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Dozens of free and inexpensive things to do around the Boston area over Christmas and New Year’s

Take a hike or take in a museum—or so much more

A person walking between two rows of illuminated bushes at night in a public park in a city. Boston Globe via Getty Images

If you've got a relaxed work schedule this week and next—or some out-of-town guests to entertain—here are dozens of things to do and to visit in the Boston region. Best part: They’re either free or close to it.


A museum off the beaten path

The interior of an elaborate engineering museum, with many pipes and metal stairs. Photo via Waterworks Museum

Boston is home to some of the world's most notable museums.

But the city also hosts some lesser-known institutions of collective preservation, including one of the oldest military museums on the continent and one of the nation's most prominent repositories of African-American history.

This map pinpoints these and 10 others.


Irish history

A bronz sculpture of two young adults and their child, standing. Getty Images

Boston has long been the loci of the Irish in America (and of Irish-Americans).

Not surprisingly, then, the city is awash in memorials, monuments, and other reminders of the influence here of the sons and daughters of Eire.

Here is a map of 11 of those key sites.


Revolutionary War history

A round bronze marker built into the sidewalk of a city street. Shutterstock

No other region in the nation has quite the connection to the Revolutionary War as does Boston and its environs (British-free since March 1776).

Not surprisingly, then, the area also has some of the country's most notable monuments and memorials commemorating the conflict.

This map marks 12 of the most important ones.


Boston’s two most famous parks

Trees with their leaves changing color on either side of a pedestrian pathway. Shutterstock

The Public Garden and Boston Common together account for 74 acres of urban escape. The parks are chock-full of things to do and see, some a lot more notable than others.

A lot of people probably know about the Frog Pond or Make Way for Ducklings or the Edgar Allan Poe statue. And the memorial to the 54th Massachusetts is surely one of the world’s best-known military monuments.

But there are plenty of hidden gems in the Garden and the Common. If you know where to look... The same is true of the ribbon-like Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston.


Cemetery tours are not just for Halloween

Rows of headstones amid leaf-covered ground, with a church with a spire in the distance. Wikipedia

The Boston region has some of America's oldest cemeteries, with a handful stretching back to the early 1600s and a goodly proportion launching well before the 1900s.

The region's cemeteries, too, contain a veritable village's worth of notables: presidents, poets, war heroes, jurists, academics, athletes, musicians, Ben Franklin's mom and dad, you name it.

Here, then, is a map of the 27 most historic cemeteries across the Boston region.


The ultimate JFK tour

A modern building housing the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on Boston’s waterfront. Shutterstock

Last year marked the centennial of John F. Kennedy's birth in the family home in Brookline. From that moment in May 1917, the 35th president's life was entwined with the Boston region.

He was educated in Brookline, Dedham, and Cambridge; lived and launched his political career in Beacon Hill; and lives on for posterity in institutions in Columbia Point and Harvard Square.

Here is the ultimate map of Kennedy's life and legacy in the Boston area.


Boston’s most prominent buildings

The exterior of the McKim building at the Boston Public Library. The building is large with many windows. There is a green lawn in front of the building. Shutterstock

Given its age and its history, never mind its place as New England’s most populous city, Boston is one of America’s most iconic cities.

And, within Boston, are a handful of iconic buildings that represent the city to the rest of the world.

When people think of Boston and its physical landscape and architecture, they think of these 15. Check them out this wintry time of year.


Some glorious—and warm—interiors

The interior of a grand hall, with an arched ceiling and commemorative plaques on the walls. Shutterstock

The Boston area has some of the world’s more exquisite and ambitious urban architecture, whether it be of the dated federal style or of more modern fare. (It also has brutalism.)

That architecture includes striking interiors.

Here are the 15 most beautiful interiors in the Boston region if you’re looking to avoid the winter nip in the air.


The best holiday light displays in town

A trellis entwined with bright lights, and people are walking under the trellis. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Given that darkness befalls Boston around 4:30 every afternoon during the winter, the city provides plenty of time for taking in big Griswoldian holiday light displays all the way through New Year’s.

These are the 10 best public options. Most are easily reachable via mass transit, if not on foot from much of downtown.


Hike!

An older man coming upon a trail marker in a forest. Boston Globe/Contributor/Getty Images

One of the benefits of being in one of the more bucolic regions of the United States is the abundance of hiking venues.

Here are 10 such superb options throughout the Boston region.

They include major state and city parks with miles and miles of scenic trails each as well as smaller, tighter rambles.


Or stroll instead

A narrow city street at nighttime with townhouses on either side, and there’s snow on the ground. Corbis via Getty Images

A hike too much for you after the big meal? You’re in luck: Even with the cold, Boston is one of the more beautiful places to be come winter.

Here are 10 locations for the perfect stroll—parks, squares, streets, and other runs perfectly suited for leisurely ambles amid just a touch of urban bustle.

Leave the power-walking for another weekend.