Cambridge MA Travel Guide 2021

2021 Cambridge Visitors Guide

Just across the river from Boston, Massachusetts sits Cambridge with its exciting multicultural setting where visitors from around the world mingle in the shadow of two of the world’s premier educational institutions: Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Teeming with cafes, bookstores, and boutiques, Cambridge is often referred to as “Boston’s Left Bank”.

The city’s origins began in 1630 when a fleet of 11 ships carrying 700 passengers set sail from England bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This dedicated band of Puritans hoped to build their community around a purer, more Biblical church. The newcomers settled and began to build the grid of streets and squares which still exist today. Cambridge became a city in 1846 and grew slowly while retaining its charming rural character.

View of Harvard University

Drawn by Harvard, and later Radcliffe College, brilliant men, and women imparted an intellectual luster to the village. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz (founder of Radcliffe), William Dean Howells — all were seen on the streets of the village. Around the turn of the twentieth century, immigrants from Italy, Poland, and Portugal began to arrive in the city, settling primarily in Cambridgeport and East Cambridge. French Canadians and Russian Jews came at this time as well as for settling in North Cambridge and Cambridgeport, respectively.

A small population of African Americans had lived in Cambridge from the earliest Colonial days, and in the early nineteenth century, Cambridge’s integrated schools attracted many families from Boston. Twenty markers commemorating prominent Cambridge African Americans have been erected throughout the city.

Today Cambridge is home to a culturally diverse population of over 100,000. Over fifty languages may be heard on the streets of the city, including Spanish, Creole, Portuguese, Chinese, Amharic, and Korean. Children from 82 different countries of origin attend public schools. College students from around the world study at Harvard, Radcliffe, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Lesley College. The heavy industries of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been replaced by technology-based enterprises, including electronics, self-developing film, and cameras, software and biotechnology research.

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Cambridge is bordered by the city of Boston on its south and east (across the Charles River), by the city of Somerville and the town of Arlington to its north, and by the city of Watertown and town of Belmont to its west. Commuters can find easy transportation via the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority bus, subway, and train as well as the EZ Ride Shuttle connecting Cambridge to Boston’s North Station. The city is also easily navigable by bicycle and encourages walking with its specially designed Pedestrian Program. Air travel is accommodated through Boston’s Logan Airport. The average commute time in Cambridge is 24 minutes compared to the national average of 26 minutes.

Cambridge MA Fast Facts

  • Population: 101,355
  • Median Household Income: $47,979
  • Median Family Income: $59,423
  • Per Capita Income: $31,156
  • Latitude: 42°22’25” North
  • Longitude: 71°6’38” West
  • Cambridge is on Eastern Standard Time and observes Daylight Savings Time

Cambridge Attractions

Charles Riverboat Tours
The Charles Riverboat Company features daily sightseeing tours and evening sunset cruises on the Charles River. Enjoy a relaxing cruise as the Captain points out the most historic sights of Boston and Cambridge including Beacon Hill, Esplanade Park, the Back Bay, Boston University, MIT and Harvard.

Harvard University
Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the United States. Harvard graduates include scores of world leaders including six U.S. Presidents — John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes, and John F. Kennedy. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Harvard Yard includes such noteworthy buildings as Wadsworth House which served as temporary headquarters for General George Washington in 1775; Daniel Chester French’s statue of John Harvard and Widener Library which houses the largest university book collection in the world with over 13 million volumes.

Tales of Old Cambridge Walking Tour
This walking tour of Harvard Square is led by a professional guide who will conjure the Village of Olde Cambridge in the days of witches, heretics, heroes, rebels, and spies. Hear true tales of Puritan punishments, the witch that wasn’t, Anne Hutchinson’s Trial of the Century, the tumultuous events that erupted into the Revolutionary War and the secret midnight burial in the Olde Burying Ground.

New England Aquarium
The mission of the New England Aquarium is to increase understanding of aquatic life and environments, to enable people to act to conserve the world of water and to provide leadership for the preservation and sustainable use of aquatic resources. This mission is fulfilled through exhibits, education, conservation, and research programs. Exhibits showcase the diversity, importance, and beauty of aquatic life and habitats, and highlight critical aquatic conservation issues through programs emphasize species, habitats, and issues critical to New England.

Cambridge Recreation

Boston Red Sox Baseball
The Major League Baseball Team, the Boston Red Sox is at home at Fenway Park during their annual season running from April through October.

Boston Bruins Professional Hockey
National Hockey League team the Boston Bruins is at home at Banknorth Garden during their annual season running from September through April.

Wachusett Mountain Skiing and Snowboarding
“Wachusett,” the Algonquin Indian word for “The Great Hill” is the perfect name for this mountain that stands alone. Wachusett is the highest mountain in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River and stands 2,006 feet above sea level at its peak with spectacular panoramic views including Boston to the east. Skiing and snowboarding on varying trails provide excitement and challenge for beginners and pros alike!

Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area
Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area contains 34 islands lying within Boston Harbor which range in size from less than one acre to 214 acres and together embrace 1,600 acres of land over an area of 50 square miles. The mission of the park is to make the island system an integral part of the life of the surrounding communities and region and to protect the islands as a resource of national significance while improving public knowledge and access for education, recreation, and restful solitude within an urban area.

Cambridge Dining

Cambridge is a melting pot of ethnic cuisines and home to many independent neighborhood establishments as well as national franchise restaurants. Some of the most popular restaurants include 16 Garden Street Restaurant and Café, Cuchi Cuchi, Aspasia Fine Dining, Au Bon Pain, b. good, Bertucci’s, Café Mami, Cambridge Brewing Company, Dolphin Seafood Restaurant, Henrietta’s Table, Marrakesh, Passage to India, Picante Mexican Grille, Seoul Food, Toscanini’s Ice Cream and Coffee and Veggie Planet.

Cambridge  Arts

Boston Symphony Orchestra
As one of the foremost arts organizations in the country, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has been enriching the lives of Boston area residents and visitors for 125 years. The standards of excellence are passed on through the musical craft of performances as well as education programs for children and adults.

Boston Ballet
The goal of the Boston Ballet is to bring new levels of excellence to ballet—both on and offstage—through programs that bring ballet to broader audiences and create new works that bring the dance to life for devotees as well as newcomers to the art.

Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world with a collection that encompasses over 400,000 works of art. More than one million visitors arrive each year to experience art from ancient Egyptian to contemporary, special exhibitions, and innovative educational programs.

American Repertory Theatre
The American Repertory Theatre occupies a unique place in the American theatre as it is the only not-for-profit theatre in the country that maintains a resident acting company and an international training conservatory which also operates in association with a major university. Over its twenty-two year history, the American Repertory Theatre has welcomed American and international theatre artists who have enriched the theatrical life of the whole country and the theatre has garnered many of the nation’s most distinguished awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award, and a Jujamcyn Award.

Cambridge Communities

Cambridge is in good company surrounded by other progressive cities and towns in the area including Allston, Arlington, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Belmont, Boston, Brighton, Brookline, Charlestown, Chelsea, Chestnut Hill, East Boston, Everett, Jamaica Plain, Malden, Medford, Newton Center, Newton Highlands, Newtonville, North End, Revere, Roxbury, Somerville, South Boston, South End, Watertown and West End.