Top 10 Best Free Things to Do in Boston

Nguyen Kieu Trang 3 0 Error

Boston is considered one of the greatest cities in the nation and, to some, the world. With over 400 years of history as one of the original English ... read more...

  1. One of the best free things to do in Boston is to follow the Freedom Trail, which is a favorite pastime of both locals and visitors. The 2.5-mile Freedom Trail was created in 1951 and includes 16 historic sites. Any trip to Boston must include this trail as a mandatory stop. On the very streets where the city's most significant historical events took place several hundred years ago, this historical attraction literally lays out Boston's colonial history before you.

    You can learn almost everything you need to know about Boston's history from this red-bricketed path. You can either go on a self-guided tour of the sites or join one of the many historical figures who have visited Boston. The trail will take you a few hours to walk, and much, much longer if you stop at every site.

    You can begin your tour in the beginning, middle or the end, visiting the sites in any order you choose. The official start of the trail begins at Boston Common. The trail winds its way to the other sites including the Massachusetts State House, the Park Street Church (open summer time only), Granary Burying Ground, Kings Chapel, Kings Chapel Burying Ground, Benjamin Franklin Statue & Boston Latin School, Old Corner Book Store and much more.

  2. Above Interstate 93 is the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a lovely and lush linear park. It is a fairly well-liked destination and frequently draws sizable crowds, particularly in the summer when the weather is pleasant and there are lots of events. While the adults stroll or jog, or even benefit from Trillium's, the neighborhood brewery, the kids can have fun at the carousel.

    The ribbon-shaped Greenway links the mile and a half distance between Boston's Italian North End neighborhood and lively Chinatown, flanked by Faneuil Marketplace, historic parts of Downtown, and the Financial District on the west and hugging the coastline along the Harbor on the east.

    You can see much of these surrounding areas as you walk the length of the Greenway and of course you can make detours to explore them - but this walking tour focuses on the various attractions, events and fun things to do in the Greenway's series of unique parks. Free to stroll, this verdant strip provides plenty of resting places, a perfect option for a cheap date. Keep an eye out for the periodic festivals, events and art displays located on or near the park.
  3. Castle Island is located in South Boston and is famous for the fort located on it, Fort Independence. Even on the hottest summer days, Castle Island provides breath-taking city views and a cool breeze. In spite of the fact that a spit of land now separates the island from the mainland, you will still be surrounded by water as you walk out to the famed Fort Independence.

    The technically a peninsula but measuring 22 acres, the island extends into the harbor and is known for its excellent beaches and well-traveled running trails. In addition to the free access to the old fort, this location has a picnic area. The place gets pretty busy on the weekends during the summer and you can often see school groups exploring the fort during the spring.

    The island also features several connected beaches where you can relax in season and splash in the Atlantic ocean, enjoy soft sand, and soak up some sun. The Castle Island Loop is a short walking path where you can circle the fortification to get your steps in. If you want a longer hike, the Pleasure Bay Loop offers potential for hiking or biking.
  4. Major Boston brewery Sam Adams, which bears the name of the illustrious statesman and Founding Father Samuel Adams, provides free tours. They occur midafternoon and depart every 45 minutes. You will get to see the brewery in action during this tour. Your tour guide will make an effort to keep your group's interest by discussing Sam Adams' revolutionary introduction of the idea of labeling beer with a "born on" date and by letting you taste ingredients like Hallertau hops. He or she will also share the Seven Wonders of Sam, which are taste, aroma, complexity, body, smoothness, finish, and balance.

    Once crowded inside the tasting room, you'll get the chance to try a variety of goods produced by the Boston Beer Company, which also produces Twisted Tea Hard Iced Tea and Angry Orchard Hard Cider in addition to the Sam Adams line of beers, which includes the iconic Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

    Although tours are free, a $2 donation per person is requested, and all funds raised are given to regional charities. All ages are welcome on the tour, but to sample the beer, you must be 21 and have identification. You shouldn't worry if you're under 21. You can still visit and discover the brewery's past and how their beer is made. However, you can’t sample it at the end.
  5. If history is your cup of tea, take a tour of the State House. Situated in Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts State House is the state capitol along with being the seat of the government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You’ll learn about the building’s history, architecture, and how the state works. Built-in 1798, this National Historic Landmark is well worth taking the time to see. Guided tours are organized by volunteers and are available weekdays between 10 am-3:30 pm and last around 30-45 minutes.

    Visitors should enter at the General Hooker entrance which is just to the right of the main gate if you are facing the State House. Visitors can proceed past the statue of Civil War General Joseph Hooker, then once inside after going through security, go to the left, past the State Bookstore and at the end of the hallway on the left take the elevators up to the second floor. For stairs, proceed past elevators and take another left -near room 190.
  6. The oldest commissioned warship still at sea is the USS Constitution, which was launched in 1797. This three-masted frigate traveled the world, taking part in the Barbary War off the coast of North Africa and searching the Caribbean for pirates. It earned its nom de guerre Old Ironsides during the War of 1812 when enemy cannonballs bounced off its resilient wooden hull. Docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard, the famous ship is a floating museum open to the public. It is also a stop on the Freedom Trail and the Old Town Trolley.

    Housed in a historic Navy Yard Building 22, just a few yards away from the legendary sailing ship, the USS Constitution Museum brings history to life. The 200-year career of this famous warship is covered in a variety of interactive exhibits. The exhibits cover the construction of the ship as well as the daily activities and diet of sailors at sea. The "Engine House" was also known as Building 22. In the past, it housed the steam-powered pumps used to empty the nearby historic Dry Dock 1. It is the second-oldest dry dock in the nation after opening in 1833.

    The museum and ship are operated separately. You will pass through a security checkpoint before boarding the warship. Visitors over 18 must show a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. Avoid carrying objects that could set off the metal detector. You may only access the vessel during a guided tour. The ship is closed on Mondays and major holidays.
  7. If you enjoy hiking, one of the best free things to do in Boston is to explore the Black Heritage Trail. There are 14 sites located around Beacon Hill that make up this walking tour, covering important parts of African-American history. Massachusetts was the first state to declare slavery illegal (in 1783) and you can learn a lot about the history of slavery and the African-American experience by taking this tour. Free maps are available at the Abiel Smith School if you want to do a self-guided tour, though there are several companies that also arrange guided tours.

    Before the Civil War, the area was a key stop on the Underground Railroad, and the Black Heritage Trail travels through the Boston African American National Historic Site to 15 buildings that belonged to the city's African American community in the 19th century.

    You'll get even more of a picture with a visit to the African Meeting House, the oldest (1806) church built by and for Black Americans, restored to its 1854 appearance to house the Museum of Afro-American History. More exhibits are in the 1834 Abiel Smith School, America's first public grammar school for African American children. The tour is self-guided, or you can join a National Park Service Ranger on a free guided tour from April through November.
  8. If you’ve ever wanted to take a closer look at the night sky above, look no further than Public Open Night at Boston University’s Coit Observatory, located on top of the Physics Research Building. The dome-shaped addition on top might appear unassuming from the outside, but it is in fact home to top-notch telescopes that will let you stargaze like you never have before.

    Every Wednesday, as long as the weather is clear, BU’s astronomy department hosts the observation nights at 7:30pm during the fall and winter months, and 8:30pm during the spring and summer months. You’ll be able to see the night sky and learn about astronomy along the way!

    This event is totally free, but you will need to book your seat in advance, as only a set number of people can be allowed to attend. Tickets go live on the Observatory’s website every Thursdays at 11am for the following Wednesday. You can show up without tickets, but you won’t be guaranteed a spot. Boston’s weather in fall and winter can be rather unpredictable, so the Observatory announces on the day of whether or not the viewing conditions will be good.
  9. Forest Hill is one of America's most lovely rural garden cemeteries. It is also a unique Boston cultural resource and historic site. Dating from 1848, this gorgeous, green cemetery is filled with art and whimsy. It is still an active burial ground, but it also plays the role of open-air museum. The walking paths are lined with sculptures paying tribute to individuals and causes from times past, while a contemporary sculpture path winds its way around the historic gravestones, connecting then and now.

    Gravestones are dedicated to such famous figures as Revolutionary War heroes William Dawes and Joseph Warren, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and suffragette Lucy Stone, poets ee cummings and Anne Sexton, sculptors Daniel Chester French and Martin Milmore, and playwright Eugene O’Neill. The on-site Forsyth Chapel, in the midst of the greenery, is a spot for peaceful contemplation surrounded by vaulted wood ceilings and stained-glass windows. Concerts, poetry readings and other events are often held in this exquisite space.

    You should keep in mind that this place is sacred to many families so while strolling, picnics, bicycling and quiet recreational activities are permitted, please respect the serenity that is so essential to this contemplative environment.
  10. Visit the beach to cool off if you're in Boston during the hot summer months. The coastal setting of Boston is perfect for those who like to mix a little sand with the bustle of a historically vibrant city. Although the best beaches in the Boston area may not be as well-known as those in popular destinations like Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard, tourists can still discover a ton of beachfront gems inside (or just outside) the city.

    The best part about these beaches is their convenient location. Lying so close to the downtown core, travelers can reach the soft sand and bright blue waves of the Boston area's top beaches by merely jumping on public transportation or hopping in a car for a quick (less than an hour) drive.

    As always, when the weekend approaches, parking fills up early, so be prepared if you're driving, and arrive before 10am. Beaches near Boston offer a wide variety of options for visitors that include warm waters, a front-row seat to jumbo jets taking to the skies, forts to explore, and, of course, easy access to some good old New England seafood.

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