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.