The Best Free Things to do in Boston

Visiting Boston on a shoestring budget? No problem—we've got seven great attractions that are completely free to visit.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to visit the city of Boston. While many attractions require admission fees, tour fees, etc., some are free to visitors and residents alike. These free attractions include some of the best viewpoints in the city and some of the most historic spots in America. Here are seven fantastic free things you can do on a visit to Boston. 

The Best Free Attractions in Boston

Boston Public Garden

Boston Public Garden was founded in 1837 and was the first public botanical garden in America. The Victorian traditions have been carried out all around the park through the gardener’s creation and are well maintained by the Park Department. During one’s visit, one not only can be fascinated by the beautiful and unusual plants but there are also the Lagoon, fountains, and monuments to admire. While visitors can relax by the lakes watching the family of ducks gliding by, some find riding in a Swan Boat a unique experience. Because of the garden’s romantic settings, many couples choose to have memorable weddings there.

Boston Public Garden | WhereTraveler
Boston Public Garden (©Monica Volpin)

Black Heritage Trail

Black Heritage Trail is a walking trail that is 1.6 miles long, and it allows visitors to explore the African American community and its history during the 19th century. The community and its buildings are primarily located through Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The trail covers a collection of historical sites that exhibit such communities’ life and struggles during the American Civil War.

The following sites are along the trail:

  •  Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial
  •  George Middleton House
  •  Phillips School
  •  John J. Smith House
  •  Charles Street Meeting House
  •  Lewis and Harriet Hayden House
  •  John Coburn House
  •  Smith Court Residences
  •  Abiel Smith School
  •  African Meeting House

Most sites along the trail are private residences and are not open to the public, except for Abiel Smith School and the African Meeting House. They are part of the Museum of African American History.

African Meeting House Boston | WhereTraveler
African Meeting House/African American History Tour (©Kyle Klein Photography)

Charles River Esplanade

The Charles River Esplanade is a state-owned park that extends for three miles one way with public green space along the Charles River. The esplanade stretches from the Boston Museum of Science to the Boston University Bridge and provides fun family activities, organized sports, passive recreation and educational events throughout the year. It opens daily from dawn to dusk, except for the walk-through traffic and permitted events. 

Charles River Esplanade Boston | WhereTraveler
Charles River Esplanade  (©Lex Zhao)

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Currently, Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, located near the waterfront and today’s Government Center, is a large shopping mall with shops, restaurants, pubs, and specialty pushcarts. Along with outdoor entertainments, visitors and residents find the marketplace both unique and festive.

It is nicknamed “Cradle of Liberty,” a historical site where public meetings took place on the eve of the American Revolution.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace Boston | WhereTraveler
Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Courtesy Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Harvard Museums

Harvard Art Museums consist of three museums and four research centers, are located at 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, across from Harvard Yard. The museums carry the most renowned art collections from ancient to present and several continents, including the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean.

It is free on Sundays to all visitors and requires advance reservations for all visits till further notice – booking can be made on the museum website. It is recommended to check Visitor Policies before visiting for any changes. 

Harvard Square/Harvard Art Museums Boston | WhereTraveler
Harvard Square/Harvard Art Museums (©Kyle Klein)

Rose Kennedy Greenway  

The Rose Kennedy Greenway, or Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, is a public park named after the mother of President John F. Kennedy. The park stretches from Chinatown, the Financial District, Waterfront to the North End. It is pedestrian-only. Visitors come to enjoy the landscapes, public art, and programming. Families find the permanent carousel a fun attraction. The park is free and open to the public daily from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Hours may change due to the pandemic. Please visit rosekennedygreenway.org for more information. 

Greenway Aerial Boston | WhereTraveler
Greenway Aerial (©Kyle Klein)

The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is approximately 2.5 miles long. Its red-brick path takes visitors through 16 significant locations in American history. The trail begins at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center at 139 Tremont Street.

  • Boston Common
  • Massachusetts State House
  • Park Street Church
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • King’s Chapel and King’s Chapel Burying Ground
  • Boston Latin School Site/Statue of Benjamin Franklin
  • Old Corner Bookstore
  • Old South Meeting House
  • Old State House
  • Boston Massacre Site
  •  Faneuil Hall
  • Paul Revere House
  • Old North Church
  • Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
  • USS Constitution
  • Bunker Hill Monument

Visiting the Freedom Trail is free. However, specific sites have admission fees, such as Foundation-led tours. Visitors may also choose to purchase maps and guidebooks, to enhance their experience and guide the visit. Are you traveling with your furry friend? Dogs are permitted on the Freedom Trail but not allowed in the historic burying ground or historic sites’ building. 

Massachusetts State House Boston | WhereTraveler
Massachusetts State House (©Aubrey Odom Mabey)