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Boston on the cheap

A guide dressed in period clothing leads a tour on the Freedom Trail.The Boston Globe/Globe Staff

Boston can be an expensive place to visit. There’s no denying it. But it’s still possible to not spend big to sleep, see, and do a lot here. There are reasonably priced and free attractions throughout the city, if you know where to look.


The Beacon Hill Friends House has two simply furnished guest rooms and shared bathrooms. The bonus here is the location — it’s in the heart of an ultra-posh area.

The Boston Hotel Buckminster’s neighbor is Fenway Park. Along with two-bedroom suites that accommodate families, there’s laundry facilities and free Wi-Fi. www.bostonhotel


Within walking distance of the USS Constitution and the water ferry to downtown, the Constitution Inn offers basic rooms, indoor pool, and discounted parking. www.constitution

Trails, tours, and walks

Starting at the Robert Gould Shaw 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial, across from the gold domed State House, the Black Heritage Trail meanders through Beacon Hill where African Americans lived and worked in the 19th century. Download the app;

The Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path of red paint and red bricks on the sidewalks, begins at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center. The 16 sites along the trail, 13 of them free, are about how the Revolutionary War started in Boston. The Old South Meeting House, Old State House, and the Paul Revere House charge admission.

In the Back Bay, you can tour architectural gems; the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church. During a free guided Art & Architecture tour of the library you view murals by John Singer Sargent. Trinity Church is decorated to the nines with stained glass windows by John LeFarge and William Morris. Free guided tours are Sundays at 11 a.m.
.htm, www.trinity


Walk or bike Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, stretching for miles along rose gardens and parks.

When you’re in Cambridge, enjoy the flora and fauna at Mount Auburn Cemetery, the country’s first landscaped cemetery. Many famous people lie within Mount Auburn’s 170 acres; Oliver Wendell Holmes and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, to namedrop. Download an app,


Boston and Cambridge, famous for Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have a boatload of art institutions that offer free admission days.

The Museum of Fine Arts is free Wednesdays from 4 to 9:30 p.m. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is filled with treasures Mrs. Gardner collected on her world travels. If your name is Isabella or you’re there on your birthday, you get in free. , www.gardner

In the trendy Seaport District are the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Children’s Museum. The ICA offers unique exhibits and killer views of Boston’s waterfront. Free Thursdays 5 to 9 p.m. The multitude of hands-on exhibits at the Children’s Museum will keep the kids busy for hours. On Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m., admission is $1 per person.,

Take advantage of these free Boston museums: the Commonwealth Museum has documents detailing the history of Boston, the West End Museum exhibits show a vibrant neighborhood that was decimated by an urban renewal project of the 1960s, and the Boston Fire Museum displays antique fire equipment. On the top floor of Faneuil Hall is the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. Founded in 1638, this is the oldest artillery company in the world. Exhibits show military artifacts dating back four centuries. www.commonwealthmuseum
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MIT’s List Visual Arts Center has beautiful contemporary art by Frank Stella and Pablo Picasso. Get an audio guide and step outside because sprinkled throughout the campus you’ll see the works of artists Alexander Calder, Anish Kapoor, and Sol LeWit. Free.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History, home to the world-famous Blaschka glass flowers, and the Peabody Museum of Archeology & Ethnology are both free for Massachusetts residents on Wednesdays, 3 to 5 p.m. and Sundays, 9 a.m. to noon. www.hmnh

Harvard’s art museums, the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur B. Sackler, contain amazing collections of European, Asian, Egyptian, and American art, ceramics, and textiles. Free to Cambridge residents every day and Massachusetts residents Saturdays
10 a.m. to noon. www.harvardart

For more information, visit the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau ,1-888-SEE-BOSTON,

Francis J. Folsom can be reached at