21 Free Things to Do in Boston

Historic Beacon Hill—19th century cobbled streets and alleys with original gas lights are just minutes from office blocks and busy roads
Historic Beacon Hill—19th century cobbled streets and alleys with original gas lights are just minutes from office blocks and busy roads

This is a list of free things to do while you're visiting Boston, including museums, tours, events, entertainment, places to eat and lots more, all with one low entrance price: $0.

Now make no mistake—this isn't a list of second-rate destinations out in the suburbs where the buses don't run. These are major tourist attractions, most of which are in the downtown area and within easy walking distance of hotels and subway stops.

I worked in the city for 18 years and know a thing or two about the sights. I started this list a number of years ago when my children were growing up and frankly I grew tired of taking out a bank loan every time we visited Beantown. That's when I realized there were many exciting things to do in Boston for free.

This is the first time I've compiled this information in one place. I also invite you to add a comment at the bottom to tell me your favorite free things to do in Boston. I promise to add them to the list after I've checked them out myself.

I know there's probably too much here for a single visit, so I see this as a resource to keep coming back to as it continues to grow by contributions from others.

It's been designed to skim and browse to your heart's content and dip into those activities that intrigue you the most.

The list is growing and is now at 22, although with all the events listed it was over 50 at last count anyway.

If you're a newbie to Boston, you may want to read the following quick history and check out the orientation map. At least watch the video as it shows many of the places listed here.

Quick Tour of Boston

A Little Bit of History

But not too much right? I'll keep it brief and try not to sound too encyclopedic (and that's the biggest word you'll find here.)

The city of Boston has a population of about 600,000 and was founded in 1630 by Puritans from England who named their town after Boston, Lincolnshire in England. You can expect to find many places in New England named after towns in England that people had left behind, such as Manchester, Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Worcester.

Much of the city today is built on reclaimed land from the sea and surrounding marshes. Situated at the mouth of the Charles River as it enters Massachusetts Bay, Boston played a key role in the revolutionary war and was a major seaport and trade center in the early years of America's history.

The city brims with historic buildings sandwiched between skyscrapers, parks, and chic shops. It makes an odd sight at times, but does provide a unique and satisfying blend of old and new architectural styles.

The following map will help you get oriented with Boston. It highlights a number of the destinations on my things to do list.

Boston Map Showing Main Areas of Interest

Step Into Boston's Historical Past

A lot of people's money and time has gone into preserving Boston's rich history and heritage for you to enjoy. All it will cost you to experience it is a little of your shoe leather.

When it comes to a city in America to visit for historical significance, it's hard to beat Boston. It's practically impossible to walk a few steps anywhere without stumbling over some colonial or revolutionary landmark, and through these trails and locations you'll discover the fertility of the city and its people's past, soaking in an educational experience while having fun as well. Sound like a good deal?

1. The Boston Freedom Trail

Old Boston

Put on your walking shoes and trek 2.5 miles along the nation's history on The Boston Freedom Trail. Just follow the red-bricked trail as it winds its way through sixteen historical sites, including:

  • The Boston Massacre
  • The Old South Meeting House (where the Boston Tea Party episode began)
  • Faneuil Hall
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • Paul Revere's House
  • Lots more!

You can pick up a free map at the visitor's center on Boston Common. Allow 2-3 hours at least and a full day if you can spare to visit all the sites.

2. The Black Heritage Trail

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is a distinctive Boston neighborhood with its alleys, walled gardens and narrow red-bricked cobbled streets lined with gas lights. It's a delight to walk in, even moreso because you can also discover the historic Black Heritage Trail.

The Trail consists of 14 sites beginning at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in front of the State House and winding through the hill around memorable Louisburg Square, Charles Street, and Phillips Street before ending at the African Meeting House.

Free maps are available at the Abiel Smith School. Ranger-guided tours are also free and run Monday-Saturday.

3. The Irish Heritage Trail

Downtown and Surrounding Neighborhoods

Since colonial times, Boston has had a thriving Irish population which has shaped the arts and political traditions of the city. If you have a tinge of Irish—and let's face it most of us do, especially as March 17th approaches each year—then take this three mile self-guided walking tour through Boston's downtown, North End, Beacon Hill and Back Bay neighborhoods.

There are about 16 sites marked on the tour map that you can easily walk to, and an additional six sites located in Charlestown, East Boston, and Dorchester which you'll need a car or public transportation to view. Many of the sites are memorials and plaques that commemorate great sons and daughters or major events, with some parks and gardens sprinkled along the way.

The Heritage website provides maps and details about each site so you can plan a visit and even combine it with the other free walking tours already discussed.

4. Bunker Hill Monument


The Bunker Hill Monument has steps leading to the top for great views of Boston.
The Bunker Hill Monument has steps leading to the top for great views of Boston. | Source

The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775 and is mostly remembered because of the legendary command "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!"

While the American forces were eventually overwhelmed and retreated after three assaults, the site is commemorated by the 221-foot granite obelisk and is marked as the first major battle of the revolutionary war.

The area surrounding the monument is a park with a museum, and you can climb the stairs all the way to the top. The monument is open 9:00am - 5:00pm. See the park website for more information.

Walk to the North End to relive the famous ride of Paul Revere and the story of the lanterns hung in the Old North Church.
Walk to the North End to relive the famous ride of Paul Revere and the story of the lanterns hung in the Old North Church. | Source

5. Old North Church

North End

This church is in Boston's famed North End neighborhood, an area known more for Italian restaurants and pastry shops rather than one of the most significant events leading to the revolutionary war. From the steeple of the church, Robert Newman held up two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not land.

Though the steeple itself has been replaced twice since the lanterns were lit—both because of storms, not fighting—it still makes for a stirring patriotic sight. The visit and looks are free but the basic guided tour, if you want it, is a $1 donation (still a bargain).

6. USS Constitution

Charlestown Navy Yard

USS Constitution is the oldest ship in the American Fleet and is ready for you to board and inspect at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
USS Constitution is the oldest ship in the American Fleet and is ready for you to board and inspect at the Charlestown Navy Yard. | Source

Built in Boston and launched in 1797 to provide protection for American ships sailing the North African coast, "Old Ironsides" saw its most memorable action in the War of 1812 when it defeated HMS Guerriere in a 35-minute battle that in one event projected the United States into a super naval power.

Today this historical ship is permanently docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard and offers free tours of the ship every 30 minutes.

Catch One of These Free Guided Tours

Some buildings and places are so immense or significant that it helps to have a knowledgeable guide to appreciate them fully, and the ones on this list definitely fall into that category.

These tours are popular during the summer tourist season, so sign up early.

7. Boston Public Library

Copley Square

The Boston Public Library in Copley Square is much more than just a collection of books, although if you measured it purely by its number of rare volumes it would stand out as one of the greatest collections in the world.

But the central library also houses fine art, rare prints, and now even interactive multimedia exhibits. So at its heart, it is indeed just a library but that's sort of like saying Mt. Everest is just a mountain, right?

You can get a free tour on Mondays at 2:30pm, Tuesdays & Thursdays at 6:00pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 11:00am.

8. Massachusetts State House

Beacon Hill

Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill offers popular free tours each weekday.
Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill offers popular free tours each weekday. | Source

Charles Bullfinch's 1798 masterpiece sits on top of Beacon Hill and is the oldest surviving building in the area. The distinctive gold dome was first covered in copper in 1802 and eventually gilded with gold leaf in 1874. There are many rooms and chambers to see and architectural styles to admire.

Free tours are conducted by staff and volunteers covering the history and architecture of the State House. They're given weekdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm and last for approximately 30-45 minutes.

9. The Custom House

Boston Harbor Waterfront

This landmark building is one of the more distinctive shapes in the harbor area, and at one time was the tallest skyscraper in Boston. The original foundation was laid on reclaimed land and at one time the Boston waterfront came right up to the building.

Today the building stands back embedded among taller office buildings and busy traffic routes. The tower was added on to the foundation in 1915 and when the custom officials moved to another building, it was sold to Marriott Hotels.

Free tour by appointment includes a trip to the 26th floor open-air observation balcony and the Rotunda Museum. It's open 10:00am - 4:00pm daily, except Saturdays.

10. Massachusetts Historical Society

Back Bay

The Massachusetts Historical Society collects, preserves and makes available to the public manuscripts and artifacts related to Massachusetts. The society has a large collection of papers and letters from historical figures and politicians from Massachusetts.

They also publish books and loan their materials to other museums and libraries. They hold numerous seminars and weekly tours, all of which are open to the public and (of course) free.

11. MIT Campus Tour


Love 'em or hate them some of the MIT buildings just can't be ignored.
Love 'em or hate them some of the MIT buildings just can't be ignored. | Source

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge is spread out over a huge area, and encompasses unusual architectural styles, art collections, and a crazy numbering scheme for its buildings. Wait . . . let me be fair. I'm sure it makes sense to MIT but to the average visitor it's. . . a challenge.

There are two ways of touring the campus: self-guided and organized. The campus tours depart from Building 7 Lobby, located at 77 Massachusetts Avenue (though this is the address of every building), and generally lasts 75 - 90 minutes. They are offered at 11:00am and 3:00pm Monday-Friday.

You can pick up a map for a self-guided tour at the Information Center Room 7-121, which means Building 7, First Floor, Room 121. And Building 7 is located at 77 Massachusetts Avenue . . . on second thought just ask a student for directions.

Family Fun at No Cost

I don't know about you but every activity I do with my kids seems to empty out my wallet, and then they want to eat.

So here's some things to do in Boston that not only leave your wallet intact but if they get hungry . . . well that's covered as well, at least on Wednesdays.

12. New England Aquarium

Central Wharf

In the summer school vacation months this place is better described as a "zoo" rather than an aquarium—just kidding. But it does get mobbed with families on vacation and it continues to be one of the most popular attractions in Boston.

The New England Aquarium is also one of my favorites because I love the familiar things like the massive ocean tank with the sharks and giant turtles swimming around together, but I also enjoy the new exhibits that revolve in and out.

The Aquarium is involved in whale conservation programs and conducts whale watch cruises during the season, though an extra fee is required. Free tickets for general admission are available from the Boston Public Library free ticket program. These free passes will admit up to 4 persons from September - June and do not include admission to the IMAX Theater.

A Stroll Inside Quincy Market...

13. A Free Lunch at Quincy Market


Quincy Market is the place to eat at lunchtime in Boston. Don't argue. Just go there. You can book a table at your favorite Italian restaurant in the North End in the evening, but at noon Quincy Market is where it's at.

In one long building are hundreds and hundreds of food stalls ranging from . . . ah forget it, just go. But wait a minute you say. Food is not free, right? Well, every Wednesday, Quincy Market has their International Food Festival where you can sample foods for free at stalls bearing "The Taste of Quincy Market." Sure they're not going to feed you a heaped plate of food, but sample enough from the variety of offers and it'll keep you going until snack time.

14. Stargaze at Coit Observatory

Boston University

Looking for a heavenly experience after an early dinner on a cloudless Wednesday evening? Take yourself and family over to Boston University's Coit Observatory where you can do a spot of stargazing through their telescopes and binoculars.

This is definitely one of those "weather permitting" activities but it is available most of the year and begins after 7:30pm and in the spring and summer you can come after 8:30pm. The public evening lasts for about one hour. Call 617-353-2630 ahead of time to confirm the free gaze is on for the night. You know why? That's right: Boston's unpredictable weather. Bring a sweater or coat too since it's an outdoor event.

15. Get Lost in a Museum

I grew up in London where most museums were free to visit. So when I came to Boston and found I had to pay for a museum, I was a little perplexed. After all, didn't they build the museums and purchase the artifacts with donations and taxpayer's dollars?

Well, I've long since understood the laws of economics and am not worried about paying for a trip to the museum. But with the drop off in attendance, most museums have introduced opportunities to visit for free, though they are limited. These museums offer free hours at certain days and times, or participate in the public library's free ticket program.

Please note the free passes from the library program require you have a valid library card from the Boston Public Library.


Entertainment for Nothing and Your Tickets for Free:

Boston's 4th of July Fireworks Event

Okay, so my apologies to Dire Straits. As much as I enjoy seeing a show or concert in Boston's Theater district, there's something mesmerizing about a performer on the streets or a free event like the 4th of July fireworks that's infectious and makes you want to get involved.

It's staggering the amount of work and time people contribute to practice their performance or organize these events which keep our spirits high and keep the fun in our hearts.

Here's a selection of events to consider for the next time you visit Boston.

16. Harvard Square Entertainment


It's just a short "T" ride across the Charles River to Cambridge and Harvard Square, and you're planted in a different world of cafes, shops and meeting places with students and plenty of atmosphere.

For no fee at all, you can browse during the day, and when the sun goes down, the street performers come out in force and the shops stay open late. So browse the bookstores and gift shops or find a cafe and listen to a singer/guitarist or watch in disbelief at the magicians or jugglers. Anyway you dice it you can't beat the price. Take the red line to Harvard Square.

17. Catch a Boston Event


The diversity of Boston and its heritage means there's always a parade, street festival or concert performance going on in the city most months.

Here's a quick rundown of just a few of the free events to do in Boston:

  • Reenactment of Boston Massacre - March 5th - Old State House
  • St. Patrick's Day Parade - mid-March - South Boston
  • Boston Marathon - April (third Monday) - Copley Square
  • Patriots Day Parade - April (third Monday) - City Hall Plaza
  • May Fair - May - Harvard Square, Cambridge
  • Duckling Day Parade - May (second Sunday) - Boston Common
  • Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill - May (third Thursday) - Beacon Hill
  • Street Performers Festival - Late May - Faneuil Hall
  • Performing Arts Series at Hatch Shell - June - Esplanade
  • Boston Seaport Festival - mid-June - Boston Waterfront
  • Scooper Bowl (Ice Cream Festival) - early June - City Hall Plaza
  • Dragon Boat Festival - June (second Sunday) - Charles River
  • Cambridge River Festival - mid-June - Banks of the Charles River
  • Boston Harborfest - July 4th week - Boston Harbor
  • Italian Feast days - July - North End
  • Boston Pops 4th of July Concert and Fireworks - July 4th - Esplanade
  • Annual Festival of Betances - late July - South End
  • Copley Square Concerts - July
  • Boston Caribbean Carnival - August (third weekend) - Franklin Park
  • Italian Feast Days - August - North End
  • Copley Square Concerts - August
  • Boston Arts Festival - September (second weekend) - various venues
  • Feast of Saints Cosma & Damiano - late September - East Cambridge
  • Boston Blues Festival - late September - Banks of the Charles
  • Boston Globe Book Day - mid-October - Back Bay
  • Columbus Day Parade - early October - East Boston - Downtown
  • Head of the Charles Regatta - late October - Cambridge

Then it gets too cold for me and I look for inside stuff.

18. Free Movies at the Hatch Shell

Esplanade, Charles River

The Hatch shell is where the famous 4th of July Boston celebrations take place with concerts and fireworks. The Shell is in an area along the Charles River known to locals as the Esplanade which can be accessed by a footbridge from Beacon Hill.

Between mid-June and the end of August every Friday evening you can see a popular family film under the stars for no cost at the Hatch Shell. People grab a blanket, some lawn chairs, a picnic, and settle in for an evening of films.

You can even pick up a bag of popcorn (not free) from one of the many vendors catering for the audience.

Boston's Playgrounds

When you've reached saturation point on the history trails or when your recall of which museums you visited yesterday is hazy, then its time to take a break from being a tourist and seek refuge and quiet in one these Boston parks.

These playgrounds are not just for show but are recreational destinations for residents. Some are known only to the locals. In my view, these are the best free deals in town as no matter how many times you visit there's always a surprise lurking around the next bend in the path.

19. Emerald Necklace - Six of the Best

Western Neighborhoods

The Emerald Necklace is a collection of six parks over six miles circling Boston's western neighborhoods. The parks are The Back Bay Fens, Riverway, Olmstead Park, Jamaica Park, Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park.

You can access the first park from Boylston Street near the Museum of Fine Arts. The parks include green open spaces, rivers, ponds, wildlife habitats, nature trails, shrubs, flowers, bridges, and even a zoo at Franklin Park (though there is an admission fee for this).

Created by Frederick Law Olmstead, these jewels of Boston are a gift of the peoples of the city and the commonwealth of Massachusetts for all to enjoy.

20. Boston Common and Public Gardens

Beacon Hill / Downtown

Beautiful in the springtime, Boston Common and the Public Garden also put on a stunning display of fall foliage every October.
Beautiful in the springtime, Boston Common and the Public Garden also put on a stunning display of fall foliage every October. | Source

Boston Common is the oldest park in America and is where a colonist's sheep once grazed. Today Frog Pond, sculptures, free summer theater performances, and park benches shaded by maples provide an oasis in the surrounding concrete and red brick structures of Massachusetts' capital city.

The Public Gardens are a short walk across Charles Street that separates these two sections of Boston's major park. The Gardens have a more formal layout and the popular Lagoon was added in 1871. The famous Swan Boats have been operating since 1877. The formal displays of flowers in spring and summer are splendid, but there's also plenty of deciduous trees to ensure a showy fall foliage.

If you're around at lunchtime, do like everyone else and purchase something from a vendor and spread out on the grass and catch some inner city peace.

21. Blue Hills Reservation


Just a 30-minute drive from the crowded waterfront attractions of downtown Boston is one of the best-kept secrets of this city, the Blue Hills Reservation. The park consists of 22 hills and 125 miles of trails covering an area of 7,000 acres.

Blue Hills is open year round from dawn to dusk, and activities include:

  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Ice skating
  • Mountain biking
  • Picnicking
  • Rock climbing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Downhill skiing
  • Softball
  • Swimming at Houghton Pond

The Summit of Great Blue Hill is the reservation's high point at 635 feet, and has an observation tower offering views of the Boston Skyline and surrounding countryside. Use of all the trails is free.

22. Turtle Lane Maple Farm

North Andover

Just a few miles north of Boston is residential (some would say sleepy) North Andover. But in early spring when the maple sap starts flowing, usually late February or early March, suddenly sugarhouses are burning the midnight oil capturing the sweet gold.

It's fascinating to watch it being turned into syrup and sugar products. One such place where you can go and watch for free is Turtle Lane Maple Farm. But you better hurry because there's only a few weeks for tapping, even though the maple it produces can be enjoyed all year.

Tips on Getting Around Town

Plan A for getting around Boston is to walk. Seriously, that's my first choice, and of course it's free. This is a small city and just about everything here is in reasonable walking distance from the downtown area. But realistically, there are some destinations that it's not really practical to walk to, and your legs will get tired before the end of the day unless you're training for the marathon.

So when you need to take the weight off your feet, go to Plan B, which is taking the "T." This is Boston's subway system, which is the oldest in the country. At times, it shows. But it mostly works and the network will get you out to all the locations mentioned in this guide as well as back to base. It's not difficult to figure out and navigate around. But listen up . . . it's not free. Sorry, you have to buy tickets to use it.

And if you have a car . . . park it in a garage and forget about it. You don't need it as it'll be a terrible waste of your time and cause you hours of frustration trying to find your way around.

And most of all . . . enjoy these free things to do in Boston!

More Resources for Boston

New England Vacation and Getaways Video


This article was started in February 2008. All the information was correct as of that date and I have updated it as programs have changed over the years. Usually, people let me know by adding a comment or sending me an email. This is good and I appreciate it.

However, if you intend to make use of any of the programs, please double-check first to ensure the program is still being offered or restrictions have not been introduced which could prohibit your eligibility for a free program.

I believe this to be the most complete list of free things to do in Boston on the web and I'd like to keep adding to it as well as keep it accurate, so please keep sending in corrections.

Cliff Calderwood

Please leave me some feedback and tell me your favorite free things to do in Boston 90 comments

Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

Kailua-KonaGirl 5 months ago from New York

This is a fantastic find for me! We are planning a trip to Boston this summer and this Hub will help us plan our itinerary. Thank you so much! Pinned to my board "Road Trip USA"-

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bobkaiser300 2 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

I vacationed in Boston, a few years back, it was the best vacation I ever had visiting a city, there is so much history there, I highly recommend visiting there!

Katia 2 years ago

Great list, thanks ! I went to Boston last year and I want to go back soon. One of the things I loved was the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, it's really beautiful... and free ! :) Can't wait to try all the stuff that's on your list I haven't done yet !

Kate at 3 years ago

Great list! The Harvard Art Museums are closed for renos and will be opening back up in 2014 and the ICA is free the last Saturday of every month for families, except in December :)

Vivi 3 years ago

This is a great list, and I'll definitely be checking some of these activities out (:

However, the Bank of America Museums on Us no longer applies to the Harvard Museum of Natural History (but does to the MFA and MIT Museum!).

Meg 3 years ago

The Sam Adams Brewery is free and awesome

Addison profile image

Addison 3 years ago Author

Thank you for comment Emmett. Yes, it is my favorite city and I love to find out new things about it.

EmmettSmith1 profile image

EmmettSmith1 3 years ago

Addison, You make Boston seem like the best place in the US. Glad you have a zeal for it.

Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

Addison, Don't worry, I always check before I go somewhere. I know things change over time. I think it is smart that you have the disclaimer, though. And thank you for the welcome!

Addison profile image

Addison 3 years ago Author

Well, next time you come back there may be 23. Sorry to disappoint you with more information than you expected :)

Addison profile image

Addison 3 years ago Author

Hi Kathryn... welcome to Boston - most of the stuff is still around and free. But as I said in my disclaimer do check things out first if you can. Hate to disappoint you.

james shabinsky 3 years ago

there are 22 things here, y did u say their iz 21?

Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

Wow, this is a long and informative post! It's cool that you posted it years ago, and it is still getting views. I just moved to Boston recently, so I'll have to review this in the future when I want to see what there is to do around here.

trebor49 4 years ago

The mapparium is a great destination at the Christian Science Center. It used to be free when I was in College but might be a small fee now. It is well worth it.

Liz Walmoth 4 years ago

My husband & I are going to Boston next week and I will certainly enjoy seeing some of these places. Thanks for such an informative hub.

Hope 4 years ago

you did a great job! I grew up just outside of Boston. It's a wonderful city. though you have already mentioned these, I love Boston Commons and Quincy Market. Also the steps at City Hall. My playground as a child, teen, and adult. every trip I make back there include all of these and of course The North End for a cannoli at Mike's Pastry! really love that town!

everlearn profile image

everlearn 4 years ago from Greater New York Region

My wife and I are planning a trip to Boston and this was extremely helpful! Thanks!

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tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

Quincy Market is a must stop place whenever I visit Boston!

Deli 4 years ago

i hate this page

Denise 4 years ago

Thanks for all of the great tips! We are a family with a tween and love to travel the world. I usually put together a list like this for every city we visit. Your very comprehensive list has saved me a lot of time & research! Great Job!!!

Dave 4 years ago

I live here and this is a good list. I am sending it to some of my less knowledgeable Boston friends to use as a cheat sheet when their relatives and friends come to town.

Steven 4 years ago

There is free swing dancing every Wednesday at MIT from 9 to 11:30pm. Lessons before it start at 7pm. That is the most fun free event in Boston

kaffas(ozzie) 4 years ago

please recommend reasonable priced accom near fenway park,we will be there in early may 2012 for a few days.have been there many years ago.

thanks for advice

B.Thomas 4 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing all this information!

Molly 4 years ago

Just moved to Boston area and this list has been a great guide to helping me explore the city!

mojo 4 years ago

i think you could fit a bit more on

Katherine E. 5 years ago

The BPL also offers free admission to the Science Museum. It's located right across from the Cambridgeside Mall and is a pretty short walk from the T station. Right on the other of the T you can see Beacon Hill. It makes for an easy and fun day (for all parties involved).

Elizabeth02206 profile image

Elizabeth02206 5 years ago from Boston, Massachusetts

Informative article. I'm planning a trip to Boston soon so this saved me a lot of time on researching. Thanks!

Karen 5 years ago

What's the best bang for the buck in attempting to get a glimpse of Boston? We have 5 daylight hours on a Monday before heading to the airport back to Texas. I am a middle school Science teacher who'll be there in mid-October with my husband (Architect) and son (high school Senior). Thanks for your input. We won't dare sleep late in the hotel!

Jennette 5 years ago

Thanks so much for this informative list! I live just outside of Boston and am always looking for free/cheap things to do with my kids there. I just wanted to add that admission to the Boston Childrens Museum is only $1.00 on Friday nights.

Eugene 5 years ago

I'm very glad to find your list. It's so timely as I'll take my family to visit Boston and Cape Cod next week. Thanks so much for taking the time to compile the list.

Jerry Keller 5 years ago

Thanksss , Good post ;)

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soldonsunday 5 years ago from Boston

Great information on the Boston area! Thanks for this, I am forwarding it on to some visitors to the area.

Benoitsmidget 5 years ago

Wow, I live in Boston and still had to look-up some cheap things to do today with my nephew. I love to fish and can do this for free either at Castle Island or Black Falcon, but not when it's raining as it is today! I love the fact that the Library gives free Museum and Aquarium passes! Thanks for the reminder.

Free Stuff 5 years ago

Great article. I just moved to Boston and can't wait to check out all of these places. Starting tomorrow!

Free Stuff 5 years ago

Great article. I just moved to Boston and can't wait to check out all of these places.

RK 5 years ago

Is thank you enough to say to all of you? But i do thank you all sooooo much it is amazing there.:)

Valintyne 5 years ago

GREAT list! I lived in Boston for 2 years (as a student, so a lot of things were free to me) and never knew about the free passes offered by the BPL - thanks for that, as I'll be taking my 3 kids to the Aquarium this afternoon courtesy of my new membership! We'll also be chacking out Quincy Market as it is Wednesday.

I've bookmarked this hub and will add things as I find them! Thanks again!

Husky1970 5 years ago

The new Art of the Americas wing at the MFA is awesome. Don't miss it!

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applejuic3 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

Perfect list. Boston is one place on my list that I definitely want to visit for an extended period of time! Thanks for this amazing hub.

Ramona Lee 5 years ago

I have been in the Boston area for 3 years now and have visited most of the things on your list and it is right on. The Arnold Arboretum Harvard University should be added to the list. It can be accessed by the Orange Line. Wonderderful walk for spring, summer and fall.

Bea Sloan 6 years ago

Thanks for all your helpful tips. Walking is definitely the way to explore Boston and its free. I was there last month to take my daughter to college and had the chance to explore few of the sites that was mention. I will be back and do the other places mentioned.

Addison profile image

Addison 6 years ago Author

Thanks to the people that provided recent corrections to some of the material on this site. I have updated the site to reflect these changes and added in a disclaimer on the hub for materials here for future reference.

hmnhpr 6 years ago

Great list, but one correction: the Harvard Museum of Natural History is free to Massachusetts residents only, Sundays 9 am to noon, and Wednesdays from 3 to 5 pm (September to May), excluding commercial groups. It's also free to Bank of America card holders on the first weekends of every month. Don't miss the world famous Glass Flowers, dinosaurs, hundreds of animals, minerals, meteorites, new exhibits Headgear, Language of Color, more.

Diane 6 years ago

I'm planning a trip in September to see Boston and have been reviewing and researching the information you have provided. Please note that the FREE PASSES from the Library are on FREE to those that have a valid library card from the Boston Public Library.

Unfortunately, tourists will not be able to enjoy the "free" side of Boston.

Rebecca Grixti 6 years ago

Hi, Thanks for the information. We are arriving into Boston on Tuesday and would love you to check out our facebook page ' Youdecidewhere' . We are travelling across America via socail networking and its The Americans that decide what we do. We would love suggestions of great things to do in Boston for 3 days thast a little bit different.

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adorababy 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

Thank you for sharing this post. Although I have no plans of getting anywhere near Boston in the very near future, this info is surely nice to know tidbits about Boston. Definitely, there's more to Boston than the Boston Celtics! profile image 6 years ago from

Love your list of Things to Do in Boston! Another resources for Boston activities is FunFix:

(not free, but things you wouldn't want to miss out on if you can swing it)

CR 6 years ago

I went to the free tour you mentioned at the Boston Public Library. It was definitely worth it. Our guide was exceedingly informative, and the art and architecture are spectacular. And the price is right!

Sally 6 years ago

The Gibson House on Commonwealth Avenue is a great museum of a house that has been kept exactly the same as it was back in the day. It's only $5, and soo worth it. I would go in the cooler months though, because since it's the same, they don't have air conditioning.

Sally 6 years ago

I had no idea that you can get free tickets from the library! Thank you! I am a student, and cash is really tight, I look forward to it. Thank you!

Alishahndra 6 years ago

"Peabody Essex Museum (Salem)- Free first Friday of month 5:00pm-8:00pm" That program was discontinued about 6 years ago; I called in to check.

jake 6 years ago

this was such a great article... i loved how detailed it was. i'm from boston and even learned a few things and was reminded of a few things i forgot about. Thank you. The only suggestion i have is to include Castle Island in South Boston - so much history, it's fun to watch the planes take off from logan and watch the boats on the water, there are even tours of the castle from time to time - don't forget to walk the sugar bowl, and you can't go without stopping and getting a hot dog with everything and ice cream from Sullivan's

Kara 6 years ago

My husband and I are visiting Boston in June, the first time for each of us. I'm glad I found this list!!! Thank you for compiling it and publishing it for the rest of us to enjoy!

Melissa 6 years ago

This is a very informative list. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together. It was really helpful and useful for my family. It is well written and you didn't miss a thing! Nice job.

Karen 6 years ago

Going to Boston for the first time over the 4th of July for a union convention. I'm not an experienced traveler but I've learned to Google "Things to do in..." for these trips and your site just saved me a whole lot of research time. Can't wait to share this with my daughter who is going with me so we can plan our days. Thanks so much.

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Addison 6 years ago Author

As a matter of fact Betty look for a new hub soon from me with a resource to another of my favorite spots in New England.

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Betty Reid 6 years ago from Texas

Nice article. Maybe you should write some more!

jellabella 7 years ago

Wow.....very informative site I have been to Boston quite a few times but Im always looking for different things to do. I am so glad to have come upon your site because you have given me many new ideas for my future visits to Boston...Thanks

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typep 7 years ago

Wow, great info! Thanks!

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Maverick_999 7 years ago from Dubai, U.A.E

thnks a bunch for such a informative hub

Pierre van Eck 7 years ago

Congratulations on a fine and superbly researched Hub - its been a real education!

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Cailin Gallagher 7 years ago from New England

Great hub! I'll use this myself although I've been living just outside Boston proper for many years. With three children, I'll take advantage of these free activities.

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hypnosis4u2 7 years ago from Massachusetts

Boston is one of my favorite cities - love the parks and gardens and the history.

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Addison 7 years ago Author

Hi RK,

Wait just a few weeks for it to warm up and the flowers to bloom in the Public Gardens - you know how great it looks then.

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RKHenry 7 years ago from Your neighborhood museum

I wanna go back. NOW! Thanks for the great hub. I'm homesick.

Brian 7 years ago

Great resource on Boston - thanks for sharing.

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Party Girl 8 years ago

Fantastic hub, full of information. I have never been to Boston, but will use this hub as a guide if I ever do.

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Addison 8 years ago Author

Don't worry Jim I'm still finding stuff - free and paid - so missing places like you say is just an excuse to come back and visit again.

Jim 8 years ago

Great hub! We obviously missed some things last time we were in Boston! Sounds like another trip is in order!


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Addison 8 years ago Author

Thanks for your positive comments Sarah Marie and Amy Jane. I'm glad you both found it a useful guide.

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amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

Thank you so much for this incredible guide! Can't wait to visit Boston with my kids :)

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Sarah Marie 8 years ago from Boston, MA

Great hub! I live in Boston and even learned a couple of new things....thanks!

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Addison 8 years ago Author

So glad Boston's now made it onto your wish list John. It was fun writing about a city I've come to know and love and exploring again some of the places I've visited many times with my family.

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John Austwick 8 years ago from Bolton

Thank you Addison, this defiantly puts Boston on my wish list for a visit, with that great information I feel I know the place already


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Addison 8 years ago Author

Thanks for feedback Andrea - we tend to get even prouder when a New York sport's team is in town. Some would say a "little too proud?"

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andrea_albright 8 years ago

Now I see why everyone from Boston is so proud of their city! Great job showing the highlights. I feel like I've been given a private tour package from an expensive private guide.

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Addison 8 years ago Author

Hi Susie,

Yes, Boston can be pricey for accommodation, especially in the downtown and harbor areas. Look towards Back Bay and Copley Square areas as they tend to be more reasonably priced. I tend to steer people towards Trip Advisor as a site for checking out lodging as it contains reviews written by regular people. You can find it here:

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Susie and Otto 8 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

Wow, Cliff, this is such an informative page! My sister is getting married this summer and Boston was on their short list for a honeymoon trip. I'll certainly send her a link to this page! By the way, they were concerned with the high cost of hotel rooms in Boston. Any chance you've done some investigating about good, lower cost places to stay? Thanks, Susie

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Addison 8 years ago Author

Glad you enjoyed it Vic. It is a wonderful city to visit - except in the winter. For three months of the year life can be a little miserable. So come and see us any other months and you'll see Boston at it's best.

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Victor Goodman 8 years ago from Pacific Northwest

What can I say that hasn't already been expressed above other than to say that your delivery of the information made it just that much more enjoyable. I will definitely be adding Boston to my list of cities I want to visit during my travels. Thanks so much!

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Addison 8 years ago Author


Thanks for feedback - but buy the guidebook as well!

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Alex Allman 8 years ago

Wow! That's a lot of information. I was going to buy a guidebook before my trip out to bean-town this spring, but with this hubpage, I think I'm good to go! Thanks!

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nightcats 8 years ago from North Vancouver

Wonderfully informative lens. I've never been to Boston, but it's certainly added to my list of places now. You've really covered all of the angles with your map, the videos and even the free things to do.

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robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Haven't been to Boston in years,but remember it fondly and this was not only a trip down memory lane for me but a great resource for my next visit. Thanks so much for putting it all together in such an informative, easy to read way.

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Addison 8 years ago Author

Thank you for your comments Black Pearl. Maybe I'm biased but I've visited a number of cities around the world and I just find Boston so approachable and not at all overwhelming. Glad that came across in my selections and writing.

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Black Pearl 1 8 years ago from USA

Excellent, very informative hub. I have been to Boston as a tourist and from work and I agree with you, the best way to take in everything in Boston is to WALK and as you noted it is free, but in many instances it is faster also. You have done a great job of covering all the areas and love the videos.

Jim 8 years ago

An excellent page, I don't think you missad anything!

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Addison 8 years ago Author

Thank you Riggy - glad you liked it! Please do get there soon and visit us.

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Riggy 8 years ago from Beautiful southern California

Wow! This is a very informative hubber! Haven't been there yet, but hope to some day. Will definitely keep all of your suggestions, thanks!

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    Addison35 Followers
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    Cliff has lived and worked in New England and the Boston area for 35 years and loves to discover and share places and things to do.

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