Boston. Just the name of the city sounds alluring. One of the iconic American cities is also one of its most expensive. Yet it is a must when it comes to travel destinations.
Traveling to Boston can be tricky, especially for those who are looking to save some money. Though there are peak seasons and low seasons, the vibe, neighborhoods, and overall feel of the city give it an expensive presence year-round. That means even in the cold winter months budget-savvy travelers need to be extra aware should they hope to save.
But for those who are looking to save money on a trip to Beantown, they need not fear. There are plenty of ways to plan a low-budget trip that produces immense satisfaction. And don't be worried about the state of Massachusetts' outdated ‘Taxachusetts' nickname. While it is true that the state had some of the highest taxes in the United States, that was back in 1977. It is now 2019. Massachusetts falls roughly in the middle of U.S. states when it comes to state and local taxes as a percent of state personal income.
So get ready to dance an Irish jig, penny pinchers. Here are the top ways to save money on your next Boston vacation.
Buy the Boston CityPass
Attractions are aplenty in Boston. There's the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Boston Harbor, Skywalk Observatory, Harvard Museum of Natural History, and much more! Paying individual admission for all of these attractions can set you back a pretty penny.
That's why you need to get the Boston CityPass. For just $59 for adults and $47 for children you gain access to four of Boston's top attractions:
- New England Aquarium
- Museum of Science
- Skywalk Observatory
- Boston Harbor Cruises OR Harvard Museum of Natural History
While there are plenty of other attractions to see in The Cradle Of Liberty, the ones included in the Boston CityPass are some of the top destinations for tourists. Paying the one-time cost for this pass saves around $50 per person. That adds up fast and can be used towards a unique dining experience. Or even better, towards savings!
Experience the TRUE Boston
Boston gets its reputation as an expensive city from the media portrayals of its bustling and hip downtown. The city, however, is much more than that.
To save on hotel and overnight accommodation costs stay outside of the downtown limits and take public transportation. Boston's mass transit system is well-developed and can be utilized as a cheap option to make your way about town. By staying outside the downtown limits you'll be able to find cheaper hotel options while still enjoying what they city has to offer. You don't need the fancy bellhop experience anyways. You're there for the attractions and feel of the city, not the glamorous presentations that can be found anywhere else.
Experiencing Boston as it truly is also requires knowing some of the local food joints. Fancy dining is great from time-to-time but not feasible within most budgets. Fortunately Boston is a city ripe with cheap, outstanding casual dining options. Even better, there's somebody out there who has dedicated their life to providing you that information!
Boston's Hidden Restaurants is a website and social media personality dedicated to providing travelers with the best local dining restaurants in the city. Navigating their site and social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook) allows you to find restaurants by particular cuisine, region, or cost. Bookmark this site and stay updated if you plan on visiting Boston. It'll save you time, money and fill your appetite!
Low-Cost and Free Boston Attractions
The aforementioned Boston CityPass is a great way to save on admission to several high-profile attractions, but what about other options?
There are several free attractions you can visit that offer outstanding experiences. Many of these are historic, too. There's the Boston Freedom Trail, the Black Heritage Trail, the Irish Heritage Trail, the Boston Public Library, and the Bunker Hill Monument (which offers some spectacular views).
For those looking towards a more educational experience, both the MIT Campus and Harvard campuses are a must.
Low-cost attractions are also aplenty in Boston. If you've always wanted to get to Fenway Park but don't have the wherewithal or budget to spend on pricey Red Sox tickets, simply take a tour of Fenway Park. Admission cost is low, and the experience provides an intimate feel of the storied ballpark.
It is also part of the Go Boston Card.
Similar to Boston CityPass, the Go Boston Card provides access to a number of Boston attractions for a lower fixed price. Unlike the CityPass, however, the Go Boston Card allows tourists the option of choosing from passes 1-7 days in duration. There are 43 attractions included. For those staying longer and wanting to experience more The Go Boston Card may be the best option.
Pricing on the Go Boston Card is such:
- 1 Day ($59 Adult / $39 child)
- 2 Days ($81 Adult / $59 child)
- 3 Days ($119 Adult / $79 child)
- 5 Days ($149 Adult / $109 child)
- 7 Days ($179 Adult / $129 child)
The 3, 5 and 7 day passes also include access to premium attractions. These include tickets to a Boston Red Sox game, tickets to the Blue Man Group, A Boston Duck Tour, and New England Aquarium Whale Watch.
Tour a Brewery to save on Beer
Beer and Boston are synonymous. With some of the best breweries in the nation there's a reason why. Yet participating in drinking revelry in the city can get expensive, especially considering the banning of happy hours in Massachusetts. Budget travelers may think the sober way of life is necessary to save money on their trip, but that doesn't need to be the case!
Instead of paying the high price for a beer at a trendy bar take a trip to one of the city's many breweries instead. Much of the time you'll be able to take part in a free or low-cost tour of the brewery, which often comes with discounted drinks or free samples. That way you can get your culture AND your drink on.
Experience the Luck of the Irish and Other Cultures
When it comes to cultures in Boston there is perhaps none better known than the Irish culture. The Irish have been a staple in Boston for centuries. As such there is a big Irish influence throughout the city.
To save money and experience the true feel of Boston, make it a point to find events, attractions, and dining options centered around not just Irish culture but one of Boston's many cultures of influence. Whether you're feeling a little lucky or a Little Italy you are sure to find something to fit your needs.
Get a Rewards Credit Card
One final point when it comes to saving money on a Boston vacation: make sure to take advantage of a travel rewards card. Many cards offer double points on travel, accommodations and dining experiences.
One of the best out there right now is the Hilton Honors American Express Card. You'll get 7 points for every dollar spent on select purchases at hotels or restaurants in the Hilton portfolio. You also get 12 points for every dollar of select purchases at U.S. restuarants. Top all that off with no annual fee, and you've got a great option.
By following all this advice and looking for a great rewards credit card, you'll feel great knowing your trip is both affordable and full of great experiences.