Boston Budget Travel

Explore the Walking City without Going Bust


Jorge Salcedo

It’s been called one of America’s most expensive cities. But you don’t need a Boston Brahmin’s bank account to enjoy this New England hub. Nicknamed “the Walking City,” Boston has many places to stay, eat and see well within budget and reach (no gas-guzzling rentals required). Check out our budget-friendly suggestions for restaurants, hotels, museums and more.

Budget Hotels
Get a feel for Boston culture with the Chandler Inn Hotel as your home base. Located in the city’s “hip and historic” South End neighborhood, the building that houses this affordable boutique hotel dates back to the early 1900s. Modern comfort comes courtesy of central air conditioning added in 2010 (your own Mitsubishi unit awaits.) If B&Bs are your thing, check out Oasis Guest House. What it lacks in amenities (the rooms are a bit tight and its continental breakfast has received less than stellar reviews) it makes up for with location. Situated in the city center, it’s no more than a mile from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall. Rates start under $100.

Affordable Eats
Looking for some Boston-style brunch? Then head to the Paramount. Nestled in the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, this cozy little bistro is known for its long-standing presence (since 1937) and long lines that customers claim move fast. Once seated, choose from 9 different omelettes, from western to Spanish. If you’re looking for a carb fix, indulge in the standard fare of pancakes, french toast, and waffles or something more eclectic such as a malted Belgian waffle.

For lunch, cheap doesn’t spell low-quality at Boloco. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or any other -arian, discover varied and healthy menu options at this Boston-bred regional chain with 11 locations (and counting) throughout the city. Take your pick among burritos, wraps and salads made with naturally-raised meats and chicken (that means no antibiotics or growth hormones here), plus organic tofu and free-range eggs.

And for dinner, try Giacomo's Ristorante in Boston’s North End, the city’s oldest residential community. The restaurant’s entrees include fettuccini, ziti, ravioli and vegetarian dishes, with prices that range from $14-$19.

Inexpensive Fun
Boston has served as the backdrop for a number of memorable movies. Remember the park bench scene from Good Will Hunting? Or the treasure hunt in National Treasure? Relive these and other cinematic moments first-hand through a walking tour of the city for under $25. Boston Movie Tours begins in May 2011.

Historic Landmark
It was 60 years ago, in 1951, that Boston journalist Bill Schofield hatched an idea to link historically significant landmarks in the city along a walking trail. And why not? As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston is the kind of place where history peeks out from every corner. Today, a casual stroll along what’s known as The Freedom Trail provides a powerful glimpse of the city’s rich and varied past. Stroll a mere 2.5 miles and discover 16 historically significant sites, from the Paul Revere House to Granary Burying Ground (the final resting place for many acclaimed American Revolutionary War-era soldiers).

Free Museum Entry
It’s one of the ultimate whodunits. In March 1990, thieves disguised as Boston police officers stole 13 works of art, totaling an estimated $500 million. While the works have yet to be recovered, many more fortunately remain at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. A short walk from the expansive Back Bay Fens parkland, the museum showcases an array of art spanning Asian, European and American genres. Among the prized possessions -- more than 2,500 in all -- get ready to discover works by Matisse, Rembrandt, Degas, and many others. It’s all ready for viewing at $4 (audio tour). The rich collection was the brainchild of one of the top art patrons of her (or any) day, Isabella Stewart Gardner. If you share her name, admission to this treasure trove is free.

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