You don’t need a bulging wallet to have a good time. In fact, being able to find awesome stuff to do without breaking the bank may actually
lead to a bulging wallet. Massachusetts is filled with amazing activities and sights that you can enjoy without spending a single dime. Check out this list of attractions that don’t cost a thing, but will leave you feeling rich in memories.
1. Check out the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, Woods Hole
This is a public aquarium that displays approximately 140 species of marine animals found in Northeast and Middle Atlantic waters. Catch one of the daily seal feedings and feel up some crazy ocean critters in the touch tanks. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a world-famous center for marine science and engineering, so getting to wander around their museum for free is quite the opportunity. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted.
2. Watch a free movie at the Hatch Shell besides the Charles River.
The Friday Night Flicks series offers family-friendly films all throughout the summer. Don’t forget a warm blanket and some popcorn.
3. Tour the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory, Hyannis
Potato chip connoisseurs rejoice; your day has come. Take a free self-guided tour through this potato chip factory and watch plain old potatoes transform into the crispy salty goodness that you know and love. (And there are free chips at the end.) The factory is open for tours Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
4. Visit your favorite Massachusetts museum or zoo for free.
For 10 weeks this summer, the Highland Street Foundation will be sponsoring Free Fun Fridays and letting the public enjoy free admission to 70 museums, art centers, zoos and more. Mark your calendars!
5. Great Falls Discovery Center, Turners Falls
Check out acres and acres of native plants, butterfly gardens, and open rolling lawns at the Great Falls Discovery Center. The exhibits teach visitors about the natural, cultural, and industrial history of the Connecticut River watershed. There are activities and crafts for kids and adults, as well as monthly live-music coffeehouse performances. When you’ve finished touring the beautiful grounds, head over the bridge to Barton Cove’s picnic area and camp grounds where eagles soar over the peninsula.
6. Tour the Crane Papermaking Museum.
Step into the Rag Rom of Crane’s 1844 Old Stone Mill and learn about the history of American paper making. From elegant stationary to sturdy currency, you’ll be guided through a tour of the oldest paper company in America from 1770 to today. The Crane Museum is open Tuesday through Thursday, 1 - 5pm. During the summer (June - October) the museum will be open Monday through Friday.
7. Attend the annual Lowell Winterfest, Lowell
From February 19th to the 20th, Lowell transforms into a winter wonderland. Check out the free ice skating, fire dance performances, an ice lounge, inflatable obstacle courses, food trucks, ice sculptures, beer tastings, an all you can eat chocolate festival, horse drawn carriage rides, belly dancing, a classic carousel, a canal lighting display, and DJ entertainment all through the night. Some events do require a small fee (usually $2-$6) but most are free to the public.
8. Take a free brewery tour, Boston
The Sam Adams brewery in Jamaica Plain offers free tours of its facilities Monday to Thursday and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., starting every half hour. They do ask for a small donation of $2 that goes to local charities.
9. Wander the Polly Hill Arboretum, Martha's Vineyard
Polly Hill is a non-profit horticultural and botanical center on Martha's Vineyard. The grounds are open everyday from sunrise to sunset, with a $5 donation suggested per party (of non-members and adults over 12). If you find yourself on Martha's Vineyard and have had your fill of fudge and cobblestones, head over for a lush and flowering expanse of greenery.
10. Walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs...literally.
Head on over to Holyoke and check out over 130 real dinosaur tracks preserved over a large area of sandstone. Scientists have determined that these prints were left by small groups of two-legged, carnivorous dinosaurs. These creatures may have been up to 15 feet tall.
11. Celebrate the holidays all year round at the Yankee Candle Village.
This place is a candle-lover's heaven. They offer 400,000 candles in more than 200 different distinctive Yankee scents. It's a quirky, fun, and definitely one-of-a-king, landscape. The shop celbreates the beauty of New England charm, brings fairy tales to life, and offers hands-on candlemaking that's a good time for adults and kids alike (though candlemaking is not free). Check out Chandler’s Restaurant when you work up an appetite from all that sniffing.
12. Conquer Mt. Greylock
At 3,491 feet, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts. Rising above the surrounding Berkshire landscape, you can glimpse dramatic views up to 60-90 miles away. Wear sturdy shoes and bring your camera. This one won't cost you more than some gas money and trail mix.
13. Hunt for treasure at a flea market.
There's no charge for looking! Even if you find something you can't live without, it's likely to be a bargain. Check out great spots like the Brimfield Antique show or the weekly flea market at the Wellfleet Drive In.
14. Have a beach day in the off-season (or take a sunset stroll).
Beach admission and parking can get pricey during the summer months (unless you have a coveted beach sticker) so plan some time by the waves during the off-season. Besides winter, many beaches don't start charging until late June or even early July, and stop charging around early September. The Cape Cod National Seashore's beaches only require a fee from late June until September. And if you're feeling romantic, late night walk near the waves won't cost you a thing.
15. Tour the U.S.S. Constitution.
Nicknamed "Old Ironsides", and first launched in 1797, Constitution was one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the newly formed U.S. Navy. This ship fought off Barbary pirates and defeated five British warships in the War of 1812. Tours are free and entertaining for kids and grownups alike.
Of course there are plenty more amazing and free activities to do and places to see in Massachusetts. What are your recommendations for free or cheap things to do in Massachusetts?