Cambridge picture
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Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Museums, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.3

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Cambridge, which sits about 3 miles northwest of Boston's city center, is home to both Harvard University and MIT, but there's more to see in Cambridge than just the schools themselves. The city features an impressive array of cultural institutions that feature collections an exhibitions ranging from fine art to technological innovations.

The Harvard Art Museums, which include the Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum and Arthur M. Sackler Museum, house a wide range of periods, styles and mediums within its walls. Here, you’ll find a mix of modern photography, 13th century BCE sculpture, paintings from legends like Georgia O’Keeffe, Picasso and Jackson Pollock, and much more. If you prefer history, head to the MIT Museum or the Peabody Museum of Archaeology. The former offers rotating exhibits of the museum’s vast collection of artifacts, including scientific instruments and thousands of architectural drawings, which are considered to be one of the most important collections of its kind in the field. The Peabody Museum of Archaeology also has an extensive collection (1.2 million objects to be exact). Here, you’ll find items from early inhabitants of the Pacific Islands, Mayan and Mesoamerican treasures and the only surviving collection of Native American objects procured from the Lewis and Clark expedition. If science is more your speed, head to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to view dinosaur fossils, rare minerals and animal specimens from New England to Asia.

After you’ve gotten your fill of the universities' educational offerings, get swept up in the bustling Harvard Square, which is considered to be Cambridge’s city center. The square is filled to the brim with shops, restaurants, bars and independent bookstores, including the country’s longest running poetry bookstore. Just a few blocks away is the Charles River, which becomes particularly scenic during the spring and summer months. If you happen to be visiting during that time, consider packing a picnic or renting a bike or a kayak to explore the river.

Cambridge is the perfect place for a daytrip and is easily reachable by Boston’s subway. You can take the Red Line, which drops off at Harvard Square, or the Green Line if you’re interested in visiting East Cambridge. For more information, visit Cambridge's tourism board website.

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Faneuil Hall Marketplace1 of 26
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum2 of 26
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Time to Spend
#1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Four buildings – Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market – constitute Faneuil Hall Marketplace, with the oldest being Faneuil Hall. Built in 1742 and now located on the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall has had a long and important history in Massachusetts politics. Samuel Adams once stood here to push for resistance against the British, and abolitionists and suffragists have stood on their soapboxes here. In fact, this is where Jonathan Mayhew famously challenged the Sugar Act of 1764 by proclaiming, "no taxation without representation." Since Mayhew's declaration, the marketplace has expanded to include more than 100 shops and restaurants. 

Some former visitors caution that the items sold at Faneuil Hall Marketplace are a bit overpriced. However, if you're looking to kill some time or snap some great photos, consider strolling through the market's halls. You'll also find various cuisines served in Quincy Market if you're in need of a quick bite. Keep in mind that this market gets crowded quickly (especially on weekends and in the summer), so it's best to visit during a weekday if you don't want to encounter hordes of people. 

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