Frequently Asked Questions
- Why should I take a Boston By Foot tour?
- Do your guides wear costumes?
- Do I need to buy tickets in advance?
- Do you have tours for children?
- How much do your tours cost?
- What happens if there is bad weather?
- What is your refund policy?
- Do you offer any discounts?
- How large are the tour groups?
- Does your Freedom Trail tour cover the entire trail?
- Should I take Heart of the Freedom Trail or Road to Revolution?
- What time does the tour start?
- How do I get there?
- How will I find you?
- How should I dress?
- What should I bring?
- What can I do after a tour?
- If you're a nonprofit, why do you charge money?
- How can I become a Boston By Foot guide?
Boston By Foot offers architectural and historical walking tours of Boston. If you have ever driven around town, you know that to really see Boston you need to get out and walk around.
Boston By Foot has been a staple of Boston since 1976. Boston By Foot is a nonprofit organization where ticket prices just cover operating costs and well-educated guides donate their time. The mission of the organization and its 200+ volunteer docents is to educate the public about Boston's history and architecture.
The number of docents enables Boston By Foot to offer the largest collection of tours in Boston while maintaining a specialized in-depth level of knowledge on each tour. Our diverse menu includes regularly offered tours during the May-October season, Tours of the Month, other special topic tours and customized tours for educational, corporate or private groups.
If you're looking for something more than just saying you were there, consider spending an hour or two with Boston By Foot.
No. Our guides use the architecture and landmarks as the backdrop for the historical accounts they share on their tours. Many docents are working professionals who volunteer their time to lead these tours. Their professions include education, architecture, engineering, research, law, media, medicine, government, business, and management.
What the Boston By Foot docents have in common is their extensive portfolio of knowledge about the city and its history that form the basis for these guided walks. We don't rely on props, role playing or other gimmicks. People are often surprised to find out what their guide actually does for a living after experiencing a Boston By Foot tour.
No, you do not need to buy tickets in advance, although in many cases there is a discount for buying tickets in advance. Tickets can be purchased from your guide at the time of the tour. If you choose this option, please plan to arrive early and be prepared to pay in cash.
We offer one scheduled children's tour during our May through October season. Boston By Little Feet is for children ages 6-12. This one-hour tour features sites in the downtown section of the Freedom Trail.
An additional selection of youth-oriented tours may be arranged for private groups throughout the year.
We also offer educational tours for schools. Popular tours include the Freedom Trail which can be customized for a curriculum, age group, or to include other sites of interest. Johnny Tremain's Boston is a tour of Boston's North End based on Johnny's adventures in the Esther Forbes' prize-winning novel, Johnny Tremain, and is geared for young people ages 11-14 who have read the book.
Scheduled walking tours range in price from $10 to $20 and boat tours range in price from $20 to $27.50. In many cases there is a discount for purchasing tickets in advance online. We do not charge service fees.
Discounted pricing is available for pre-arranged group and private tours, contact us for details.
Boston By Foot members receive free or discounted pricing. Learn more about our membership program.
Boston By Foot tours occur rain or shine! Our guides are trained and prepared to lead tours in inclement weather. However, if a major weather event is predicted, we may cancel tours in advance. If you have purchased tickets for a tour that is canceled, you will be notified and offered an exchange or refund. In the rare event that an unpredicted major storm arises and your guide feels it is necessary to cancel a tour, you will be offered a refund or exchange. Please note that we do not offer refunds if your tour proceeds despite bad weather.
If have purchased tickets for a tour that you are no longer able to attend, we will gladly exchange your ticket for another tour of equal or lesser value. Please call our office during business hours, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, to make the exchange. We cannot offer refunds or exchanges during non-business hours. Our tours begin promptly, so late admittance cannot be guaranteed. Please plan to arrive 10 minutes early and allow ample time to make your way to the starting location and find your guide. We can not offer refunds to latecomers.
In many cases you can get a discsount by purchasing your tickets online in advance.
Another great way to save money is buying a Boston By Foot membership. Membership entitles you to free admission on regularly offered walking tours and a discounted rate on special tours, Tours of the Month and Architecture Cruises. You may join as a member online or at the start of any scheduled walking tour.
Our tour groups are typically smaller and more intimate than commercial tours which leaves plenty of opportunity for interaction with your guide. The size depends on the day of the week, the time of year, and the weather conditions. Larger groups are generally divided among 2 guides (more may be scheduled for larger groups in private tours). Tours are given rain or shine.
Parts of the Freedom Trail are included on several of our regularly offered tours.
The Road to Revolution is a 2 hour tour that travels through the downtown and North End neighborhoods, so it covers more territory than any of our other regulary offered tours. This is an in-depth tour that addresses the many events that led to the American Revolution.
Heart of the Freedom Trail is a 90 minute tour of the downtown section of the Freedom Trail, covering approximately a third of the 2.5 mile path. There are about 10 stops on this tour which include the historical sites of Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, Old State House, Old South Meeting House, Old City Hall and King's Chapel.
Boston By Little Feet is a great way to explore the Freedom Trial with children ages 6-12. It covers many of the same sites as the Heart of the Freedom Trail, but with an interactive and child-friendly focus.
North End: The Gateway to Boston is a 90 minute tour that includes some of the Freedom Trail sites in the North End neighborhood. You will see and hear about the home of Paul Revere, Old North Church, and Copp's Hill burying ground as well as learn about all of history and immigrants that have shaped this neighborhood since the American Revolution.
The Freedom Trail is explored in its enitirety on our annual Independence Day walking tour, Footloose on the Freedom Trail.
Heart of the Freedom Trail and Road to Revolution seem similar, which one is best for me?
Heart of the Freedom Trail and Road to Revolution are both popular tours that feature sites on Boston’s world-famous Freedom Trail.
Our Heart of the Freedom Trail tour is designed to be an introduction to 300 years of Boston’s history and architecture. Focused on the downtown sites of the trail, the tour lasts 90 minutes and is offered daily May through October and on weekends in April and November. It’s a great tour for someone new to the city or someone who would like an overview of Boston’s story.
Road to Revolution focuses heavily on the sites, events and people related to the American Revolution in Boston. It’s the perfect choice for the history buff or someone who wants to learn more about how and why the American Revolution started in Boston. This tour travels through the downtown and North End neighborhoods, so it covers more territory than the introductory Heart of the Freedom Trail tour. It lasts two hours and is offered Friday-Monday May through October and Saturdays and Sundays only in April and November.
Though there is some overlap in the sites the tours visit, each tour has a different focus and are designed so you can take both and still learn a lot!
Tours start promptly at the times listed. Please plan to arrive at least 10 minutes ahead of time to connect with your guide and buy or show your ticket. Late admittance cannot be guaranteed.
All of our scheduled tours start from locations close to T stations. Check the map links on the tour pages for directions and leave extra time for checking with your hotel concierge and navigating if you are unfamiliar with the city. The best route is likely by foot if you are staying downtown.
Our guides will be waiting at the designated locations 15 minutes before the start of a tour. They will be wearing or holding Boston By Foot materials. We do not have ticket booths, nor do our guides wear costumes.
Please take note of the landmarks listed on the tour pages as we mean them literally. For example: at the steps in front of the State House means you will find your guide sitting on or standing in front of the steps.
Not all tours leave from the same location in the city, and not all at the same time each day. Be sure to double check the time for that day and from which location the tour is leaving. If you are unfamiliar with the city, please leave extra time. Navigating the streets of Boston can sometimes be challenging even for locals.
Comfortably! You'll be outdoors for a while so dress appropriately and note that weather in Boston is not easy to predict. Temperatures can swing over ten degrees during a tour and the weather on one side of the city doesn't always indicate what's happening on the other side, especially near the harbor where each intersection has its own weather system. Err on the side of bringing the coat, extra layer or umbrella if you're wondering if it will be needed.
If you have purchased tickets in advance, please bring your printed PDF ticket, or be prepared to show the ticket on your smart phone or tablet. If you did not purchase your tickets in advance, please come prepared to pay in cash. Wear appropriate clothing, including comfortable walking shoes. Water is recommended if it is very warm or a hot beverage is always nice on a chilly day. And don't forget the camera to capture your experience!
We hope that you will continue your exploration of Boston's architecture and history. You can retrace your steps and visit the inside of the buildings featured on the tours such as the Boston Public Library, the Old or New State Houses, the Rose Nichols museum, Paul Revere House, King's Chapel, Otis Museum, Trinity Church, Old North or Old South. You can ask your guide for other fun and interesting things to do in the area.
You might also try a different Boston By Foot walking tour. The North End and Beacon Hill are excellent follow-ups to the Heart of the Freedom Trail tour. Architectural aficionados will love our Back Bay tour and literary buffs will be fascinated with Boston's Literary Landmarks.
Boston By Foot is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We incur expenses just like any other organization, including rent, utilities, insurance and promotional expenses. Though our guides are volunteers, we do have a small staff to run the organization. Our staff is responsible for managing and supporting the 200+ guides, scheduling, coordination, communications and customer service. We aim to keep our prices as low to make our tours accessible to the largest number of people possible.
One way to help Boston By Foot continue this valuable service while keeping ticket prices low is to join as a member. Boston By Foot also gratefully accepts contributions and grants.
We love this question! Each spring Boston By Foot offers a training course given on six consecutive Saturdays. We now have more than 200 enthusiastic volunteer guides who commit to a minimum of eight tours during the regular season. Contact us if you are interested in volunteering some of your time and learning about Boston's history and architecture. You'll never look at the city the same way again!