Free Historical Tours in Boston

Learn about some great historical tours in Boston that can be enjoyed for free. They include Boston Women’s Heritage and Boston National Historic Park.

Boston has many historical tours that focus on its general history, as well as many tours that focus on specific aspects of local history and leaders that contributed to its history. These tours are often offered at discounts to schools, but many of them can actually be quite expensive. However, there are also some great tours that are completely free, although some do suggest small donations. Some of these tours offer tour guides, while others are self-guided and simply supply all the learning materials.

Historic sites in Boston can be quite expensive, especially since many historic locations charge admission fees of $5-$15. This adds up over time, especially considering how many historical locations can be found throughout the city. Luckily, many locations offer free historic tours in Boston, and sometimes these locations don’t even charge an admission fee.

Boston African American National Historic Sites

Boston African American National Historic Sites offers a collection of fifteen sites that played an important role in African Americans’ fight towards freedom. The tour is known as the Black Heritage Trail, and it begins at the Shaw Memorial and ends at the Museum of Afro-American History. They also offer tours of the museum which is accompanied by an educational video.

The museum also has some excellent exhibits that are available to those that take the tour. The museum is in the Beacon Hill area of Boston, and further information can be found on the museum’s website. Although the tour is technically free, they do have a suggested $5 donation, but it is not required.

Museum of Afro-American History
46 Joy Street
(617) 725-0022

Boston Women’s Heritage

Boston Women’s Heritage Trail offers some great, free self-guided tours. It’s also the only tour in Boston that focuses on the women that played an important role in local history.

The website offers downloadable information for tours, which includes maps. They also offer a variety of tours that focus on different aspects of women’s history, including tours that focus specifically on women artists, educators, activists and abolitionists, and much more.

Boston Women’s Heritage Trail
(617) 522-2872

Boston National Historic Park

Boston National Historic Park consists of six different sites that have been administered by the NPS (National Park Service), all of which are part of the Freedom Trail, which consists of a total of fifteen sites. The tour begins at the Visit Center, and ends at the Old North Church, and takes around an hour and a half total.

Free tours are provided with a professional tour guide, but they also offer information and material for people to take a self-guided tour.

NPS Downtown Visitor Center
15 State Street
(617) 242-5642

Park Street Church

Park Street Church was built in the early 1800s and is a stop along the Freedom Trail. Park Street Church was part of a lot of the history of Boston and even stored gunpowder during the War of 1812. They also had a lot of well-known members and was the location for the Address to the Colonization, given by William Lloyd Garrison. This speech was his first public statement against slavery. The church still plays an important role in many current social issues and programs.

Park Street Church
(617) 523-3383

The Old State House

The Old State House was built in the early 1700s and is the oldest public building in Boston. It was originally used for the royal government in the New World and was the location of many historical events. It was the location of The Boston Massacre, as well as the first reading to the public of the Declaration of Independence in the entire state. It is open daily year-round from 9 am until 5 pm, although this changes to 4 pm throughout January. There is a small admission charge, except Boston children and the elderly can get in for free. However, they offer self-guided tours that are free, as well as guided towards (which may cost a small fee).

Old State House
206 Washington Street

The Old South Meeting House

The Old South Meeting House was the location where the colonials gathered to find a way to deal with the British tea tax. This quickly led to the Boston Tea Party, where many of the attendants gathered to toss all of the tea into the ocean. The Old South Meeting House still holds lectures and discussions on recent events, but also offers many concerts and readings as well. Admission is around $5, and they normally charge $3 for the tours. However, sometimes they offer tours for free. The tours are held from April through October.

Old South Meeting House
310 Washington Street
(617) 482-6439

  • Grader, Rob. The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to Boston, 2nd: Secrets of Living the Good Life–For Free!Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot, 2009.
  • Wolff, Ethan. Frommer’s Boston 2010 (Frommer’s Complete). Hoboken, NJ: Frommers, 2010.