10 Things to Do in Harvard Square

The great thing about Massachusetts is that during the spring, summer, and fall there are plenty of things to do!

And even better, you can find many things to do in Harvard Square, which is the country’s oldest university.

Harvard Square Cambridge

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Well, even in the wintertime there are countless things to do but you have to bundle up.
In the spring, you hear birds chirping, and you might be able to walk outside with a t-shirt and shorts on.

In the summer, you will want to lather on some sunblock and wear comfortable clothes because it can get pretty hot.

In the fall, the leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and the weather is sometimes hot but sometimes cold. That鈥檚 Boston for ya.

Massachusetts is located on the east coast of the country.

Harvard Square is actually a triangular shape and it is the intersection of Massachusetts Ave (you will hear locals call it Mass Ave), Brattle Street, and John F. Kennedy Street.

The university, Harvard is located within a ten-minute walk from the square.

And for those who are asking Is Harvard in Boston? The answer is no, but it is pretty close! The university is not in the capital of the state but in a neighboring city called Cambridge.

There are more things to do in Cambridge than just visit Harvard so let’s get to it!

John Harvard

Travel Tips

These travel tips can help you during your time in MA and around Boston. You will need these during your trip to Harvard.

A CharlieCard can be used for the MBTA (also called the T) all around Cambridge, Boston, and the other neighboring cities that have the MBTA. In addition, you can purchase a Charlie Ticket, but usually they are more expensive, not by much, but every penny counts.

You can add money onto your card at the station. Usually each station will have an automated machine where you can pay with cash or card. You can find more information on their website.

Other tips for Boston/Cambridge/surrounding cities:

  • There will be ATMs everywhere in Boston and around Harvard Square. You will find that most places accept both cards and cash. If cards are not accepted, there is usually a sign before entering the store/restaurant.
  • The weather is very complex here in New England. It can be cloudy but still be wicked humid. See what I did there? 馃槈 Always make sure you check your weather app before leaving for the day and to prevent some unnecessary spending such as a rain coat, umbrella, etc.
  • If you are driving, parking can be extremely difficult in both Cambridge and Boston. Not only that but it also gets pricey and the meters might have a maximum amount of time you can spend in that specific spot.
  • Speaking of driving, if you are only going to stay in the city, you definitely won’t need a car. Of course, you can always rent one if you’d like but it is not necessary as most places are either walking distance or can be accessed by using the T. You will see many pedestrians and bikers in the square and around Cambridge.
  • If you don’t have Google Maps, I suggest you download it. It is on Google Maps where you will find options to get to your destination in a timely manner. You will be able to see the T schedule and see which stop is the closest.
  • Keep your belongings close to you and I would suggest not to put your phone in your back pocket. There will presumably be a lot of homeless people in the area, especially on Mass Ave and there are pickpocketers everywhere.
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Harvard College vs University

Harvard College is actually the undergraduate college of the Ivy League university. Harvard College was founded in 1636 and it is the original school of the university.

How to Get to Harvard

You will find an MBTA stop located right in the center of the square.

To get to Harvard Square, you can take the bus, train, taxi, walk, or bike ride.

If you are planning on taking the train, you will want to get on the red line heading toward Alewife. Luckily, Harvard Square has its own stop so you can just look for that stop and start your journey.

What to Do in Harvard Square

If you’re looking to have some fun around the United States’ oldest university, you can find loads of things to do, from watching some street music to visiting some historic sites.

There are many free things to do in Harvard Square (marked with a * below), particularly when it’s nice out. In fact, these activities listed below are just a couple of the numerous things to do in the area.

There are also some entertaining things to do near Harvard that might grab your attention, such as museums or events. And hey, you might even see a wild turkey!

Of course, you can’t visit Harvard Square without visiting Harvard University.

  • Take a stroll into Harvard Yard*
  • See the John Harvard Statue*
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History
  • Walk around the Cambridge Common*
  • Visit the Harvard Art Museums
  • See the Charles River in John F Kennedy Memorial Park or Memorial Drive*
  • Stop in the Harvard Coop
  • Check out the Old Burial Ground*

And if you prefer to book a tour, you’ll learn some history along the way!

Harvard Yard & John Harvard Statue

You will find the John Harvard Statue close to the center of Harvard Yard. The area will be filled with people, both tourists and Harvard students, especially on a warm day.

This area is the oldest part of the Harvard Campus. There are many dorm halls and other historic buildings located within the yard.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is the most visited Harvard attraction, with more than 250,000 visitors every year.

The purpose of this museum is to teach and show people about the natural world around us.

Cambridge Common

The Cambridge Common is a National Historic Landmark was a site during the Reviolutionary War. You will find a few statues and plaques in the area to commemorate historic events in that area.

There is also an Irish Famine Memorial that was dedicated by the President of Ireland back in 1997.

Harvard Art Museums

The three museums include: Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum. You will find art from the Middle Ages to today. You can find up to date information and events on their website.

Charles River & John F Kennedy Memorial Park

The memorial park and views of the river are less than a ten-minute walk from Harvard Square.

The John F Kennedy Memorial Park is spacious and there is plenty of green space to sit down and read a book or have some lunch. If you walk across Memorial Drive, you can overlook Boston and the Charles River which is 128.7 kilometers (80 miles) long. The river flows northeast from Hopkinton to Boston, MA.

Memorial Drive is usually closed from 11 am to 7 pm on Sundays during the spring to the winter. You don’t have to pay and you can bike ride, walk, or do another activity along the Charles River.

The Harvard Coop

The Coop was founded in 1882 as the Harvard Cooperative to supply school supplies, books, and wood and coal for winter heating. There are a total of five stores at both Harvard (3) and MIT (2).

Today, The Coop is visited by many, including students and tourists. You can find college merchandise, dorm necessities, and other items that may be needed for school or if you’re a tourist, you can stop by and purchase a souvenir.

This can be a free activity to do if you just want to do some window shopping.

Old Burial Ground

If you are really a fan of Harvard, you can stop at this 17th century cemetery where older presidents and jurists are buried.

Where to Eat Around the Square

This area is pretty touristy so you are bound to find something to your liking. There will be plenty of vegan and vegetarian choices close to this area. There are also pizza joints, breakfast cafes, and every other type of food you can think of.

  • Insomnia Cookies
  • Life Alive
  • Mike’s Pastry
  • Sweetgreen
  • The Maharaja

Insomnia Cookies

If you are looking for a late night snack or an afternoon dessert, this place has cookies and ice cream. The cookies are fresh and tasty.

Life Alive

Life Alive is an organic cafe with a few locations in Massachusetts. They provide organic plant-based meals that will fill you up. Along with their meals, they have smoothies, juice, and coffee.

Mike’s Pastry

If you’ve ever heard of Boston, you know of this famous pastry shop that will usually have a line out the door on summer days.

And if you’ve ever been to Boston you’ve seen pedestrians walking around with their signature box with their cannoli inside.

Mike’s Pastry has a location in Cambridge too so if you don’t get the chance to head to the North End in Boston, stop on by at this location.

Sweetgreen

If you’re looking for a fresh salad, soup, or something like that, sweetgreen is the place to go.

The Maharaja

The Maharaja is an Indian restaurant that is located close to Winthrop Square. It is on the way to the JFK Memorial from Harvard Square. The food is delectable and reasonably priced. You can get samosas, naan, and mulligatawny for around USD 20.

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