Naysayers will tell you that nothing in this life is truly free. However those who live in Massachusetts may beg to differ with you. Check out the following 15 options for free things to do in Massachusetts. Then call the nearest naysayer and prove him or her wrong.
You can walk the Freedom Trail for free. The official sites on the route include Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House, Granary Burying Ground, Park Street Church, King’s Chapel and Burying Ground, Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House and more. Check the website for a complete listing and visit these sites that played significant roles in the American Revolution.
From late June through August, several cultural attractions in Massachusetts are free on Fridays. Visit the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Tanglewood in Lenox, the Lyric Stage Company in Boston, Mass MoCA in North Adams, the Children’s Museum in Holyoke, the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, and Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox. Check out the Highland Street Foundation for more information.
All it costs is the drive to Hyannis, but once you’re there you can tour the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory for free. The factory is open for tours Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You get free chips afterwards, too.
In February, families can enjoy several free events at the annual Lowell Winterfest. Ice skating, face painting, dogsled championships, magic shows, and more are all free. Check out the website for exact activities and a schedule.
A visit to Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield won’t cost you a cent, and it will beckon feelings of Christmas celebrations throughout the year. The landscape is, of course, designed using countless Yankee candles, so be sure you aren’t scent-sensitive when giving this freebie a go.
Mount Greylock in the Berkshires will only set you back a tank of gas—and maybe some sturdy hiking shoes. The drive and climb are well worth the effort, as you can see parts of New York and even Vermont from its peak. It’s your choice whether you hike or drive to the summit, but it’s free for the taking year-round.
Free tours of the USS Constitution are available throughout the year. Docked in the Navy Yard in Charlestown, check out the oldest commissioned warship who earned her nickname of “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812.
It doesn’t cost anything to visit the Crane Papermaking Museum in Dalton, and visitors will see how paper was once made in its old stone mill. Open Tuesday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m., except from June through October, when it is open Monday through Friday at those times.
You may be thinking that fishing is already free, but it isn’t if you pay for a fishing license. Each June, however, you can go fishing for free. There is a two-day window during which you can fish without that fishing license. This is especially nice for those who don’t live in Massachusetts, who would have to buy a license for a short stay.
Learn lots about the history and culture of Massachusetts by visiting the Commonwealth Museum in Boston, where the admission is free. The museum is open year-round on Monday through Friday and on weekends from May through October.
The Museum of African-American History has two branches—one in Boston and one in Nantucket. The main location—Boston—is free. Featuring art, artifacts, and interpretive exhibits, you can easily spend a couple of hours here.
You’re probably thinking, “Well, of course that’s free,” and you would be right if you’re thinking of laying on your front lawn and picking out constellations. This stargazing, however, takes place in Boston at Boston University’s Coit Observatory, and that means you have access to their telescopes and binoculars—and get to keep company with some pretty impressive stargazers at the same time. This is weather pending, of course. You can call the school at (617) 353-2630 to find out when at what time to come, but they do hold stargazing sessions year-round. Dress warmly if you go in the winter, because this observatory is outside.
Located in Cambridge—the home of Harvard University—a visit to Harvard Square after dark will find you enjoying some excellent free entertainment. This is weather-dependent, of course, as Massachusetts winters can pack a mighty punch. It’s not uncommon to listen to live music, view magic shows, dance exhibitions, jugglers, and more—all for free. You can also browse the shops, which tend to stay open late, since the university is close at hand.
While it isn’t free to run in it (you’d have to qualify, anyway) the Boston Marathon—held on the third Monday in April each year—is free to watch. Check out the website to learn exactly where to watch the runners—from all around the world—pass you by.
Located in Milton, Massachusetts, Blue Hills Reservation features 125 miles of trails for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing, and it doesn’t cost a thing to use them. Also available at the reservation is an observation tower that affords visitors a gorgeous view of the Boston skyline on clear days. So you see it is possible to enjoy something for free. When visiting Massachusetts, take advantage of one or more of these freebies. It’s always nice to leave a positive comment on the program or event website, however, so try to remember to offer your gratitude.