Cambridge Things to Do

  • Massachusetts Hall, Harvard's oldest building
    Massachusetts Hall, Harvard's oldest...
    by Jefie
  • The boat at dock
    The boat at dock
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  • Enclosed interior to keep you toasty
    Enclosed interior to keep you toasty
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Best Rated Things to Do in Cambridge

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    A walk through America's most prestigious campus

    by Jefie Written Dec 14, 2005

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    Massachusetts Hall, Harvard's oldest building
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    Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest and most famous of all American universities. Every year, thousands of tourists make the short trip from Boston to Cambridge to walk across Harvard Yard, rub the foot of the John Harvard statue for good luck, as the student tradition goes, and admire its most notable buildings such as Massachusetts Hall (1720), Harvard's oldest building, the Widener Library, named after Elkins Widener who died on the Titanic in 1912 and, with over 3 million books, the third largest library in the US, Holden Chapel, and Memorial Church. You can go on a guided tour of the campus or better yet, just roam around on your own and pretend for an afternoon that you're a Harvard student!

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    Harvard Square

    by rwlittle Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    live music in Harvard Square

    More a neighborhood than just a square, Harvard Square is centered on the intersection of John F. Kennedy Street and Massachusetts Avenue. It's an eclectic neighborhood, featuring restaurants that range from the very cheap to the very expensive, lots of little funky shops, selling clothes, jewelry, music, and books, little parks and meeting places, folks playing speed chess for money, and historical artifacts and monuments. Often, when the weather is warm, you will find live (and free) music dotting the little corners and parks in the Square....we once caught Mary Lou Lords playing out in Harvard Square!

    Parking can be a little tight. There is a parkade acress from the Charles Hotel. The metered on-street parking near Memorial Hall fills up pretty quickly. Your other option may be to take the T into the Square.

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    Harvard!

    by rwlittle Written Feb 27, 2005

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    building on Harvard's campus

    Harvard was founded in 1636, only a few short years after the Pilgrims landed in Massachussetts. Now, it's a bustling, high-powered educational institution. It's campus features lots of open, green spaces, and its students also get to enjoy all the amenities in Harvard Square, nearby.

    Harvard offers free walking tours. Stop by the Harvard University Events & Information Center, located in the Holyoke Center Arcade at 1350 Massachusetts Avenue (open 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday), and you can get a student tour guide for free to walk you through the campus and give you the historical perspective.

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    Cambridge Common

    by rwlittle Updated Feb 27, 2005

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    war memorial in Cambridge Common

    Cambridge is all about community. Few things in Cambridge evoke that better than Cambridge Common. A community park a three-minute walk from Harvard Square, the common has place for people to lay out and catch a few rays, a baseball diamond which is always occupied with community softball once the weather is warm enough, and statues and war memorials, like the memorial shown here for the US Civil War.

    If you're looking for a place to picnic, then consider Cambridge Common!

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    Mount Auburn Cemetery

    by Jefie Written Jun 6, 2008

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    Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA
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    If you've read some of my other travel pages, you probably already know that I love visiting cemeteries - so when I say that Mount Auburn Cemetery is the most beautiful one I've ever seen, that's actually saying quite a lot! This cemetery was founded back in 1831 and it became America's first "garden" cemetery, moving away from the depressing church graveyards and burying grounds towards a peaceful resting place. The entire cemetery follows an English garden-style design, with hills and lakes and beautiful landscaping throughout its 174 acres - don't forget your camera!

    You can get a map of the cemetery at the main entrance for only 50 cents. Walking and driving audiotours are also available. Visitor Services are located in the chapel near the main entrance - feel free to ask questions, they'll be happy to help you make the most of your visit. Mount Auburn Cemetery is open to visitors free of charge every day from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.

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    Memorial Hall and Sander's Theatre

    by rwlittle Written Feb 27, 2005

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    Memorial Hall, Cambridge, 1995

    Memorial Hall is Harvard's most distinguished building, in my opinion. Built in 1877, it commemorates the fallen soliders from the Civil War, and is owned by Harvard. Sander's Theatre, contained inside, is a great place for classical music concerts. I've attended once concert there, as well as the Ignobel Prize awards ceremony once.

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    Longfellow National Historic Site

    by Jefie Written Jun 6, 2008

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    Longfellow National Historic Site
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    For almost 50 years, this beautiful Colonial mansion was the home of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow first boarded there in 1837, and he later received the house as a wedding present in 1843. He was to live there until his death in 1882, and there he wrote some of his most famous poems, including "Paul Revere's Ride", "Tales of a Wayside Inn", and "The Village Blacksmith". Another interesting fact about the house is that it once served as headquarters for George Washington and fellow American revolutionaries during the Siege of Boston.

    A tour of the house takes you through most of the rooms on the first and second floors, including the study where Longfellow worked, the magnificient library (he was proficient in several languages so you'll see books from all over the world), and the room where both Longfellow and his wife died. Our tour guide was quite knowledgeable and supported the different stories he related with bits and pieces from Longfellow's poems and letters. He made us feel very comfortable walking around this historic mansion so that by the time we left, it felt like we had dropped in on a friend who happened to be away from home.

    During summer, tours are offered at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm, from Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is only $3. The beautiful grounds and gardens are open to the public free of charge.

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    Cambridge Common

    by Jefie Updated Jun 1, 2008

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    Although it is much smaller and perhaps less popular and attractive than its Boston counterpart, Cambridge Common does have at least one interesting feature: from 1775 to 1776, it was the site of General George Washington's main military camp and according to legend, he took command of the Continental army under an elm tree that grew on Cambridge Common. Although the tree no longer exists, a new one was planted near a stone that commemorates the event.

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    Massachusetts Hall

    by rwlittle Written Feb 27, 2005

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    Massachusetts Hall

    This is Harvard's oldest standing building, built in 1720. It housed soldiers from the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Now, on its lower floors it houses Harvard administration offices, including the office of the university president, while its upper floors are freshmen dorms.

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    Harvard Yard

    by dinhyen Written May 6, 2003

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    Sanders Memorial Theater

    Most tourists want to see the main campus of the nation's oldest university (Harvard is actually spread over several locations). Aside from that, this is also home to many outstanding churches and interesting buildings. Harvard's excellent museums are also located here.

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    Mt Auburn cemetery

    by dinhyen Updated May 6, 2003

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    Mt Auburn monument

    Outstanding sculptures and monuments in a manicured landscape of tranquil lakes and decorative trees and flowers. Famous personal laid to rest here include poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, and statesman Henry Cabot Lodge. The central hill is topped by a tower from which you can survey the surrounding area. The cemetery is also popular with bird watchers, many of whom are usually spotted with their binoculars.

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    John Harvard's statue, and the "Three Lies"

    by rwlittle Written Feb 27, 2005

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    John Harvard's statue, and the

    This statue of John Harvard, founder of Harvard, is on Harvard's campus. The inscription on the statue reads "John Harvard, founder, 1638". The statue was cast in 1884, and currently stands in front of University Hall.

    So, here are the "Three Lies":

    - It's not a likeness of John Harvard. The statue was cast in 1884, and no one had (or has today either) any images of what John Harvard looked like.

    - Well, I lied above, and John Harvard did not found Harvard.

    - Harvard was founded in 1636, not 1638.

    The statue is a popular stop on tours through Harvard, nonetheless!

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    Harvard Square

    by dinhyen Updated May 6, 2003

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    Au Bon Pain

    Harvard Square caters to Harvard students and to tourists as well. The touristy side seems to be winning, however, driving the specialty shops and holes-in-the-wall elsewhere. Though some may like to see an Abercrombie-Fitch in the most visible corner of the Square, most people aren't fond of the changes. At night many street performers scour the area. You may catch a band playing in "the Pit", or a musician crooning at a street corner. The outdoor patio of Au Bon Pain is a popular spot for people watching.

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    Inman Square

    by sarahandgareth Updated Aug 12, 2005

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    Inman Square businesses

    The towns north of Boston – Cambridge, Somerville, Medford and others all seem to melt into each other – are based around squares: Central, Harvard, Porter, Davis, and so on.

    Off Massachusetts Avenue, not quite in line with the rest of these is Cambridge’s Inman Square, a short walk from Central Square, and mere feet from the Somerville line. A little further to the east, Cambridge gets grungy, but Inman is a gem of an area: young and funky, with more restaurants, bars and offbeat shops than almost anywhere else in the area. We first stumbled across the area when looking at houses, and couldn’t quite believe no-one had told us what we were missing. Now, Christina’s ice-cream shop is the biggest source of temptation, but Dali, Punjabi Dhaba, the new outpost of Bukowski’s, the Thirsty Scholar and many others have led us astray down Inman way…

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    Harvard Square

    by SullyBiz Updated Jan 17, 2007

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    Harvard Square is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. I like to head over there on sundays just to meet up with friends and drink coffee while the street performers put on their shows. It's a great place just to take a walk, grab some lunch/dinner, and take in the diversity.

    Walk through Harvard Yard or just lounge on the grass like everyone else. You can walk by the Charles too and see the crew teams rowing. Get some shopping done and check out some of the more interesting little stores (I personally prefer Harvard Sq to Newbury St for shopping.) You'll also find a great variety of restaurants with all types of food and atmospheres. Between cafes, chain resaurants, bars and bistros, I think you'll be all set for food and drink.

    I buy jewelry at a little store on Mass. Ave called "A Taste of Culture." The founder is from Peru and the store features unique clothing, unusual gifts, pottery, tapestries, etc. from all over the world. They have the sweetest staff and every time I leave it's with a promise to be back.

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