I’ve been to Boston twice now and I think it might just be one of my favorite cities in the US. Although I’m not a history person, Boston has so much American heritage and even though it’s nothing compared to its European counterpart, it’s still pretty cool. While I don’t mind paying for awesome experiences, I love experiencing a city for free (because the more you save, the more you travel!). To help you also experience Boston for free, here are the top 15 free things to do in Boston that give you a little taste of everything it has to offer.
1.The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is one of my favorite parts of Boston. This route takes you past all of the historic parts of the city, including the site of the Boston Massacre, King’s Chapel, the Old South Meeting House, the Paul Revere House and more. You can go to their website and download a map with all the points on it to guide you around the city.
You probably know this from your history classes, but the USS Constitution is the oldest naval vessel still afloat today. It started operation in 1797 and was named by George Washington himself. You can visit the museum for free, but they do suggest donations so they can keep this old beauty alive and well for years to come.
You can also, believe it or not, actually go on the ship. You need to pass through a security checkpoint and show a passport or license to get on, but that’s nothing to stand on a ship that fought in the War of 1812.
3.Bunker Hill Monument
Erected in 1843, this monument is for the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was one of the first major battles between the US and the British during the revolutionary war in 1775. You can go up to the top of the monument totally for free.
4.Old North Church
You may recall the poem you were taught in school, “Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.” One of the lines states, “Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch of the North Church tower, as a signal-light, one if by land and two if by sea.” You guessed it, this is that same North Church, which is why there’s a statue of Paul Revere in front.
Taking a tour is $6, but going to see the church by itself is totally free and still a really awesome experience.
5. Granary Burying Ground
You may be thinking why the heck you’d want to go to a cemetery while on vacation, but the answer is because this cemetery, founded in 1660, is the final resting place of many famous historical figures.
Here you’ll find the tombstones belonging to Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Peter Faneuil (of Faneuil Hall), Samuel Sewell (a judge during the Salem Witch Trials) and the five victims of the Boston Massacre.
6. Old State House
Build in 1713, the Old State House is where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston and was the seat of colonial government. It’s currently the oldest building in Boston. Entry is $10, but seeing the State House by itself is still a remarkable experience.
7. Massachusetts State House
Although built in 1798, this is still the state capitol today and the seat of local government. The land it sits on is what used to be John Hancock’s cow pasture and the iconic gold dome was overlaid with copper by Paul Revere himself.
You can take guided free tours of the State House as well as just walk around by yourself. You can also go on a legislative process tour for free, but you’ll need to arrange it ahead of time.
8. Boston Public Library
Built in 1843, the Boston Public Library is totally worth a visit because of the architecture, but also because it’s the third-largest public library in the country. It only comes after the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library.
Boston has a lot of free museums that are totally worth visiting. You can go to the Museum of Ancient and Honorable Artillery, which is quite unique, as well as more streamlined museums like the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science and the Museum of Contemporary Art (free every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m.).
10. Boston Common and Public Gardens
Built in 1634, the Boston Common and Public Gardens is the oldest park in the entire country. It’s a beautiful area to have a picnic or just relax among the bustle of the city. It got its name because the townspeople bought the land from the first settler of the area and each homeowner paid 6 schillings, and thus is became known as the Boston Common because it was common ground shared by them all.
11. North End Parks
This is one of my favorite areas of Boston because it’s so serene and pretty and during the summer the fountains of water that shoot up are incredibly refreshing. The park used to be a complete eyesore and the city turned it into something beautiful and a place that many locals enjoy.
12. Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall
Built first in 1742, Faneuil Hall was the marketplace and meeting hall for many famous Bostonians. Samuel Adams and James Otis both gave speeches there encouraging the people of Boston to take part in the revolution. Quincy Market was built later in 1826 when Faneuil Hall could no longer accommodate the commercial demand.
While these are completely free to go into, there’s a good chance you’ll end up buying some stuff anyway.
13. Charles River Esplanade
The Esplanade doesn’t have any particular historical significance, it’s just a beautiful area along the Charles River. It’s got a path that’s perfect for walking and running and it’s beautiful at all times of year. If you’re looking for a little peace and quiet and exercise, this is definitely the place to be.
14. Sam Adams Brewery
If you’re a fan of Sam Adams then this tour of the Brewery is perfect. You’ll learn about the history behind the beer, the entire crafting process, taste special malts and even sample of the best beers Sam Adams offers. The tour is entirely free, but they do encourage a donation of about $2. Tours typically last between 40 minutes and an hour.
15. Boston HarborWalk
Much like the Charles River Esplanade, the Boston HarborWalk is a beautiful area of the city that’s great for taking in the views and getting some fresh air. It’s not yet completed (when it is it’ll be 47 miles long), but it will currently take you along the piers, wharves and beaches around Boston where you can look out at the ships.