Travel Guide | Boston

5 Inexpensive Ways to Experience Boston

A Local’s Advice On How to Have a Cheap Yet Enriching Vacation

1. MFA

A fabulous museum definitely worth a visit is the Museum of Fine Arts. Growing up, I looked forward to afternoons spent there. My favorite part has always been the Egyptian exhibit. In fact, it is the sixth top museum in the world for its collection of Egyptian artifacts. There is truly something for everyone at the MFA. It contains art from numerous periods and civilizations. While many tourists visit the museum, they may not know is that admission is by voluntary contribution on Wednesday nights from 4:00 to closing.   There are also other opportunities for free or reduced admission so double-check before planning your visit. For me, the best part about Wednesday evenings is sitting and unwinding by joining a free drawing session. There are usually a couple of designated areas where the museum provides a human or still life model, as well as paper, pencils and stools to sit on. Even if you don’t draw, it is fun and inspiring to be surrounded by great works of art.

2. ICA

One of my favorite places to visit on a Thursday evening is Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Located on the waterfront with an outdoor grandstand deck over looking the harbor, the ICA makes for a great day or evening out. There is always something new and interesting to look at. From 5 to 9 on Thursdays, the museum is free. During the summer, you also can enjoy free concerts by artists from Boston’s Berklee School of Music. Grab a seat on the grandstand, a cold drink, and enjoy the music and view.

3. Adams National Historical Park

Just outside Boston, in Quincy, and easily accessible by public transportation, is what I believe to be one of Boston’s gems, the Adams National Historical Park.  I first visited the Park with a friend in 6th grade and we both ended up telling our teacher that it was the highlight of our summer. The Park is the site of the birthplace and residence of our country’s second and sixth presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Admission includes a two and a half hour guided tour of their birthplace, their residence during their presidency, and adjacent library. A trolley transports you between destinations. On a nice day, you can enjoy a stroll through the beautiful gardens. Admission is only ten dollars for adults. Check the website as there is also free admission on certain holidays and dates. Tickets are also valid for ten days, allowing you to return.

You might also like: The College Tourist Student Guide to Boston

4. Public Gardens and Boston Common

If you need a break from all the museums and historical sites, take a breather at the Boston Public Gardens and Boston Common. In spring and summer, these beautiful parks are filled with blooming flowers and green lawns. Locals flock here on warm days, many accompanied by their furry friends. One of the cheapest and most quintessential “Boston” things to do is taking a ride on the Swan Boats. Tickets are only $3.50 a person for a pleasant ride around the lagoon. During your visit, be sure to seek out the famous statue of the mother duck and her babies from the iconic book, Make Way for Ducklings. If you happen to be in Boston in the winter, skate in the Common’s Frog Pond. Admission is $5 as are skate rentals. There is something special about skating at Frog Pond on a starlit night.

5. Galleria Umberto

Boston’s “Little Italy” in the North End offers endless dining options. But, Galleria Umberto is my go to place for an inexpensive and delicious lunch. It serves Italian fast food such as pizza slices, calzones, arancini (fried rice balls stuffed with cheese, peas, and meat sauce), and one of my favorites, panzarotti (fried mashed potato croquettes filled with cheese). The only draw back can be the long line. Be prepared to wait about an hour at peak lunch time. It is much better to go early than late because some food choices may run out before closing time. I recommend getting there between 11:00 and 11:30 to minimize your wait and have the full menu to select from.

Although Boston has so much more to see and do, these activities will provide you with some unique and memorable experiences without breaking the bank.  I know you will love Boston as much as I do.

Want to see more? Try an Escape to the Cape

5 Inexpensive ways to experience Boston

Julia Capano

Boston College | 9 stories

I am a rising senior at Boston College and just finished a wonderful semester abroad in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. I am a Communications major with a minor in Italian which made my study abroad experience even more enriching. I have a huge passion for travel and I am very excited to share it!

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