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10 free things to do in Boston

10 free things to do in Boston

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Have you ever planned a weekend trip away, and before you know it, you’re beyond budget? Weekend trips shouldn’t cost as much as they do.

Unfortunately, once you include flights, accommodation and daily activities you may find you’re beyond your budget.

Lucky for you, I’ve been exploring Boston ever since I moved here 8 months ago, and have put together a list of 10 kick-ass-awesome* free things to do in Boston.

*guaranteed to excite even the most bored of travelers

1. The Boston Athenæum

This place is seriously photogenic. We’re talking rows and rows of books.

Everything you could need to live out your dreams of being Belle in Beauty and the Beast… Or Hermione* in Harry Potter.

What is the Boston Athenæum, I hear you ask?? Well, it’s an independent library that was founded in 1807. Part of the first floor is open to the public for browsing (yay!), but the rest of the library is for members only.

Why is this part of the free things to do in Boston list?

They offer free Art and Architecture tours which happen multiple times a week. If you want to join, you’ll need to call ahead to book your spot, and if you’d like to join one of their Sunday tours, you’ll need to call ahead at least 3 weeks in advance.

I know, I know – you gotta be organized, my friends!!

* I may or may not have a serious girl crush on Emma Watson

2. Harvard Arnold Arboretum

If being indoors in a library is not your thing, then consider a trip to the Harvard Arnold Arboretum.

30min by public transport from the Boston City Centre (only a 2-minute walk from Forest Hills train station on the Orange line!), the Harvard Arnold Arboretum occupies over 281 acres.

I know – it’s MASSIVE.

This is more than just a park or a garden though – the area is dedicated purely to research and the study of plants.

Despite the scientific side to the Arboretum, the area is a beautiful place to visit and walk.

If you’re visiting Boston during the Spring time, I’d highly recommend checking out their Lilacs (they have over 175 different types!!) which are in full bloom.

You can also take a self-guided walk or join one of their free guided walking tours.

Free things to do in Boston - Harvard Arnold Arboretum

Lilac heaven – quick someone hand me an anti-histamine!

3. Museum of Bad Art (MOBA)

I swear this is not a joke.

This is legit. A real museum, dedicated to “bad art.”

They proclaim that they are the “world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms.”

MOBA has a couple of locations. However, the original location is in the Sommerville Theatre.

Entry is included with your movie ticket, or free if you email for a pass in advance.

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4. Free guided tour at the Boston Public Library

Visiting the Boston Public Library is a little cliché, I know.

But have you ever considered one of their free guided tours?

The architecture here is truly breathtaking and is grand enough to rival the famous New York Public Library.

The library offers free Art & Architecture tours daily… And you don’t even have to book – just show up!

Free things to do in Boston - Boston Public Library

5. Boston University Observatory Open nights

For all the nerds out there, you’ve come to the right place.

Boston University’s Observatory offers free open nights every Wednesdays at 8.30 pm (or 7.30 pm during fall/winter).

The only catch?

You need to book your ticket in advance.

Book your ticket the Thursday before the Wednesday you’d like to attend, and make sure to check back the day of your visit as sometimes the open night can be canceled due to poor weather conditions. Announcements are also available through their Twitter account.

6. Strolling and shopping on Newbury St

Newbury St is famed for his beautiful architecture and high street shopping.

The area is very popular amongst tourists… And for a good reason! It’s a great place to go window shopping (or legit real shopping where you spend actual money)

Looking for other things to do in this area? Check out my Afternoon in Boston guide for more suggestions.

Free things to do Boston - Newbury St

Because no trip is complete without Ice Cream!

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7. Walk through Beacon Hill

One of the most photogenic areas in Boston, Beacon Hill is filled with beautiful architecture.

This is an Instagram lover’s dream.

We’re talking little cobblestone alleyways.

Lots of brickwork.

Buildings covered in ivy.

It is even worth a visit in the winter when the Christmas decorations are out, or the streets are covered in snow.

Make sure you also stop by Acorn St, one of the most photographed streets in Boston.

Free things to do Boston - Beacon hill

8. Visit Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall

Touristy and clichéd, but for a reason. This is a great place to grab a bite to eat or do a spot of shopping.

Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall is incredibly photogenic and covered in beautiful Christmas decorations in the winter.

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9. Visit the Massachusetts State House

Super shiny and photographic from the outside (you’ve probably spotted the gold dome in the Boston skyline!), not many people know they can actually enter the State House.

Most visitors take a bunch of photos from the outside before moving on, but it is worth taking the time to visit.

The free daily tour is highly educational and worth a visit especially if you want to learn more about the history of the US political system.

Free things to do Boston - Massachusetts State House

10. Climb the Bunker Hill Monument

Most visitors walk the Freedom Trail when in Boston – it’s definitely a must when visiting.


Did you know, that the Bunker Hill Monument (located at the end of the trail!) has free entry?

If you’re not completely and utterly exhausted from the rest of your walk, you can even climb to the top to be treated to beautiful views of Boston.

So there you have it!
free things to do in boston

Weekend trips don’t have to be expensive… In fact, there are loads of free things to do in Boston!

Plan your trip in advance (especially if you want to visit the Boston Athenæum!), and you’ll have a kick-ass-awesome budget friendly trip to Boston!

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