What are the five best free things to do in Boston?

Answers from Our Experts (3)

Faneuil Hall at nightFaneuil Hall at night: iStock/Denis Tangney Jr.

You don’t have to spend a fortune when you come to this walking-friendly city. With thousands of students attending its 52 institutions of higher learning, Boston is a town that knows how to deliver to those prefer their sights and activities without a price tag. Here are the five best free things to do in Boston:

1. Hit the Esplanade. Running west through the heart of Boston along the Charles River, the almost three-mile Esplanade provides a convenient escape. You’ll find perfect spots here to pick up a game of Frisbee, have a picnic, jog or just rest on one of its many benches. The Esplanade is especially popular on the Fourth of July, when crowds gather to listen to the Boston Pops and watch the fireworks over the Charles. In the summer, the Hatch Shell performance area hosts everything from the Harvard University band to free movies and oldies concerts.

2. Hike the Freedom Trail. This is one of the best — and most active — ways to learn about Boston’s storied history. The 2.5 mile trail features 16 official sites, and is marked by a red bricks path embedded in the sidewalks. If you stick to the trail, it’s 100 percent free (though entering some historic buildings might cost you a buck or two).

3. Climb Bunker Hill. Don’t look to Bunker Hill for the Bunker Hill Monument,look at nearby Breed’s Hill instead. (That’s right, they commemorated the wrong hump.) Regardless, the monument marking the first major conflict between the British and the rag-tag colonial militia, is worth a pause from the Freedom Trail. And while you’re there, you can get in a good exercise session. Climb the 294 steps that lead to the top of the monument; the effort is well worth the view.

4. People-watch in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. This historic landmark caters to tourists, which makes it a perfect place to sit back and watch all kinds of people go by. Grab a bench in the middle, or drift in and out of the kiosks, restaurants and shops. You’re also likely to spy some street performers, such as jugglers, magicians and dancers.

5. Take a walk. Boston is one of the most walkable cities you’ll ever visit. Since many of its historic sites are tucked away on winding cobblestoned roads, you might miss some good ones if you’re in your car. Cruise down Newbury Street to visit all the high-end boutiques, make your way over to the beautiful Public Garden and don’t miss strolling through all the impressive homes on Beacon Hill.

Jonathan Nicholson

The five best free things to do in Boston are to walk along the Freedom Trail (attractions charge admission, but the trail itself is free), attend events at The Hatch Shell, visit the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday evenings, stroll along the Charles River and check out street festivals, like North End Feasts and SoWa Open Market.

1. Walk along The Freedom Trail and The JFK Trail.

2. Stroll the meandering pathways of the Boston Public Garden, then snap photos by the Make Way for Ducklings statues.

3. During the summer months, catch an outdoor movie or concert at The Hatch Shell along the Charles River Esplanade.

4. Climb the 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument for breathtaking views of the Boston skyline.

5. Boston is home to American’s best craft brews, Sam Adams and Harpoon. Tours and tastings at both local breweries are complimentary.

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