How to Tour Boston On a Budget: 10 Things to Do In Bean Town On a Hot Summer Day

When you live in a city, hot days are inevitable. If you’re broke (or on a strict budget, like most of us are), they can seem inescapable. Go see a movie? $20 for a ticket and a beverage, more if you get a snack at the theatre. Hit the lake just outside town? Maybe, but you need a car for that. What about that sweet pool you always pass by on the bus? Looks great, but you have to be a member of the condo association to use it.

Here are the ten best tried-and-true free (or, at least, very cheap) ways to cool off if you find yourself in Boston and unable to escape the heat.

10. Build a Sandcastle, Then Jump In the Ocean At Revere Beach

revere beach photo

Sand Sculptures Revere 2011 by carolynwakefield Via Flick Creative Commons

You see ‘Wonderland’ on the MBTA maps, right up top, and you laugh. “What could possibly be so wonderful about Wonderland?” Well, when you exit Wonderland station, you’re in a parking lot. But, just across the concrete and chain-link fences are the shores of Revere Beach. The water may be chilly and the teenagers may be rampant, but I challenge thee to present a better solution to a hot day than slathering on some SPF 50 and jumping in to meet those cresting waves.

Directions: take the Blue line to Revere Beach station or Wonderland station. Cost: free

9. Dance Under the Fountains In the Parks of the Rose Kennedy Greenway

kennedy greenway photo

Kennedy Greenway – Photo by Randy Son Of Robert Via Flickr Creative Commons

Burying I-93 in the Big Dig meant that there was a huge swatch of open space that had been previously covered by highway separating downtown Boston from the North End, the Seaport District, Chinatown, and a few other areas. With the help of late Sen. Ted Kennedy, it was turned into a series of connected public parks, each designed by a different group or individual. Many feature trees, large shaded grassy areas, and unique fountains or misting implements perfect for exploring a hot summer day.

Directions: take the Green or Orange line to Haymarket or the Red line to South Station. Cost: free. Check out for timing of special events.

8. Tour the Harpoon Brewery

harpoon brewery photo

Photo by Shan213 Via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1985, there hadn’t been a single brewing permit issued to a commercial brewery in Massachusetts in over 25 years. There were no records of the most recent existing permit. When Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary applied for a permit to start Harpoon Brewery in 1986, they were issued Brewing Permit #001.

Learn about the history behind Harpoon and their brewing process, and sample any of their beers on tap. But save some room for after the tour – their beer hall is perfect for enjoying a pint of that one beer you really liked and can’t wait to get home and see if your local liquor store sells. They also have giant warm pretzels boiled in their IPA and served with house-made dipping sauces that cannot be missed.

Directions: take the Silver line to Northern Ave. Cost: $5 for tour (includes tasting); beers in the beer hall run between $7-10, pretzels are about $5/each. Check out for hours and age restrictions.

7. Splash Around In the Boston Common Frog Pond Spray Pool

boston common frog pond photo

Boston Common Frog Pond: Photo by BostonPhotoSphere Via Flickr Creative Commons

Magical skating rink in the winter, reflecting pool in the spring and fall, and spray pool in the summer. The heart of the Boston Common, just down the hill from the State House, is the perfect place to cool off on a lunch break or halfway through your Frisbee game.

Directions: take the Red line to Park Street station or the Green line to Boylston or Park Street stations. Cost: free. Open daily 11am-6pm through Labor Day. For a list of other spray pools in the area, visit

6. Stick Your Toes In the Fountain at Copley Square

copley square fountain photo

Photo by BostonPhotoSphere Via Flickr Creative Commons

Bask in the shade of trees that line the grassy patch between the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church. When it gets too hot, join the infants splashing in the fountain by dipping your toes in the fountain (don’t go in too far – keep it to toes and ankles!)

Directions: take the Green line to Copley. Cost: free

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