Just a week ago I had the opportunity to visit Cambridge for the first time. I had been to Boston for a brief second once before while delivering some furniture pieces to the area but sadly it was during Hurricane Sandy. A and I only had time for a brief lunch until we decided we had better leave quickly before the storm hit. I was super excited to visit for real this time…and for longer than just pizza. We stayed at The Charles which provided a central location to visit both Cambridge and do a very quick 1-day tour of Boston. It’s a dabble in each area and not at all intended as a comprehensive guide but more of a fun, relaxing food-focused weekend. Definitely give yourself at least 4 days in the Cambridge/Boston area if you’ve got enough time but if not, here is a simple Cambridge weekend travel guide for you to consider. Just as an FYI, we walked pretty much the entire time we were visiting. However, on Day 2, we did take an Uber back from Beacon Hill to Cambridge since we were both pretty tired. Uber is fairly priced and is definitely the way to go in the Boston/Cambridge area.
Cambridge weekend travel guide
I can’t tell you how much we loved Tatte, pronounced “tat-tay,” but I will tell you we visited every single day we were in Cambridge. We stuck to the Harvard Square location (there are 8 locations scattered throughout Cambridge and Boston); we actually peeked our heads into one of the Boston locations but decided it wasn’t cute enough (and surprisingly small) so we Ubered our way back to Harvard Square since it was close to our hotel anyhow. If you browse through Instagram, you’ll notice that at least one location in Boston is just as picturesque as the Cambridge Tatte Bakery. Recommendations: almond croissants, lattes, cappuccinos & salads and best of all, the avocado toast.
**Note: Though the meringues looked gorgeous, we found them just a little too sweet for our tastes.
You really can’t stay in Cambridge without visiting Harvard. However, if you live near any old university with beautiful stone buildings, you may find yourself a bit disappointed in the campus like I did. Harvard was pretty, for sure; I just think I had outrageously high expectations for it. Plan to visit but make keep your expectations in check. Enjoy a historical tour if you’re into that or just wander the grounds.
It’s a little confusing to spot amidst all the traffic but Harvard Square is the hub of Cambridge, where newspaper stands meets clothing stores and restaurants. It has historical significance as well and as you can see in the map below, the Square extends far beyond the central point. In fact, Tatte Bakery is located in Harvard Square though it’s several blocks down. Harvard Square is best visited late evening into the night as that is when it comes alive. We listened to musicians one night and the following day it was fun to see just how many people sat there enjoying the weather even during the day.
Dinner in Cambridge
Whether you choose Henrietta’s Table (first row of photos) or Puritan, one thing is for certain: Cambridge and Boston do not lack good restaurants. Each restaurant has its own unique twist and charming interior. If you head to Henrietta’s, try their cantaloupe salad or their crab cakes. End on the pumpkin cheesecake. Puritan has some of the best appetizers I’ve ever tasted – I tried 5 of their apps and each one was delicious. End on their toffee bread pudding. To die for.
Cocktails In the Eve
Noir is attached to The Charles and serves up some delicious cocktails. The Mai Tai has a great tang but Good Time Girl is the cocktail to try. Sweet and exotic. Noir is considered a part of Harvard Square so this is a great way to enjoy the excitement of the night while relaxing with a drink.
As outlined above, Day 2 is spent trekking across Cambridge and into Boston. You can opt for an Uber or walk; I prefer walking as you can see much more on foot than by car.
Again? Yes, it’s a must. There are so many great options on the menu and the convenient location makes it an easy choice. If you’re here during the weekend, be sure to head here for brunch at least one day. I’ve heard great things about their brunch but heads up, so has everyone else. This place is crazy during the weekends so keep that in mind as you make plans. Some people suggest avoiding peak hours but I swear every hour is peak hour. If you really don’t want to revisit Tatte and you just want a nice cup of coffee, head to Peet’s Coffee.
Even though MIT is technically Cambridge, we found it easier to visit on our Boston-touring day. MIT is a gem. I fell in love with all their unique architecture and twisted, quirky buildings. Make sure you walk to the Ray & Maria Stata Center which was my favorite set of buildings. Get ready for some unique photo ops – there aren’t many buildings that look like this around the world.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
My friend Abby (@abbymatses) who lives in Boston told me that Isabella’s just recently opened up its doors to photography. Only a few months earlier, the museum did not allow photography of any kind and even currently, any “photoshoots” or “professional” shots are prohibited. Per their website:
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO ARE ALLOWED!
You are welcome to take non-flash photographs or video of the works of art. Unfortunately, we can’t allow tripods or selfie sticks, or accommodate professional or personal photo/video shoots.
Surprisingly, I didn’t see this notice anywhere inside the museum – we discovered it when we were asked to quickly finish up with our shoot. Regardless, this museum is worth every penny of its $15 admission fee. If you visit on your birthday or your name is Isabella, you get free admission. And if you wear Red Sox apparel, you get a discount. But even without those discounts, make this museum a priority. I would appropriate at least 3-4 hours to tour it.
Lunch at by CHLOE
By CHLOE is a NYC chain offering avocado toast and the best coconut water I have ever tasted. I’m not usually a coconut water fanatic and to be honest, I only bought the coconut because of how cute and insta-worthy it was. Yeah, I know…pathetic. But the flavor was unmatched and now I’m on the hunt to find one at our local grocery store. I have been dying to visit this place ever since I saw it in NYC and am so glad I got the chance in Boston. Recs: sweet potato fries, fresh coconut & coconut water, avocado toast.
Boston Public Library
The Boston library is enormous. It has multiple levels and plenty of space to work, read, brainstorm, etc. I wasn’t there to browse through shelves of books but what I did want to visit was the courtyard. Set up with lots of tables and chairs the courtyard serves as a quiet oasis from city life. The courtyard is part of the old library and you can see that it’s distinctly less modern than the newer addition to the library.
Boston Public Garden
If you think Central Park in NYC is gorgeous, wait until you see Boston’s public garden, the first public garden in America. The city does a fantastic job with landscaping and in fact, during our short stroll through the garden, we ran into several people who were trimming flowers and maintaining its overall idyllic appearance. The garden is full of greenery, flowers and beautiful trees including weeping willows and elms.
Beacon Hill & Acorn Street
End your evening strolling through Beacon Hill. Stop by Acorn Street to get that picture-perfect shot of the cobblestone alleyway that’s famous throughout Instagram; hopefully there won’t be any cars parked there. However, if there are, stay close-by. When we initially arrived at Acorn St, there were two cars parked on opposite ends of the street. We were bummed and waited, trying to grab a shot without the obvious distractions sitting in the middle of the road (a bit impossible). Minutes later, the owner of one of the cars came out and moved her vehicle and shortly thereafter, the second owner came out to move hers.