Boston is a notoriously expensive city. And while for many cities it could be recommended to visit in the off-season (ahem, winter) to save some money, travelers to Boston don’t have that luxury. “Taxachusetts” in the off-season equals prices that are still sky-high and snow drifts that are even higher. But visiting in the summer doesn’t mean you’ll have to take out a loan or sleep on a stranger’s sofa. There are money-saving tricks to experiencing the delicious, historical, and championship-winning sides to Boston if you know where to look. After all, this is the place that invented freedom, no? Here are 9 revolutionary ways to save money on your trip to Boston. Consider this your Declaration of Inde-spend-ence.
1. First and foremost, ditch the car.
Parking in Boston can be, without a doubt, the biggest money-suck of any visit. Street spots and open parking meters are harder to find than, well, normally I’d say “a parking spot in Boston” so… you get the point. Garages in the city are plentiful but will run you anywhere from $24 (It’s a miracle!) to $40 for a day of sightseeing. Want to see a baseball game? Expect rates of $50+ to park your car within walking distance of Fenway. Five minutes over your meter? Get ready to shell out for hefty parking fines and no leniency whatsoever.
With countless public transportation and budget options — the T, buses, taxis, Uber, bike rentals, your own feet — and an airport that’s right in the city, there’s actually no need for a car at all. Besides, what good is sticking to free museum days when you have to pay $40 to park at them? Ditch the wheels, son.
2. Forego staying downtown for a hotel just outside the city.
Make sure it’s on a T-line and, not only are you saving mucho money on your accommodations, you’ve got the added bonus of still not needing to use a car. Ditch your dreams of staying in Boston’s Back Bay, Beacon Hill, or on the waterfront (sorry) in favor of towns like Braintree, Revere, or Jamaica Plain. Extend your search to the commuter rail which heads even farther out of the city and there’s a good chance you’ll find a fabulous deal.
3. Forego a guided tour of the Freedom Trail and download the app instead.
The Freedom Trail is one of Boston’s tourist highlights, and rightfully so — it leads visitors through the city to a long list of notable Revolutionary War sites. And while taking a tour led by a guide in 18th-century garb is probably pretty entertaining, it’s also costly. Instead, go self-guided by downloading the free Freedom Trail app which contains a map of the entire trail, essential information for each site, and full historical commentary.
4. Forego an expensive trip up to the Boston Skywalk and get your aerial city views free from the top of the Bunker Hill monument.
The last stop on the Freedom Trail is actually a monument to one of the first battles of the American Revolution — the Battle of Bunker Hill. Climb the 294 steps to the top and be rewarded with great, free views of the Boston skyline.
5. Grab a Boston CityPASS for major savings.
If the Skywalk is still on your wish list, along with other no-way-around-it expensive attractions like the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Science, and a Boston Harbor cruise, there’s still a way to save. The Boston CityPASS includes admission to this handful of otherwise pricey sites but at a fraction of the overall cost because you buy them in a bundle. CityPASS holders get the extra benefit of skipping the lines too. Time is money.
6. Forego a baseball game at Fenway for a behind-the-scenes tour instead.
I know, I know. A tour of the ballpark is not the same as experiencing a game but have you been to a Major League baseball game lately? Are you ready to mortgage your home a second time? Adding up the cost of tickets, concessions, parking, souvenirs, and the fact that you’re in Boston, seeing a Red Sox game at Fenway Park will break you. But often when out-of-town visitors want to attend a baseball game at Fenway, it’s not because they’re Red Sox fans; it’s because they just want to see historic Fenway Park. Instead, opt for one of Fenway Park’s behind-the-scenes tours that take you, earlier in the day and before any games, inside the Green Monster, into the press box, onto the field, throughout the stadium, and sometimes even into the dugouts.
7. Forego an expensive trip to the Cape and visit one of Boston’s free public beaches instead.
Hitting the beach a bit south of Boston is another activity where costs can really add up — renting a B&B and beach equipment, the long drive south, parking (again!), and costs to even step on the beach. Instead, opt for a day at Revere or Constitution Beach where costs are almost nothing and all you need is a towel to sit on. There you’ll find nearby food stands, lifeguards on duty, and if you must drive, plentiful meter parking.
8. Forego an expensive dinner out in the North End for visiting during one of the neighborhood’s festivals.
Restaurants in Boston’s North End, the city’s Italian district, are some of the best (and priciest) in the city, but you don’t necessarily have to be as rich as the tiramisu to enjoy them. The North End hosts a handful of festivals each year where you can grab amazing Italian food from local vendors for far less than you’d pay at a sit-down. Check out St. Anthony’s Feast in August for some of the city’s best Italian street food while keeping your wallet as stuffed as the lasagna.
9. Forego the trendy bar and get your beer straight from the source.
It came out in a recent study that Boston is one of the most expensive cities in which to buy a beer (averaging $7.20 a pint). But even though happy hours and beer specials are illegal in Massachusetts (I know, right?), there are still ways to get your chugs on the cheap. A tour of the Sam Adams brewery will run you a $2 donation to charity and comes with a sampling of four beers (plus whatever’s leftover after the tour’s over and often a voucher for another in the gift shop). Likewise, a Harpoon Brewery tour costs $5 and comes with a beer tasting of around 10+ beers. However, it’s not hard to find a local brewery who will dole out free samples just for showing up.