Synthetic polymers are employed to create highly defined microenvironments with controlled biochemical and biophysical properties for cell culture and tissue engineering. Chemical modification is required to input biological or chemical ligands, which often changes the fundamental structural properties of the material. Here, a simple modular biomaterial design strategy is reported that employs functional cyclodextrin nanobeads threaded onto poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) polymer necklaces to form multifunctional hydrogels. Nanobeads with desired chemical or biological functionalities can be simply threaded onto the PEG chains to form hydrogels, creating an accessible platform for users. The design and synthesis of these multifunctional hydrogels are described, structure-property relationships are elucidated, and applications ranging from stem cell culture and differentiation to tissue engineering are demonstrated.