This must-see in Boston is entirely free. The 2.5-mile walking trail brings you past at least 16 historic sites. You can start anywhere along the red brick path that winds by Boston Common, the State House, Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, USS Constitution, and Bunker Hill Monument – all of which are free. Some of the other sites along the way charge admission. If you want a guided tour of the Freedom Trail, then you will have to pay for tickets.
The Boston Common is the oldest park in the country and covers 50 acres. Martin Luther King Jr., Pope John Paul II, and Gloria Steinem are among the many who have given speeches in the Common. While the Common is great for walking around or sitting and resting, the Frog Pond also offers a place to cool off or go skating, depending on the season.
The Public Garden is separated from Boston Common by Charles Street. The Public Garden is home to the famous Swan Boats and the Make way For Ducklings statue. Rides on the swan boats do require purchasing tickets, and last about 15 minutes. People watching is free.
The site of the first major battle of the American Revolution is marked by the Bunker Hill Monument. The granite obelisk is 221 feet tall, and the climb to the top of it is free. The “Battle of Bunker Hill” was fought on June 17, 1775 on Breed’s Hill. There is also a museum across the street, open daily.
It is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, and it’s docked in Charlestown. The USS Constitution is open year-round for free, guided tours. The tours are narrated by active-duty sailors who explain the ship’s history, and lead you through the berths and gun deck. Visitors are required to go through security screening before the Constitution.
The State House, at the corner of Beacon and Park Streets, is open for free tours during the week year-round. The tours are conducted by the staff and volunteers who are well-versed in the history and architectural background of the State House. The 30-45 minute ours include the House and Senate Chambers and you’ll learn all about the Sacred Cod.
It might seem counter-intuitive to suggest a free excursion to Boston’s most high-end shopping district. However, the window shopping is divine and the people watching here is unparalleled. You may even spot a local celebrity spending a not-so-free day on Newbury.
Christian Science Center Fountain
On a hot day, kids can take a dip in the Christian Science Center fountain. Well, maybe not a dip, but a run through. The fountain, just behind the Prudential Center at 200 Massachusetts Avenue, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weather permitting.
Isabella Gardner Museum
Several Boston museums offer free admission during special days. These often change year-to-year, so it’s best to check the museums’ websites, or call. Also check with your local library to score free or reduced-cost tickets. Girls named Isabella can get in free to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and admission there is free on your birthday, no matter what your name.