Harvard University 101 For Tourists
Harvard University is up there along with the Red Sox, The Celtics, Irish Pubs, a funny accent ("Hahvaad") and something about a tea party, when one is asked about the first thing that comes to mind when you mention the city of Boston, Massachusettes.
While the Ivy League university seems almost mythical in scope, a place of legend that few brilliant and financially well endowed individuals get to experience, it is surprisingly attainable to the general public. It can even be considered the Disneyland of prestigious educational institutes...
Touring Harvard - Guided Historical Tour
Visitors Center, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA
Aside from doing a 4 year bid and dropping a few hundred thousand dollars (assuming you were accepted in the first place) the best way to get to know the campus, history and points of interest of this prestigious institute is by taking an official tour. In recognition of it's status as a stand alone attraction within Boston, Harvard University offers FREE tours to the general public. This means that you do not have to wear the guise of a prospective undergraduate in town for a debriefing. Instead, you are free to follow along a guided tour led by volunteer students who will take you on a journey of all that is Harvard University from their innocent, and not so innocent, perspective and providing insight into the past, present and future along with interesting anecdotes about the world's most renowned scholastic community. If student guided tours aren't your thing you are able to take a self guided tour of the campus accompanied by audio aids for a small fee.
The Official Harvard tour departs from the Harvard Information Center, in the Holyoke Center Arcade, between 9:45AM and 3:45PM and is approximately one hour in length. There is no pre-registration for general visitors so feel free to show up between the mention time frame. Groups of 15 or more require reservations by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download your own interactive map of the Harvard University Campus here
John Harvard Statue - Old Yard (near Massachusetts Hall)
If you've seen the movie Social Network then you know a bit about the statue, John Harvard - Founder - 1638 and that it is nicknamed the statue of three lies: John Harvard was a contributor to the university but not the founder, the statue is actually made in the likeness of the sculptor's friend, and the University was in fact founded in 1636. Visitors are known to rub the left foot of the statue for good luck but let us warn you ahead of time to avoid this practice. In addition to the games of “dress up” (sunglasses, leis, etc...) and harmless tortures inflicted upon this poor Harvard figurehead, it has become a common tradition for prankster students to urinate on the very base of the statue in the exact spot visitors place their hands. Sorry, but the gig is up Freshmen.
Located next to Johnston Gate at the entrance to the Old Yard
This 1720 architectural creation is the oldest surviving building at the university and served as a dorm room for Founding Fathers of the likes of both John and Samuel Adams AND John Hancock as well as other reputable figureheads in U.S. History. The current Harvard University President's office is found within the walls of Massachusetts Hall as are the unfortunately placed Freshman class. The history, architecture, and overall significance of Massachusetts Hall make it more than worthy of placement in your Harvard University photo stream.
South Harvard Yard across from Memorial Church
Widener Library is the centerpiece of largest university library system on the planet. It looks as impressive is it sounds with a face of multiple Greco-Roman styled columns and a wide staircase that makes you feel as if you truly are standing in front of one of the most impressive and important learning institutions in the world. Guess what? You are.
Located across from Widener Library in Tercentenary Theater
Memorial Church has stood since 1932 in physical memory of the men and women of Harvard that died fighting for their country in World War 1, World War 11, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. This architectural marvel stands proud with four magnificent columns and serves as the backdrop to Harvard's Commencement ceremonies in Tercentenary Theater. The Memorial Church is not only a very significant spiritual home for many of Harvard University's students, faculty and visitors, but is an important piece in the landscape of this prestigious Boston community.
John W. Weeks Bridge
Between Memorial Drive and Soldiers Field Road
The John W. Weeks Bridge is a famous pedestrian over pass that allows for a birds eye view of the shoulder strained Harvard crew team rowing through Charles River. With many of Harvard's prestigious houses and other landmark buildings in full view, every step along the John W. Weeks Bridge is a Harvard photo opportunity in itself.
Other Harvard Photographic Points Of Interest
Socializing @ Harvard - Harvard Square
Harvard Square is the hub of social interaction and social education within the Harvard community for students, faculty and visitors alike. This district congregates retail, dining, nightlife and arts & entertainment into close proximity of the institution and creates an atmosphere unlike anywhere else in North America.
Our picks for the best cafe and best watering hole in the district to mingle with the Harvard crowd includes the euro coffee shop Cafe Pamplona (12 Bow Street, Cambridge, MA) by day and John Harvard's Brew House at night.
Accommodations @ Harvard - The Inn at Harvard
1201 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA (on campus)
No need to sneak into the dorm room of your Ivy League friend, family or fling for an overnight stay. Harvard Univeristy is so big that they actually have a hotel on campus so you can stay among the students and get the full experience without the pressure of GPA or presence of faculty watching your every move. The Inn at Harvard is what you would expect from a traditionally styled boutique hotel within Cambridge. It is classic, tasteful and exudes sophisticated luxury while being within close proximity to local attractions, museums, eateries and other fine establishments worth note to visitors.