It’s no secret that visiting Boston is expensive. However, even if you’re traveling on a budget, planning a wallet-friendly trip to Boston is still possible!
There are plenty of cost-effective things to do in Boston to keep you busy throughout your vacation—beautiful gardens, historic neighborhoods, and interesting museums. Many of the best things to do in Boston are completely free!
Here’s a list of the best cheap things to do in Boston, all of which are under $10.
1. Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden was established in the 1830s and is one of the most beautiful parks in Boston—filled with flowers, ponds, bridges, and monuments. You can enjoy a stroll through the gorgeous garden, and while you’re there, take a photo with the iconic “Make Way for Ducklings” statue!
2. Acorn Street
Acorn Street is located in the popular (and beautiful!) Beacon Hill neighborhood. It is the most photographed street in the United States, so you can’t miss the chance to take a photo of this picturesque street during your visit to Boston.
3. Freedom Trail
Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston is one of the most popular things to do in the city, and if you take a self-guided tour, this activity is entirely free!
Follow the 2.5-mile red brick pathway through the city to pass by popular sites from the American Revolution, like the Granary Burying Ground, Old South Meeting House, Old North Church, and more. The following five items from this list of cheap things to do in Boston are on the Freedom Trail.
4. USS Constitution & Museum
The USS Constitution is a retired warship that served in the War of 1812. It’s the oldest commissioned warship that’s still afloat!
Today, the USS Constitution is docked at the Boston National Historical Park in Charlestown, and it’s free for visitors to explore. You can also tour the USS Constitution Museum for a suggested donation of $10 per person.
5. Paul Revere House
Cost: $6 per person
You can tour the home of Paul Revere, the famous American Patriot, during your visit to Boston. Paul Revere’s house was constructed in 1680, and the building is the oldest remaining structure in Downtown Boston, located in the North End.
Since admission to the home is only six dollars per person, touring this historic home is easily one of the best cheap things to do in Boston!
6. Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall was built in 1741 and used as a place of commerce for the colonists. Today, this historic venue is still used for its original purpose. You can find vendors selling food, drinks, handmade goods, and other local products at Faneuil Hall and the nearby Quincy Market.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive meal, you can find many grab-and-go options here, like lobster rolls and other New England eats.
7. Bunker Hill Monument & Museum
Known as the first significant battle in the Revolutionary War, The Battle of Bunker Hill marked a turning point in American history. The Bunker Hill Museum and Monument, located in Charlestown, commemorates this critical battle. You can trek 300 steps to the top of the monument or stay on-ground to tour the free museum.
8. Boston Common
The Boston Common is where the Freedom Trail begins, and it’s one of the best cheap things to do in Boston. As the oldest park in the United States, the Boston Common is deeply rooted in history. Plus, this park is just across the street from the Boston Public Garden, making these two locations easy to visit at the same time.
9. Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library is filled with fascinating history and architecture. You can visit the library on your own, or go on a free tour, offered daily!
10. North End Cannoli
Cost: $5-7 per cannoli
Boston is known for its delicious cannoli from the North End—Boston’s Little Italy.
You’ll quickly discover there’s a heated debate between locals and visitors alike over which pastry shop serves the best cannoli, Mike’s Pastry or Modern Pastry. You’ll have to try one of these sweet treats from each shop to decide for yourself!
11. Harvard University
Boston is well-known for its esteemed colleges and universities, including the country’s oldest campus—Harvard University.
Located just outside Boston in Cambridge, you can walk around this iconic university, founded in 1636, for free. Just a few miles from Harvard, you can also explore the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also located in Cambridge. Then, you can say you “went” to Harvard or MIT—I mean, you technically did, right?
12. Day Trip
If you have a car, going on one (or more!) of the best day trips from Boston is a great way to explore the surrounding area outside the city.
You can learn about the history of the country’s earliest European settlers in Plymouth, go apple picking in Amesbury, relax on the beaches of Cape Cod, explore the historic mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, or admire the lighthouses in Portland, Maine.
13. Galleria Umberto
Cost: $2 per slice
If you’re looking for a cheap lunch in Boston, head to Galleria Umberto in the North End. This cash-only restaurant serves Sicilian-style pizza by the slice for two dollars and other Italian specialties, like calzones and paninis.
However, you need to get here early. Galleria Umberto is only open from 10:45 AM to 2:30 PM on Monday – Saturday, and once their slices are gone for the day—they’re gone!
14. Boston Public Market
Boston Public Market is another place to visit if you’re looking for a budget-friendly meal. Here, you’ll find lots of local vendors, farmers, and artisans selling their goods, and you’ll find more space to sit and eat than you would at more popular locations like Faneuil Hall.
15. Swan Boat Ride
Cost: $4.50 per person
Boston’s Swan Boats are one of the best cheap things to do in Boston. Located in the Boston Public Garden, you can board a Swan Boat for just $4.50 per person and ride around the water to enjoy beautiful views of the city’s skyline.
16. Brattle Book Shop
Brattle Book Shop is one of Boston’s oldest (and largest!) bookstores. The store includes two floors of gently used books, one floor of rare books, and an open-air bookstore that’s fun to explore on a warm, sunny day.
17. Samuel Adams Brewery Tour
If you have a car, head south to the Samuel Adams Brewery, just a short five-mile drive from Downtown Boston. Here, you can go on a free 45-minute brewery tour, with a complimentary beer tasting at the end.
Although this tour is technically free, a two-dollar donation is requested per person, and all funds are donated to local charities. If you don’t want to travel to the Samuel Adams Brewery, you can also visit their taproom in Downtown Boston for a brew, located outside Faneuil Hall.
18. Cheers Bar
Did you watch the popular television show, Cheers? If so, you probably know that the bar the characters visit is located in Boston, on Beacon Hill overlooking the Boston Public Garden.
You can take a photo of this iconic location or stop inside for a meal and drink. You can also visit the Cheers Bar inside Quincy Market, but you should note this isn’t the original location featured on the television show!
19. Boston Museum of Fine Art
Cost: Free from 4-10 PM on Wednesdays
The Museum of Fine Art in Boston is one of the largest art museums in the world. Here, you can admire nearly 500,000 works of art.
Though an art connoisseur could surely spend the entire day here, if you visit the museum on Wednesday evenings, admission is free until the museum closes at 10 PM. The museum simply asks for a voluntary donation. Admission is usually $25 per person, so this is a great deal!
20. Boston Children’s Museum
Cost: $1 per person on Sundays from 1:30-4:30 PM
The Boston Children’s Museum is a great location to visit if you’re traveling with kids, with lots of hands-on learning experiences and exhibits.
If you make an online reservation, families can enjoy one-dollar admission per person on Sunday afternoons from 1:30-4:30 PM. Since many other cheap things to do in Boston are closed on Sunday, this is a great way to fill the afternoon.
21. Boston Cream Pie at Parker’s Bar
Cost: $10 per dessert
Don’t leave Boston without trying a Boston Cream Pie where they were first created—the Omni Parker House. You can order one Boston Cream Pie for $10 at Parker’s Bar or The Last Hurrah, both accessible from the hotel’s lobby.