you’re planning a visit to Cambridge or are even considering a move to the area, you’re in luck; this city is chock-full of things to see and do.
As a college town, there is no shortage of trendy bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and nightlife opportunities. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of historic sites, landmarks, and other recreational activities to enjoy. Cambridge has a little something to offer for everyone—and because of its location in the northeastern United States, the city experiences the beauty of all four seasons.
Top 8 Things to Do in Cambridge, MA
No matter what you fancy, there’s so much to see and do in Cambridge. Whether you’ll be staying here a weekend or living here indefinitely, consider checking out some (or all!) of these top-rated attractions.
1. Spend the Day at a Museum
There is no shortage of museums located throughout Cambridge, and you could easily spend several days exploring the city’s museums alone. This includes several art museums, such as the Harvard Art Museum, the Fogg Art Museum, and the Busch-Reisinger Museum. The Fogg Art Museum mostly displays work from German artists, whereas Middle-Eastern and Asian art can be found at the popular Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Regardless of the specific art museum(s) you choose to visit, you’ll find a wide range of impressive works from artists around the globe—and with exhibits frequently rotating, there’s always something new to see.
Another museum worth checking out is the Peabody Museum of Archeology, which is located on the Harvard University campus. Here, you’ll find more than one million different objects on display, including maps, pictures, carvings, and more. Depending on when you visit, you can also sign up for a museum tour led by a Harvard University student.
Harvard isn’t the only college located in Cambridge; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also has its roots here—as well as its own museum to show for it. The MIT Museum opened in 1971 and showcases some intriguing technology-related items (such as robots) that have been a part of MIT’s research and developments over the years. This museum offers guided gallery tours, as well as self-guided visits to suit your needs.
2. Hike at the Fresh Pond Reservation
Boasting more than 160 acres of “open space surrounding and protecting the 155-acre Fresh Pond Reservoir,” the Fresh Pond Reservation has miles of trails available for running, hiking, and cycling. You’ll enjoy the beautiful scenery along the trails year-round, and there is also a golf course available during the warmer months for those who would like to partake.
Events are held at the Reservation throughout the year, including festivals, family programs, and guided nature walks. Check out the Cambridge Water Department’s event calendar to see what’s going on during your visit.
3. Take a Riverboat Tour Along the Charles River Basin
Cambridge’s location along the Charles River makes for some excellent boat tour opportunities. There are a number of riverboat tour companies in the area, but most locals will recommend the Charles Riverboat Company. They offer a wide selection of sightseeing and sunset tours, as well as private events and charters. A riverboat tour is one of the best ways to explore and learn about Cambridge.
The popular Charles River Sightseeing Tour runs 70 minutes and takes you along the Charles River, with tour sights including Boston University, MIT, Harvard, Beacon Hill, and more. There are also some specialty tours offered, including architecture cruises, sunset cruises, and twilight cruises for those interested. Depending on the time of year, there are also special-event cruises, such as the popular Father’s Day Cruise, Fourth of July Cruise and viewing of the USS Constitution, and more!
4. Visit Historic Central Square
Located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Prospect Street, and Western Avenue, Central Square is a popular and historic cultural district that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. If you’re looking for a place where you can learn more about Cambridge through sampling its diverse culture first-hand, this is a must-see for your visit.
One of the first things you’ll likely notice upon entering Central Square is the beautiful architecture, but there is also plenty to see and do. From theaters and live music venues to bars, restaurants, and shopping, you can spend an entire day exploring this historic part of Cambridge.
5. Take a City Wine Tour
Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or would simply like to learn more about wine in the Cambridge area, taking a City Wine Tour can be an excellent experience. These tours are available in Cambridge as well as other major cities nearby (including Boston and NYC). Most tours last about two hours and include tastings of a variety of Boston-area wines. Throughout each tour, you’ll be led by an expert with decades of experience in wine education so you can learn more about the wine-making process. Because these are walking tours, they also provide a great opportunity to check out local sights along the way.
6. Stroll Through Harvard Square
If you have plans to check out Harvard University while in Cambridge, don’t pass up the opportunity to spend some time in Harvard Square. This plaza is located at the center of the Harvard campus and features all kinds of restaurants, coffee shops, book stores, and shops. Throughout the year, you can also enjoy different musical performances and other live entertainment in the center of the square. You can easily spend an entire day exploring all this relatively small plaza has to offer—so be sure to bring your walking shoes.
7. Check Out the Modica Way Street Gallery
If you’re looking for an incredible photo opportunity, check out the unique Modica Way Street Gallery, which is located in Central Square. This open-air gallery is open to the public free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The first thing you’ll notice upon arriving on Modica Way is the overhead “stained glass” canopy, followed by the black and white photo collage that was installed by the city when the gallery opened. On the other side, you’ll find an area dedicated for use by street artists; this ever-changing gallery features some incredible graffiti designs and truly must be seen in-person. This is a stop you won’t want to pass up, especially if you’re already planning on visiting Central Square while you’re in Cambridge.
8. See a Show at The Sanders Theater
The Sanders Theater was built in 1875 and stands today as one of the few remaining examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture. This theater, which can hold about 1,100 people, is a popular venue for live music performances, lectures, and other events. Its unique 180-degree design also allows for unusual proximity to the stage, so there really isn’t a “bad” seat in the house. Be sure to check the event calendar to find out what’s going on while you’re visiting, as this is truly an unforgettable venue with incredible acoustics and a breathtaking design.
Getting Around Cambridge and Beyond
There are many ways to get to Cambridge from any of the nearby airports, including Logan International Airport in Boston. Here, for example, you’ll find the MBTA bus line service as well as the Silver Line, which runs every 10 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes overnight and during the early morning hours. If you plan on taking the Silver Line to get to Cambridge, you’ll take it to the South Station and then board a free connection to the Red Line. This will take you straight into Cambridge at no charge to you.
There are also some dedicated airport shuttle services that will pick you up from your airport terminal and take you directly into Cambridge, though these aren’t free. And of course, you can always spend the money on a taxi and plan to arrive in Cambridge within about 20 minutes (traffic permitting).
Once you arrive in Cambridge, there are also plenty of options for getting around. The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) is one of the more popular options for getting anywhere in the Boston-metropolitan area. It is worth noting, however, that this service is not available 24 hours a day. There’s also the “T” subway line that offers service to a number of stations in Cambridge.
Taxis and ride-sharing services are another easy way to get around Cambridge. There is no shortage of ride-sharing opportunities through platforms such as Uber and Lyft, as many college students drive for these services to make extra money. Some areas of Cambridge, such as those surrounding Harvard’s campus, are also easily walkable and the entire city is pretty bike-friendly.
Considering a Move to Cambridge?
If you’re thinking about a long-term relocation to Cambridge or the surrounding area, you should really visit the city for yourself and plan to spend at least a full weekend there to take in the experience. With so much to see and do, you won’t be able to experience even a fraction of what Cambridge has to offer in the span of a few days, but you will get a better feel for the city as a whole. One of the main things to keep in mind about moving to Cambridge is that, at the end of the day, it is a college town—so some areas of the city can be quite loud. This is especially true of areas near college campuses where there is no shortage of bars and nightlife.
Still, many people enjoy living in Cambridge for a number of reasons. Not only does the city have a rich history, but there is always something new to explore. From new exhibits at the local museums to interesting lectures and incredible live music performances, Cambridge is not a stagnant city.
If you do decide to move here, there are plenty of options when it comes to real estate as well. A large portion of Cambridge’s properties are rentals due to high demand from local college and university students at Harvard, MIT, and other schools. However, if you’re interested in buying a single-family home or even a condominium, there are certainly ownership opportunities available. You’ll find the majority of these on the outskirts of the city, which may be preferable for those looking to escape the noise of the college campuses.
If you plan on renting, be aware that there is some hefty competition for rentals—especially during the academic year. You’ll probably have an easier time finding an apartment or home for rent during the summer months when fewer students are taking classes. Even still, demand for rental units is high, so you shouldn’t put off securing a lease until the last minute.
Once you have secured your place to live in Cambridge, hiring a Cambridge cleaning service can take a lot of stress off your plate as well. Maid Sailors offers move-in/move-out cleaning services to ensure that your new place is clean from top to bottom before you start moving in your belongings. We can also take care of cleaning your old place before you turn the keys back over to your landlord, which may make it easier to get your security deposit back.
And once you’re settled into your new place, you can trust our professional cleaners with your regular/scheduled cleaning needs. From sweeping floors and dusting to cleaning solid surfaces and taking out the trash, we do it all so you don’t have to. Find out more about the services offered by Maid Sailors today or schedule your first cleaning right now from the convenience of your computer or mobile device! We look forward to making your move to beautiful Cambridge as stress-free as possible.