send to printer

Cambridge, Harvard University, and MIT, Cambridge's insider take:

Billing itself as "Boston's Left Bank," Cambridge is an academic center, a technological corridor, and a vibrant, multicultural city located just across the Charles River from Boston. It's easily reachable on the T or by foot across one of the several bridges, and you'd do well to set aside an entire day to explore it properly. In Harvard Square, street musicians compete for attention with socialists handing out literature. Purists complain that it's become too commercial and there are too many chain restaurants and shops (and it's true, you'll find the usual Gaps and Pizzeria Unos), but it's still a great place for strolling and people-watching with an ice cream cone from Herrell's (15 Dunster St.; 617-497-2179). South of Harvard along Mass. Ave. (only tourists call it Massachusetts Avenue), Central Square is a corridor of ethnic restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops with a funkier, edgier feel, such as the Middle East music venue and the1369 Coffee House (1369 Cambridge St. in Inman Square, 617-576-1369, and 757 Mass. Ave. in Central Square, 617-576-4600,). At Harvard University, get your bearings at Harvard Information Center, located in the Holyoke Center arcade (1350 Mass. Ave.; 617-495-1573), then walk around Harvard Yard to admire the centuries-old academic and residential buildings. There are three art museums to choose from: American and European works at the Fogg (32 Quincy St.; 617-495-9400), art from German-speaking countries of northern and central Europe at the Busch-Reisinger Museum (32 Quincy St.; 617-495-9400), and Asian, Islamic, and Indian art at the Sackler (485 Broadway; 617-495-9400). Even non–science types will be impressed by the Harvard Museum of Natural History, home to the intricate Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, commonly known as "the glass flowers." It includes more than 830 species that were created as early as 1886 for botany students to study (26 Oxford St.; 617-495-3045). Across the street from Harvard Yard, the Sanders Theatre presents concerts (from folk to classical music) and public lectures. First used in 1876, this all-wooden space evokes old English academia, and is prized for its acoustics (45 Quincy St.; 617-496-2222). Farther downriver, MIT has a museum, too, which details some of the technological breakthroughs and geeky pranks of that university's rich history (265 Mass. Ave.; 617-253-5927); some cutting-edge architecture to admire, by the likes of Frank Gehry (the Ray and Maria Stata Center on Vassar Street); and world-class art by Pablo Picasso, Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, and others. Pick up a guide, or arrange a guided tour, at the List Visual Arts Center (20 Ames St., Building E15; 617-253-4680).—updated by Jon Marcus

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.