Welcome to Cambridge
Harvard Square is worth an afternoon; be sure to take a tour. Most visitors don't go beyond Harvard Square and Harvard Yard, but this is a one-of-a-kind town filled with funky restaurants, independent shops, unique art installations, important historic sites, and a large concentration of independent bookstores. If you plan to visit Harvard's natural history or art museums or explore other Cambridge neighborhoods, give yourself a day or two here.
Getting Here and Around
Just minutes from Boston, Cambridge is easily reached by taking the Red Line train (otherwise known as the T) outbound to any stop past Charles/MGH station. There are stops at MIT (Kendall Square), Central Square, Harvard Square, Porter Square, Davis Square (actually in Somerville), and Alewife. Harvard Square is the best place to begin any visit to Cambridge, but driving (and parking) here is a small nightmare. Do yourself a favor and take the T. If you insist on driving, suck it up and park in a garage. (Street parking is usually limited to two hours, and most spots are reserved for Cambridge residents.) Driving is less of a pain in other parts of Cambridge, but you're still better off getting around via the T. Try to spend as much time as possible exploring on foot. This is a walking town, and you'll miss a lot of Cambridge's quirkiness if you're moving too fast.
Cambridge Visitor Information Booth. A good place to start is the Cambridge Visitor Information Booth, outside the T station in Harvard Square. Free maps, brochures, historical walking tours, an excellent list of bookstores in the area, and a guide to seasonal events are available. Harvard Sq., near MBTA station entrance, Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138. 617/441–2884; www.cambridgeusa.org.
All the squares in Cambridge are surrounded by great restaurants. Near Harvard Square try Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage (1246 Massachusetts Ave.), a Harvard institution with a menu that includes dozens of riffs on the humble burger. Cafés abound on Brattle Street; good bets include Felipe's Taqueria (21 Brattle St.) and Cardullo's Gourmet Shop (6 Brattle St.), both of which make great sandwiches.
Top Reasons to Go
- Browse the new- and used-book stores, trawl the artsy boutiques, and people-watch in Harvard Square. Take a break at one of the local coffee shops.
- Do the museum circuit: The Harvard Art Museums; the Semitic Museum for ancient Near Eastern collections; the Peabody and the Natural History Museum for artifacts and culture.
- Visit MIT to wander the halls, visit its museum, and see Frank Gehry's Seuss-like Stata Center.
- Breathe the rarefied air of Harvard on an official tour (or an irreverent unofficial one), then return to real life with a burger from Mr. Bartley's.
- Amble down Brattle Street, visiting the 1700s-era homes of Tory Row (Washington really did sleep here).
The Cambridge Office for Tourism offers a walking tour for your mobile device on its website www.cambridgeusa.org.
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