50 Free Things To Do With Kids in Boston This Summer

Explore the Public Garden and Make Way for Ducklings! Photo by Lunita Lu, via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Explore the Public Garden and Make Way for Ducklings! Photo by Lunita Lu, via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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

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 fot our tips for great local family activities! 

Free Things to Do With Kids in Boston This Summer

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

2. Hike the miles of trails in the Middlesex Fells Reservation. 

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


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

4. Grab a blanket and catch some outdoor music in the park at the Boston Summer Concert Series.

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

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

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

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

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

10. Take an Evening Garden Stroll in the Kelleher Rose Garden with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

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

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

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

13. Speaking of the 4th of July, grab a spot to watch the fireworks on the Boston Common or head to Tanglewood to catch the Boston Pops perform live.

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

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

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

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)

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

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

19. Visit the library for summer library program events: musical performances, puppet shows, book clubs, movies, workshops, etc. 

20. 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.

21. Visit Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art for free every Thursday evening.

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

image of people on splashed in Boston-free things to do with kids. 
Cool off at one of Boston's spray decks this summer. Photo courtesy of Sean L1, via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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

24. Check out a Discovery Pack and go exploring in Arnold Arboretum

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

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

Image of kids on a beach in Boston-free things to do with kids.

Castle Island Beach provides hours of family fun. Photo by Tom Klein courtesy of The Cultural Landscape Foundation

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

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

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

30. Have a water table enthusiast? Learn about all things "water"—its movement, importance, and more—with a preschooler.

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

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

33. Register your child for a free technology camp at an Apple or Microsoft store near you. 

34. Not sure what to do? You can't go wrong with hitting one of Boston's best playgrounds.

35. Check out a library book that makes your child proud to be a Bostonian.

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

36. Hit the beach for an epic sandcastle competition in Revere

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

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

39. Sign your kiddos up for a summer adventure at one of these free (or affordable) camps.

40. Up your walking game and incorporate a good tale with a Storywalk at Chestnut Hill Farm

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

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

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

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

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

46. Head to Lowell for the Free Fun For Kids! summer concert series.

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

48. Explore the monuments and open spaces of Boston Common.

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

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

 

 

 

 

Originally published June 2012

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