On a Budget? No Problem!
If you're a tourist in Boston, it's likely that the first thing on your mind after your plane lands is finding something to do. Boston has a very rich arts scene, and the city is filled with free activities that can't be missed. From the Boston Harborwalk, to historical landmarks, to the Freedom Trail, Boston offers visitors an abundance of free activities.
The Arnold Arboretum spreads out over 281 acres and is a major horticultural research institution. The arboretum was designed by C.S. Sargent working with Frederick Law Olmsted. It was designed with a less formal intent than most botanical gardens and today it offers a relaxing place to explore and enjoy nature.
125 Arborway, Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA, 02130
Black Heritage Trail
The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6 mile walking trail through Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood that showcases a variety of historical sites focused on the lives of Black Americans from the time periods around the American Civil War. During this time in history, Black Americans in this area of Boston fought to abolish slavery and gain the same freedoms and rights as other Americans. Part of the trail centers on the Museum of African American History while other locations are historic residences, schools, and meeting houses.
Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts
Boston African-American National Historic Site
The Boston African American National Historic Site offers information on 15 pre-Civil War structures that are significant within the African American community, including the oldest standing black church in the United States.
76 Mount Vernon Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
Boston Fire Museum
This small museum has exhibits on the historical aspects of firefighting. There are hand-operated pumpers from 1793 and a steam pumper from 1882. There's also a ladder truck from 1860. This is a fun museum for kids who like fire trucks and all things related to firefighting.
344 Congress St, Seaport District, South Boston, Boston, MA, 02210
Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden, dating back to 1837, was the first botanical garden in the country. It is heavily influenced by the Victorian era with seasonally flowers that change regularly. The Boston Public Garden is an iconic park in the city with its famous Swan Boats that you can use to paddle around the pond. There are flower beds that line the paths and many places to enjoy a leisurely stroll. Boston Public Garden is a relaxed and romantic setting and you'll often see weddings or wedding pictures being taken in the park.
4 Charles St., Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02116
Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library is housed in a 1895 Renaissance Revival-style building that has museum quality sculptures and paintings. There's a gallery on the second floor that features murals by the French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and on the third floor there are murals by John Singer Sargent. The library has a number of family friendly programs available.
700 Boylston Street, Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02116
Bunker Hill Monument
The Bunker Hill Monument is located on the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was one of the first major battles of the Revolutionary War. The monument stands 221 feet tall and is a 294 stair climb to the top. But it's well worth the effort as from the top you'll enjoy impressive views of the Boston Harbor, the Charles River, and the city skyline.
Monument Sq, Charlestown, MA, 02129
Chinatown - Leather District
Boston's Chinatown, the 3rd largest Chinatown in the country, is at the heart of Chinese culture in the city. It's located to the south of the Downtown area and it's the place to go to celebrate Lunar New Year. There are a number of great Chinese restaurants and shops in the area. Head a few blocks to the east and you'll stumble into the small Leather District. This industrial warehouse area gets its name from its roots in leather manufacturing. Today it is home to a number of trendy restaurants.
Established as a permanent central marketplace in Boston, and gifted by the wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil, this marketplace building was constructed in 1742 and then later expanded over the following decades and centuries. The meeting hall on the upper floor of the building became famous as a place of protest against the British during the era of the Revolutionary War. It has since become a place of protest and democracy throughout American history. Today, visitors can tour the historic building as well as visit the shops and restaurants of the marketplace buildings. Grab a souvenir and a bite to eat in the food court, or join one of the many walking tours of Boston that begin in this part of town.
4 South Market Street, North End, Boston, Massachusetts
Boston's famous Freedom Trail is a three mile long route that goes by 16 of the city's most notable historic sites. The trail is marked by red bricks in the sidewalk and there are footprints through the street crossings. There are a number of brochures available in different places, including the city's visitor center (found in Boston Common), that will tell you about the history along the trail. Notable sites along the route include the Old Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel Burying Ground, Old South Meeting House, and the Old State House. The route begins in Boston Common and ends across the bridge in Charlestown at the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument.
Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation
Located at Massachusetts General Hospital, this museum highlights the accomplishments of more than 200 years of research in the medical field. There are exhibits on various medical breakthroughs, as well up frequently updated features on the latest in medical technology. On the third floor there's a roof top garden that offers beautiful views of the Beacon Hill skyline. The Ether Dome is an amphitheater where anesthesia was first successfully used in 1846.
2 N Grove St, West End, Boston, MA, 02114
Rose Kennedy Greenway
This stretch of interconnected parks running through Downtown Boston is a great spot for a walk, run, or even a bike ride - or for just exploring the city. Starting at the north in North End near the Haymarket T station, the connected parks and trails run south through the Waterfront and Downtown areas until they reach Chinatown Park. Along the way, visitors will find smaller parks, interactive fountains, a carousel, gardens, public restrooms, restaurants and cafes, and more. If you're wandering along the path, it's quite easy to make short detours to explore the various attractions and historical spots of Boston.
John F. Fitzgerald Expressway, Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110
The Esplanade is a riverside park in the Back Bay neighborhood. It has a number of charming footbridges including Arthur Fiedler Footbridge. Within the park you'll also find the Hatch Shell
bandstand, which is where the Boston Pops Orchestra holds its annual Fourth of July celebration. There are also a number of movies and concerts in the park during the warmer months. The park is a nice place to explore with a number of nice running trails, or you could enjoy a walk beside the river. Also here is the Esplanade Playground
for kids which is quite large.
Back Bay, Boston, MA
This famous ship, referred to as Old Ironsides, was named by George Washington. It's a wooden-hulled, three masted, heavy frigate that was launched in 1797. It's also the oldest commissioned naval vessel that's still afloat. The ship is docked at Charlestown's Navy Yard and is part of the famous Freedom Trail. The ship's museum is located across the pier and is privately owned (with a suggested admission donation).
24 Third Street, Charlestown, Boston, Massachusetts, 02128
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $4 to $498. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $138. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in Boston
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