Fun Without the Price Tag: 9 Free Activities Around Harvard Square

Residents run along the Charles River on a leisurely Sunday morning as the previous week's intense humidity abated.
Residents run along the Charles River on a leisurely Sunday morning as the previous week's intense humidity abated.

Though there is still over a month left before school starts, if you’re anything like us here at Flyby, you’re probably nearing the end of your summer budget. For all of you trying to make the most of every penny, Flyby has found nine free (probably the best word in the English language) summer activities around Harvard Square that won’t break your bank.

Start a pickup game at the Cambridge Common

Now that the Cambridge Common has reopened, you and your friends can finally start that pickup league you’ve been talking about. Whether it’s ultimate frisbee, soccer, or Spikeball, get your friends to the new and improved green space just down Garden Street.

Play ping pong at the Science Center Plaza

With plenty of ping pong tables, balls, and paddles on hand, the Plaza could be the location of some epic ping pong showdowns between you and your friends. If that’s not your thing, an oversized chess board is also set up nearby.

Listen to street performers in the Square

Although not all performers in Harvard Square draw large crowds, their talent (and bravery) should not go unappreciated. Regardless who you come across, be nice—you might be listening to the next Tracy Chapman.

Visit the Harvard Art Museum

Make use of free admission for Harvard students to get your fill of culture this summer. Right now, exhibits feature everything from Australian indigenous art to Chinese prehistoric pottery, all housed in the renovated museum building just outside the Yard.

Picnic along the Charles River (and look out for Pokemon)

By Zorigoo Tugsbayar

Grab some food from your favorite takeout restaurant—or go the cheaper route and bring something homemade—and settle in on the grass next to the River. Be sure to avoid the geese—unless they’re Pidgeottos in disguise.

Enjoy a Harvard garden just across the river

Enclosed in the Class of 1959 Chapel on the Harvard Business School campus, this garden is home to ferns, liriope, arboricola, and an artificial waterfall. If nature isn’t really your thing, you can always stop by to appreciate the cylindrical architecture of the chapel designed by Moshe Safdie.

Take advantage of the Cambridge Public Library

There are branches of the Cambridge Public Library all around the city, but the main location is less than a ten minute walk from Harvard Yard. There you can find a massive collection of DVDs available for rental, fun summer reading books, or just an air conditioned place to chill for a while.

Wander around the Harvard Natural History Museum

We know the Natural History Museum might not seem like the first place you’d choose to visit during break, but summer is a good time to take advantage of free admission for students and enjoy everything from the Great Mammal Hall to the rocks and minerals exhibit.

Mooch off free samples from Pinkberry

Despite the ethical gray area, it’s a healthier alternative to ice cream and kinder to your wallet. With employees handing out samples right outside the door to the store, you can almost convince yourself that this activity is encouraged.

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