Whether you’re a tourist visiting Boston for the first time or a seasoned Bostonian, there’s something for everyone on this handy list of 10 free things you can do while visiting this state on a budget!
1. Take a stroll along the Charles River
Locals love to walk, run, bike, and rollerblade along the Charles River, which runs through various suburbs and the heart of Boston. You’ll see gorgeous views of the Boston skyline, plenty of sailboats and kayaks, families of ducks, and a lot of cute kids. Walking along the Charles River is an especially poignant experience during sunrise and sunset; you won’t want to miss that view!
2. Check out Newbury Street
There’s no need to spend any of your hard-earned money to enjoy Newbury Street. As one of downtown Boston’s most iconic streets, it’s a great place to spot celebrities, politicians, musicians, and other famous people.
Newbury Street is home to a variety of high-end stores, which can be fun to duck into to take a gander or window-shop throughout the street. If you’re okay with spending a few dollars, check out Emack and Bolio’s for a delicious ice cream or frozen yogurt treat that won’t break the bank.
3. Enjoy the Boston Common
Take a loop around the Boston Common, where you’ll spot incredible statues, gardens of flowers, and the iconic swan boats.
Home to plenty of live swans, too! It’s a great place to bring a picnic and just shoot the breeze for a few hours. Click around online before you go, or just show up and be surprised- during the warmer months, concerts, festivals, and other free special events are often held at the Boston Common.
4. Take a pilgrimage to the Boston Public Library at Copley Square
Founded in 1852, the Boston Public Library is the oldest free, publicly funded municipal library in the United States. Don’t miss the reading room, map room, grand staircase, and the inner courtyard.
There’s a free, public one-hour tour that offers plenty of interesting information about the history and architecture of this historic building.
5. A trip to Faneuil Hall is always worthwhile
A journey to Boston wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Faneuil Hall.
Comprised 3 historic buildings and a promenade, tourists flock to Faneuil Hall because of its unique history, a plethora of inexpensive food options, souvenir stalls, and street performers.
The Faneuil Hall area has been used for over 275 years for debate, meetings, and protests, it has become a great spot for learning more about Boston’s unique historical legacy.
6. Walk the Freedom Trail
This self-guided walking tour takes people through all the most historically significant places in Boston,and includes plenty of fascinating information along the way. It starts at Boston Common and ends at the Bunker Hill monument, which is about 2.5 miles (ca. 4 km) away. Highly recommended!
7. Go to a Concert or Movie at The Hatch Shell
The Hatch Shell has plenty of free programs that occur during the spring, summer, and fall - including Pops concerts, other orchestra concerts, festivals, and free Friday movie nights. Check out this schedule to find a program that lights up your fancy. Plus, if you have kids, there’s an awesome playground nearby where they’ll love to run and climb around.
8. New England Aquarium Harbor Seals
There’s just no other way to slice it - tickets to the New England Aquarium are expensive. Adult tickets cost $31 each, and child tickets are $22. Yikes! But there is one exhibit that visitors can see for free - the aquarium harbor seals.
Located right outside the aquarium entrance, people can see the seals playing, relaxing, and even eating their meals. Seeing these beautiful creatures is a special occurrence and of course it’s free!
9. Go to the North End
Take the T to Haymarket and head over to the Italian district at the North End. You’ll see some lovely architecture, cobblestone streets, and plenty of Italian restaurants and bakeries.
If you’re okay with spending a few bucks, check out Modern Pastry or Mike’s Pastry for a cannoli, tiramisu, or an espresso drink (or all three!). The North End is the perfect spot to just sit and people watch for a while.
10. Jamaica Plain Arnold Arboretum
One of the best parks in the Boston area is right in Jamaica Plain. There are plenty of gorgeous gardens, walking paths, ponds, and free, guided tours to enjoy. The Jamaica Plain Arnold Arboretum is a short T ride away from downtown Boston on the Orange Line. Bring a picnic—you could spend all day there!