Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Cambridge, MA

Cambridge, Massachusetts frequently sits in the shadows -- of the original Cambridge; of Boston, its much bigger sister city on the Charles River; and even of the incredible educational institutions that put it on the map. Cambridge, however, is more than just the American version of Cambridge, England, a suburb of Boston or the home of Harvard and MIT. You might even say Cambridge is amazing, at least if you take some of these activities and destinations into consideration.

These suggestions are all incredible, but the only scratch the surface of all the amazingness there is to discover in Cambridge. Even if you opt out of getting a hotel in Cambridge and simply travel here on a day trip from Boston, you'll be shocked by how much personality this city has, particularly if you've never considered visiting it before now.

  • 01 of 05
    Boston
    ••• The amazing view of Boston from atop the tower of Mount Auburn Cemetery. Bill Damon via Flickr

    The legend of the Headless Horseman might not take place far from Cambridge, but the city's Mount Auburn Cemetery offers much more in the way of education than it does etherealness. Not only does Mount Auburn Cemetery hold the distinction of having been the first deliberately landscaped cemetery in the U.S., but it's where you'll find the graves of famous Massachusetts residents like Charles Sumner and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

    To be sure, there's only one truly paranormal thing about Mount Auburn Cemetery -- the incredible view from the tower, which offers a panorama of Boston and the Charles River, with downtown Cambridge in the foreground.

  • 02 of 05
    Garment District Cambridge
    ••• The only thing better than the clothing selection at the Garment District? It was sold by the pound. Emily Allen via Flickr

    On the surface, the existence of Garment District might seem to serve as evidence that Cambridge simply riffs off larger cities (in this case, New York) to secure its greatness. Look inside, however, and you'll find a treasure trove of vintage clothes NYC can only dream of. The best part? Clothes here sell by the pound and at rates you won't believe.

  • 03 of 05
    Schoenhof's in Cambridge
    ••• Schoenhof's has the largest selection of foreign language books in North America. John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons

    It might not seem surprising that Cambridge is a mecca for book aficionados, even in the digital age, given all the brain power that exists there on account of its two world-famous universities. Among the dozens of book shops in Cambridge, Schoenhof's sets itself apart not because of its distinctly German name, but because of the types of books it sells: Foreign language books, the largest such collection in all of North America, in fact, with common languages like French and Spanish, and less ubiquitous ones like Korean, Russian and Australian Aboriginal.

  • 04 of 05
    Glass Flowers
    ••• Blaschka's "Glass Flowers" are one of the highlights of the Harvard Natural History Museum. Angela N. via Flcikr

    If you're not a brainiac -- and wealthy enough to afford it -- you might not think there's a place for you at Harvard. This assumption falls away the moment you set foot in the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which houses a collection that's not only one of the largest in the world, but one of the most time-spanning, from dinosaurs all the way up to the late 19th century, specifically the aptly-named "Glass Flowers" of Czech-born glass artists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05
    Cambridge Carnival
    ••• Every September, Carnival invades Cambridge. Chemical Engineer via Wikimedia Commons

    With an average temperature of just 52 degrees F, Cambridge is about as far from tropical as you can get. When the West Indian Carnival comes to town every September, however, things in town heat up, irrespective of the weather outside -- it's rain or shine. From Caribbean culinary delicacies to tropical island dancing, the Carnival lets you get a dose of Caribbean culture in the unlikeliest of places.