How to Visit Boston on a Budget

boston

There are countless reasons to visit Boston. It’s a beautiful city with an unmatched collection of historic landmarks, prestigious universities, world-class museums, and seriously incredible seafood joints. Whether you’re a crazy sports fan or a sophisticated history buff, Boston certainly has something for everyone.

Best of all, a trip to Boston doesn’t have to cost a fortune. While it’s definitely not known for being one of the cheapest places to travel – a tour of Fenway Park alone costs $21 – there are still plenty of ways to enjoy Boston on a budget.

Check out our Boston budget travel guide below for our top picks for saving money on everything from flights to food during your trip to Beantown.

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Free and cheap things to do in Boston

Learn about American history by walking the Freedom Trail

Truth be told, you can – and probably should – spend at least an entire day walking along Boston’s famous Freedom Trail. The 2.5-mile trail is completely free to walk and covers 16 nationally significant historical landmarks including the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old South Meeting House (organizing site for the Boston Tea Party), Paul Revere’s house, and many more. You can grab a free map of the Freedom Trail at the visitor’s center on Boston Common or you can download a free map on the Freedom Trail website. 

Enjoy a free tour of the Sam Adams Brewery 

Few brands are more symbolic of Boston than Samuel Adams. The famous brewery offers tours to the public where visitors can learn about the brewing process of the classic American lager. All tour guests 21 and older receive a free complimentary tasting glass, as well as 3 free samples of Samuel Adams beers. While Samuel Adams doesn’t charge for tours, the brewery does accept small charitable donations (less than $5) as admission. Be sure to check out the Samuel Adams brewery tour schedule before you go.

Climb to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument isn’t just one of Boston’s most famous historical sites. At 221 feet tall, it also provides one of the best views in the entire city. The towering monument, which took 17 years to complete, marks the location of the first major battle of the Revolutionary war. Today, visitors can enter and climb the Bunker Hill Monument free of charge. The monument is surrounded by a park and nearby museum that is also free to visit. 

Unwind with a stroll through Boston Common

boston in fall

It’s tempting to say that beautiful Boston Common is Boston’s answer to New York City’s Central Park. But as America’s oldest city park, Boston Common has actually been around longer.

Strolling through this lush green (or red and yellow depending on the season) oasis is a great budget-friendly way to spend an afternoon in Boston. Join the locals in unwinding at Frog Pond or grab a seat on one of the park benches gently shaded by the maple trees. If you’re visiting in the summer, Boston Common offers plenty of free activities such as yoga classes, movie nights, and theater performances.

Walk along the Black Heritage Trail

The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6-mile walking tour that highlights 14 important sites in African American history. Follow the trail as it takes you through the narrow cobblestone streets of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, covering historically significant homes, schools, businesses, and churches, as well as several stations on the Underground Railroad.

The National Park Service offers free guided tours of the Black Heritage Trail, as well as brochures for self-guided exploration. To find out where to pick up a map of the Black Heritage Trail or to download your own, check the National Park Service website.

Climb aboard the USS Constitution

The USS Constitution is both the oldest ship in the US Navy, as well as the oldest ship in the world that’s still afloat.

Once given the nickname ‘Old Ironsides,’ the USS Constitution was built in Boston and launched in 1797 to protect US ships sailing along the North African Coast. Today, the ship sits down at the Charlestown Navy Yard and offers free tours given by Navy personnel. While the ship is free to visit, travelers can also check out the museum, for a suggested donation of $10-$15 for adults.

Take a tour of Harvard University 

harvard

Harvard is America’s oldest, and possibly most prestigious, university. Take the Red Line to the Harvard Square stop and join a free tour of Boston’s most famous university.

Harvard University offers student-led outdoor tours that walk you through the storied campus and Harvard Yard – a great place to hang out, admire the campus’ historic buildings, and see Harvard University through the eyes of a student for the afternoon. 

 

Where to Stay on a Budget in Boston 

Staypineapple Boston

A stay at the Boston outpost of this charming boutique hotel chain is sure to make your trip extra sweet. The pineapple-themed rooms may be on the small side but are clean, comfortable, and most important of all, budget-friendly. Instead of nickel and diming guests, Stay Pineapple Boston charges a flat $15 amenities fee that covers everything from unlimited bottled water to access to their pineapple yellow beach cruisers  – a fun, unique way to see the city. 

HI Boston

This world-renowned hostel chain is a great pick for budget travelers in Boston. Located in Chinatown, the hostel is conveniently located near many of the city’s top sites and attractions. Guests of Hostelling International Boston can choose between male, female, or coed dorms, as well as private rooms with their own ensuite bathroom and television. If you’re traveling on a budget, save money by enjoying the free breakfast provided before you go sightseeing.

Studio Allston

Located near Harvard University in one of Boston’s hippest neighborhoods, this boutique hotel is inspired by Boston’s eclectic creative community and it certainly shows. Studio Allston Hotel offers guests clean, colorful rooms and contains over 115 pieces of unique art within the hotel, many created by local artists. If you’re driving to Boston or renting a car, the hotel also offers free parking, a major budget saver in a city like Boston. 

 

How to find cheap flights to Boston

In the last few months, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Boston. On average, our members spent $81 on their tickets to Boston and saved $167 per ticket.

Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals to Boston that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.

  • Cleveland (CLE) to Boston (BOS) 
    • Price with Dollar Flight Club: $70
    • Average Price: $192.54
  • Chicago (ORD) to Boston (BOS) 
    • Price with Dollar Flight Club: $83.90
    • Average Price: $184.92
  • Washington, D.C. (DCA) to Boston (BOS)
    • Price with Dollar Flight Club: $95.85
    • Average Price: $290
  • Atlanta (ATL) to Boston (BOS)
    • Price with Dollar Flight Club: $70
    • Average Price: $201.91
  • Dallas (DFW) to Boston (BOS)
    • Price with Dollar Flight Club: $90.20
    • Average Price: $239.93

 

Best cheap eats in Boston

brick boston

 

Anna’s Taqueria

This local chain serves some of Boston’s best burritos at affordable prices. Once a humble neighborhood favorite, Anna’s Taqueria has become so popular in Boston that they’ve opened 8 locations just to satisfy the city’s appetite for their delicious burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and bowls. Starting at just $7.50 for a burrito and $3.50 for an al pastor taco, a meal at Anna’s won’t cut too far into your food budget and will soon have you coming back for more.

Saus

As its name suggests, the condiments are the star of the show at Saus, where the menu features over 15 different sauces to enjoy atop Boston’s best french fries. If you’re the type who likes to customize your food, you can pile your poutine high with toppings like pork belly or bacon bits and finish it off with sauces like hot beer mustard or the green and herby avo-goddess sauce. Poutine at Saus starts at just $7, while sandwiches and salads start at a budget-friendly $9. 

Mike’s City Diner

At Mike’s City Diner, massive breakfast portions, unlimited coffee refills, and cheap prices come together to create the classic American diner experience. This Boston institution opened in 1995 and has been a local favorite long before it was featured on the popular show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The Pilgrim Sandwich, a Thanksgiving-inspired sandwich, made this spot TV famous, but the menu is delicious from top to bottom.

Expect a line on weekend mornings but rest assured that it’s well worth the wait. In true old school fashion, Mike’s City Diner is cash only.

 

 

Start planning your budget trip to Boston

There’s really no bad time to visit Boston. It’s one of America’s most walkable cities, making it a great choice in the summer. It’s also one of the best places to visit in the fall when the leaves are changing and the city’s four sports teams are in full swing.

So whether you’re dying to grab a summertime lobster roll at James Hook & Co. or you’ve always wanted to watch home runs fly over the Green Monster at Fenway Park, it’s time to save this budget guide, sign up for cheap flight alerts, and start planning your Boston vacation.

  • Jesse Neugarten, CEO & Founder

    Originally from South Africa, Jesse now calls rainy Seattle, Washington home. Over the years, he’s accrued hundreds of thousands of airline miles traveling the globe. His favorite recent destinations of choice have been Greece, Mexico, France, and Sweden. He’s addicted to airplanes, espresso, and dried mango. Last but not least, he’s deeply in love with the Boeing 747. Jesse is the Founder here at Dollar Flight Club, overseeing daily operations.

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