A precious few days remain of Boston's winter break. Before the kids head back to school, enjoy one of these free, family-friendly adventures to kick off the new year on a joyful note - or add them to your calendar to brighten up the upcoming winter weekends!
Boston Public Library
The McKim Building of the Boston Public Library is one of the city's most beautiful buildings and features museum-quality works from famous artists such as Rembrandt, Goya, Picasso, and more. The massive, incredible library offers an educational experience, shelter from the cold and free daily tours. Don't forget to stop by the café, and get a peak at the tranquil courtyard.
If you have extra time, swing by the Boston Athenaeum. As one of America’s oldest private libraries, it features books from George Washington’s personal library and one of the largest collections of documents printed in the Confederacy. The Athenaeum also has an extensive art collection that once made up much of the Museum of Fine Arts. Best of all, the first two floors are open to the public with free weekly tours (reservations required).
New England Aquarium
Speaking of the Boston Public Library, membership has it's benefits! Those with valid BPL cards are eligible for the Boston Public Library Free Ticket Program which includes the New England Aquarium among its participants. The free passes admit up to 4 persons from September - June and do not include admission to the IMAX Theater or whale watch cruises.
Winter is the perfect time to visit this iconic spot. Not only do many of the animals prefer the chilly temperatures, the facility is virtually tourist-free compared to the summer months!
Children adore making their way up the spiral walkway surrounding the massive ocean tank as sharks, turtles and tropical fish swim past. Don't forget to check out the harbor seals, Northern fur seals and California sea lions - all visible from outside the building and admission-free!
Affectionately known as "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution calls the Charleston Navy Yard its permanent retirement home. The historical ship was built in Boston and launched in 1797 to provide protection for American ships sailing the North African coast. During the War of 1812 it defeated the HMS Guerriere in a 35-minute battle that helped the United States become a super naval power. Free tours are offered to guests every 30 minutes.
Skating at the Frog Pond
A day of skating at the Boston Common Frog Pond isn't exactly free, but if you are savvy enough, it can cost you very little to enjoy this must-do winter activity with your kids. Admission is based on the height of the skater, so little ones under 58-inches always enjoy free ice time. Anyone taller must pay $6 each - including adults. Additional costs come in with skate rentals and sharpening services, so bring your own sharpened skates for a nearly-free fun-filled afternoon!
Visit A Museum
Several of Boston's finest museums also participate in the BPL free ticket program while others offer little-known free admission hours if your schedule is flexible.
- Museum of Fine Arts: Free on Wednesday from 4:00pm - 9:45pm
- Museum of Science: Public library free ticket program
- Harvard University Art Museums: Free on Saturday from 10:00am - Noon (includes Fogg Museum, Arthur Sackler Museum, and Busch-Reisinger Museum)
- Harvard Museum of Natural History: Free to Massachusetts residents on Sunday from 9:00am - Noon and Wednesdays from 3 to 5pm (September to May). Also free to Bank of America card holders on the first weekends of every month.
- Institute of Contemporary Art: Free on Thursday from 5:00pm - 9:00pm\Peabody Essex Museum (Salem): Free on the first Friday of month from 5:00pm - 8:00pm
- Commonwealth Museum (Columbia Point): Free everyday