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5-Hour Itinerary: Hot Spots in Harvard Square

5-Hour Itinerary is a series—based on the New York Times’ “36 Hours”—in which we serve as your guide to the ultimate Boston day-trip, stringing together thoughtfully chosen locations and activities into a one-of-a-kind itinerary.

Sometimes, stepping off campus for the evening to get the “College Town Feel” —aside from the small taste we get from going to White Mountain—can be refreshing. Perhaps one of the most student-appealing parts of the greater Boston area is Harvard Square, and it’s only a $7 Uber (split between friends) or a $1.70 bus ride away (pro tip: catch the 86 bus outside Fuel and, 20 minutes later, you're in the heart of the square)!

1. The Border Cafe

Mac burrito bowls aren’t doing it for you? Well, your Mexican food superiority complex will be induced for the rest of the semester after trying the Border Cafe. Located in the heart of Cambridge and Harvard Square along Church Street, this long-time Tex-Mex joint serves up hearty Cajun and delectable Mexican cuisine. Try the popcorn shrimp or pastelitos to introduce some change to your late-night cuisine, or perhaps flare up your night with the crawfish etouffee. It stays open until 1:00 AM, so why not suggest this wholesome option to your friends next time you’re craving Late Night?

2. Milk Bar

Too late for some ice cream? Never! Too late for a hot (or cold?) take on a classic all you Rat-goers know and would die for? Head on over to the Milk Bar, which will take your dessert order until 2:00 AM! A national enterprise with its newest location being Harvard Square, Milk Bar Bakery tries to replicate the unique flavor of the excess milk in your cereal bowl. If you know, you know. You can go in and order your base, the excess milk-flavored ice cream, then top it with Corn Flakes-esque or Fruity Pebbles-esque cereal. Other options include slices of Crack Pie (a brown butter-filled delight), layered cakes, Bagel Bombs (pretty much what it sounds like), soft cookies, and shakes, to name a few. Do be prepared...the prices are a bit hefty. However, I can confirm that the Crack Pie and cookies are rich enough to share. You’ve probably seen some friends’ Instagram stories from this popular spot, so what are you waiting for?

3. Harvard Museums

What better new friend or date bonding activity is there than a wholesome museum walk? Harvard’s own Art Museums, Semitic Museum, and Natural History Museum are located directly in Harvard Square. Check out the new Climate Changeexhibit at the Natural History Museum for a powerful display on the effects of human activity on our planet, because you can never be too informed! At any of the three Art Museums, one can find art from all over the globe ranging from the 6th millennium BCE up to the present. These are great places to check out for avid art appreciators as well as those looking for a new place other than the MFA!

4. Passim

The cheerful and hopeful sounds of live music can sometimes beat Machine or Royale. A well-intentioned school, concert venue, and restaurant, Passim offers frequent nightly concerts featuring all types of performers, from jazz to folk singers. The insanely cheap (and sometimes free!) tickets are easy to obtain and promise an evening on the town that won’t disappoint.

5. Night Market

It is nearly impossible to put a cap on all the trendy innovations Harvard Square has to offer, but I’ll try to end with an impressive one. The Night Market, whose goal is to cultivate an environment of friendly conversation over authentic Asian street food, provides a fun, tasty experience for any college student. The food is made for sharing! Be you a fan of chicken wings, duck crackers, or curry carnitas tacos, 10/10 would recommend this dynamic eatery.

With its close location and the infinite exploration that awaits upon arrival, Harvard Square has been a college student scene for what seems to be eternity. It bustles with passer-byers, foodies, and busy students all day and night. Let this itinerary spark some inspiration to get out and venture this popular location one weekend!