The Best Things to See and Do in Cambridge, MA

Out of Town News
Out of Town News | © EandJsFilmCrew / Flickr
Harry Gustafson

Cambridge, Massachusetts, is New England’s haven of culture and education. It is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two of the world’s leading higher education institutions. Because of this status, the city is full of amazing places to explore and visit. Between public parks, architecture, museums, art installations, and more, there’s always something to do in Cambridge.

1. Harvard Art Museums


cambridge sightseeing harvard art museums
© bill_comstock / Flickr

Harvard University is home to several museums, and none are more impressive than its system of art museums. Comprising three art institutions, it also has an additional four research centers. Overall, the museums contain over 250,000 pieces in various media from all around the world. In 2008, the separate buildings went under renovations, and now they are connected under one facility. In the museum, visitors can see pieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, John Singer Sargent, and several other prominent artists.

2. The Brattle Theatre


Cambridge is home to several independent movie theaters that screen a wide variety of films from all eras. While The Brattle doesn’t show the latest releases, it is a popular place for local film buffs because of its screenings of film classics. Special series include the annual Bugs Bunny Film Festival, Studio Ghibli marathons, as well as seasonally themed series, especially around holidays like Halloween and Christmas.

3. Mount Auburn Cemetery


cambridge sightseeing mount auburn cemetery
© Sean / Flickr
Cemeteries aren’t generally known as “breathtaking,” but this one in West Cambridge is a popular spot for walks, photo opportunities, and picnics because of its beautiful greenery and architecture. It was one of the first garden-style cemeteries in the United States. It features ponds, gardens, and even a sphinx statue. If you go, be sure to use the cemetery’s map so that you don’t get lost in this large area.

4. Ray and Maria Stata Center


stata center MIT cambridge sightseeing
© Pete Prodoehl / Flickr

The Ray and Maria Stata Center is home to MIT’s departments of Linguistics and Philosophy, various laboratories, and other facilities. Its unique design comes from the idea of the school’s interconnectedness; it was built with the purpose of blurring lines between distinct departments and establishing a common space where students, staff, and researchers can share ideas. Inside, there are several auditoriums, lecture halls, and classrooms. It also houses the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which conducts some of the university’s most cutting-edge research.

5. Memorial Drive


From the end of April to November, Memorial Drive closes down on Sundays to become a long pedestrian street that hugs the banks of the Charles River. The street, lined with scenic riverside parks, becomes a haven for locals of all ages. Whether out for a run, walking the dog, or letting the kids run around and play, the good weather and sense of community provide a relaxing setting. There are often various events going on, including cultural festivals, live music, and more.

6. Cambridge Common


cambridge common cambridge sightseeing
© Christopher Schmidt / Flickr

This park is just north of Harvard Square, a beautiful green space in one of Cambridge’s most historic areas. On his famous “midnight ride” that preempted the Revolutionary War, Paul Revere passed by the common, and a memorial plaque commemorates this important historic event. The park is full of historical sculptures and sitting areas. For children, the Alexander W. Kemp Playground on the park’s north side provides plenty of fun. It is interactive and imaginative, designed with the belief that playgrounds are a place for kids to explore and grow.

7. Out of Town News


Out of Town News Cambridge Sightseeing Harvard Square
© EandJsFilmCrew / Flickr

This famous newsstand sits in the heart of Harvard Square, selling newspapers and magazines from all around the world. Out of Town News has remained a local staple since its opening in 1955. Its walls, both inside and out, are stacked with publications from floor to ceiling. The little kiosk represents the diverse intersection of cultures that come to the area to study and research. Despite pressure in recent years from local real estate developers for the kiosk to move out of the area, the newsstand has nonetheless held its ground.

8. Graffiti Alley

Art Gallery

graffiti alley cambridge sightseeing
© andresmh / Flickr

This covered alleyway just off Central Square is a local favorite for photo opportunities. One of its walls is lined with graffiti and public art, often commissioned from nationally renowned artists. The canopy above has a stained-glass style that adds colorful shades to the natural sunlight. The other wall features a black-and-white mural that shows some local people and places that help make Central Square such a vibrant part of the city.

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