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Boston is a big city with big city prices. The Freedom Trail, however, is a tremendous bargain. Here are some strategies that can help – and even let you include a lobster!
If you have a Smartphone, download the FREE app for the iPhone, here; for Android, here. This is a tremendous resource for the Freedom Trail, or for other areas including Harvard Square, Copley Square, Lexington & Concord, and even Adams National Historical Park. Add-on the premium content, which covers many many additional sites and auto-downloads pre-Google translated versions in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese or Japanese!
Start by visiting one of the two National Park Service Visitor Centers, web link here. The NPS personnel are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and are more than willing to help you plan your visit. What they provide is completely free (paid for by US taxpayers), although you may wish to make a small donation. Their tours are very well done – as good as or better than the fee only tours. The new Visitor Center at the base of Faneuil Hall is a real showplace.
The National Park Service has produced a free app that can be downloaded to an Android or iPhone/iPad device. Search Google Play or iTunes for “NPS Boston” to download the app. Keep in mind that it only covers the official 16 Freedom Trail Stops, and there is a lot more to see. Use these apps in conjunction with this Guide and its maps for a complete guide to everything.
Most of The Freedom Trail Stops are free, with the exceptions of the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House, and the Paul Revere House. For those Stops, you can purchase a “Freedom Trail Ticket” available at any of these Stops. It will save you a little more than 20% from purchasing individual adult tickets, and tickets may be used over multiple days. Alternatively, you can purchase it online here, but there is no advantage to purchasing before you arrive.
Another option for visitors is to purchase a bundled package from the Go Select website here. This package permits entrance to the three admission-charging Stops along with other Boston-area attractions – including a guided tour from TheFreedomTrail.org (a recommended company), museums or a trolley or duck-boat tour. By bundling several attractions together, you can save +/- 20% over individual admissions.
The same company also offers a Go Boston Card, website here. The Go Boston Card is a multiple day ticket to a wide variety of venues. The Cards are expensive, however, and are recommended only if you want to see a number of the supported attractions.
Dining in Boston can be expensive, but bargains are available. Wonderful lunch deals are offered, including lobster, in the Blackstone Block area on the walk between Faneuil Hall (Stop 11) and the Paul Revere House in the North End (Stop 12). Several of the pubs mentioned in the Historic Restaurant section also have reasonably priced good food in a colorful atmosphere.
Lunch Specials in the Blackstone Block
There are many other good options in and around the North End. Several of my favorites are:
Galleria Umberto, for pizza-oriented lunch fare, is very popular with the locals. 289 Hanover Street (617) 227-5709 Yelp website (They do not have their own web site).
La Summa, old world (not trendy) Italian. Excellent for lunch or dinner. 30 Fleet St 617-523-9503. Check Restaurant.com for coupons. Website.
Pizzeria Regina, Boston’s oldest pizzeria, and one of the oldest in the US, established in 1926. The chain started here and this one is much better than the branches. Be prepared to wait for dinner. 11 1/2 Thacher Street. 617-227-0765 Website.
Pastry at Mike’s on Hanover Street
There are two well-known and excellent Italian pastry shops on Hanover Street in the North End. On a nice day, pick up a cannoli and wander over to the Paul Revere Mall to sit and enjoy it. Mike’s Pastry, at 300 Hanover Street, website, is larger and has inside seating. Modern Pastry is across the street from Mike’s, at 257 Hanover Street, website. You can’t go wrong with either one.
Inside the Faneuil Hall Marketplace “Quincy Market Colonnade” there is a large food court. This is similar to what you will find in many shopping malls, but there are many Boston-area restaurants represented, website.
Other good inexpensive restaurant options can be researched via Boston.com’s Cheap Eats web listings. For web access, click here.
Public transportation is the best way to get around the city, and if your trip spans several days, a multi-day pass may be in order. For the MBTA fare schedule website, click here. Children 11 and under are free, and junior-high and high school students are eligible for a 50% discount. You’ll need an ID and specials ticket that may not be available at all locations.
There is a fun and scenic ten minute Water Shuttle ride across the inner harbor between Long Wharf (by the Chart House restaurant and the Aquarium – near Faneuil Hall and the Old State House) and the Charlestown Navy Yard (near the USS Constitution). It is part of the MBTA system – the single ride fare is only $3 for adults, with children (2 per adult) free. It is the F4 route, the website, map, and downloadable schedule is here.
Definitely pick up a free CharlieCard, website here. The CharlieCard is a reusable and re-loadable plastic ticket for use on the MBTA. You can get a CharlieCard at transit stations and many MBTA ticket counters by asking a Service Agent. By showing the card, you receive discounts on attractions such as FreedomTrail.org tours, Boston Duck Tours (a fun way to spend an afternoon), and various restaurant discounts. To learn what discounts are available, download the CharlieCard discount booklet here.
There are various discounts available from the MassVacations.com. To find out what might be available, click here.
CityPASS for Boston is similar to the Go Boston Card mentioned above, but as of now, it only offers entrance to five attractions (the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Science, Skywalk Observatory, the Museum of Fine Arts, and one entrance to the Harvard Museum of Natural History or Revolutionary Boston at the Old State House). If you plan to visit several of these, it may be worthwhile. For more information, click here.
Restaurant.com is a good source for restaurant coupons, but be sure to read the fine print. Search for “Restaurant.com coupon codes” as they often run discounts from their normal rates. For the Restaurant.com Boston area website, click here.
Parking is expensive, but there are a few bargains to be had around the Charlestown Navy Yard. Park there and walk or take the Water Shuttle to the downtown sites. The Nautica Garage at 88 Constitution Road, directly across from the Navy Yard’s entrance, has discounted rates if you get your ticket validated at the National Park Service Visitor Center (where you enter to visit the USS Constitution).
Closer to the downtown sites, there are a few all day parking specials near the Aquarium on Atlantic Avenue, but most require that you enter early (before 8:30 AM) and leave after 4 PM. Some competitive rates can be found on Commercial Street in the North End. If you are driving, an internet search to identify your options is encouraged. The Parkopedia website is a good place to start your search.
For up-to-the-minute budget tip information, please reference the supplementary information website, here.
Hope these tips and tricks help. If you find other ideas, please email meand I’ll include them in an update.