What makes Cambridge Unique?
The perfect mix of beautifully historic past and vibrant, welcoming present, Cambridge is (in the definitely unbiased opinion of local Cambridge business LockHouse Escape Games who are guest blogging this week) one of the most special places to visit in the UK. Here are some of the unique things Cambridge has to offer!
Cambridge is home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, giving it a rich intellectual history, and a bunch of extremely pretty buildings. Cambridge University was founded in 1209 by some scholars who decided they would rather be here than in Oxford (thereby settling the ‘which is better’ question over 800 years ago).
For the scientists
From Isaac Newton to Crick, Watson, and Franklin, Cambridge has been the home to some of the most significant developments in science. Visit Trinity College to see the tree reputedly grown from a cutting of the apple tree that sparked the theory of gravity. The Eagle Pub on Bene’t Street has not one, not two, but three blue plaques that mark it as the place where Francis Crick announced the discovery of the structure of DNA — while you’re visiting, try a pint of the commemorative “Eagle’s DNA” ale. Other great Cambridge scientific and mathematical minds include Charles Darwin (studied at Christ’s College), and Alan Turing (student at and subsequent Fellow of King’s College).
For a smallish city, Cambridge has a truly ridiculous amount of museums — and most of them are free! Visit the Whipple Museum for some fascinating artifacts from scientific history. The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and the Museum of Zoology provide a dive into natural science — and the Museum of Zoology boasts a beloved Cambridge classic in the form of a 21-meter long whale skeleton displayed prominently near the entrance. A whale of a time, indeed. Cambridge is filled with tons of amazing museums that make for the perfect rainy day activity.
For the bookworms
Cambridge is as rich in literary history as it is in science. Trinity College was home to the escapades and exploits of Lord Byron — and also, reputedly, to his pet bear, which he kept to make a point defying the rules which banned students from having dogs. E.M. Forster was a student and later Fellow at King’s College, and his novel Maurice is partially set in Cambridge (go punting to spot locations from the 1987 movie adaptation)! Other Cambridge literary names include Tennyson, Housman (commemorated by a brass plaque in Trinity College), Rupert Brooke, and Sylvia Plath.
If you’re shopping for books, Heffers bookstore has got you covered, with all the words you could possibly want (they’ve also got a brilliant board games section). For some rare and second-hand finds, G. David Bookseller is tucked away just off the market square. It’s an absolute necessity for all book lovers, both to browse and to stare lovingly at the incredible selection of rare and early editions that you definitely can’t afford.
Complete your literary tour with a trip to the Orchard Tea Garden! Out in the beautiful scenery of Grantchester, the Tea Garden has had a truly impressive host of famous visitors since its establishment in 1897.
The river and scenery
Punting! Steering these flat-bottomed boats along using only a pole and a lot of determination is an absolutely essential local activity. It’s gondolas, but for Cambridge. Replace the Italian singing with the joyful hollering of picnicking students, and voila. The river Cam winds its way through town and past some breathtaking views, from the meadows of Grantchester to the sweeping lawns and majestic colleges of the Backs — and there’s no better way to take in those views than from the water! Relax, soak up the ambience, and learn some Cambridge history in a guided punt tour. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can hire a punt and steer yourself along. Keep an eye out for the Mathematical Bridge, originally built in 1749 to what Wikipedia flatteringly calls an ‘unusually sophisticated engineering design’. According to legend, it was originally built without using any nails or fastenings, but students dismantled it and were unable to put it back together without the help of a few nails. This isn’t actually true, tragically, but it’s fun to lie to your friends about.
If you’d rather walk, Cambridge is the perfect city for pedestrian sight-seeing. The city centre is a car-free zone, so you can wander through the cobbled streets and stunning architecture at your leisure (just watch out for the ubiquitous cyclists zooming around)! Or join a sightseeing tour of the city to make sure you hit all the best spots. There are loads of amazing free activities you can do in Cambridge based around it’s fantastic scenery.
Cambridge isn’t just a stupendously beautiful and historic city — it’s also a living place, with a community of uniquely Cambridge businesses. From shopping to food to entertainment, the city’s streets hold everything you need to make your trip to Cambridge memorable. The market is open every day, packed with a vibrant and eclectic range of stalls selling everything from books to vinyl to street food and local produce. Cambridge is also home to a plethora of wonderful cafes and places to eat — the most unmissable is probably Fitzbillies, whose iconic Chelsea buns have been made and sold in Cambridge since 1920. And the people who love Cambridge are committed to making it the best possible place to experience, with Cambridge BID’s City Ambassadors providing welcoming information and advice to visitors.
Still not sold on how unique Cambridge truly is? We have another article detailing all the wonderful and truly unusual things you can do in Cambridge over at lockhouse.co.uk.
If you’ve got a spare hour while you’re drinking in the delights of central Cambridge, come play an escape room! LockHouse Escape Games is centrally located on Regent Street, and we love being part of the unique landscape of Cambridge. Our escape rooms take an hour to play, and add an unforgettable dose of puzzle-solving fun to any Cambridge travel itinerary!
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