Activities & Resources
Free Thinking: Boston Events and Activities050in Boston, MA
about Free Thinking: Boston Events and Activities:
Boston Public Libraries
The Central Library and its branches offer free kid-friendly movies, story hours, and special activities; visit the news and events section of the library's website to find activities at your nearest branch.
The library also provides free passes for local museums for library members (Boston Residents only). Details are on the library website.
The Freedom Trail is a three-mile-long walk that guides visitors to 16 historical sites around Boston.
Tour the Massachusetts State House: Tours last approximately 30 to 45 minutes and include an overview of the history and architecture of the State Capitol and are available Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm.
The The Boston Harborwalk, an inviting public walkway along the waterfront, links the water's edge to the city's open space system. It passes parks, playgrounds, beaches, picnic areas, and fishing spots.
A marketplace and meeting hall since 1742, Faneuil Hall is famous for the political meetings that led to the American Revolution. Faneuil Hall Marketplace hosts many special events and performances throughout the year.
Tucked away atop the garage roof of the Museum of Science is a wonderful resource for a universe of galaxy gazers. The Gilliland Observatory is open for free public viewing on Friday evenings (weather permitting; first-come, first-served).
The Massachusetts State House offers free tours; call or visit the website for current schedule.
Many local museums offer free or reduced admission on certain days throughout the year.
The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA): Youths (ages 7-17) are admitted free on weekdays after 3pm, weekends, and public school holidays.
Boston Children's Museum: $1 admission is offered every Friday from 5pm to 9pm.
Museum of African American History: Admission is free (donations welcome).
JFK Presidential Library and Museum: Children under 12 receive free admission.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Children under 18 are always admitted free.
Parks and Playgrounds
You may have a favorite playground that the kids just love, but consider visiting a new playground as an adventurous outing. Bring a picnic and make a day of it at one of the parks and playgrounds around town. Some of our favorites:
At the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, the main fun here is the sheer woodiness of being outdoors and romping in the trees and meadows. Birdwatching, biking, inline skating, and hiking are all permitted and encouraged. Bring along a pair of binoculars and a bird book.
Belle Island Reservation features 28 acres of landscaped park with pathways, benches and an observation tower. Guided walks explain the natural and cultural history of Belle Isle.
You can take a stroll, throw a frisbee, fly a kite, sled (when there's snow), or hang out under one of those really old trees of the Boston Common. The small playground is nothing special, but worth a stop if you're in the area.
Clarendon Street Playground, near Newbury Street, has a fenced and gated area with equipment that is fairly new; the playground is kept reasonably clean.
Rose Kennedy Greenway, a mile-long ribbon of parks and green space created when the Big Dig plunged the expressway underground.
When there's a stir in the air, grab a kite and head to one of Boston's open spaces for some kite flying. Consider Moakley Park, Castle Island, the Boston Common, Millennium Park in West Roxbury, Pope John Paul II Park in Dorchester, or the Charles River Esplanade.
Other Free and Affordable Kids' Specials
Ride the T: Kids under 12 ride free on the T when accompanied by an adult.
Our editors make every attempt to keep this list as current as possible, but changes to these programs do happen. We recommend that you visit the websites for exceptions, other qualifying details, and any updates before planning a visit.
Know of more free stuff, events, and activities for kids and families around Boston? Add a comment below, and we'll get right on it!