A Student’s Guide to Boston

Category Student Voices


Portrait of Alli Scharmann, student
Allison Scharmann Class of '21
Authored on March 14, 2019


While there’s no shortage of things to do on Harvard’s campus, one of the best parts of living in Cambridge is being just a 10 minute subway ride away from the heart of the city of Boston.

Being from Western Massachusetts, I was certainly no stranger to Beantown when I first made the 2 hour move from home to Harvard. I wasted no time unpacking and getting to work on my personal “Boston Bucket List” of things to do in the city before graduating. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite things to do and places to go in “The Hub.”

Walk the Freedom Trail

Calling all history buffs, the Freedom Trail is your 2.5 mile, multi-stop shop for historic buildings and burial grounds dating back to the time of the American Revolution. Grab a map or just follow the red-brick sidewalk marker to pay your respects to Paul Revere, catch a street performance at Faneuil Hall, or see the view of the city from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument. Don’t forget to grab a water bottle for that last one though — it’s 294 steps to the top!


a waterside view of the boston public garden

My favorite place to read at the Public Garden is in the shade by one of the ponds!

Have a Picnic at the Public Garden

Tired from all that walking? Take a breather at the Public Garden. The spacious park is across the street from Boston Common, right in the heart of the city’s downtown. On sunny days the space is bustling with Bostonians, students, and tourists alike out for a stroll or a nap along the Garden’s tree-lined paths. Sky-high buildings fade into the distance, making the Garden a little Eden of weeping willows, flowers, and fountains in the heart of the city. It’s the perfect place to read, sketch, or picnic on a sunny afternoon.

‘Check Out’ the Boston Public Library

Before you question why I’m recommending you spend your free time at the library you must understand that the Boston Public Library is no ordinary library. The Central Library building — located in historic Copley Square — is one of the most beautiful displays of architecture in the city. Roam the famous reading rooms, stroll through galleries by artists Pierre Puvis and John Singer Sargent, and, if you come on the right day, stay for a concert in the interior courtyard. Pro tip: if you’re from or attend college in Massachusetts you can get a library card for free!

Pal Around with Penguins at the New England Aquarium

Speaking of Boston Public Library cards, you can use them to get free tickets to the New England Aquarium! Famous for its precious penguin families, the popular spot is home to adorable Sea Lions, massive Octopi, and Boston’s own “Lobstahs.” Don’t forget to say hi to Myrtle the Green Sea Turtle in the Giant Ocean Tank!  


the institute of contemporary art boston

A photo from my last visit to the ICA - it really is right on the water!

Explore the Galleries at the MFA and ICA

If it’s art you’re looking for, Boston’s got you covered three times over. Head to the Institute of Contemporary Art in South Boston’s Seaport District for an array of rotating contemporary collections — the waterfront views are just as breathtaking as the art. More of a modern art fan? Look no further than the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. You’ll swoon over the van Goghs and, if you get there before June, you can check out their newest exhibit: “Frida Kahlo and Arte Popular.” The best part? Admission at both museums is free with a Harvard ID!  

Cheer on the Red Sox at Fenway Park

If history, art, and aquatic animals aren’t your scene you can always catch a ballgame at the legendary Fenway Park. Student tickets are available for as little as $9 and Harvard sponsors a free trip or two for students during the fall semester. Trust me, you aren’t a true Bostonian until you’ve sung Sweet Caroline from the bleacher seats during the seventh inning stretch with a Fenway Frank in your hand and a smile on your face!


Allison Scharmann Class of '21

Hello! My name is Allison Scharmann and I’m a senior from Western Massachusetts living in Winthrop House. I’m concentrating in Social Studies with a secondary in English and I spend most of my free time on campus working for our newspaper, The Harvard Crimson.

Student Profile
Portrait of Alli Scharmann, student