Looking for Ideas? 10 FREE Family Activities in the Boston Area

Spending time in even the most welcoming city tends to get expensive. Families on a budget often look for inexpensive ways to enjoy a day together. It may come as something of a surprise, but the Greater Boston area offers diverse historical, cultural, and down-to-earth fun without opening your wallet. These are 10 priceless things we hope our community members will enjoy.  

1: Rose Kennedy Greenway

The Greenway Causeway is a family-friendly holiday unto itself. Open spaces, beautifully manicured lawns, art installations, and the children’s splashing ring fountains are a daily thrill against a backdrop of colorful murals. Other fun outdoor enjoyment includes the Harbor Fog Sculpture and Labyrinth at Armenian Heritage Park.

2: Shop the Boston Public Market

The iconic farmer’s market features more than 35 New England producers year-round. A wonderful excursion for open-air shoppers, visitors can indulge in pre-made goodies, meals, and specialty items. Daily window shopping at 100 Hanover Street remains free. Purchases are another matter.

3: Embrace Festivities of Quincy Market

Established as a fresh produce location in 1826, Quincy Market evolved into a festival marketplace during the 1970s. Located at 4 South Market Street in Boston, visitors can take free guided tours to learn about Quincy Market. There are hundreds of shops, fabulous eateries, and entertainment.  

4: Experience the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail includes 16 historical sites over a 2.5-mile walk. Established in 1951, the red brick takes a couple of hours to traverse and consists of some of the most significant landmarks from early American life. The Park Street Church was designed by Peter Banner and founded in 1809. It once represented the first structure Boston visitors saw as they approached. The Granary Burial Grounds possess the headstone of some of the city’s most prominent figures, dating back to 1660. Considered the “Cradle of Liberty,” Faneuil Hall ranks among the inspiring locations along this leisurely walk. Paid tours are available for families who enjoy in-character guides. But the Freedom Trail can be walked without charge.

5: Explore Castle Island

A jaunt along Castle Island and Fort Independence is an open-air pleasure for families. The 22-acre peninsula is located in South Boston possesses lovely beaches, walking trails, and a Castle Island playground for kids of all ages to romp, play, or picnic. Fort Independence exploration comes at no cost to history buffs or people who get a glimpse of Early American defenses. The blend of lush greenery and massive granite architecture is a family must. The area tends to get quite busy on weekends, particularly during the summer.

6: Get Revolutionary at Bunker Hill Monument

The Battle of Bunker Hill represents one of the first significant events of the Revolutionary War. Bunker Hill remains an iconic landmark and turning point in American independence. Although the British seemingly won the day, the battle gave Colonial forces time to prepare and sent a message that Americans were determined to establish their freedom. Located in the waterfront section known as Charlestown, the monument stands 221 feet, and an accompanying museum is also free of charge.

7: Walk the Black Heritage Trail

Located throughout Beacon Hill, there are 14 pertinent historical African-American sites along the Black Heritage Trail. Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery in 1783. A great lesson can be gained from a paid guided tour. However, families are welcome to get a free map at Abiel Smith School and walk through history as a family.

8: Enjoy Free Museums and Art Galleries

Boston ranks among the more culturally-rich American cities and remains open to sharing. Many notable museums and art galleries offer free admittance on select days. It’s important to check the websites for updates before arriving. The following typically provide entry.

  • Commonwealth Museum: Located at 220 Morrissey Blvd in Boston, admission is free Monday–Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History: Located at 26 Oxford Street in Cambridge. Free admission is given to Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning from 9 am to noon, and on Wednesdays from 3-5 pm (September through May). Proof of residency is required.
  • Institute of Contemporary Art: Located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive in Boston, the ICA is free for all visitors every Thursday from 5 to 9 pm. Advanced tickets and reservations may be required.

9: Relax at the Boston Common

For those unfamiliar with the city, the Boston Common is essentially its central park. Established in 1634, the beautifully landscaped park offers carousel rides, a frog pond, a nearby public garden, and a spray pool that doubles as an ice skating area during winter. The Boston Common is the oldest of its kind in the U.S., and its 50 acres are a wonderful place for families to relax during a Boston day out.

10: Complete Your Family Day with Stargazing

The Coit Observatory at Boston University provides free stargazing with telescopes and binoculars on Wednesday evenings. The weather-permitting outdoor event offers limited accommodations, and reservations are advised. Stargazing begins at 7:30 pm during fall and winter, and at 8:30 pm during spring and summer. Remember to dress for the evening temperatures.

Our budget friendly adventures are sure to excite the family and create experiences that will be hard to forget! We hope you enjoy our tips as you explore these amazing opportunities that Boston offers.

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