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Why should I take a Boston By Foot tour?

Boston By Foot is a non-profit educational organization committed to inspiring locals and visitors to discover and appreciate the diverse stories of Boston by exploring the cityscape together.

Our affordable and accessible tours are a great way to explore Boston and learn about its history. You'll explore with well-trained volunteer guides who are passionate about sharing our city’s well- and lesser-known history.

Do your guides wear costumes?

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.

Do I need to buy tickets in advance?

Yes. As of May 28, 2021, all of our tours will be fully contactless and will require online reservations in advance.

Do you have tours for children?

Yes. We offer one scheduled children's tour during our May through November 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.

Are children allowed on tours without an accompanying adult?

No. All tour attendees under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult.

Can I bring my dog/pet on the tour?

Trained service animals and their handlers are always welcome on any BBF tour or program. However, we ask that you please leave pets at home. Our public walking tours are carefully designed to be a great experience for all humans! But it may not be the best time for our four-legged friends. Some of the areas we explore on tours may not be pet-friendly, and we also recognize that not all of our attendees are comfortable around dogs and other animals. Private tours are available for groups interested in bringing their canine friends on a Boston By Foot tour.

We follow the Americans with Disabilities Act definition of a service animal. For more information about attending a tour with a service animal, please check out our Accessibility Page.

How much do your tours cost?

Scheduled walking tours range in price from $10 to $20 and boat tours range in price from $20 to $49.

To find out the price for a particular tour, along with the times the tour is offered, select the tour page from the tours menu or view our tour calendar.

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.

What happens if there is bad weather?

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, such as an extreme heat advisory, 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.

How do I book a private tour?

Our most popular tours may be booked online for groups of up to 15 people. For groups of more than 15, or for a specialty tour, please use our Private Tour Request Form. The availability of specific tours will depend on guide availability. We’re happy to work with you to find the date, time, and tour that works best for you! Please note that we do need 1-2 weeks notice in advance of your preferred tour date.

What is your refund policy?

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 cannot offer refunds to latecomers.

How large are the tour groups?

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.

Does your Freedom Trail tour cover the entire trail?

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 60 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.

Should I take Heart of the Freedom Trail or Road to Revolution?

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 60 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 Thursday-Sunday May through October and on weekends 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!

What time does the tour start?

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.

How do I get there?

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.

How will I find you?

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.

How should I dress?

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.

You can check the tour calendar for the 10 day weather forecast.

What should I bring?

If you purchased tickets in advance, please bring your printed PDF ticket(s), or be prepared to show the ticket(s) on your mobile device. If you did not purchase your ticket(s) in advance, you will be required to make your purchase on your mobile device before the tour begins.

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!

What can I do after a tour?

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 The Hub of Literary America.

If you're a nonprofit, why do you charge money?

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.

How can I become a Boston By Foot guide?

We love this question! Each spring Boston By Foot offers a multi-week, hybrid (in person and online) course for new  guides-in-training. 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!