Not only is Boston one of the oldest cities in the United States, but it is also the most populous city in Massachusetts. Therefore, it is a historic city that also has a modern, urban vibe. This city attracts many visitors who choose this destination for both leisure and business purposes. During a stay in Boston, you will find lots of things to see and do. Regardless of your interests, you will find plenty to keep you entertained. There are even free activities you can enjoy, which will keep the cost of your trip to a minimum. Here are 20 awesome free things to do in Boston.
1. Walk the Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail stretches for 2.5-miles and covers 16 historical sites. It was established in 1951 and is one of the best ways to learn about the history of Boston. There are organized walks, or you can enjoy the walk alone. To complete the walk takes a few hours, and it will take longer if you visit the different sites and landmarks along the way. If you try to fit everything in, it is a full-day activity.
2. Take a Trip to Castle Island
Located in South Boston, is Castle Island. The 22-acre island is actually a peninsula and it is famous for Fort Independence. Exploring the old fort is completely free. Other things to enjoy during your visit to Castle Island include stunning beaches, a pretty harbor, and running trails.
3. Catch a Concert at the Hatch Shell
During warmer weather, an outdoor concert is a fun activity that you can enjoy for free in Boston. One of the best places to see an outdoor play or concert is Hatch Shell. This building was built in 1928 and it sits by Charles River. Throughout the summer, there are regular plays and concerts. Sometimes, they put on movies for evening entertainment. You should check out what events are being hosted at this venue when you are planning the itinerary for your visit.
4. Enjoy a Beer Tour
Boston is well-known for its production of craft beers, so it makes sense to include a beer tour in your visit. One of the most famous breweries in this city is Sam Adams Brewery. Each day, there are free tours of the brewery, including a free sample of their beer. The tours take place throughout the afternoon each day at 45-minutes intervals. Take along some money and you can enjoy some of the produce or buy some to take home.
5. Visit Massachusetts State House
One of the best places to visit for those who like to learn about the history of the destination they are visiting is the Massachusetts State House. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1798 and the history and architecture of the house are fascinating. There are free tours of this landmark on weekdays. There is also the option to take a self-guided tour, but you will not learn as much, and you will have far less fun.
6. Take a Tour of Harvard University
Harvard University is one of the most famous universities in the world. Founded in 1636, it is also the oldest university in America, so this educational establishment is steeped in history. If you take a train to the Harvard Square Red Line train stop, you can embark on a free tour of Harvard University. You can admire the architecture and learn more about the history of the university and the education it delivers. Once your tour of the university is over, you can also explore Harvard Square. There are often street artists performing, so this is something else you can enjoy during your day out.
7. Explore the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain
While you are at Harvard University, you should also take the time to visit Arnold Arboretum at Jamaica Plains. This is a free public space that spans 260-acres. The surroundings are stunning, despite its urban location. You will find large lawns, beautiful flowers, and a large Bonsai tree collection. There are also running trails in this public park if you want to take some exercise during your visit.
8. Go to the USS Constitution
The USS Constitution is a large frigate that was first used in the War of 1812 and then the Civil War. The vessel was commissioned in 1797, and George Washington chose the name. The claim to fame of the USS Constitution is that it is the largest ship in the world that is still afloat. It is now permanently docked in the harbor and has its own museum. Free tours of the USS Constitution are given every 30 minutes daily. This is a fantastic activity for those interested in maritime history. The attraction is located at Charlestown Navy Yard.
9. Climb the Bunker Hill Monument
Bunker Hill Monument marks the location of one of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill. This is one of the most historically significant places in Boston. The monument commemorates those who fought, and it stands at a magnificent 221-feet. The monument also has a nearby museum, which is free to enter.
10. Explore the Black Heritage Trail
You can take a free walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail, which consists of 14 historical sites that are located around Beacon Hill. The tour focuses on African-American history in Boston, including the history of slavery in the city. If you do not want to take the guided tour, you can get a free map from Abiel Smith School and complete the trail alone.
11. Visit a Free Museum
If you are interested in history, then there are some fantastic museums in Boston that you can visit for free. Each of these focuses on a different aspect of history, and they all have fascinating displays. According to Boston on Budget, some of the best museums to visit while in Boston are MIT Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Commonwealth Museum, Boston Fire Museum, and the Museum of Science and New England Aquarium.
12. Spend the Evening Stargazing
According to Nomadic Matt, an interesting way to spend an evening in Boston is to go stargazing. To enjoy this free activity, go to the Coit Observatory at Boston University. Every Wednesday, they set up telescopes and binoculars so that visitors can sit and gaze up at the stars. It is best to reserve a place if you want to attend one of these stargazing evenings as places for the activity are limited.
13. Admire Some Art
Boston is an amazing city to visit if you are an art enthusiast as there is an eclectic art scene in the city and some amazing galleries to visit. Some of the top art-themed attractions that you can visit include the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art. The former is free to visit on Wednesday nights, while the latter is open to the public for free on Thursday nights. As each of these art museums focuses on different styles of art, they may appeal to different people. However, if you have a general appreciation of art, they are both worth a visit. The Museum of Fine Arts is home to 450,000 pieces of art, while the Institute of Contemporary Art features both permanent and temporary exhibitions of contemporary artwork.
14. Have Fun at the Lawn on D
Lawn on D is a large green space that was added to the urban landscape relatively recently. It’s a nice space for dog walking, jogging, and playing with the kids. There is tennis, bocce, art exhibitions, free Wi-Fi, and public seating. Throughout the year, there are various events held at Lawn on D, so it is worth finding out if anything is going on before your trip.
15. Take a Free Walking Tour
There are many different types of tours that you can take of Boston, such as food tours, bus tours, and Segway tours. Unfortunately, you will have to pay for most of these. However, you can still have a guided tour of the city for free if you join a walking tour. One of the companies that offer these free tours is Strawberry Tours. This is the best way to learn more about the major landmarks of Boston and see the sights.
16. Visit the Skinny House
An unusual attraction to visit in Boston is the Skinny House. This house has a very interesting history. Joseph Eustus and his brother owned a piece of land they were supposed to share. When Joseph returned from the Civil War, his brother had built a huge mansion for himself that took over half the land. In spite, Joseph built a four-story house to block the view. This house is now known as the Skinny House, and it is located in the North End on Hull Street.
17. Hike in the Blue Hills
Although Boston is a city, it has beautiful surroundings that are the perfect setting to enjoy some outdoor activities during your visit. If you enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors, then head for the Blue Hills. These are located within the Blue Hills Reservation, which is a 7,000-acre park. There are more than 100 miles of trails to hike, and you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views from the top of the hills. Within the parkland, you can enjoy fishing, skiing, rock climbing, and boating. To enjoy some of these activities, you will need to pay a fee or pay for equipment hire.
18. See Some Famous Graves
It may seem a strange way to spend your vacation, but Nomadic Matt recommends a visit to Forest Hills Cemetery. This Victorian cemetery covers 300-acres of beautiful grounds which you can stroll through for free if you respect the graveyard. It is home to the graves of many famous people, including poet E.E. Cummings, and playwright Eugene O’Neill. Miniature buildings and sculptures were added to the cemetery for an exhibition in 2006.
19. Go to the Beach
If you are traveling with kids, then one of the best activities to enjoy in Boston is a day at the beach. If you use public transport, you can get to Winthrop Beach and Revere Beach within an hour from downtown. This will take longer if you walk but will take less time if you drive. These are two of the most popular beaches in the Boston area and they are also two of the best beaches in Boston. Revere Beach has two miles of Atlantic coastline and is the oldest public beach in the United States. Winthrop Beach stretches from Crest Avenue to Water Tower Hill.
20. Boston Common and the Public Garden
Boston on Budget lists a day at Boston Common and the Public Garden as one of the best free activities in the city. This is both the oldest park and the first botanical gardens in America. They are actually two separate attractions that are both free, but most people visit them at the same time. In addition to the beautiful surroundings, there are many fun events that take place throughout the year, such as performances of Shakespeare on the Common during the summer months. Also, in the summer, there is a spray pool and a carousel, while in the winter, there is an ice rink.
Written by Liz Flynn
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