20 Free Things to Do in Boston

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Even for a student on a budget, there are dozens of things to do in the city for cheap. In fact, you won't have to pay a penny to enjoy this list of Boston activities.

1. Have a cookout at the Arboretum

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is one of Boston's most beautiful parks and an educational institution chock-full of beautiful plants, trees and shrubs. There are a few grills scattered through the park as well.

2. Attend a concert at the Hatch Shell

In the spring and summer, the Hatch Shell becomes a hot spot for concerts, movie screenings, performances and more. Check its schedule frequently to catch all the planned events.

3. Tour the State House

You can take free guided tours of the State Capitol building any weekday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., according to Boston's official website.

One of the most iconic buildings in the city, the statehouse holds tours regularly.One of the most iconic buildings in the city, the statehouse holds tours regularly.

4. Walk the Freedom Trail

If you want to explore the city, walking the freedom trail is a great way to do it. It's marked with a red line that weaves through Boston, passing 16 historical sites and almost 300 years of national history.

5. Visit Boston's art museums

From modern art to ancient marble sculptures, you'll find plenty of free art exhibits in Boston. With a student ID, you can get free entrance into the Museum of Fine Arts as well as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

6. Explore the USS Constitution

The USS Constitution isn't just any revolutionary era ship. It's the the oldest commissioned warship still floating in the world, according to the National Park Service. It's one of the most historic ships operated by the U.S. Navy.

7. Climb the Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill is the site of one of the earliest battles of the Revolutionary War, and a spot where you can still get a prime view of Boston from across the river in Charlestown — if you don't mind climbing to the very top of the 294-step Bunker Hill Monument. 

8. Check out the street performers at Faneuil Hall

There's no telling what you'll find at this tourist hotspot. From crews of breakdancers to celebrity look-a-likes to musicians and magicians, street performers gather en masse to entertain the waves of visitors.

9. Stargaze at the Coit Observatory

On the roof of Boston University's College of Arts & Sciences, the Judson B. Coit Observatory has two telescopes for stargazing, and it regularly hosts open nights for the public.

10. Walk around the frog pond

In the summer, the frog pond turns into one of the best areas in the city to cool off. Visitors wade through the shallow water in the Boston Common or relax close by. In the winter, it freezes over for ice skating. You can rent a pair of skates or bring your own for free.

11. Have a picnic in the Public Garden

Just a short walk away from the frog pond, the carefully manicured flower beds and terraces of the Public Garden make this city park a regular spot for wedding portraits. Luckily, there's plenty of space if you want to kick back and have a picnic with your friends.

The Boston Public Garden may be the most beautiful park in the city.The Boston Public Garden may be the most beautiful park in the city.

12. Wander through the SoWa Market

The SoWa Open Market gives visitors the chance to peruse interesting flea markets and stands, and meet some of the city's up-and-coming artists, craft vendors and more. If you're hungry, visit a food truck parked close by.  

13. Find a guided audio tour
Pop in a set of ear buds and tour the city using your smartphone as a guide. You can find audio tours of the Boston Harborwalk, the Boston Public Garden and Fort Point, among many others.

14. Learn something at the Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library has a treasure trove of free courses and classes, as well as one of the widest book collections in the city. It's maybe the best place to sit down for a quiet study session, but there's so much more you can find to do.

15. Visit the New England Aquarium

While it may not be free for most of the year, the New England Aquarium hosts at least one free college night on an annual basis. Even without admission, you can take a gander at the seal exhibit from the outside or stroll around the harbor nearby.

16. Tour the museum of science

Likewise, the Museum of Science also hosts an annual college night. On top of that, there are often public meetings featuring today's inventors and intellectuals, which are normally free to attend. 

17. Catch some sun on the Esplanade
Boston Common and other city parks might be great for sunbathing, but there's nothing better than catching some rays on one of the floating docks on the Esplanade.

There's no better place to kill time in the spring and summer than the Esplanade.There's no better place to kill time in the spring and summer than the Esplanade.

18. Walk through the Sam Adams brewery

For anyone 21 and over, the Sam Brewery is a must-see attraction. See how one of the city's favorite beers is crafted and get a few free drinks as you tour.

19. Find a historic figure's grave

For the real-deal American experience, history buffs should walk the Granary Burying Ground to pay respects to some of the country's founding fathers. Massachusetts governors, Boston mayors and three signees of the Declaration of Independence — Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine — are all buried here, as well as some of the victims of the Boston Massacre.

20. Take advantage of a city-wide event

The Boston Marathon, the Veteran's Day parade, the St. Patrick's Day parade, the Cambridge River Festival, the Columbus Day Parade, celebrations after the Patriots, Bruins, Celtics or Red Sox win a championship — they're all free and happen on an annual basis. Well, maybe not the championship victories, but one can hope.

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