This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.
Here are the top 25 free things to do in Boston that will allow you to sit back, relax, and enjoy a wonderful trip to the historic city located in the heartland of Massachusetts.
Let me know your own fun, free things to do in the comments below!
Top 25 FREE Things To Do in Boston
Let’s start things off with a nice dip into the New England Aquarium. There are plenty of amazing sea creatures to entertain the kids ranging from a giant Pacific octopus to adorable penguins. You’re probably wondering how such a cool activity is free but thanks to Boston’s public library you can borrow a pass for free! You must be a MA resident or a student at a Boston university. Pass will allow up to 4 people and is only available Sept.-June.
I am constantly blown away by the beauty of the night sky. People are so busy working they forget to take time to look up and appreciate the vast expanse of stars that litter our night sky. Thankfully on Wednesday nights Boston University holds Public Open Night for free. Weather permitting it is every Wednesday night starting at 8:30 during the Spring and Summer. If you happen to be in Boston in the Fall or Winter it starts at 7:30.
Hatch Shell is located in the south bank of the Charles River. The Hatch is a concert venue that is shaped like a bowl. There is a huge lawn where people listen to the various people that play. The best time to visit though is during July 4th. The park next to the Hatch Shell is called Esplanade. This park is jam packed with people celebrating our great country’s birth. Boston’s Pop Orchestra puts on a free amazing concert followed by a jaw dropping display of fireworks.
The Emerald Necklace Conservatory is a collection of 6 amazing parks in Boston. Looking for a great place to let the kids run around and wear themselves out? Look no further. The parks include trails, basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts, cricket fields, and much much more. This free park system is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Boston is one of the most historic cities in America. Take some time out of your trip and hike along the Freedom Trail. The hike itself is free but if you want to take guided tours those are a little extra. This is just the start to Boston’s rich history.
Located at Beacon Hill, the Black Heritage Trail gives travelers a peek into Boston before the civil war. Beacon Hill is also home to some of Boston’s first integrated schools. The history in Beacon Hill is rich and filled with cool sights to show the kids. The trail is only 1.6 miles and also home to the oldest standing Black church in America. Another cool thing to see is the Underground Railroad stops along the way.
Following along the lines of heritage trails I present the Irish Heritage Trail. This trail celebrates the great Irish men and women in Boston from the 1700’s to present day. The trail is a bit long clocking in at 3 miles but with 20 unique historic sites and plaques it makes for a fun adventure. Strap on the walking boots and make this hike!
Boston’s library is no ordinary library. This monstrosity is home to over 23.6 million materials which is quite a feat. This makes Boston’s Public Library one of the largest in the United States! The library is always holding fun, special events almost everyday so just check before you go and plan accordingly.
Take your kids to Harvard Square and show them the science and genius of Harvard College! There are plenty of places to eat and regain some energy but the coolest part is the hundreds of street performers showing off their talent. It is located at the heart of Cambridge. Visit the website and check out what fun, free activities await!
The Revolutionary War buffs in your family will love this stop. The Battle of Bunker Hill took place June 17, 1775 and is where the famous phrase “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” came from. The battle ended in a loss for the American forces but showed how determined they were to by holding off 2 British assaults. A 221 foot granite obelisk now stands in remembrance of the soldiers who lost their lives serving America.
11. Tour MIT
It would be unfair to just visit Harvard and not The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT offers free tours of the whole campus. If you have a high schooler aspiring to go to college show him or her around! MIT is a great campus to visit and it could be a fun afternoon activity. (Plus the buildings look awesome!)
In 1634, the Boston Commons was the first public park in America and the Public Gardens was the first public botanical garden in America. Enjoy the beautiful walkways, colorful flowers and luscious plants in this historic area.
Serving the college of Harvard and the town of Boston makes this little book shop a great place to visit. You don’t need to buy any books to enjoy the store due to the fact that they have authors come and read excerpts from their work. Most of these event are free and all you need to do is visit the website in the link above. It’s a great time to really engage your children in learning.
Need to take a little break from the kids? Head over to the Sam Adam Brewery where they offer free tours. You get to learn about the history of the Sam Adams brand, experience the whole craft brewing process and they even have free samples to taste.
Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts offers some really cool free 1-hour tours. These are great for the kids to really learn some history in a cool environment. Make sure you book the tour before you leave!
Since 1969 the city of Boston has given free tours of the Massachusetts State House. They bring about 90,000 people through the doors each year! You can experience the deep history of the House while being shown around by a trained tour guide all for free.
17. Newbury Street
Take a walk along one of Boston’s most famous streets. Newbury street is chock full of culture, paintings, and many interesting people. The Newbury Street Art Gallery has free galleries open to the public when they first begin. Even if you don’t go to any stores the street is a fun place to walk down.
Take advantage of the family friendly museum that offers FREE exhibits and operates as a non profit. These exhibits teach kids about life at sea and the hardships sailors faced. The museum does accept donations as well.
Love the water? I know my kids do. Take a walk down to the beautiful Boston Harbour. There you will find lots great views of the water and all the boats. The Harbour is also littered with cool parks to visit.
“The British are coming” are some of the most famous words in American history. Paul Revere alerting the Colonist’s of the impending British attack is a staple in history books. By visiting the Old North Church you can see where Mr. Revere lit the candles in the steeple! A great place to bring the kids.
Tired of the hustle and bustle of the city? With just a 30 minute drive from downtown Boston you will stumble upon Bull Hills Reservation. The reservation has 125 miles of trails and 22 hills. It is a great alternative to walking around the city and a good way to relax.
Looking for great deals on vacation? Look no further than Copley Farmer’s Market. This is a great place to buy fresh produce. You could even haggle with prices! This is a fun place to visit but it is only open on certain days. Check the website and plan accordingly!
Have a young child that loves firemen? The Boston Fire Museum, located at 334 Congress St., is home too cool artifacts, antique fire apparatus, and photos. The Museum is open on Saturdays from 11 am to 6 pm.
24. Arnold Arboretum
Stopping at the Arnold Arboretum is great idea. The arboretum is beautiful place to look at flowers and see horticulture at its finest. They have over 180 different types of Lilacs and give great, free tours. It is quite a sight for sore eyes.
The last stop on the list brings us to an amazing museum of art and culture. The ICA is one of the most uniquely shaped buildings I have ever seen. The exhibits are always fresh, new, and breath taking. The catch? The ICA is only free to the public on Thursdays from 5 to 9 pm. Also it is always free for children under the age of 17.