Where can you find history, duckling statues and great shopping all in one city? We're talking about Boston. With its beautiful brownstones, historic neighborhoods and status as one of the best cities for walking in the United States, Boston has it all. Fortunately for visitors to Beantown, a number of its top attractions won’t cost you a dime to enjoy. To help you experience the city without emptying your pockets, we’ve compiled a list of the best free attractions in Boston.
Before you plan your itinerary, book your Boston accommodation!
Best Free Attractions in Boston
1. The Museum of Bad Art - Somerville, MA
Tired of viewing critically acclaimed, world-class art? The Museum of Bad Art prides itself on collecting, preserving and displaying all forms of bad art. Located at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square, this quirky museum entertains adults and kids alike.
Address: 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA 02144
2. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston - Boston, MA
This Boston museum boasts multiple permanent collections, ranging from photography to paintings. With outstanding artwork rotating through its temporary exhibits, locals and frequent guests have something new to experience with each visit to The Museum of Fine Arts. Current temporary exhibits include Dutch Painting in the age of Rembrandt and Vermeer as well as a collection celebrating 100 years of American Ceramics.
Hours: The museum is kid-friendly and free after 3:00 PM on weekdays and on weekends for kids ages seven to 17. Open seven days a week, Wednesdays after 4 pm is the best time to go, when admission is free for all guests (though donations are accepted).
Address: 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
3. The Boston Athenaeum
The Boston Athenaeum is a little-known center dedicated to preserving books and art. Home to rare books and manuscripts, there’s no better place for bibliophiles in the city. The public can visit the Boston Athenaeum’s first floor and exhibition galleries but other floors are only open to the public during the weekly Art and Architecture tours.
Address: 10½ Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
4. The Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden is one of the most beautiful locations in Boston. Situated near the commons and close to Newbury Street, this pretty place is easily accessible. Its visitors can walk among the weeping willow trees, take a romantic ride on a swan boat, or download a free tour of the park onto cell phones for a more formal learning experience. The park is great for kids, who will likely enjoy an outdoor picnic (when the weather is right) or feeding the ducks in the water.
Address: 4 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114
5. The Arnold Arboretum
With 281-acres, The Arnold Arboretum is a must visit attraction for outdoor enthusiasts to visit in Boston. Its collection of plants offers a great representation of New England’s flora and fauna. In fact, some of its plants date back to 1872 when the Arboretum was founded, making it an especially exciting place for gardeners. Discovery Packs for the adventurous visitors, wildlife bingo and photo scavenger hunts keep kids entertained throughout their time exploring the Arnold Arboretum
Address: Arborway, Boston, MA 02130
6. The Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library was the first large free municipal library in the United States. With a gallery space, a restaurant and cafe, a beautiful courtyard inside the library, and of course, a massive collection of books, the library is a great place to visit, especially on those days when the weather is not ideal. For those interested in learning in-depth about the library, its volunteer guides offer complimentary tours.
Address: 700 Boylston Street in Copley Square
7. SOWA Open Market
SOWA Open Market is an outdoor flea market in Boston’s South End. The flea market houses enticing products, from food to antiques and local crafts from all over Boston. This fun, free, and family-friendly attraction is open Sundays, May through October.
Address: 460 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02118.
8. The John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
The John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is located in South Boston close to the University of Massachusetts at Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125. With a library, a water views, an exhibit about the Kennedy administration, this outstanding library offers countless learning opportunities in many different forms for adults and kids alike.
Hours: It is open every day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m
Address: Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125
9. The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA)
The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) is an exhibit space and museum in the South Boston Seaport District. With rotating thematic exhibitions, visitors and locals alike may experience a new collection of fantastic, contemporary artwork with each visit. Whether you’re already a fan of contemporary art or are newly interested in the subject, the ICA’s vast assortment of art promises an interesting experience to its curious visitors.
Hours: It is open every day except for Monday, usually 10 a.m. to 5p.m.
Address: 100 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210.
This article was written by Lindsey Rivka Liron Cohen.