It seems like everything is more expensive these days, and living in Boston is no exception. Finding things to do in any city that don’t come with a price tag can be challenging. If you want to get acquainted with the city without breaking the bank, there are still plenty of options. So if you just bought a house in Dorchester or are renting an apartment in South End, check out some of the free things to do in Boston, as recommended by locals.
1. Take a stroll through the Beacon Hill neighborhood
If you recently moved into Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, you’ll quickly find out that it’s one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in the city. Whether you’re an amateur photographer or simply enjoy taking in historic architecture, walking around this historic neighborhood is a great free activity in Boston.
“Strolling through the affluent neighborhood of Beacon Hill is a charming way to spend the morning in Boston,” says Brittany Sawyer of the Travel by Brit blog. “However, you can’t miss the chance to take a photo at Acorn Street—the most photographed street in the USA. Acorn Street is located between Mt. Vernon Street and Chestnut Street in Beacon Hill, and is beloved for its cobblestone pathways, gorgeous greenery, and historic buildings that embody New England charm. Acorn Street gets busy quickly, especially in the warm summer and crisp fall months, so arrive early to take stunning pictures without tourists in the background.”
2. Visit Lawn on D for games and more
Lawn on D is a popular outdoor event space in the Waterfront District of Boston. With room for over 4,000 people, there is ample room for groups of all sizes. But while this space is best known for hosting private events, locals looking for free things to do in Boston can also enjoy it without paying a dime.
“Hands down, my favorite thing to do in Boston is visit Lawn on D in South Boston,” says Christina Skeldon of Macaroni Kid South Shore Boston, a local guide for families in the Boston area. “With lawn games like cornhole and bocce ball and their unique solar-powered ring-shaped swings, it is fun for the whole family and open morning through night seasonally. The best part, all of it is free. They do have food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to purchase and fun pop-up events all season long.”
3. Check out the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Museums can be a great way to get to know a new city, especially when they include local exhibits that provide insight into the city’s history. A visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a perfect example of a free thing to do in Boston that’s also educational.
“The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum may be the most infamous institution in Boston, following the still-unsolved art heist in 1990, but beyond the headlines, this gorgeous historic building is home to some of the finest works of art in the world,” says local blogger Kate Andrews of Fashionably Kate & Co. “It is a must-visit during your time in the city. If you’re looking to save on museum admission, plan your visit for the first Thursday of the month. On these so-called “First Thursdays,” everyone gets in for free after 3 p.m. The museum stays open until 9 pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to wander through its hallowed halls. Don’t forget to take a walk through the museum’s gorgeous courtyard while you’re there.”
4. Take in some local art at The Mural Project
Murals are great because they showcase the work of local artists, add a vibrant splash of color to any neighborhood, and you can enjoy them for free. If you’re looking for something to do in Boston that doesn’t cost a dime, check out The Mural Project, a network of murals and street art scattered around the Museum of Fine Arts. According to Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, looking at The Mural Project is a great free and culturally enriching activity to take in at your leisure. The artists in charge of the project, Rob “Problak” Gibbs and Rob Stull, are both artists-in-residence at the MFA.
5. Boston Public Garden
Sometimes, the best free things to do in Boston involve simply walking around and taking in your surroundings. Boston’s Public Garden was established as the county’s first botanical garden in 1837. Located just west of Downtown Boston, it’s the perfect place to escape the city’s noise and unwind after a long day.
“America’s first public botanical garden, Bostonians and tourists alike have enjoyed walking through this beautiful sight for nearly two centuries,” says Tina Wood of Trapology Boston, a Boston escape room. “It’s like a zoo for flora. Visit the many monuments and sculptures that decorate the path, or ride in a swan boat that circles the pond! No matter what, it’s a beautiful breath of fresh air and greenery right in the heart of the city.”