Explore the Best Free Things to Do in Boston

Boston, Free things to do, Parks

Explore the Best Free Things to Do in Boston

If you know Boston, you know it’s a great town with lots to do, but also lots of expenses – if you’ve paid rent recently, you know what we mean. However, the high cost of living doesn’t stop the budget minded and bargain lover from finding fun, free things to do. With deep local history, charming architecture, free walking tours, world-class museums and peaceful green space, Boston boasts a number of wallet-friendly offerings, and we have the tips and tricks to get them all for free.

1. Stroll through the Public Garden and Boston Common

The Public Garden is truly the crown jewel of the city’s parks, and makes for a lovely stroll any time of the year. America’s first botanical garden, the Victorian-era garden attracts visitors from all over the world who want to see the famous Make Way for Ducklings statues. Across Beacon Street is the slightly less manicured Common, where, depending on the season, you can ice-skate on the Frog Pond, toss around a frisbee or simply lounge on a bench with a book.

2. Walk the Greenway

Possibly the most celebrated result of the Big Dig, this mile-long winding ribbon of grassy parks, outdoor spaces and public art only adds to Boston’s charm. Free to stroll, relax and people watch, this verdant strip provides plenty of resting places, a perfect option for a cheap date. Keep an eye out for the periodic festivals, events and art displays located on or near the park.

3. Follow the Freedom Trail

If you haven’t walked the Freedom Trail when you have friends and family in town, this is your reminder that it’s one of the most fun and unique activities in Boston. The trail provides a useful starting point for showing off some local history before diving deeper into the best attractions in Boston. The two-and-a-half-mile trail is easy to follow, allowing you to take a free, self-guided tour anytime you want. It’ll lead you from the Common all the way to Charlestown, letting you see all of the city’s most iconic sites—like the Paul Revere House, the USS Constitution and so much more—along the way.

4. Walk the Black Heritage Trail

Massachusetts was the first state to declare slavery illegal (in 1783) and you can learn a lot about the history of slavery and the African-American experience by taking this tour. Free maps are available at the Abiel Smith School, where the Museum of African American History is located, if you want to do a self-guided tour, which will take you to 14 fascinating spots around charming Beacon Hill.

5. Take a Tour of Harvard and MIT

Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest, and most well-regarded, university in America. If you’d like to learn more, but aren’t actually a student, hop on the red line to the school’s home in Cambridge and join a free tour. You can do an official tour, or self-guided historical tour by downloading the school’s Visit Harvard app. Also in Cambridge is The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is a mass of buildings you can explore with a free map from the information office.

6. Explore the Old Bear Dens at Franklin Park

Boston’s largest park—527 acres spanning Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and Dorchester—Franklin Park offers the perfect blend of rural scenery, woodland preserve and many spots to toss around a ball or a frisbee. Head to the Long Crouch Woods section of the park to see where the zoo’s bears were once housed, before being moved to an enclosure better suited for them. While the Old Bear Dens no longer house any ursine animals these days, there are still beautiful stone carvings of bears to be found there, as well as a broad staircase leading up to a pavilion and the former pens. It is the perfect spot for a spooky photoshoot.

7. Greet the seals at the New England Aquarium

You don’t have to pay a person to interact with sea life in Boston, just look right outside the main entrance to the New England Aquarium, and you’ll see the huge 42,000-gallon harbor seal exhibit, which is free to view and a favorite of kids and adults alike. With a little luck, you may even catch these animals during feeding time or as they participate in an activity—like painting—with their handlers. Yes, the seals can paint!

8. Check out the ICA Watershed

The East Boston annex of the ICA, aka the Watershed, has truly transformed the Eastie waterfront into a stunning venue for the kind of large-scale art that you don’t normally get in a crowded city and it’s free for all. Each summer, the ICA invites one artist to create a site-specific work or installation for the space. You can also peruse the Watershed’s gallery highlighting the history of the shipyard. Please note that timed tickets are required for entry and the Watershed is open seasonally from May through October.

These are just a few of the best free things to do in Boston. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or culture, Boston has something to offer for everyone, even if you’re on a budget. So go out and explore the city without breaking the bank!

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