20 Free Things to Do in and Around Boston

Boston is one of the United States' oldest cities. With well-preserved architecture, brick and stone paved streets, and plenty of monuments and museums to visit, Boston is an ideal place to explore if you are a history buff, era enthusiast, or have 2-3 days to spare while in New England.

Because I went to college in Boston (Boston University), I have very biased opinions about the city (not all good) and was determined to revisit years later and rediscover it as an inquisitive tourist (a much better experience). I chose to visit at the end of September because I never want to see a Boston winter AGAIN, and luckily scored great weather.

The small city is pricey though: rent is outrageous (which transfers to consumer costs), there isn't much parking, and trolleys and tour buses are about $35 per person at the very least. During my visit, I was determined to find as many free things as possible, and to my surprise: there is plenty!

Here are 20 free things to do in and around Boston during your vacation!

Photo: Boston Public Garden

Photo: Boston Public Garden

1. Visit the Boston Common and watch swan boats circle the historical Boston Public Garden.

2. Tour the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill, weekdays from 10 am - 3:30 pm (advance reservation required).

3. Join a National Parks ranger at the Faneuil Hall Visitor Center for a free walking tour of the freedom trail (30 tickets available per tour, arrive 30 minutes - one hour before to make sure you get a ticket).

4. Take a photo op in front of the Park Street church (or even attend a service).

Photo: Park Street Church

Photo: Park Street Church

5. Enjoy a performance in front of the Quincy Market (we saw jugglers and acrobats during our visit) and taste test food samples at the market stands.

6. Climb 294 steps at the Bunker Hill Monument  (closes at 4:30 pm).

7. Visit the MIT Museum in Cambridge on Saturdays, for free (Bank of America card holders).

8. Roam through the theatre district and window shop along quaint pedestrian streets in Downtown Crossing.

Photo: Downtown Boston

Photo: Downtown Boston

9. Visit the Boston Public Library and explore the historic rooms and artwork.

10. Get a Boston Public Library Card and visit the New England Aquarium or the Museum of Science for free (applies to MA residents so find yourself a friend!)

11. Visit the Museum of African American History and join a free guided tour along the Black Heritage Trail (seasonal).  

12. In the summer, enjoy a free concert every Thursday night at 5:30 pm on Copley Square.

Photo: Massachusetts State House

Photo: Massachusetts State House

13. Tour the USS Constitution (suggested donations apply; closed Mondays).

14. Take a free 45-minute tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery outside of Boston.  

15. Enjoy a run along the Charles River Esplanade. 

16. Visit Boston University on Wednesdays and enjoy free access to the Coit Observatory at 7:30 pm (daylight savings time) / 8:30 pm in the summer.


17. Tour the Commonwealth Museum and learn about Massachusetts history.

18. On Wednesdays, after 4 pm, visit the Museum of Fine Art. 

19. Get even more artsy and visit the Institute of Contemporary Art for free on Thursdays from 5 pm - 9 pm, and the last Saturday of every month.

20. Take a classic Boston photo under the iconic CITGO sign at Kenmore Square.


Are you ready to explore Boston with these free activities?

Share this post with your friends and plan a fun getaway!