The 10 Best Free Things To Do In Boston This Year
Boston is a vibrant and growing city, great for a weekend trip or a longer stay. Boston is a very walkable city with a huge amount of things to do for free, so a visit doesn't need to break the bank, We've collated the best things to do in Boston for free. If you think we've missed something, let us know at the bottom of the page.
1. The Freedom Trail
Explore the Freedom Trail, a self-guided 2.5 mile hike around Boston, taking in many of its major historical monuments. The trail begins at the tourist information centre on Boston Common and follows a red brick path around the city centre, finishing at Bunker Hill Monument. Spend an enjoyable few hours wandering through 250 years of history. The route visits 16 of the city’s landmark buildings and open spaces, including the Old State House, and the Benjamin Franklin statue at Boston Latin School, the oldest public school in the US. The trail conveniently passes numerous bars and restaurants, in case you’re feeling in need of refreshment.
2. The Samuel Adams Brewery
Ale buffs will enjoy this free guided tour around Boston’s famous independent craft brewery. Learn all about the ale preparation process, and get to sample some of the produce. These tours of the brewery are very popular (possibly due the free beer tastings) so get there early if you don’t want to wait in line. Whilst all ages can join the tour, the sampling is, of course, for over 21s only, so don’t forget to bring proof of age ID.
3. Boston Common and Public Garden
The oldest public park in the city, Boston Common’s green expanses date back to the 1600s. Amidst its acres of trees and lawns are a kid’s playground featuring swings, slides and climbing frames, and the Frog Pond, comprising a large wading pool and water fountain. Immensely popular with children throughout the summer months, the pond transforms into an ice rink for winter. There is a snack bar on site and lockers for hire, plus seasonal skate hire. The park hosts Shakespearean plays during summer, along with free outdoor movie nights. The adjoining Public Gardens are a tranquil haven of botanical plants, featuring a lagoon with optional boat hire, and a charming bronze sculpture of Mother Duck and her eight ducklings.
4. Faneuil Hall
This ancient Boston market place hails from the 1740s, when it was the venue for a number of stirring pro-independence speeches in the period leading up to the American Revolutionary War. Nowadays the cobbled streets around the hall are a bustling thoroughfare of food stalls, restaurants, and shops. All this is complemented by a vibrant array of free street performances, ranging from magicians to puppet shows. The hall hosts regular free activities including historical tours, yoga classes and chess lessons. A great space to grab a bite to eat, or simply sit back and people watch.
5. The USS Constitution
Climb aboard the world’s oldest warship still on water. The USS Constitution is a three-mast wooden frigate, which first set sail from Boston in 1797. Named by George Washington, this much travelled ship played an active role in the American Civil War. Known affectionately as ‘Old Ironsides’, the Constitution now enjoys tranquil retirement from its permanent dock in Boston Harbour. Join one of the daily guided tours, and learn about the contribution this stately vessel made to US naval history.
6. The Bunker Hill Monument and Museum
The final monument on the Freedom Trail, this towering granite column stands 221 feet tall and looms imposingly over Bunker Hill. Built in the early 19th century, it stands to commemorate one of the early significant battles of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. If you’ve good knees and a head for heights, pick up a free climb pass from the neighbouring museum before tackling the monument’s 294 steps to its pinnacle. Once you reach the top you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the Boston skyline.
7. The Lawn on D
Situated in Boston’s regenerated Seaport neighbourhood, The Lawn D is a lively public park, playground and ‘outdoor interactive space’. Kids (and adults) can burn off energy on the oversize, glow in the dark LED swings, which change colour the higher you go, or enjoy backyard games including ping pong and giant Jenga. There’s an outdoor bar and food outlet, music, free Wi-Fi and comfy lounge chairs to relax in. Popular with locals, this community hangout offers a calendar of free activities, art installations and live music performances throughout the year. Perfect for chilling out on sunny days and warm evenings.
8. Castle Island and Fort Independence
For fresh sea air and lovely views across the harbour, South Boston’s Castle Island is hard to beat on a sunny day. This expansive park has a snack bar, a kids’ playground and an abundance of pathways to explore at your leisure. Enjoy a free tour of the 17th century Fort Independence, whose robust brick walls were constructed to protect the city from invasion by ships.
9. Art galleries and museums
Boston is home to a wealth of galleries and museums, and many of these offer free entry to visitors. Check gallery websites for up to date info on free entry times.
The Institute of Contemporary Art houses an extensive collection of modern masterpieces, including paintings, sculpture, and music, film and video installations. The iconic glass fronted gallery overlooks Boston harbour. Next door is Piers Park, where kids can run amok in the playground and cool off in the water fountain.
Showcasing almost 500,000 treasures from across the globe, the Museum of Fine Arts has a vast and comprehensive collection. Here you will find artefacts dating from ancient Egypt up to the 21st century.
Historians won’t want to miss a trip to the Commonwealth Museum, whilst the MIT Museum will appeal to science and technology buffs. The Boston Fire Museum is a fun experience, and a big hit with younger visitors.
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