FREE things to do in and around Boston
Looking for some fun things to do in Boston but don't have any money? The following list are all major tourist attractions in Boston and they are all FREE!
3. The Discovery Museums: The Discovery Museums in Acton offers "First Friday Nights Free!" From 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM both museums are open for free. There are two buildings situated on a 4 acre campus; the Children's Discovery Museum and the Science Discovery Museum.They gratefully accept donations for the Acton Food Pantry.
4. Climb to the Top of the Bunker Hill Monument: The Bunker Hill Monument is standing where the first major battle of the American Revolution fought on June 17, 1775 atop Breed's Hill. The monument is 221 feet tall and has 294 steps that will lead you to the pinnacle. From the top you will get great views of the Boston skyline. In front of the obelisk is a statue of Col. William Prescott. During the battle, according to popular stories, he coined the famous Revolutionary War phrase, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes". The monument is located in Monument Square, Charlestown, MA. The Monument is open daily 9:00 am - 4:30 pm.
5. Samuel Adams Brewery: Take a free tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery. Learn all about Samuel Adams. Experience the entire brewing process, from start to finish. Sample a few of their award winning beers (you have to be 21 years old with a valid ID). They offer tours Monday - Friday. The tour last about 1 hour.
7. The Massachusetts Historical Society: Located on 1154 Boylston Street in Boston, the MHS is free and open to the public. The MHS is an independent research library and manuscript repository. They have millions of rare and unique documents and artifacts vital to the study of American history, many of them irreplaceable national treasures.
8. USS Constitution: Built in Boston and launched in 1797, the USS CONSTITUTION is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship, which is docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard, is open for free with guided tours throughout the year. Tours begin every half-hour from 10:00 a.m. to the last tour at 3:30 p.m. Hours: Nov. 1-Mar. 31 Thursday-Sunday 10a.m.-4p.m. Apr. 1-Sep. 30 Tuesday-Sunday 10a.m.-6p.m. Oct. 1-Oct. 31 Tuesday-Sunday 10a.m.-4p.m.
9. The State House: Sitting on top of Beacon Hill, adjacent to the Boston Common on Beacon Street, the State House is the oldest surviving building in the area. The original wood dome was covered with copper in 1802 by Paul Revere's company. It was eventually gilded with gold leaf in 1874. During 1997, at a cost of more than $300,000, the dome was re-gilded, in 23k gold. Tours are available on weekdays year-round and last approximately 30-45 minutes. The free tour includes an overview of the history and architecture of the State Capitol.
11. The Hatch Shell: See a concert at the Hatch Shell. The Hatch Shell is Boston's epicenter for large outdoor performances and open-air events. Grab a blanket, lawn chairs and maybe a picnic and settle in for a great concert with everything from classical to rock and roll music.This is also where the famous 4th of July Boston celebrations take place where Keith Lockhart conducts the Boston Pops and where the fireworks take place.
12. For the art lover: There are several art galleries on Newbury street; Copley Society of Art (Co/So), Arden Gallery, Galerie d'Orsay, Barbara Krakow Gallery, Child's Gallery, Beth Urdang Gallery, Axelle Fine Arts , Alpha Gallery Inc, DTR Modern Galleries, Lanoue Fine Art, CoSo Artist's Gallery, Royka's Fine Art Antiques Gallery, Vose Galleries of Boston, Inc., Guidos Frame Studio Art Gallery, Pucker Gallery, Gallery NAGA, Martin Lawrence Gallery, Miller Block Gallery, Lorand Gallery, The Guild of Boston Artists, International Poster Gallery, Robert Klein Gallery, Galleria Florentia, Iris Gallery, L'Attitude Gallery Sculpture Garden, Victoria Munroe Fine Art, St. George Gallery, SAC Gallery, Martha Richardson Fine Art, Quidley & Company, Acme Fine Art & Design and Newbury Fine Arts. With artists from around the world you'll see a wide variety of different styles.
13. The Black Heritage Trail: Put on your walking shoes! The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6 mile walking tour that explores the history of Boston's 19th century African American community. On this trail you'll see Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial, George Middleton House, The Phillips School, John J. Smith House, Charles Street Meeting House, Lewis and Harriet Hayden House, John Coburn House, Smith Court Residences, Abiel Smith School and The African Meeting House. A self-guided walking tour map and guide is available. They also offer guided walking tours.
14. Art & Architecture Tours: The Boston Public Library offer tours highlighting the architecture of Charles Follen McKim and Philip Johnson, as well as the many works of famed sculptors and painters. The tour last about an hour. Visit the webiste for hours.You can also take a self-guided tour; the library has a guide.
15. Commonwealth Museum: Come and see true national treasures! Located on 220 Morrissey Blvd., in Boston the Commonwealth Museum has rare original documents like the original Massachusetts Bay Charter, the Royal Charter, the Massachusetts Constitution and original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights on display. The museum is open Monday - Friday.
17. More Art!: Every Thursday the Institute of Contemporary Art ICA, offers FREE admission for all from 5pm to 9 pm and FREE for families (up to 2 adults accompanied by children 12 and under) on the last Saturday of each month with the exception of December. Guided tours are available.
19. BU Astronomy Department: This is a chance for you to come and observe the night sky through telescopes and binoculars and see things you otherwise might not get to see, and learn some astronomy as well.Starting time is 7.30PM (fall and winter) and 8.30PM (spring and summer) most Wednesday evenings throughout the year, weather permitting. Visit the Website for more information.
20. Old North Church: The Old North Church was built in 1723, and is the oldest standing church building in Boston. This is the location where the famous "One if by land, and two if by sea" signal is said to have been sent.
21. Arnold Arboretum: Visit the Arnold Arboretum located in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. It's a botanical garden with the largest collection of trees in North America with over 15,000 different types of plants and trees from around the world. Open every day from sunrise to sunset. There is a visitor center located inside the main gate on the Arborway. In spring general tours are available from the Hunnewell Building every Saturday at 10.30am, every Sunday at 1pm and every Wednesday at 12.15pm. Sorry, no picnicking, fires or barbecues.
22. Boston Common: This is the oldest public park in the U.S., located downtown Boston. Enjoy a picnic on the grass in the summer or cool off in the Frog Pond's giant spray fountain & wading pool. In the winter you can skate across the Frog Pond. There is also a playground for children to enjoy. The Boston Common is 50 acres in size.From mid-April to the end of October the Boston Common has a 20-seat carousel that was built in 1947. There is a charge for the carousel ($3.00/ride).
24. Castle Island: Visit Castle Island to explore fort Independence, a granite fort built between 1834 and 1851. Located on a 22-acre park with a picnic area (they have a snack bar with hamburgers, fries, clams, ice cream and drinks). Fort Independence and Castle Island are on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and the fort is a National Historic Landmark. There are signs so you can take a self-guided tour. Free tours are being offered every Saturday and Sunday from 12-3.30PM. The tour last about 30 minutes. This is a great space for kids to explore and the beach and a playground is nearby. Open year round and located in South Boston.
26. Fuller Craft Museum offers free admission every Thursday 5:00 - 9:00 pm. Located in Brockton. Visit the website for more information.
27. Art: Harvard Art Museum offers free admission to all Massachusetts residents with valid ID every Saturday 10am-noon.
28. Bad art!: The Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA) is the world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms. 3 different locations. Free admission!
29. Cool off: The Rings Fountain located in the Wharf Districts Parks is a great way to cool off on a hot summer day. 64 nozzles shoot up in the air in a circle. The fountains are on May-October daily.
30. The Esplanade: The Esplanade is a 17 mile long stretch of land along the Charles River. A lot of people jog, bike or rollerblade here. Along the way you'll pass the Hatch Shell, playgrounds, gondola rides, a small cafe and of course plenty of green space to sit down, relax and take in the beautiful view. This is also the place to be on the 4th of July!
31. Another fountain: The Splash Fountain at Christian Science Plaza has 180 water jets. It is open May-October every day, weather permitting.
32. Artesani Playground & Wading Pool: Artesani is located along the Charles River at 1255 Soldiers Field Rd. in Boston's Brighton. Picnic tables, showers, changing room, lifeguards on duty, 2 playgrounds and easy parking. A lot of people bring portable BBQ's and have birthday parties there.
33. History and Cultural Heritage: The Brighton-Allston Heritage Museum was founded in 2007. They collect and exhibits art, artifacts, archives, objects, and photographs related to the history, heritage, culture, and art of Brighton and Allston, MA.
34. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site: Home and birthplace of the 35th President. The grounds are accessible year-round, however the house is open late-May to the end of October, Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm only. Entrance to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy NHS house museum, visitor center, and bookstore is free.
36. Memorial Drive Memorial Drive Recreation. Every Sunday from the last Sunday in April until the 2nd Sunday of November from 11:00am to 7:00pm the State Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) close off Memorial Drive (between Western Avenue and Mount Auburn Street) and it is open to recreation. Bike, Walk, inline skate, walk, jog or run on the street!
37. Art: The Davis Museum at Wellesley College offers free admission every day Tuesday-Sunday.
38. ParkArts: Enjoy citywide neighborhood concerts, orchestra, symphony, puppet shows, festival, movie nights and workshops. (Youth workshops are open to Boston residents only.) Check location and dates. (Summer only) Click here for location and dates for the free watercolor, photography and art and craft workshops, two children's festivals and puppet shows. Click here for dates and location for Mayor's Wednesday Night Concerts, Tito Puente Latin Series, Citywide Neighborhood Concerts, Movie Nights, Jazz concerts, Boston Landmarks Orchestra and Metropolitan Wind Symphony.
39. MIT Museum: Explore invention, ideas, and innovation. Free admission to the MIT Museum every day for Children under 5 (does not apply to groups), and Sundays 10 a.m. - noon and the 2nd Friday of each month, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
40. Natural History: The Harvard Museum of Natural History offers free admission to Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning (year-round) from 9:00 am to noon and on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:00 pm (September through May) excluding commercial groups.
41. Japanese Tea Ceremony: Free admission to the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury Wednesday-Sunday, 1-4 PM. Enjoy traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and concerts, view american paintings, prints, Shaker furniture and Asian art. The tea ceremony and concerts are only a few times a year.
43. Free music: Longy School of Music of Bard College offers free concerts to the public. Visit their website for dates and times. Concert locations: Edward M. Pickman Hall, Wolfinsohn Recital Room and Homburger Recital Room are located at 27 Garden Street in Cambridge. Recital Room N1 is at 33 Garden Street.
44. Orchestra: The Boston Landmarks Orchestra offers great music for free every summer!
45. Sculptures: Free admission to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln on the first Wednesday of every month and all cyclists who pedal to deCordova receive free admission!
46. Free Workshop: Every week the Home Depot offers free workshops for adult and for kids. (Once a month for kids.) Learn do-it-yourself skills.
47. Lowe's Build and Grow: Lowe's offer free workshops for kids on Saturdays and Sundays a couple of times a week. Dates vary. Upcoming schedule.
For Boston Residents
1. Aquarium: During the school year (September-June) the New England Aquarium offers free admission for up to 4 people to the aquarium available through the Boston Public Library. You must have a Metro Boston Library Network library card to be able to reserve a pass.
2. Museum of Science: The Museum of Science offers free admission for up to 4 people available through the Boston Public Library. You must have a Metro Boston Library Network library card to be able to reserve a pass.
3. Larz Anderson Auto Museum: The Larz Anderson Auto Museum offers free admission for one family available through the Boston Public Library. You must have a Metro Boston Library Network library card to be able to reserve a pass.
The following are not free but discounted and almost free!
1. Museums: If you are a Boston Resident and have a library card you can pick up a free or discounted pass for: Boston by Foot (member privileges on any tours) Boston Children's Museum (½ price) Department of Conservation and Recreation (hang tag - free parking for 1 vehicle at state park facilities that charge a parking fee) Museum of Fine Arts (discounted pass) Museum of Science (free pass!) New England Aquarium (free pass! September-June only) Institute of Contemporary Art ICA (discounted pass) Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (discounted pass, weekdays) John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (discounted pass) Larz Anderson Auto Museum (free admission) Zoo New England (discounted pass)
2. Boston Children's Museum: Every Friday night from 5-9pm the admission is only $1 and only $6 per person from 4-5pm on Saturday - Thursday. Visit the museum for more information.
3. Swan Boats: Taking a Swan Boat ride is a cute, quick and inexpensive way to enjoy the park and water! The Swan Boats have been a part of the Boston experience for over 130 years. Only $2.75 for adults and $1.50 for children.