From the shores of the Charles River to the wide-open green spaces of Cambridge Common, Boston’s sister city is a lovely place to spend a day. Tour a top college campus, dig deep into American history, or barhop with the locals—Cambridge offers the best of a big city and small town all in one. Here’s how to make the most of your day.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a straight-A student to wander around the Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campuses. Both prestigious schools boast plenty of attractions for curious travelers. At Harvard, join a free hour-long, student-led tour, and stroll through historic Harvard Yard to see the iconic John Harvard statue. Afterward, hang out at a bookstore or café in Harvard Square, near the center of Cambridge. Architecture buffs will want to get a look at buildings such as MIT’s Stata Center, designed by Frank Gehry.
Start by exploring the Harvard Museum of Natural History (some tours of the Harvard campus include admission), which showcases university research as well as the popular Glass Flowers exhibition, a collection of more than 4,000 models representing more than 830 plant species. Next, head to the Longfellow House, former home of poet Henry W. Longfellow, and headquarters for General George Washington during the Siege of Boston. Alternatively, walk over to Cambridge Common to see the Civil War monument with its image of Abraham Lincoln and the names of Massachusetts soldiers.
Following a late afternoon/ early evening sightseeing cruise on the Charles River, swing by Harvard Square to grab dinner and drinks at one (or more) of the many bars, restaurants, and cafés that fill the area bordering Harvard University. You might also catch a performance at the award-winning American Repertory Theater, or a show at the Comedy Studio. If you’re looking for more nightlife options, cross the river into Boston and take advantage of the metropolis’s plethora of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.