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Best Free Sites in Boston

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A beautiful structure constructed from Milford granite and inspired by the Merton College Chapel in Oxford, the Bancroft Memorial Library is famed not only for its lovely collection of books but also for the intricate details in the building itself. The ceiling boasts a wonderful medley of exposed beams and intricate carvings while the walls are lined with classic photographs of iconic people from yesteryear. The amazing collection of antiques, and dark and spooky corners add to the special touch in this storybook library. The library is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00p to 8:00p, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00a to 5:00p, Fridays from 1:00p to 5:00p and Saturdays from 10:00a to 2:00p.

Arnold Arboretum, a botanical garden, located in Jamaica Plain, is the crown jewel in Frederick Law Olmsted's Emerald Necklace, which is the chain of Boston parks that he created. The manicured grounds, under the management of Harvard University, are filled with exotic flora that are tagged with species and genus names for the eager amateur botanist. The annual 'Lilac Sunday' during the second week of May draws thousands of visitors to enjoy the beauty of over 500 lilac bushes.

This large pond was carved out by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Unusually deep and cold, Jamaica Pond is linked via underground channels to other bodies of water along the Jamaicaway. The park features one path for walkers and runners and another path for cyclists. During the summer months, you can rent a rowboat or sailboat, or you can fish for trout, bass, salmon and perch. Besides these activities, city folks also flock to Jamaican Pond for theater performances, concerts and children programs.

An integral artery of downtown Boston, Freedom Trail is a winding path coursing through some of the most significant landmarks of the country. Dotted along the trail's course is a troupe of sites which have been the brewing grounds for iconic events like the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere's Midnight Ride. Upheld by the Boston National Historic Park and the Freedom Trail Commission, it is dotted by a tracery of churches, graveyards and buildings commanding monumental significance. Some of the important sites studded on the trail are the Old State House, Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, Old South Meeting House, USS Constitution, Copp's Hill Burial Ground and Paul Revere's House. The trail often commences from Boston Common, meandering up to the Bunker Hill Monument. Voyaging proudly through the city's expanse, the Freedom Trail tells stirring tales of the country's glorious past.

Get a feel for Boston with a stroll along 17 miles of riverside paths and parks. Watch sailboats and racing college crews on the Charles River Esplanade. On summer evenings, there is free music at the Hatch Memorial Shell, and there are always hundreds of walkers, joggers, bikers, dog-walkers and sunbathers enjoying the view. The best way to reach the river is via the Arthur Fiedler footbridge, which is close to the intersection of Beacon and Arlington Streets in the Back Bay, or via the pedestrian bridge near the Charles/MGH T station.

Commonwealth Museum exhibits some interesting documents and legal records belonging to the State. The museum's education department offers lectures encouraging the use of material from the archives. A special exhibit entitled 'Highway to the Past' is dedicated to the archeology of the Big Dig. Many of the artifacts uncovered during the digging are also on display.

This century-old Italianate structure of bronze doors and grand marble staircases, Boston Public Library was the first free municipal library in the nation. The library's first building on Mason street was a former schoolhouse, which opened in 1854. Having received an authorized decision, the library's then commissioners located a new building for the library on Boylston street. Thus, the Copley Square location became home to the library in 1895. Expanding the Copley Square location in 1972, McKim building was constructed. In this National Historic Landmark, you can find collections of maps and prints, rare books and manuscripts and fine mural series. The Boston Public Library offers daily tours highlighting famed central library buildings and art works within, like the ones by John Singer Sargent.

A stunning progression of pristine wetlands and marshes, the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge skims the rivers of Concord and Sudbury, covering more than 250 acres (100 hectares) of diverse habitats. The Sudbury unit of the park's is home to a visitor's center, while the Concord unit is replete with trails. A safe haven for native flora and fauna, the entire reserve is primarily known as a birdwatching destination that is home to everything from Blue-winged teals and black ducks to mallards and wood ducks. Also sheltering a number of mammals, Great Meadows bustles with red fox, cottontail rabbits, squirrels, weasels, beavers and White-tailed deer.

The Massachusetts State House is a prestigious landmark in the state capital. This 6.7-acre (2.7-hectare) complex is home to the Massachusetts General Court as well as the Governor’s office. The highlight of its architecture is its gilded dome gleaming under the sun. The pinnacle of the dome is a pine cone, a reminder of both the importance of Boston's lumber industry during the colonial period, and the state of Maine, which was a former district of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The rich embedded past of this building makes it an essential feature on tourist itineraries.

Established in 1885, Franklin Park is one of the city's biggest public parks, and also among the most beautiful in the Emerald Necklace. The park's beautiful layout, with its ponds and gardens is the work of the legendary Frederick Law Olmsted, who considered parks, a vital component of any thriving city. The lush expanse spans 527 acres (213.27 hectares) and comprises the Franklin Park Zoo, William J. Devine Golf Course, numerous sports facilities as well as expansive wooded areas for picnics. Apart from this, the park also has a Playhouse, an open air venue hosting occasional concerts and cultural events. Check website for more.

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