Boston Affordable Fun Things To Do
By Steve Perlow
Here are some Boston affordable things to do, places to go and some good affordable family restaurants.
Made famous by Revolutionary events, infamous by cold winters, and both by the World-Series winning Red Sox, Boston has its fair share of reasons to visit. With such a reputation, however, comes high prices, and it has become increasingly difficult to find bargain deals in the city. That is why we created a list of budget restaurants, bars and activities that both locals and tourists can use when going out in Boston. Spanning the unique Boston neighborhoods, we have suggestions whether you are with family, friends or single. We also provide ideas for dates that won’t break the bank – great especially for a first outing, yet perfect also for a change of pace in the old routine.
Family Fun Activities in Boston
Walk the Freedom Trail (from Boston Common to Bunker Hill) – Wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes, bring a good friend and spend half a day strolling along this historical trail through Boston. The trail begins in Boston Common (where I suggest you grab a map at the Information Kiosk), continues towards Faneuil Hall, winds through the North End, and then ends with a loop around Charlestown and the Harbor. If you’re not up for walking the entire 2.5 mile trail, you can sign up for a short, 90-minute guided tour from Boston Common to Faneuil Hall ($12 for adults, $6 for kids) or opt for the loop at the end of the trail, which takes you past the Bunker Hill Monument and USS Constitution. Either way, the trail provides a leisurely and economical means to enjoy the sights and history of Boston. Check out a map of the Freedom Trail here.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace(Downtown Boston)
More commonly referred to as Quincy Market, this marketplace offers all kinds of food, shopping and live entertainment. Hungry? Try one of the 17 restaurants or 40 eateries serving up everything from famous New England clam chowda to ethnic Indian and, of course, delectable deserts. Looking for something new? There are multiple retailers, from recognized apparel stores to local gift shops, for you to browse. Just want to be entertained? The musical and variety acts put on by the street performers provide free amusement for passerbys of all ages. Or check out The Comedy Connection (see write-up below) for a more organized comedic routine. Located on the waterfront and easily identified by the cobblestone walkways and 19th century buildings, Quincy Market can’t be missed.
Kayak the Charles
(Charles River Canoe and Kayak, in Artesani Park in Allston/Brighton) – You’re sure to cross the Charles River at some point during your stay in Boston – but have you ever considered paddling through it? Stroll with a friend to the Charles River Canoe and Kayak kiosk and rent a two-person canoe or kayak for around $15 per hour. Whether you’re looking for a strenuous workout or a leisurely paddle (the waters are typically calm), kayaking the Charles River can provide either one, or anything in-between. Just make sure the skies are sunny, because rentals are not available on rainy days. Easily spotted in Artesani Park by the green-roof, this rental site is open on fair days from May through early October. Check out other options at their website here.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (280 The Fenway, Fenway Kenmore) – If the long Bostonian winter gets you and your significant other down, and you both need to see something blooming (but know that won’t happen outside in winter), you can visit the atrium in the center of the Gardner Museum, where the garden courtyard is flowering in every season. There are also three floors of art that, upon Ms. Gardner’s direction, have not been modified since their placement during the 19th century. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11am to 5 pm. If you can convince them your name is Isabella, you can get in for free. Otherwise, show a student ID for a $5 admission fee. You can get to the museum by taking the Huntington Avenue No. 39 bus or the Green Line train to the Museum stop.
Boston Affordable Restaurants
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ (96 Winthrop St., Cambridge) – Enjoy some of the best BBQ you can find north of Memphis and east of St. Louis. While the entrees can get pricey, you can enjoy a great BBQ sandwich and a side for under $10. Try the pulled Chicken with the Eastern Carolina sauce and the mashed potatoes with gravy. If you’re looking to splurge, try a Swamp-water; this fish bowl of liquor is $15, but does come with its own alligator. On Wednesdays, be sure to check out the Ladies Night specials and receive $1 domestic beers and $1 margaritas. Also on Wednesdays, receive a 25% discount on your food purchases with a valid Southern ID (States south of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi). On Saturdays, there are $0.35 wings and $8 pitchers from 12-4pm. For those really looking to eat, stop by on Sundays for all-you-can-eat ribs and all-you-can-drink drafts for $22.95 (two hour max) or on Mondays for all-you-can-eat wings and rib tips and all-you-can-drink drafts for $14.95.
Fajitas and Ritas (25 West St., Downtown or 1237 Hancock St., Quincy) – It’s easy to stuff yourself with fresh Tex-Mex food here without spending too much cash, because Fajitas and Ritas is one of the few places around that serves dinner-sized fajitas for less than $10. For those who prefer the Tex instead of the Mex, you can get a BBQ pulled pork sandwich accompanied by slaw, beans and corn bread, also for under $10. And even though you might be trying to save money, it’s hard not to splurge on a Raspberry Margarita for a bit over $4. No matter your budget, you won’t be hungry when you leave!
McCormick and Schmick’s (North Market Building, Faneuil Hall) – This upscale seafood restaurant can normally cost a pretty penny but at happy hour anyone can afford to enjoy some of McCormick and Schmick’s great food. From 3:30 to 6:30pm Monday through Friday and 10pm-12am on Saturday and Sunday, the bar features a $1.95 menu featuring standby favorites such as burgers, chicken wings, and cheese quesadillas, as well as seafood choices such as oysters and clams. The menu changes daily and there is a minimum drink purchase required. Reservations are suggested. For more info, take a look at their website here.
South Street Diner (corner of Kneeland and South Sts, Beacon Hill) – Nothing beats sharing a booth and a milkshake. Open 24 hours a day, there is no bad time to take your significant other out for a bite – be it breakfast, dinner or dessert. Actually, no matter when you go, you should still order a slice of their famous chocolate mousse cake! From the jukebox playing the hits of the decade to the life-sized James Dean near the bathroom, South Street provides that happy, romantic feel we all associate with a typical 1950s diner.
Mike’s Pastry (300 Hanover St., in the North End) – At Mike’s Pastry and choose from a selection of cannoli, biscotti, cheesecake and every other Italian dessert you could imagine. You can order enough tasty treats to satisfy yourself and your family without being alarmed by the price, but it may be tough to find a spot to sit. The line may be long, but t’s worth the wait?
Boston Affordable Parents Night Out
The Comedy Connection (Faneuil Hall Marketplace) Relax for a night and let the upcoming professionals work to make your date laugh! Comedians perform live every day of the week, but you will want to call (617.248.9700) for reservations if you plan to attend a show between Thursday and Saturday. Ticket prices usually range between $12 and $25, depending on who is on stage, but less expensivedoesn’t mean less funny – just less well known acts, which often leads to more original comedy. To see who will be performing next, check here.
Grendel’s Den (89 Winthrop Street, Harvard Square) – Stop by for the happy hour food specials from 5-7:30pm and after 9:30pm at this popular Harvard Square bar. The entire menu (normally very reasonable) is half priced, giving the diner on a budget some great options. Try the Mediterranean platter for steak tips and hummus for only $5 during happy hour. Also, stop by on Sunday evenings for the special dollar menu, featuring items such burgers and pasta. There is a minimum drink purchase of $3 required for the discount prices.