50 Awesome Free Things To Do in Boston This Summer with Kids

Fill your days with fabulous, fun, and free things to do in Boston this summer! Photo courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Fill your days with fabulous, fun, and free things to do in Boston this summer! Photo courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
5/26/24 - By Tara D

You don't have to go broke to have fun with kids—Not with all the free things to do in Boston this summer! There are lots of free things to do, whether you want to enjoy the sunshine outside or cool off indoors. These activities–water fun, festivals, crafts, music, games, and more–are sure to delight the whole family. Read on for our list of the best free things to do with kids in Boston this summer! 

For more great ideas, check out our Ultimate Summer Bucket List Ideas: 100 (Mostly) Free Outdoor Games and Activities for Kids. And see our Boston Summer Fun Guide for our tips for great local family activities! 


Free Things to Do in Boston This Summer with Kids

Image of the splash pad at the Christian Science Church.
Kids cool off at the Christian Science Plaza fountain. Photo by Sarah Nichols/CC BY 2.0

1. See Christian Science Plaza

Walk on water (or appear to, anyway) at the Christian Science Plaza reflecting pool, and splash in the fountain while you’re there. 

2. Visit the Boston Public Library

Pack a lunch and enjoy it in the magnificent Italianate courtyard at the Boston Public Library.

3. Tour the U.S.S. Constitution

Experience a sailor’s life circa 1812 at the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown, where admission is by donation.

4. Hit the park

Bring your toddler to one of Boston's best tot lots for some fun!

5. Go out for a bite

Dine out at a Boston restaurant where kids eat for free.

6. Enjoy live music

Catch some outdoor music on the Boston Waterfront at the Berklee Summer in the City concert series.

7. Explore Quincy Market

Take a stroll through the hustle and bustle of Quincy Market.

8. Have a picnic

Pack lunch and take it to one of the best spots in Boston for a picnic

9. Go for a bike ride

Take a family bike ride on a kid-friendly biking trail.

10. Play on the Lawn

Play games and enjoy some swing time at the Lawn on D.

11. Visit the Gardner Museum

See world-class art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Free First Thursdays each month.

12. Find Indoor Fun

Spend a rainy day at one of Boston's free indoor play spaces for kids.

13. Go to the MFA

Bring your budding artist to the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesdays after 3 pm when you can pay what you choose.

14. Volunteer as a family

Spend some time volunteering together as a family to make a difference in the community.

15. Explore the North End

Stroll the cobblestone streets of Boston's historic North End.

16. Tour the State House

Get a free guided tour of the Massachusetts State House–keep an eye out for the governor! 

17. Visit the ICA

Families can get admission to Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art for free every Thursday evening.

Free Things To Do in Boston - Outdoor Activities

Free things to do with kids-image of father and child on freedom trail. 
The bronze donkey outside Old City Hall is a popular photo stop on the Freedom Trail. Photo by Ted McGrath via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

18. Freedom Trail

Step back in time on the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile brick-lined route leading to several historic sites. 

19. Kelleher Rose Garden

Take an Evening Garden Stroll in the Kelleher Rose Garden, part of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

20. Mount Auburn

Go for a stroll, search for wildlife, and climb the tower for a spectacular view of Mount Auburn Cemetery. You can also download the mobile tour app to your phone for a self-guided tour.

21. Weeks Footbridge

Wake up super early and watch the sunrise from the Weeks Footbridge.

22. Make Way for Ducklings

Bring a copy of Make Way for Ducklings to the Boston Public Garden and read it on a bench facing the pond. Then go visit the mama and ducklings statues.

23. Spectacle Island

Fly a kite or search for sea glass on Spectacle Island.

24. Free Summer Movies

Take the family out for a free summer movie night under the stars.

25. Boston's Parks

Relax and let the kids play for a while at a local park with shade.

26. Splashpads and Spray Decks

Splash around and cool off in a spray deck or wading pool.

27. Arnold Arboretum

Check out a Discovery Pack and go exploring in Arnold Arboretum

28. Castle Island

Dig your toes into the sand without leaving the city on Castle Island.

29. Boston Common

Explore the monuments and open spaces of Boston Common.

31. Jamaica Pond

Take a Wiffle ball set and a picnic to Jamaica Pond.

32. Esplanade

Grab a Frisbee and a blanket and head to the Esplanade for some R&R.

Free Things To Do in Boston - Fairs and Festivals

Free things to do with kids-image of musicians at Harborfest.
Soak up city history and some lively music at Harborfest. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Tourism

33. Harborfest

Celebrate all things Boston during the city's annual Independence Day celebration, Harborfest. 

34. Beanfest

Explore a free all-day public event with vendors from across the region that celebrate Beantown's namesake!

35. Boston Pops and Fourth of July Fireworks

Speaking of the 4th of July, grab a spot to watch the fireworks on the Esplanade and hear the Boston Pops performing live.

36. Bunker Hill Day

Head to Charlestown for the annual Bunker Hill Day Parade.

37. St. Anthony's Feast

Every August, the North End celebrates all things Italian at the beloved Saint Anthony's Feast.

38. Boston Music Project Annual Block Party

The BMP block party fills a day with music and fun for all ages.

Free Things To Do Near Boston This Summer with Kids

Image of Revere Beach sand castle festival. 
Learn some sandcastle tips at the Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival. Photo courtesy of City of Revere

39. Revere Sandcastle Festival

Hit the beach for an epic sandcastle competition in Revere. 

40. ArtBeat

Express yourself at ArtBeat, a festival of music, performance art, crafts, dance, theater, and food in Somerville.

41. Middlesex Fells Reservation

Hike the miles of trails in the Middlesex Fells Reservation. 

42. Wilson Farm

Meet new furry and feathery friends on a Children's Group Farm Tour at Wilson Farm

43. Yankee Homecoming

Visit coastal Newburyport for a week-long celebration of music, food, and fun at their annual Yankee Homecoming. 

44. Liberty Pole Day

Duxbury's annual celebration of colonial life is fun for the whole family.

45. Blue Hills Reservation

Explore nature and catch some striking views of the city from the Blue Hills.

46. Harvard's Museum of Natural History

See Harvard's Museum of Natural History for free with a Massachusetts ID any Sunday morning.

47. Fresh Pond

Take a walk around Fresh Pond and explore nature on your own or on a guided walk.

48. Lowell Folk Festival

Head to Lowell for the Lowell Folk Festival, one of the biggest in the country!

49. deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

Bring a little one to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, where kids under 12 are always admitted for free.

50. Waltham Riverfest

Waltham's Riverfest is a free event packed with family fun, including a pet parade.


Originally published June 2012.