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Preplanned City Guides and Travel Itineraries

Harvard Square

On this page you find practical information, photos and videos about Harvard Square.

Harvard Square features in these preplanned City Guides:

3-day Boston City Guide5-day Boston City Guide

Why visit / Interesting facts:

  • Over 8 million people visit every year
  • Many cultural events and festivals year-round
  • Over 80 shops, and nearly 100 eateries

Time required: 50 minutes

Web site: http://www.harvardsquare...

Public transport:

  • Subway Red Line: Harvard Square

Address: MA Avenue and Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA - USA

Photos: (see more photos)

Photo: wallyg

Things you need to know:

  • Harvard Square is a large triangular area in the middle of Cambridge, and right next to Harvard campus. It functions as the commercial center for Harvard students and local residents alike
  • The Square used to be a neighborhood shopping center, with a grocery store (Sages) and a Woolworth's five and ten. Though a small hardware store remains, the area has gentrified a lot over the past few years, and now contains many nationwide stores and eateries sprinkled among the small independent businesses
  • Harvard Square is quite the popular spot - over 8 million people visit every year. To get them there, the Square hosts over 80 shops, and nearly 100 eateries, in addition to many cultural events and festivals year-round
  • The sunken area near the T entrance and the newsstand, in the middle of Harvard Square, is known as "The Pit". The area attracts skateboarders and generally just young people from the area, who often associate with the punk or goth scenes of the area. They stand in contrast to the more conservatively dressed people often associated with Harvard or local businesses, so this can be a point of tension
  • It attracts street musicians and art displays of all types - Tracy Chapman, for example, played here during her college years at Tufts
  • Several parts of the 1997 film Good Will Hunting were filmed in Harvard Square. For one, you'll definitely recognize the outdoor seating area of large Au Bon Pain café
  • It's surrounded by parks, if you want a place to take your sandwich - try Cambridge Common, John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, or the Charles River Esplanade

What to do there:

  • Shop! Wander Brattle Street, Church Street, Mt. Auburn Street, JFK Street, and the nearby stretches of Massachusetts Avenue, for some of the biggest collections of shops of many kinds
  • Then eat. There's quite the array of spots. For upscale, try Chez Henri, Harvest, Henrietta's Table, Rialto, and Ten Tables (our favorite of that list), and Upstairs on the Square. For something more casual, we especially like Legal Sea Foods (namely, the chowder), Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage, The Upper Crust, and Veggie Planet
  • If you need to warm up or wind down, there are many coffee shops and spots for drinks, respectively. For the first, try Algiers, Café Crema, Darwin's, or L.A. Burdick. For something at the end of the day, head to Daedalus, Grendel's Den, or John Harvard's Brew House
  • Grab a hot chocolate at L.A. Burdick (52 Brattle Street) and sip it while lounging on the tucked-away, nearby Radcliffe Yard, or out by the river
  • Use Harvard Square as an excuse to either break up a day of long sightseeing, or to end the day with a good dinner, and locally-made beer (John Harvard's Brew House)

Tips & Insights:

  • Keep an eye out for events around the area, particularly Oktoberfest every fall
  • If you need a public restroom, your best bet is probably in the Harvard Coop
  • Harvard Square can get pretty crowded during the warm months and on weekends - keep this in mind with getting reservations for dinner, in particular

 

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Harvard Square features in these preplanned City Guides: