Boston Parents Paper Best of the Best 2011
Low Cost or No Cost!
Freebies, Deals and Discounts on Family Fun
Entertaining the entire family doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! Explore all that Boston and beyond has to offer without breaking the bank. Browse an art gallery, catch a movie under the stars, mingle with amazing animals and see family-friendly performances with these special deals on admission to some really cool Boston-area places.
• Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, Boston. Drop in on the last Saturday of each month, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., April through October, and participate in free family activities such as scavenger hunts and science investigations. 617-384-5209; arboretum.harvard.edu.
• Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston. Admission is just $1 from 5-9 p.m. every Friday and only $6 from 4-5 p.m. Saturday – Thursday. 617-426-6500; bostonchildrensmuseum.org.
• Boston University’s Coit Observatory, 725 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Free public open nights at the Coit Observatory are held most Wednesday evenings throughout the year, weather permitting, starting at 8:30 p.m. in the spring and summer and 7:30 p.m. in the fall and winter. Observe the night sky through telescope and binoculars and see things you wouldn’t ordinarily get to see. 617-353-2630; www.bu.edu/astronomy/events/public-open-night-at-the-observatory.
• Children’s Museum of Providence, 100 South St., Providence, R.I. Admission is free on select Fridays of every month after 5 p.m.; children under age 1 are always admitted free. 401-273-5437; www.childrenmuseum.org.
• DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln. Enjoy free admission to this museum and outdoor sculpture park Tuesday through Fridays, from July 5, 2011 to Sept. 2, 2011. Regular admission fees apply on weekends during this time period. During other times of the year, visiting the park is free anytime except 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday (the museum’s operating hours) and on select Monday holidays. During those times, admission is charged. During operating hours, cyclists who pedal to deCordova receive free admission, as do Lincoln residents and active duty military personnel and their families, with proper ID. 781-259-8355; www.decordova.org.
• Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston. Watch street jugglers, clowns, musicians and other street performers all year round. 617-523-1300; www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com.
• Franklin Park Zoo, One Franklin Park Road, Dorchester. Children under age 2 are always free. Everyone pays the children’s admission price ($10) on the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon, and admission is half-price all day on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Active military members receive half-price admission with proper ID. 617-541-LION; www.zoonewengland.com.
• Free Friday Night Flicks and Concerts, sunset, Hatch Memorial Shell, Storrow Drive, Boston. Free kid-friendly movies under the stars on Fridays and special concerts on Wednesdays throughout the summer. For a schedule, visit www.celebrateboston.com/hatch-shell.
• Free Fun Fridays, various museums and other venues throughout Massachusetts. Every Friday this summer, select museums and other venues – like the Arnold Arboretum in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham – are offering free admission for everyone. Visit highlandstreet.org for each week’s participating locations.
• Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge. Free admission for Massachusetts residents from 9 a.m. to noon every Sunday and on Wednesdays, 3-5 p.m. from September to May. 617-495-3045; www.hmnh.harvard.edu.
• Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston. Admission is always free for kids under age 17. Free admission for families (up to two adults accompanied by children ages 12 and under) on the last Saturday of each month, excluding December). Free for all visitors on Thursdays, from 5-9 p.m. 617-478-3100; www.icaboston.org.
• Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston. Admission is always free for kids under age 18 with a parent or guardian, on your birthday and for anyone named “Isabella.” 617-566-1401; gardnermuseum.org.
• John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Columbia Point, Boston. Admission is always free for kids ages 12 and under. 617-514-1600; www.jfklibrary.org.
• Massachusetts State House Tours, Beacon Hill, Boston. Free tours are available year-round on weekdays from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Advance reservations required. 617-727-3676; www.sec.state.ma.us/trs.
• MIT Museum, 265 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. Admission is always free for children under age 5. Free admission for everyone on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and on the second Friday of each month, from 5-8 p.m. Cambridge Public Library cardholders receive free admission in July and August. And at the MIT Compton Gallery and the Hart Nautical Gallery, 55 Massachusetts Ave., admission is always free. 617-253-4444; www.mit.edu/museum.
• Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Admission is always free for children ages 6 and under. Admission for kids ages 7-17 is free on weekends, public school holidays, and after 3 p.m. on weekdays. Wednesday nights after 4 p.m., admission is by voluntary contribution. And the museum is free all day on July 1, and on select holidays. 617-267-9300; www.mfa.org.
• Old State House Museum, State and Washington streets, Boston. Admission is always free for kids age 5 and under. Children ages 6-18 are admitted for just $3. 617-720-1713; www.bostonhistory.org.
• The Paul Revere House, 19 North Square, Boston. Admission is $3.50 for adults; and only $1 for children ages 5-17. 617-523-2338; paulreverehouse.org.
• The Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem. Admission is always free for children ages 16 and under and for all Salem residents. 978-745-9500; pem.org.
• The Sports Museum, TD Banknorth Garden, Causeway Street, Boston. Admission is always free for kids age 10 and under. 617-624-1235; www.tdbanknorthgarden.com.
• Stone Zoo, 149 Pond St., Stoneham. Children under age 2 are always free. Everyone pays children’s admission ($9) on the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon, and admission is half-price all day on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Active military members receive half-price admission with proper ID. 617-541-LION; www.zoonewengland.com.
• USS Constitution Museum, Charlestown Navy Yard, Building 22, Charlestown. Admission to this museum, dedicated to the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat, is by donation. Make the trip even more exciting by riding the MBTA Ferry from Long Wharf for only $1.70 each way. 617-426-1812; www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org.
Discount Tickets and Passes
• ArtsBoston/Bostix – ArtsBoston is a nonprofit arts promotion organization that offers special deals and discounts to performances in the city, with an ArtsBostonJr. program specifically for family-friendly shows. Get day-of-show tickets for half-price at Bostix kiosks in Copley Square or at Faneuil Hall. 617-262-8632; www.artsboston.org.
• Bank of America Museums on Us – Get free general admission to participating museums, zoos, science centers and more on the first full weekend of every month by presenting your Bank of America Card. Massachusetts participants include the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. museums.bankofamerica.com.
• Blue Star Museums is a partnership among Blue Star Families, the National Endowment for the Arts, and more than 1,000 museums across America that offers free admission to active military personnel and their families through Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2011. Participating Massachusetts museums include the Children’s Museum in Easton, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Museum of Fine Arts, the Peabody Essex Museum and many more. Visit http://www.nea.gov/national/bluestarmuseums/index2011.php for a complete list.
• Boston CityPass – This pass covers general admission to five attractions in the city; it’s valid for nine days and is perfect for vacation weeks or summer break. The pass includes the Museum of Science, Museum of Fine Arts, New England Aquarium, Skywalk Observatory, and the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum or the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Buy the pass at any of the attractions. Adults, $46 (an $84.95 value), children ages 3-11, $29 (a $56.45 value). 888-330-5008; www.citypass.com.
• CharlieCard Discount Book – The MBTA invites you to use your CharlieCard for special discounts at attractions, retailers and restaurants throughout Boston. Receive discounts from the Freedom Trail Foundation, Boston Duck Tours, New England Aquarium, Franklin Park Zoo and more. http://www.mbta.com/riding_the_t/CharlieCard_Discount_Book.
• CityofBoston.gov/summer is the city’s one-stop clearinghouse for great events, many of which are free, all season long. From theater, concerts and movies under the stars to feasts, festivals and Boston Harbor Island events, there’s something for everyone.
• Family-Friendly Value Pass – This free Boston Convention Center and Visitors Bureau pass gives you discounts (including two-for-one and second-child-free deals) at dozens of the city’s museums, attractions, tours, shops and restaurants. Print out a pass at www.bostonusa.com. 888-SEE-BOSTON.
• Go Boston Card – This pass offers admission to more than 70 attractions, a two-day pass aboard the Beantown Trolley, discounts of up to 20 percent at restaurants and shops and VIP entry at many attractions that lets you skip the lines. Although the price may seem steep (a one-day pass is $59.99 for adults and $39.99 for kids), you can save a lot of money if you pack in the attractions. For example, using the Beantown Trolley as your chauffeur, visit the New England Aquarium, take a Hi-Speed Catamaran Whale Watch and visit the Museum of Science for $20 less than if each attraction was paid for separately. 866-628-9027; www.smartdestinations.com.
• MassValuePass Card – This free pass grants you up to 25 percent discounts on museum and attraction admissions, retailers and activities throughout Massachusetts. Deals include a free child admission with a regular adult admission at the Franklin Park Zoo and $3 off a regular adult admission of $9 at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Sign up at massvacation.com/valuepass/greaterboston.php.
• Your Public Library – Most libraries loan passes to Boston-area museums and attractions to cardholders. Visit your local library to see if it participates in the program.