What to See in Harvard Square

When you come to Harvard Square—a triangular plaza at the intersection of three main Cambridge thoroughfares—you’ll find yourself walking on the worn, red brick streets laid down in 1631. Colonial history—Harvard University, for example, was founded in 1636—is just one of the things visitors can see in this charming neighborhood.

But Harvard Square isn’t all history tours and 17th-century architecture. Here, Ivy League academics mingle with international tourists and locals. There are world-class museums, excellent places to eat and to imbibe, and no shortage of fun, independent shops. And that’s to say nothing of the neighborhood’s bookstores.

Whether you’re passing through or spending a week exploring this stretch of Cambridge, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in Harvard Square.

Admire the eponymous campus

Stroll through the ornate, wrought-iron gates that frame Harvard and admire the manicured yard. Here, visitors can grab a casual bite at one of the regularly scheduled food trucks (Bon Me, Rhythm ‘n Wraps, Stoked Wood Fire Pizza) and enjoy their meal beneath the shade of an American elm.

Check out an esteemed museum

While admiring the university (and perhaps pretending you matriculated) visitors can enjoy the on-campus Harvard Museum of Natural History. Tucked between the Law School and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the museum has exceptional exhibits, like the famous gallery of glass flowers and, an older and more compact collection of 60 sea glass models of marine creatures.

Eat something sweet

Brioche dusted with cinnamon sugar; flaky, hand-shaped croissants, thick, double chocolate chunk cookies; fresh berry tarts. Harvard Square is as flavorful as it is attractive, thanks to a clutch of first-rate bakeries and cafes. We particularly love Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery + Cafe, the open bakery in Tatte Bakery and Cafe on Massachusetts Ave, and Insomnia Cookies, which is open until 3:00 a.m., to satisfy all those late night cravings.