Guide To Boston

Guide To Boston

Are you new to the Boston area?  Want to find out what the city has to offer?

If you are wondering where to go shopping, out to eat, how to get your vehicle registered, how to purchase a mobile phone, or any number of important daily living questions, the Welcome to Boston Guide is an excellent resource!


Welcome to Boston Guide

Automobiles, Parking and Licenses.. oh my!

If you are interested in buying or renting a vehicle during your stay in Boston, we recommend checking the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website for information on obtaining a Massachusetts State License, Vehicle Registration and Massachusetts State Liquor ID.

For information regarding parking, we recommend reviewing the Official Web Site of the City of Boston.  There you will be able to apply for parking permits, pay tickets, and find out where your car has been towed to!

Voting (U.S. Citizens over 18 years of age)

For information on checking your voter registration status, early voting, obtaining an Absentee Ballot and voter ID laws, we recommend reviewing the Long Distance Voter.org website.

Check out the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website to determine where you should go to vote.

**All polling places are required by federal and state law to be accessible to elderly and disabled voters.


There are lots of bank branches in the city of Boston.  Check out this website to help you choose which bank makes the most sense for your needs.

Harvard University also offers the Harvard University Credit Union (HUCU) The branch nearest you is located at 108 Kresge Building.  Their phone number is (617) 432-8869.


On-campus:  we recommend reviewing the Housing resources website page for the Shattuck International House for information on floor plans, features, and the application processes.

Off-campus:  we recommend reviewing the Housing Resources website.  There you will find information and additional resources about the renting processes and how to start your housing search.


Harvard University provides health care services to its students and staff and in most cases students will start at their primary care doctor and the Longwood Campus Health Service and then referred to the main office, which has different specialists. More information about the Harvard University Health Services, major hospitals and pharmacies in the area below:

Harvard University Health Services (HUHS)

For most students, your first point of contact will be the Harvard University Health Services.

The Harvard University Health Services offers comprehensive medical care while you are at the University. The main office is in Cambridge, and there is also a branch in the Longwood Medical area.

Main Office

75 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge

General Information: (617) 495‐2001

Insurance Office: (617) 495‐2008

Urgent HUHS Care: 617‐495‐5711

Longwood Campus Health Service

275 Longwood Avenue, Boston

(617) 432‐1370

Family and Childcare

Partners and Spouses:  Check out the Harvard Students’ Spouses & Partners Association (HSSPA).  Here you will find support networks, events, and resources to help you with your stay in Boston.  You are welcome and encouraged to participate in all student group events and activities. Please let the Office for Student Affairs know in advance at studentaffairs@hsph.harvard.edu when you plan to attend a student group event so we can issue you a visitor pass.

Childcare: For individual consultations, written guidelines, lists of affiliated centers, family providers by community, after-school and summer vacation programs, you can contact the Office of Work and Family at (617) 495-4100 or by email at work_family@harvard.eduor at (617) 432-1615.

You may also use the HARVie Child Care Bulletin Board or Watch Portal to find Harvard students interested in babysitting and childcare opportunities!

Pregnant or Breastfeeding: The Longwood Campus Mothers’ Rooms are private, comfortable spaces available to all Harvard Longwood Area women to use for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.

The rooms are equipped with Medela “Lactina Select” pumps. We also provide information about using the pumps, where to purchase your necessary personal accessories, books and pamphlets about breastfeeding, and contact numbers for professional lactation consultants who can provide problem solving and education.

The rooms are maintained by: The Harvard Medical Center Office of Work and Family; located at 164 Longwood Avenue, Room 106, Boston, MA 02115 Phone: 617 432-1615 Fax: 617 432-4259

*Locations may change due to space availability.


There are hundreds of libraries located in Metropolitan Boston. There are over 50 libraries in the Harvard University system alone. We have listed two Harvard Libraries here: Countway Medical Library, which is here in the Medical Area, and Widener Library in Harvard Yard, which is the main Harvard Library.

Countway Medical Library

10 Shattuck St., Boston

(617) 432-2134;



Widener Library

Harvard Yard, Cambridge

(617) 495-2411


 Religious Centers

Students are always welcome at Harvard University’s Office of the Harvard Chaplains, an interfaith coalition of chaplains offering services and guidance for members of many world religions.  Through their website, you can find a list of religious centers in the Medical Longwood Area, Brookline, and Cambridge.  Their phone number is (617) 495-5529.

On-campus: Prayer space is located at Kresge 504*

*please note this is a temporary space while we renovate a more permanent location.

Telephone Services

Harvard’s Telecommunications Department has partnered with the company MobileSphere to provide low‐cost prepaid and domestic international service. This service also works on a pay‐as‐you‐go basis with contracts, no credit history, and no deposits required.

CampusSIMs is also a great resource to get a SIM card for your phone.

Shopping and Restaurants

Grocery:   Clothing and Household : Furniture and Office Supplies:
Stop & Shop1620 Tremont St., Roxbury Crossing

155 Harvard St., Brookline

301 Center St., Jamaica Plain


TJ Maxx525 Harvard St., Brookline

350 Washington St., Boston

IKEA1 IKEA Way, Stoughton
Shaw’s53 Huntington Ave, Boston

33 Kilmarnock St., Boston

800 Boylston St., Boston


Marshalls500 Boylston St., Boston

350 Washington St., Boston

Target180 Somerville Ave., Somerville

1105 Commonwealth Ave., Boston

*clothing & household as well


Whole Foods Market15 Washington St., Brighton

15 Westland Ave., Boston

181 Cambridge St., Boston

340 River St., Cambridge


Prudential Center

800 Boylston St., Boston

StaplesLandmark Center, 401 Park Dr., Boston

57 JFK St., Cambridge

NOTE: Massachusetts charges 6.5% sales tax for purchased items. Clothing is not taxed unless the item is more than $250; then, the buyer is charged a luxury tax. Sales tax is also not placed on most grocery items.

Restaurants: There are lots of restaurants in the Boston and Cambridge area.  Bostonians often use Yelp.com to help them find places to go for meals.  You can also use Yelp.com as a resource to find salons, coffee shops and many other services.  Another resource is Foodler.com.



Harvard University provides free shuttles to and from its campuses.  The bus (blue in color) is labeled the LMA Shuttle. Check out the website for updates on schedules or download the App to get updates on your buses location – you will never be late again!

*Students and staff need a Harvard ID to be allowed to use this service.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA or the “T”): the T can take you all around Boston for very little cost.  Check out their website for maps and schedule updates.  For discounted “T” passes, please review our MBTA Semester Pass Discount Program.

Bicycle: The City of Boston offers tons of information on Bikes in Boston, everything from maps, safety tips and biker events.

Biking around Boston is the best and fastest way to explore the city.  If you’re not ready to commit to buying a bike, Mybike offers monthly rentals starting at just $34/month.  Please visit their website for more information.

Have a bike already? Register it with the Harvard Parking Office in order to receive access to the Longwood Medical Area bike cages.  Register here.

Walk: If you are not ready to launch into city biking, Boston also offers many opportunities to see its beauty by foot.

Visit WalkBoston for more information about walking around the city.

Other Transportation in Boston