Enjoying Boston on a Budget

Photo by Krypto, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/krypto/7313647/

 Free time may seem like the white unicorn of law school, but it’s important to take a minute away from the memos and briefs to relax and recharge. If you’re looking for fun things to do around the city that won’t break the bank, here are a few tips and ideas that are student-budget-friendly.


Get to Know Your City

Consider exploring our city the green way with a rental from Hubway Bikes, where you can get a 24-hour access pass for just $5. (Usage fees vary by time increments. See the pricing page for details. And don’t forget your helmet!)

Take a guided stroll around Boston’s waterfront area with this free walking tour MP3.

Celebrate Boston’s Irish heritage with more than just green beer by visiting some of the sites dedicated to the city’s largest ethnic group.

For you sports fans out there, you can download this free Boston Sports Trail GPS tour, or take a tour of Fenway Park ($12 with your student ID).

Castle Island offers free guided tours of Fort Independence, or for $15 you can hop on the ferry and visit some of the beautiful Boston Harbor Islands.

Cheap Eats

Some personal favorites include McCormick and Scmick’s happy hour menu and the half price food at Grendel’s Den, but also check out these carefully curated lists of cheap eats from other outlets around town:

Boston Magazine

The Boston Globe

The Phoenix



There are tons of great places to catch live music around the city at little to no cost. Take a trip across the river and see some great local bands at Toad, Cantab Lounge, Johnny D’s, The Burren, or Plough and Stars, where covers typically range from free to $6.

If you prefer Hall and Oates to Noah and the Whale, head to Jacob Wirth’s weekly Friday night sing-along (free), or check out Howl at the Moon for more classic anthems (no cover Sunday – Wednesday, and no cover on Thursday with your student ID).

For my fellow Sinatra-philes, you can hear all your favorites from Old Blue Eyes on Fridays and Saturdays at Lucky’s Lounge (no cover), or if jazz is more your style, you can see free shows at Wally’s Cafe in the South End.


A great way to get some culture in your lives without paying top dollar is to reserve the museum passes that are available through the Boston Public Library system.

If that’s not an option, the Museum of Fine Arts has free entrance on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. (with a suggested donation), the Institute of Contemporary Art  is free on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m., and the new Sports Museum at the TD Garden is free for library members.

Your Terrier Card also gets you in to many museums for free, but as these deals are offered by the host organizations, make sure to check www.studentrate.com for updated information regarding what discounts are currently available.

All the World’s a Stage

Make the most of your student status with these great rush deals around town:

Boston Ballet 

$20 tickets two hours before curtain.

Boston Lyric Opera 

Half-price student rush tickets two hours before the show (usually starting around $17).

Boston Symphony Orchestra

$9 rush tickets for Tuesday evening, Thursday evening, and Friday afternoon performances (plan on purchasing about 3 hours before the performance), or you can purchase the College Card for $25.

Boston Opera House and Colonial Theater 

$25 rush tickets for some performances can be purchased 1 hour before the show.

Lyric Stage Company 

Student rush tickets are sold 30 minutes before curtain; prices vary.

Huntington Theater 

The 35 Below Club offers $25 tickets to patrons under age 35, and $15 tickets are available for full-time students under 25 and veterans.

Bust a Move

If salsa is your thing, Masa in the South End offers free salsa lessons and dancing on Thursday nights (with $0.50 tapas to boot!). The Havana Club in Central Square also offers a 2 hour salsa lesson followed by 3 hours of dancing for just $12 on Fridays and Saturdays, or for $10 you can spend your Sunday learning to cha-cha at Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square.

For those who prefer the jitterbug to merengue, The Dancing Fools offer $10 swing lessons on Wednesday nights at the Harvard Square Fire & Ice. Harvard Square also hosts blues dancing with Bluesy Tuesy on Tuesday nights, where you can take a dance lesson from 7:30 – 8:30pm for $5, and/or join in the general dancing from 8:30 – 11pm for $5.

If you’d rather participate from a distance, take a trip to the Middle East in Central Square, where they have free belly-dancing shows on Sunday nights!


Check out the stars at the BU Observatory, which offers free Open to the Public nights on Wednesdays at 7:30pm during the fall and winter, and 8:30pm during the spring and summer.

Mad about chocolate? For $5 you can take a tour of Somerville’s Taza Chocolate Factory, with public tours offered Wednesday–Sunday every week.

On Wednesday nights the Brookline Clayroom offers wine, appetizers, and paint-your-own pottery for just $30 a person.

Admission to the Franklin Park Zoo is half off the regular price ($11) on the first Saturday morning of each month, and who doesn’t want to go see the new baby giraffe!

Visit the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library and see the world as it was in 1935 (for just $6!).

It wouldn’t be winter in Boston without a trip to the Frog Pond, where adult admission is $5 (skate rentals are an extra $9).

Take a breather from cramped city life and hop the orange line out to the Arnold Arboretum, where you can take a free guided tour or just enjoy the wide open spaces.

It may be a little too chilly right now, but as spring approaches take advantage of our prime river location and try a kayak rental from Boston Canoe & Kayak, where kayak rentals start at $15 per hour.

Giving back to your community doesn’t cost a thing, so consider volunteering your time with one of the city’s many great organizations, like Horizons for Homeless Children, the Greater Boston Food Bank, or the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Do you have other ideas on how to enjoy Boston on a budget? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!


Kate posted on February 11, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Great list! Bostononbudget.com has a big list of cheap eats updated daily as well. Great tips on how to enjoy Boston on a Budget!

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