Many museums in (and near Boston) have a designated day where they open their doors for free. We listed the ones we thought you'd love to know.
Parking: Free street parking
Mom Tip: An arboretum is a museum of trees. Since the paths are stroller friendly, it's the perfect spot to bask in nature with your little one(s). The Arnold Arboretum also hosts interesting events like mushroom walks, seed tours, forest bathing sessions, and more. You can regularly check their events page for newly added events.
Boston Fire Museum (Boston)
Free: Saturdays 10:00am - 4:00pm
Parking: Metered, but museum is easily accessible by MBTA. There are also paid garages nearby.
Mom Tip: This museum is pretty small and can be explored in less than 30 minutes. Since it's located next to the Boston Children's Museum, we suggest visiting both museums on the same day.
BU Coit Observatory (Boston)
Free: Wednesday nights -- 7:30pm during the fall and winter months, and 8:30pm during the spring and summer months. Tickets required and can be reserved online.
Discovery Museum (Acton)
Free: Every Friday night through the summer, from 4:30 to 8:00pm, and the first Friday night of each month during the school year. Reservations are required.
Parking: Free parking lot
Mom Tip: This museum can easily become a reoccurring fave or family tradition (meaning a place you visit every month, or every week in the summer). It has outdoor and indoor exhibits.
Harvard Arts Museum (Cambridge)
Free: Tuesday to Sunday
Harvard Museum of Natural History (Cambridge)
Free: Sundays 9:00am - 12:00pm, and Wednesdays 3:00pm - 5:00pm (September to May)
Mom Tip: The museum has life-size models of animals that can be scary to little ones.
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) (Boston)
Free: Thursday Nights from 5:00pm to 9:00pm (although a $5 or more donation is suggested). Tickets available at 10:00am the day of. The museum is also free on the first Saturday's of every month for families. Families are considered children under 12, with up to two adults.
Parking: Metered and paid parking lots available.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston)
Free: 1st Thursdays of every month
Museum of Fine Arts (Boston)
Free: Memorial Day (5/29/23), Juneteenth (6/19/23), Indigenous People's Day (10/9/23), MLK Day (1/15/24)
Mom Tip: Ask for a sketch pad at the front desk.
Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology
Free: For Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm (year-round) and on Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm (September through May). Proof of residency required.
Are Free Days Crowded?
It depends. Holidays are generally crowded because more people are out of work and/or school. If tickets or registration is required, there is probably a limited capacity, so it may not be as crowded. It also depends on how popular the museum is. For example, the Discovery Museum is frequently packed with families, but the Boston Fire Museum is often empty.
If you love free stuff, we think you'll enjoy our calendar. It features free and close to free things to do in and near Boston. You can check it out here.
Until next time...
Love The Journey,