Free Sites and Events to See and Do while in Boston
Eight free, fun ideas to do and see while you are vacationing in Boston that won't put you to sleep.
Nothing is free…that’s what we are always told growing up. Then we grow up and we find out there is some free stuff, but then again, sometimes, you get what you pay for. For that reason we tend to stay away when we hear the word “free”...until now. Here are eight free things to do while you are in Boston that you will enjoy.
This is a nice place to just go and relax and enjoy the weather, especially on a nice summer day. This is a very historic spot for those that dig history. This is the site where, up until 1817, the city carried out public hangings, but don’t let the past deter you from visiting. If we go further back in time, this is where the British troops camped before they marched for Lexington and Concord during the Revolutionary war. There are swan boats that you can watch go past. The swan boats do cost a few dollars if you want to ride them, but enjoying the fresh air in a beautiful setting will cost nothing, and you will feel relaxed while you are here, and long after you leave.
This is the place to go for a fun day out with a little history to go along with it. Castle Island is a huge 22-acre park that is perfect for a walk, run, or bike ride along the water’s edge. Or maybe you want to go fishing, or have a family picnic while having a play day in the water. This place has all of that and more.
Fort Independence, a granite pentagonal fort, is the most dominant feature here, and during the summer months you can get a free guided tour and learn more about Fort Independence. This is one amazing place to go for a nice fun day with a little learning, if you are so inclined, that won’t cost you anything.
Charles River Esplanade
There is so much to do here, more so when its warmer, but you will find things to do for the kids, the adults, or the whole family together. They have three playgrounds and all of them are unique. These were designed for year-round use, so no matter what time of year you visit you can take the kids to go play. There are also events and activities that are free. There are free concerts weekly that you can catch, and from July through August take the family to a free outdoor movie, or head over to the free fitness class that the local business provide that can range from yoga to CrossFit and typically run five days a week. This is one of the best places to go if you want a fun day without spending money.
Boston University Astronomy Department
How about spending a night stargazing? The Boston University Astronomy Department holds a public open night, giving you a chance to see the sky like never before. They hold this event almost every Wednesday night and it is free. However if you want to attend you should arrive early since they have a maximum capacity for the observatory and they let those that bought a ticket in first, then they will open the doors on a first come first serve basis until they reach maximum capacity. Once the program begins, regardless of the number of people attending, no one else will be allowed in. The program starts at 7:30 p.m. during the fall and winter, and 8:30 p.m. during the spring and summer. There is a chance that open night will be canceled due to the weather, since you can’t see the sky if there are clouds, haze, or rain, but they do their best to give ample warning if they are going to cancel the program for the night. This is an amazing opportunity to see the night sky in ways you wouldn’t normally be able to, but remember it is Boston, and since astronomy is a night activity dress appropriately for the evening.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Are you an art lover? Or perhaps you are just looking for something a little different to see and experience. Either way this is one place you will want to go. They have over 350,000 objects for you to go see in this Fine Art Museum, and on Wednesday nights after 4 p.m. admission is free. They stay open until 9:45 p.m., giving you several hours to take in all the amazing pieces of art work they have to offer. There is a suggested donation of $25, however, if you are on a budget, don’t feel pressured. They also have open house days throughout the year: Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Memorial Day are free open house days. In addition to their standard exhibits, they have special exhibits that do change, so what you see the first time you go isn’t for sure going to be what you see the next time.
If you are so inclined while you are here, they do offer free tours that highlights the Museum’s collections, it lasts about an hour. Or perhaps you want to get more experience drawing. They have a free drawing workshop every Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. where you will sketch either a live model or objects from their collection. You won't be on your own either, there will be a drawing instructor there to provide help and insight on different techniques you could try. There is so much to see and do here, this may be one of the best, most informative free places to visit, especially if you are an art enthusiast.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
This downtown marketplace is an amazing fun place to visit. It's more than just shops, it’s a unique, exciting place that is filled with fun and excitement. There are street performers putting on different shows and acts all the time. From a contortionist who will make your back ache a little just watching to hilarious dancing from a man in a kilt, you will see it all and more. If the street performers aren’t enough, come enjoy the live music that Boston has to offer. Or perhaps you would prefer to do something different than watching shows—well then, you are in luck because Faneuil Hall Marketplace has an interactive area that is filled with ping pong, pool, a reading room, chess, and so much more. They have a magic show for kids and contra dancing (similar to square dancing but done in lines) for the adults. There is a little of something for everyone here. Along with all the daily activities they have special weekly activities. And the best part is it is all free. This is a great place to come hang out, catch some shows, play some games and not spend any money doing any of it.
Old Ironside, as she is called, is the oldest commissioned Naval ship in the United States. Admission to the museum is free, but they do ask for a donation, but again, don’t feel pressured if you're on a budget.
There are two parts here, as said earlier. There is the museum that has several exhibits for you to explore and interact with to learn more about the history of this naval warship. They have permanent exhibits along with smaller changing exhibits to ensure that you will see something new and different the next time you are there. The second is the actual ship, U.S.S Constitution. Both are operated separately, but the ship does depart on tours so you can set sail on her and see how the sailors live while aboard her. You can visit the Constitution while she is in dry-dock, but that is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and you will be required to go through a security inspection.
This ship is a piece of history, and it will be a fun learning experience for all who visit. This is one of the must-see sights for anyone who visits Boston.
Samuel Adams Brewery
First and foremost this is a brewery so to take part in any of the alcoholic beverage they make here you must be 21.
Now on to the part you want to hear. This brewery offers tours that are free. Yes, a free tour of a brewery. They do have a suggested donation of $2.00 that goes to local charities, but it is only a request not a requirement. The tours are on a first come first serve basis, and you cannot reserve a spot unless you have a group of 20 people or more. If you do have a large group, call ahead early and set up a private tour. The tours depart every 45 minutes and last for about an hour. The first 30 minutes is dedicated to learning about how they brew and what ingredients they use, and the last 30 minutes is spent in the tasting room where you can sample three different styles of their craft beers. Even if you are under 21 you can still take the tour, you just can’t sample the craft beer in the tasting room. Perhaps you just aren’t a beer drinker and just wanted to see the tour, root beer is offered to those that can’t drink or prefer not to. Keep in mind that Saturdays are typically a busy tour day so plan accordingly. This is an amazing experience that shouldn’t be missed even if Sam Adams isn’t your drink of choice.
These eight places are some of the best free spots you could see while you visit Boston. From history to comedy to beer tours, no matter what you choose to do visiting, any or all of these places will ensure that you have a wicked good time in Boston.
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