With an abundance of amazing history and beautiful architecture, it’s not hard to find cool free things to do in Boston. Whether you’re looking for something indoors to avoid the blizzard outside, or want to bask in the summer sun and stroll through the cobblestone streets, we’ve gathered the top no-cost activities in Boston when money gets tight.

1. Tour the State House

Old State House in Boston
Photo courtesy of dog97209

Perched atop Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts State House boasts a stunning gold dome and dates back to 1798. As the oldest building in Beacon Hill, it makes a great option for a free museum outing in Boston. Take a tour through the beautiful grounds and marble-floored corridors while learning about the architect, Charles Bulfinch, and the many notable leaders who have walked its halls.

2. Explore the Boston Public Garden

swan boat at Boston Public Garden
Photo courtesy of Patrick Franzis

Visit the Boston Public Garden and stroll through the beautiful flower beds and tall trees. Check out the infamous George Washington statue, then head over to a bench for some great people watching. From dogs playing fetch to cool local musicians, this bustling park is a must-see any time of year. It’s a great free thing to do in Boston with kids, plus if you’re willing to pay $3 a person, the swan boat rides on the pond are free for little ones under two. Don’t forget to snap a picture on the scenic bridge over the pond!

3. Stroll through Beacon Hill

cobble stone paths through Beacon Hill
Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder

This historic neighborhood offers an amazing array of Instagram-worthy architecture and scenic streets. Famous Acorn Street features quaint cobblestones and charming brick buildings, so it’s no surprise it’s been coined “the most frequently photographed street in America.” Plus, there’s Louisburg Square, which dates back to the 1600s and has featured a number of notable residents, from author Louisa May Alcott to former Secretary of State John Kerry. Looking for free things to do in Boston at night? Beacon Hill is just as scenic in the evening, thanks to the beautifully maintained gas lamps lining the streets.

4. Check out the Boston Public Library

reading at Boston Public Library
Photo courtesy of Timothy Neesam

Built in 1895, the Boston Public Library features stunning marble and stone architecture with Gothic-inspired fixtures outside. Erected in Copley Square, this centrally located building makes a great outing that doesn’t cost a thing. Tour through the historic halls of the beautiful library and explore the intricate murals in the Abbey Room, as well as the soaring ceilings of Bates Hall.

5. Walk through the Boston Public Market

Boston Public Market sign hangs over the esplanade
Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Transportation

Even if you don’t want to spend a penny, walking through this year-round indoor market provides a fun outing where you can escape the outside elements. Explore the local goods and wares from food artisans throughout New England (plus, it’s a great place to find an affordable lunch!).

6. Go on the Boston Harborwalk in North End

old ship at Boston Harborwalk in North End
USS Constitution Ship | Photo courtesy of Mirsasha

Learn about the history of North End—one of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston—and listen to an hour-long free audio tour for the full experience. Not only will you catch a glimpse of this old neighborhood, you’ll be able to spot the famous USS Constitution ship across the harbor!

7. Attend a free concert at the Hatch Memorial Shell

outdoor amphitheater at the Hatch Memorial Shell
Photo courtesy of Wally Gobetz

Located right on the Charles River Esplanade, this scenic outdoor amphitheater hosts free concerts throughout the summer months. It’s the perfect family-friendly outing when the weather is nice. Spend the afternoon strolling along the river and watching the sailboats pass by, then set up shop with a nice outdoor blanket on the lawn and get ready for the show.

8. Walk through the community gardens in the Back Bay Fens

community gardens in the Back Bay Fens
Photo courtesy of jpellgen

In the late 1800s, this marsh area was transformed into a scenic pool surrounded by trees and beautiful gardens. Today, the Back Bay Fens offers a mixture of manicured gardens, ball fields, and more. Venture through the community gardens to experience a piece of paradise in the city; each garden plot features a unique feel and is maintained by local residents.

From outdoor urban adventures to stunning architecture and history tours, there are plenty of free things to do in Boston. If you’re on a budget, or simply looking for affordable outings, check out one of these fun activities above to experience this picturesque city.

Article written by Kalie Eyman 

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