Harvard University#2 in Best Things To Do in Cambridge, MA
One of the world's most famous universities, Harvard has been educating students since the 17th century. It was named for John Harvard, a clergyman who died in 1638 and left the college his library and half of his estate. Visitors can walk the grounds to take in the gorgeous buildings, which span a variety of architectural styles over the centuries. There's the Georgian-style Holden Chapel, completed in 1744, University Hall, designed in 1815 by Charles Bulfinch, and the Romanesque-style Sever Hall, completed in 1880, among many others.
Recent travelers called the buildings "stunning," adding that a stop at Harvard was one of the highlights of their time in Cambridge. While visitors may not go into campus buildings, they can tag along on a free guided tour of the grounds. Tours provide an overview of campus history and offer fun tidbits. For instance, the 1884 statue of John Harvard by Daniel Chester French (the left foot of which many visitors rub for luck) is not actually a depiction of Harvard himself, but rather Sherman Hoar, a Harvard graduate who acted as the model for this sculpture.
Free, one-hour guided tours – led by Harvard students – are available at various times of the day and year, depending on the university's schedule. Visit the school's website for more information. You can also purchase a guide to go on your own or download a free audio guide from the website.
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#1 Harvard Square
Iconic Harvard Square, a bustling epicenter of Cambridge, is packed with quirky boutiques, bookstores, restaurants, cafes, bars, buskers and, of course, students from Harvard University, which borders one side of the square. No matter the time of day or night, there is always a lively atmosphere. Simply wandering around people-watching can be entertaining by itself.
Visitors say Harvard Square "feels like a European square" with a "fun and energetic vibe." Additionally, many add that it offers a great place to hang out in the evenings.