New England On A Budget - Things To Do in Boston

On our 11 day trip to New England we saw many sites both historical and 21st century.  We visited one of the most populated areas in the United States and some of the least populated areas. Listed below are some of the sites we saw on our trip.

Boston/Cambridge: We did not see a fraction of the sites that can be seen in the Boston area.  I would think if you were a history buff you could spend weeks and not see it all. We were limited on the number of days we had in Boston, mainly due to the cost of hotel rooms. 

    Faneuil Hall located on
    Freedom Trail Boston, MA
  • Freedom Trail: The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path that is marked by a red-line. There are 16 historical sites along the path that are related to the Revolutionary War. You can follow the path and be your own tour guide or you can pay to have a guided tour.  Being budget conscious, we were our own tour guides using the maps available in Boston.  I found a Junior Ranger Scavenger Hunt on the National Parks Service web page and we completed it with my 10 year old son as we walked the trail.  We followed the path from the USS Constitution to Boston Common because parking was less expensive at the Nautica Parking garage than near Faneuil Hall. We liked the North End of the Freedom Trail best - with great restaurants and things to see. Once we finished touring the Freedom Trail, we then took the inner harbor ferry from the Aquarium back to the Charleston Naval Yard.  This was a lot of fun as you can ride up top and have great views of the harbor and Boston.  I just wished it had not been raining... One of the sites on the Freedom Trail was Bunker Hill monument.  When we visited it was required that all visitors go to the Bunker Hill visitor center at the bottom of the hill to get a pass to climb to the top of the monument. To save yourself a trip back down the hill and up again, you might want to check at the visitor center before you go up to the monument if you want to climb up the monument.  The Bunker Hill monument has 294 steps that are numbered.  The steps are STEEP.  If you have health problems you should probably skip climbing to the top, it is quite the workout.  At the very least you should stretch before climbing the steps. The monument is very narrow and in the June heat it feels as though oxygen is limited. My husband made it to the top of Bunker Hill Monument but then was sore for the next 3 days to the point where he could barely walk. Did I mention Bunker Hill Monument was the 2nd thing we saw upon arrival in Boston? You will need a minimum of 3 hours to tour the Freedom Trail. If you visit the USS Constitution you will need even more time.  We visited the USS Constitution and there were tours being offered by current Naval members.  The tours were very informative. The cost for the USS Constitution was donations with a suggested amount of $20-$25 for families. 

MIT Building 10 & The Great Dome

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cambridge, MA: The Boston area is home to some of the world's finest universities.  We decided we could not pass up an opportunity to "go to MIT".  I love to tell my students in Texas that I "went to MIT". Of course I have to follow that with, one day while I was on vacation... MIT gives FREE campus tours Monday - Friday at 11 AM & 3 PM. On the tour we were able to gain knowledge about the history of MIT while touring the campus.  The tour lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes.  It was an interesting tour, if you have a couple of hours to spare. One thing I noticed was how little MIT looks like a traditional college campus. If you prefer there are self-guide maps available in the information office at MIT. Cost: FREE!
  • MIT Museum 265 Massachusetts Ave.Cambridge, MA:  My 10 year old son loved this museum.  There are many hands-on exhibits developed by MIT students. We have been to several science museums and this one was the most unique. We spent several hours exploring the hands on exhibits. Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for kids. 

Statue of John Harvard? @ Harvard University

  • Harvard University Cambridge, MA: We felt as though we should visit Harvard since we were right there.  I mean when in Cambridge one must simply visit Harvard right? We did not take a formal campus tour but did meander through the courtyard.  We even wandered into one of the buildings and found the Dean of Students office.  I still wonder if we were supposed to be in that building... We took a picture with the John Harvard statue and rubbed his toe for good luck. (Kind of reminds me of the Sully Statue at Texas A&M)  I wonder who had the idea first? I thought Harvard looked more like a traditional college.  I guess now I can tell my students that I "went to Harvard".  Yes, I will still follow it with "one time on vacation". I recommend seeing Harvard just so you can say you have. Cost: FREE! The tour is the only thing at Harvard that fits that description. 

  • Boston Common: Boston Common is a 50 acre public park in downtown Boston.  It is the oldest public park in the United States. We ended our tour of the Freedom Trail at Boston Common.  However, most people start the trail in this location. I was not a fan of Boston Common.  There were too many homeless people and what appeared to be drug dealers for my taste. That's too bad because it could be a nice place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I could not relax because I kept thinking I was about to be mugged, or worse...