Summer Fun on a Budget

10 things to do in Massachusetts

1 Walden Pond - The land that Henry David Thoreau once lived on has been kept in pristine condition over the years. The water is still a clear blue, and the area is open to swimmers, hikers, kayakers, and cross-country skiers.

- Parking charge of $5

2 Cape Cod National Seashore walking trails - Cape Cod National Seashore not only has its famous beaches - with towering cliffs and sand dunes - it also includes several self-guided trails for hiking through beaches, marshes and wooded areas - perfect for birdwatching or just scenery-gazing.

- The cost for hiking is minimal - the cost of a guide book if you choose to purchase one - and possibly fees for parking nearby. Parking for the beaches costs $15 per day in season, but season-long passes are available for $45.

3 Stroll around Castle Island - Castle Island is a unique city park that offers a beach, a 19th century fort, a fishing pier, and views of Logan International Airport and Boston Harbor activity. The island is connected to the mainland, and the fort and the island are on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

- No charge

4 Shakespeare on Boston Common - Where else can you see Shakespeare for free? All the world may be a stage, but the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common is where you want to head on selected summer evenings for a free Shakespeare performance. For the 2012 season, Coriolanus runs from July 25 to August 12.

- No charge

5 Plum Island - This beautiful island off of Newburyport includes the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, an eight-mile stretch of land that includes beaches, nature trails, marshland, rivers and abundant wildlife. Birdwatchers, bikers and kayakers are drawn to the area, where you might see anything from an osprey to a seal, to a deer.

- Parking costs on the island vary, but are generally under $10

6 Watch Harvard Square street performers - Strolling around Harvard Square on a cool summer evening is a favorite local pastime, and you may catch some quality acts performing on street corners.

- No charge

7 Climb Mount Greylock - At 3,491 feet, Mount Greylock is the highest peak in Massachusetts and offers panoramic views over the Berkshires. You can find wildlife, falls, and even an old-growth red spruce forest over 150 years old within the state forest.

- No charge, although if you drive to the summit, there is a $2 parking fee

8 Wellfleet Drive-in Movie Theatre - After spending a day under the sun, you can watch a flick under the stars at an old-fashioned drive-in movie theater in Wellfleet, Cape Cod. The drive-in was built in 1957, but boasts a "state-of-the-art FM stereo sound system."

- Tickets are currently under $10

9 Bike along Massachusetts' coasts - Massachusetts has a network of bike paths, some which wind along Massachusetts' coastal areas. One of the more popular is the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which stretches 22 miles along old railroad tracks from Wellfleet to South Dennis. Route 127, which runs up the North Shore coastal area, is also popular with bikers. You can venture off the path at certain parts, such as Atlantic Road in Gloucester, which offers breathtaking views. For a recommended trip, start in Manchester and bike all the way up past Rockport.

- Cost of bike equipment and lunch

10 Garden in the Woods - This sanctuary in suburban Framingham offers tours, courses, plant sales, and more than 1600 types of plants and flowers. Check its website for "what's in bloom."

- $10 for adults

(Updated May, 2012)

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