5. CANOE WITH A VIEW, 9:30 A.M.
Avoid Cambridge’s parking-starved streets. Instead, take the MBTA’s squeaky Red Line subway, which bisects the city north to south and stops in other “squares” such as Central, Porter and Kendall, the latter home to M.I.T. Your morning can begin with a waterborne tour by renting a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard ($15 to $24 an hour) from Charles River Canoe & Kayak. Pilot your watercraft to the Charles River, then under the Longfellow Bridge and upstream to Harvard and beyond, with views of Boston landmarks like the Museum of Science and the Esplanade.
6. FROM EGGS TO FRITTERS , NOON
Jump into lunch mode at Clover Food Lab, run by Ayr Muir, an M.I.T. material scientist and Harvard M.B.A. grad; his super-fresh vegetarian fast–food joint has more than a dozen Boston-area locations, including four in Cambridge, with one in Kendall Square. Try the chickpea fritter ($7.70) or egg and eggplant sandwich ($7.70), and a side of killer French fries with deep-fried rosemary sprigs ($4.21). A second option: Commonwealth Cambridge, for a pulled chicken and Tater Tots sandwich ($13.50) on the patio by the Broad Canal and kayak dock.
Frank Gehry’s Ray and Maria Stata Center (Building 32) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. CreditAshley Pizzuti for The New York Times
7. M.I.T. TOUR, 1 P.M.
Many visitors tour Harvard Yard. But why not M.I.T.? Download a map or mobile app or campus public art map, and then wander the campus, whose buildings are referred to by number. Highlights include the Frank Gehry-designed Ray and Maria Stata Center (Building 32), which pays tribute to famous M.I.T. hacks, or pranks, such as turning the campus’s Great Dome into R2-D2. There’s also M.I.T.’s List Visual Arts Center (E15), and buildings designed by I.M. Pei (class of ’40), Alvar Aalto and Eduardo Catalano. Outdoor art includes Henry Moore’s bronze “Three-Piece Reclining Figure” in Killian Court, and Pablo Picasso’s “Figure Découpée” (“Cut–Out Figure”) near the Sloan School of Management.
8. TECHNOLOGY TIME, 3 P.M.
To study Cambridge’s innovative, D.I.Y. spirit, look no further than the MIT Museum. Exhibits include those documenting the history of artificial intelligence research and robots at M.I.T.; an extensive holography collection; and Arthur Ganson’s surreal kinetic sculptures — one depicts a tiny chair doing cartwheels over a cat.
9. POWER UP OR DOWN, 5 P.M.
Grab a coffee and a snack like garlic knots ($6) with pecorino and a red dipping sauce at Area Four. Or head over to the Meadhall gastro pub and beer hall. Perch yourself at its giant oval bar beset with banker’s lamps, and your jaw might drop at the 100 beers on tap, with new brews rotating in each week.
10. EATING EXPERIMENTS, 7:30 P.M.
Another less-traveled Cambridge neighborhood is Inman Square, near Central. The Druid, an Irish pub, is perfect for a pint and a tremendous fish sandwich ($11), as well as Irish music sessions each Saturday from 4 p.m. till around 9. Cambridge’s flaring culinary scene hit new heights with the arrival of BISq. Sitting at wood tables under amber globe lights, you might try outstanding small plates like roasted chicken ceviche ($10), cornbread blood sausage ($12) and a board of tiny pastries and sweets, called the “dessert charcuterie” ($6). For a culinary trip that feels like eating a science experiment, head back to Kendall Square for Café ArtScience. The ambience is lablike, and the food is wonderfully fussy, from smoked duck salad with foie gras “snow” ($14) to a perfect round of bison tartare ($34) to the strawberry lemongrass creamsicle ($15). The bartender’s “Le Whaf” cocktails turn liquids into breathable vapor, and the devices that hatch them, invented by a Harvard engineering professor, are also on sale.
Black Beach plays on the downstairs stage at the Middle East. CreditAshley Pizzuti for The New York Times
11. NIGHT LIFE AND NERDOM, 9:30 P.M.
A bar hop based in grittier Central Square begins at Brick & Mortar, acocktail nook that feels secretive, but the drinks are city-known; try the Bootsy Collins “rum, funk, pineapple, crack” ($11). Alternatively, brave the cramped Irish pub and restaurant Plough and Stars, where patrons transition from food to live music. Then there’s the celebrated Middle East and Zuzu complex, whose four stages host national indie rock acts and D.J.nights. For the true local dive bar encounter, poke your head into the Cantab Lounge for cover dance bands and poetry slams. Or, get your nerd on at Pandemonium Books and Games, whose shelves and basement are Cambridge’s mother ship for genre books and gaming pursuits.