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21 Free Things to Do in Boston

By Mara Vorhees, Lonely Planet Writer
January 12, 2022
A view of Boston's Freedom Trail with historic buildings and church
F11photo/Dreamstime
Boston may have a reputation for posh living and pricey lodging, but it's also home to an array of freebies.

Bostonians pay notoriously high prices for baseball tickets and real estate. But fortunately, budget travelers can experience the best of Boston without paying a cent. Here’s the scoop on 21 free (or nearly free) things to do, see, hear, eat and even drink.

1. Follow the footsteps of revolutionaries on the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is the best introduction to Revolutionary War-era Boston. This 2.5-mile, red-brick path winds its way past 16 sites that earned this town its status as the Cradle of Liberty. Follow the trail on your own, or hook up with a free guided tour by the National Park Service. Departing from Faneuil Hall, the tours max out at 30 people, so arrive early to secure your spot. Outside of the tour season, you can download a map to use. Many of the sites along the trail are also free to enter.

2. Sit in the Governor’s Pew in King’s Chapel

The stately Georgian architecture of King's Chapel contains a bell crafted by Paul Revere and the prestigious Governor’s Pew, where George Washington once sat. It’s a lovely setting for weekly noontime recitals (Tuesday). Admission is always free, but a $4 donation is recommended.

3. Eat lunch at Boston’s historic marketplace

Lunch is not free, but the history lesson is. Take a look around the Great Hall and listen to a ranger talk about historic Faneuil Hall and its role as market and meeting place. Then head to Quincy Market to take your pick from dozens of affordable food stalls.

4. Take a tour of the Massachusetts State House

Visit the Massachusetts State House, the so-called `hub of the solar system’ to learn about the state insect (the ladybug) and to pay your respects to the Sacred Cod. Free tours led by The Doric Docents (volunteer tour guides) are Monday through Friday and visit the ceremonial halls, the legislative chambers and the executive branch.

5. Experience a sailor’s life aboard the USS Constitution

The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship, and it is docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Navy officers lead free tours of the upper decks, where you will learn about the ship's exploits in America’s earliest naval battles. You don’t need money, but you do need a photo ID.

6. Explore the fort and lounge on the beach at Castle Island

Castle Island isn't really an island, but a vast, green waterside park with amazing skyline views. The massive Fort Independence is open for exploration and free tours. Otherwise, you can relax on the beach, fish from the pier or dip your toes into the chilly harbor waters.

7. Walk the Black Heritage Trail

On Beacon Hill, the 1.6-mile Black Heritage Trail explores the history of abolitionism and African American settlement in Boston. Download a map for a self-guided walking tour; or meet up with the free NPS tour, which departs from the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial.

8. Climb to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument

The landmark obelisk marks the site of the fateful battle in June 1775 that turned the tides of the War for Independence. Climb the 294 steps of the Bunker Hill Monument to the top for an impressive panorama of city, sea and sky. You’ll expend nothing but energy.

9. Enjoy a day at The Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library was built as a 'shrine of letters’ but it's also a temple of art and architecture. Free guided tours depart from the main entrance; or you can pick up a brochure and guide yourself around the stunning, mural-painted halls. The BPL also hosts author talks, musical performances and other free events.

10. Get a glimpse of Boston’s excellent art collections

Boston is considered the Athens of America, so you should probably check out the art. On Wednesdays after 4pm, admission to the Museum of Fine Arts is by donation (pay what you can, though $25 is suggested). On Thursdays after 5pm, the Institute of Contemporary Art hosts Free Thursday Night.

11. Tour JFK's birthplace

John F Kennedy was born and raised in this modest clapboard house in Brookline, now listed as the JFK National Historic Site. Listen to Rose Kennedy’s reminiscence, as you peruse the furnishings, photographs and mementos that have been preserved since the Kennedys lived here. Guided tours are half an hour Wednesday through Sunday (9:30am - 5pm). The site will be closed from November 2019 through 2020 for renovations.

12. Get the inside scoop on America’s oldest university

Students lead free historical tours of Harvard Yard, also sharing their own perspectives on student life. The one-hour tours depart from the Smith Campus Center. Space is limited, so arrive early during busy seasons.

13. Admire the Longfellow National Historic Site

For 45 years, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived and wrote poetry in this stately Georgian manor near Harvard Square. The Longfellow National Historic Site is open Wednesdays-Sundays through October 27. The mansion contains many of the poet’s personal belongings, as well as lush period gardens.

14. Enjoy open-air entertainment at the Hatch Memorial Shell

The Charles River Esplanade is Boston’s backyard, a fine venue for picnics, bike rides and leisurely strolls. Even better, all summer long, the Hatch Memorial Shell hosts free events like outdoor concerts, family flicks and Dancing in the Park.

15. Hobnob with artists at SoWa First Fridays

From the former factories and warehouses in the South End, artists have carved out studios and gallery space. The SoWa Artists Guild hosts an open studio event on the first Friday of every month (5 to 9pm). Come examine the art and mingle with the resident creatives.

16. Sneak a peek inside Fenway Park

If you can’t get tickets to the big game, you can still sneak a peek inside Fenway Park. The Bleacher Bar is accessible from the street, with a window looking onto center field. The bar gets packed during games when there’s usually a waiting list for window seating.

17. Winterland fun in Harvard

Bundle up! Boston is full of opportunities for winter fun. Havard Common Spaces hosts a Winter Fest at The Plaza which is open and free to the public. Try your hand at ice curling, ice bowling or ice shuffleboard.

18. Grab a cheap and tasty lunch from the Falafel King

Two words: free falafel. That’s right, Falafel King customers are treated to a free sample while they wait. If you’re looking for lunch, this hole in the wall is quick and delicious.

19. Sample Boston’s finest on a Samuel Adams Brewery tour

Head to Jamaica Plain to see the birthplace of America’s original craft beer. On the Samuel Adams Brewery Classic Tour, learn about the history of the company, witness the brewing process and sample the goods. By 'goods’, we mean frothy lagers, refreshing pilsners and tasty ales. Tickets are first-come, first-serve; tours run Monday - Saturday (11:15am-5pm) and are open to all ages. Must be 21 to drink. The suggested $2 donation is passed on to local charities.

20. Lunch with a side of history at Boston Common

Unwind at America's oldest park. Enjoy a family picnic or just relax and people watch. Summertime is for Shakespeare and the winters are for ice skating at Frog Pond.

21. Let your kids romp at the Boston Children's Museum

From the Art Studio to the Construction Zone, the Boston Children’s Museum is fun for all. It’s not free, but 'Target Fridays' mean that admission is only $1 on Friday after 5pm.

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Budget Travel Lists

7 Things to Do in Detroit

Though its ups and downs, Detroit has never lacked in creativity or industriousness. In fact, you can say that's what made it a world-class city to begin with, what with its trail-blazing motor vehicle industry and, of course, Motown, easily the most globally renowned record label in history. It famously struggled as a city in the years after the recession, but locals are fired up these days and their creativity and entrepreneurial grit have restored Detroit's magnificence. Here are a few things to see, do, taste, and try next time you visit Motor City. 1. Visit a Shrine to American Music Motown Museum (Liza Weisstuch) There are plaques and big signs outside of Berry Gordy’s former house indicating that you’re approaching the Motown Museum, but if they weren’t there, you could easily overlook the house on the none-too-notable West Grand Boulevard. This childhood home of Gordy, founder of Motown, later came to house Studio A, one of music’s most famous rooms in the world. Today, the house is a museum of, if not a shrine to, the iconic label (motownmuseum.org). The main thing to know is that you can only go through om a guided tour, which is offered every 30 minutes. Tour guides, each one an engaging entertainer in his/her own right, take you through the history of the label, from the early careers of Smoky Robinson, the Jackson 5, Diana Ross, so many others, to the heyday of the studio where legends were made. Gallery-esque displays feature treasures like Michael Jackson’s crystal-encrusted glove. It’s also a showcase of crowning Hitsville moments and behind-the-scenes personalities, like the songwriters and etiquette instructor Maxine Powell, who taught the Supremes how to strut and gave the Temptations their polish. The tour finishes up in the renowned studio A, where you can marvel at original recording equipment and Little Stevie Wonder’s piano. You can feel the power within the walls. It’s the same power McCartney felt when he visited and, the guide will tell you, he got down on his knees and kissed the floor. 2. Listen to the Sounds of Detroit Today Northern Lights Lounge (Liza Weisstuch) When you enter Studio A, you’ll see a bass guitar propped upright next to the piano. The base belonged to Dennis Coffey, a Motown session musician who recorded on some of the best known albums in history. Coffey is still alive and playing gigs, and you can catch him each Tuesday at Northern Lights Lounge (northernlightslounge.com), a unpretentious bar with a cozy lodge-meets-rec-room feel, a well-worn slab of mahogany, round booths for groups, and a stage where funk, soul, R&B, and jazz are king. Coffey wrote the book—literally—about being a session musician, which you can buy at the gig. Detroit is like New Orleans in that it’s almost hard to avoid seeing live music. For a full-on concert, check out what’s on at the Masonic Temple (themasonic.com), a vintage gem that Jack White saved from the wrecking ball and turned into an auditorium for contemporary acts. There’s a packed lineup of jazz musicians—local and national—at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge (officialbakerskeyboardlounge.com), said to be the oldest jazz club in the world. Local and national rock bands perform at Smalls (smallsbardetroit.com), an intimate spot with pub grub and pool tables. And check the schedule at Third Man Records, another Jack White endeavor. They often host rock and alternative bands on their in-store stage, some of which are recorded and pressed into exclusive records. 3. Wander Detroit's Oldest Neighborhood, a Hub of Modern Creativity Cork & Gabel (Liza Weisstuch) Historically, Corktown was a vibrant district where Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine in the 1940s lived and prospered and built Victorian-style homes. The neighborhood, the oldest in Detroit, is anchored by Michigan Central Station, an architectural marvel with marble finishes, soaring arches and 14 marble pillars. A series of mishaps left it derelict in recent decades, but Ford purchased it in 2018, which, in a way, was the ultimate mark of Corktown’s revival. New, hip businesses have opened at a steady clip since the early 2000s. Today, the hip district is a destination for its many restaurants and bars, like the Motor City Wine, a laidback bar/shop with a popular patio and live music most nights; Sugar House, a craft cocktail bar that’s turned out to be an incubator, of sorts, for many bartenders who went on to open their own bars; Astro Coffee, a charming locally-minded café that was one of Corktown’s early revivalists, and Lady of the House, noted chef Kate Williams's restaurant featuring creative American fare and a thoughtful menu of cocktails, beer, and wine. The newest eatery to move in, the gastropub-esque Cork & Gabel, serves a German/Irish/Italian menu in a sweeping industrial-chic space 4. Fun and Games Maryland has duckpin bowling (short, fat-bottom pins, softball-size ball), New England has candlepin bowling (thin pins, slightly larger ball), and Detroit has feather bowling, which sits at the intersection of shuffleboard, bowling, and bocce ball. Long popular in Belgium, it’s said to have arrived in Detroit in the 1930s, brought over by immigrants who gathered at Cadieux Café to hurl a heavy wood object resembling a wheel of cheese down a curved dirt-covered alley at a feather. The Café is still a lively place to try the game—and other Belgian signatures, like steamed mussels and the country’s distinctive beer. If more contemporary sports are your preference, you're in for a treat. Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers’ stadium, sits smack in the middle of downtown, surrounded by plenty of restaurants and green spaces. Take note: Comercia is celebrated for its food offerings. And as if America’s pastime isn’t kid-friendly enough, this open-air stadium features a carousel and a Ferris wheel. The longstanding Joe Louis Arena, home the Red Wings, the city’s NHL team, and the Pistons (basketball), was demolished years ago and replaced by the sleek Little Caesars Arena, a $862.9 million stadium in Midtown. Rounding out the urban trifecta is Ford Stadium, home of the Lions, Detroit’s NFL team. 5. The Great Outdoors Detroit may be legendary for its motor vehicle industry, but these days, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors on foot. The Detroit International River Walk, for instance, opened along the Detroit River in 2007 and stands as a model of urban revitalization. The five-and-a-half-mile riverside path passes through once-blighted areas and William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, which features fishing docks. Attractions like a custom-designed carousel, fountains where kids can splash around in, outdoor performance venues, beautifully landscaped “Garden Rooms,” and public art. There are bike trails as well as walking paths, the latter of which terminate at Belle Isle, a 982-acre island park that separates Michigan from Canada. 6. Cass Corridor: Where Makers Take the Spotlight Third Man Records (Liza Weisstuch) Everyone knows Motown and Ford defined Detroit; a company that carries the torch for the city's defining manufacturing culture is Shinola, a luxury goods maker established in the city in 2011 and known for its exquisite watches, bicycles, leather goods, jewelry, and more. Its watches and watchbands are handmade at a factory in a local historic building. You can take a tour there to learn about the intricate details of Swiss-style watchmaking. Or just marvel at the finished products at the company’s flagship store in Cass Corridor, a pocket of Midtown that was once known for its Victorian mansions, several of which have recently been rehabbed after many years of neglect. The Corridor is a mini-neighborhood, of sorts, with businesses that typify the city’s creativity and industriousness. The focal point of the street is Third Man Records, crowned with a giant radio antennae on the top. Jack White’s studio/retail store that also houses a stage for live performances and a vinyl-pressing plant. (You can see the action behind windows in the store, or sign up for a tour.) Across the street is Nest, a shop that stocks books about the city, locally made jewelry and home goods. 7. Get Cultured One of the excellent docents at the Detroit Institute of Arts, with Diego Rivera's mural "Detroit Industry" (Liza Weisstuch) One of the many things that makes Detroit so visitor-friendly the fact that all its epic cultural institutions sit practically side-by-side. The Cultural Center Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was planned in 1910 and its landmarks endure: the grand Detroit Public Library (1921), a white marble Italian Renaissance-style building; the Beaux Arts-style Detroit Institute of Arts (1927), and the Horace H. Rackham Education Memorial Building (1933), part of the University of Michigan. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History opened next to DIA in 1965 and the kid-friendly Michigan Science Center, complete with a planetarium, a 4D theater, and hands-on exhibits, opened its doors in 2011. You don’t have to spend much time traveling from place to place, a major boon because each institution is so densely packed with things to see that you’ll need as much time at all of them that you can get.

Budget Travel Lists

Travel by Train: 7 Awesome Routes for Seeing the U.S.A.

When you're not in a rush to get to your destination, there's no better way to travel than by the slow, steady pace of a train. Though often associated with a European vacation, there are plenty of scenic and adventurous rail routes that you can take right here in—and across—the United States. Train travel offers an up-close look at your very own backyard, whether you're chugging along through the mountains or unhurriedly making your way through the scenic Northeast—all for a price that's often lower than a flight. Ready to see the country by rail? Here are seven train trips that can’t be beat. 1. Adirondack: An International Journey, With Landscape Views Take the stress out of an international flight and climb aboard Amtrak’s Adirondack (amtrak.com/adirondack-train), which takes leaves from Manhattan’s Penn Station and arrives in Montreal less than 11 hours later. The train winds its way through the Hudson Valley’s wine country and the farms of Albany and the Adirondack Mountains. It’s an especially popular route for leaf peepers during the fall, as the already breathtaking scenery is painted in glorious shades of orange, red and brown. (For prime views, make your way up to the dome car.) And pro tip: Since this is an international route, be sure to pack your passport. One-way tickets start at $70. 2. Pacific Surfliner: California Dreaming Surf the coast by rail on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner (pacificsurfliner.com), which takes you through 351 miles of beautiful southern California. The golden coast journey starts in San Diego and ends in San Luis Obispo, stopping in SoCal hotspots like Anaheim, Los Angeles, Carpinteria, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Juan Capistrano. The train tracks hug the Pacific coast and riders can often spot dolphins, California sea lions, and even whales—right from the comfort of their seats. The Pacific Surfliner includes a café car—with plenty of wine options—as well as a bike rack, so you can easily take your wheels and hit the trails as soon as you hop off the train. One-way tickets start at $61.25. 3. Sunset Limited: Watch the Dynamic Southwest Change Before Your Eyes Amtrak’s southern-most route, Sunset Limited (amtrak.com/sunset-limited-train), takes riders on a 48-hour scenic journey of the American southwest, from New Orleans all the way to Los Angeles. From the bayou to the canyons of southwestern Texas to the California mountains, pass through scenery that’s largely inaccessible by car, so have your camera out and be ready to capture it from your seat. Though this route doesn’t take you to into the national parks, the train will stop at their doorsteps. As part of a partnership between the National Parks Service and Amtrak, a national parks guide will often be on board to explain the changing vistas and landscapes as you slowly make your way through, which is all part of a partnership between Amtrak and the National Parks Service. One-way tickets start at $314. 4. Grand Canyon Railway: An American Natural Wonder Awaits Avoid the traffic of Grand Canyon National Park and ride to the iconic destination in style on the Grand Canyon Railway (thetrain.com). The round-trip train route, which takes a little over two hours, begins in Williams, Arizona, and arrives inside Grand Canyon National Park, giving riders plenty of time to explore before heading back in the afternoon. On the journey, riders are lucky enough to get magnificent views of the Ponderosa Pine Forest in Williams, the wide-open prairies, and the San Francisco peaks, all while marveling at (and feeling) the change in elevation. Travelers can also often catch glimpses of wildlife such as elk, mountain lions, and bald eagle throughout the trip. Round-trip ticket prices from $70 to $226. 5. Napa Valley Wine Train: A Toast to the Vineyards of California Just when you think that being in Napa Valley couldn’t get more elegant, the Napa Valley Wine Train (winetrain.com)—a beautifully restored 100-year-old railcar—makes any visit to wine country even more indulgent. The train’s route is short—just 30 miles from downtown Napa to St. Helena—but it’s an unforgettable way to view the vineyards as you ride through California farmland, all while holding a glass of wine in your hand. You can choose between a three- or six-hour trip, depending on whether you want a tasting tour, or a gourmet, multi-course meal served on board during your journey. And of course, there is plenty of wine tasting to be had while you’re chugging along. Ticket packages start at around $200. 6. Vermonter: A Breathtaking Trip Along the Eastern Seaboard Watch the New England landscape shift from big cities to beautiful pastoral scenes on Amtrak’s Vemonter train (amtrak.com/vermonter-train), which runs daily service between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, a small town in northern Vermont. The trip, which clocks in at just under 14 hours, winds through all the east coast highlights: the big metropolises of New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore and the quaint countryside of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The Vermonter not only provides unbelievable views out your passenger window of skyscrapers, farmland, beautiful churches, and sweeping valleys, but it’s also a great source of transportation for skiers, as it provides easy access to resorts like Bolton Valley and Sugarbush. One-way tickets start at $74. 7. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: A Vintage Steam-Powered Journey Through Colorado Step back in time and experience Colorado’s beauty on the coal-fired, steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train (durangotrain.com), which offers service between the two mountain towns. The train trip, 3.5 hours each way, allows passengers to eat lunch and explore the former mining town for a couple of hours before heading back to Durango. Along the way, riders can glimpse canyons along the Animas River and the plentiful spruces of the San Juan National Forest as the train steadily chugs along through the changing elevation levels. Riders can also opt to be dropped off to fish and hike at secluded locations that are inaccessible by car. Round-trip tickest start at $89.

Budget Travel Lists

10 Affordable Alternatives to This Summer’s Top Destinations

Summer is approaching at a rapid clip, which means vacation-planning is in full force. And when it comes to booking hotels, flights, and the rest, value-hunting is the name of the game. According to TripAdvisor’s newly released 2019 Summer Vacation Value Report, you can score excellent hotel deals in the most popular destinations in the U.S. But those serious about saving will appreciate the study’s key finding: alternative options to the summer’s hotspots. The Most Popular Destinations from Coast to Coast The top picks will come as no surprise: Orlando, Las Vegas, and Myrtle Beach nabbed the highest three spots, followed by Maui, New York City, Key West, and New Orleans. Ocean City, San Diego and Virginia Beach finished off the list. The destinations were determined by a survey of more than 3,500 travelers, conducted in May. According to a TripAdvisor spokesperson, 92% of members are planning summer trips, up 12 percent from last year. Broadly speaking, the survey revealed that 48 percent of U.S. travelers this summer will vacation as a couple and 37 percent will travel as a family. The average length of a trip is one week. Appealing Alternatives According to the survey, straying just a little—but not too much—off the crowded paths can save you up to 38 percent on hotel prices. Orlando, the number-one summer destination, has hotel rooms averaging about $216 per night, but prices in Kissimmee, located about 23 miles south, clock in around $137. Las Vegas, which boasts some of America’s lowest hotel rates at an average of $167, is bested by Reno, where rooms can be had for about $144. Myrtle Beach prices hover around $250 while rooms in Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a cool $200. Thinking about Maui? Try Oahu instead, where seasonal hotel prices are about $200 lower than the Hawaiian hotspot’s $533. And if New York City has your heart but your wallet calls the shots, check out Philly, where prices average $258, a great deal compared to NYC’s $329. To round out the list, Key Largo is cited as the alternative to Key West, Miami is a good second-choice to New Orleans; Nags Head, North Carolina, should be your go-to if Ocean City rates are too high; hotel prices in Mammoth Lakes top San Diego's; and Williamsburg, Virginia is more affordable in the summertime than Virginia Beach.For travel inspiration, know-how, deals, and more, sign up for Budget Travel's free e-newsletter.

Budget Travel Lists

6 Cool Pedestrian Bridges You Should Walk Across

Gatlinburg’s SkyBridge, which opened today, is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the U.S., spanning 680 feet over a valley in the Great Smoky Mountains. An impressive feat indeed, but it's not the first of its ilk—from coast to coast, the United States is full of show-stopping structures just waiting to be explored. Offering epic views of manmade skylines and natural wonders alike, here are six awesome American bridges perfect for a stroll. 1. Skylift Bridge: Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Courtesy SkyLift Park) At the top of Crockett Mountain, on the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, SkyLift Park (gatlinburgskylift.com) is home to that brand-new record-breaking suspension bridge. At its highest point, it's 140 feet off the ground, but you don’t have to make the climb on your own. Take the chairlift, an iconic Gatlinburg attraction dating to 1954, and get off at the top, where you can hang out on the deck to nurse a pint, snap the perfect selfie, and oh yes, conquer the bridge. The walking path is five feet wide, so you shouldn’t have to worry about navigating the right-of-way in tight environs (when in doubt, single file!), but don’t look down if you’re squeamish—especially in the middle, where glass panels let you see past your toes and straight into the depths below. Tickets, $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $15 for kids ages 4-11, ages 3 and under free. The lift is accessible for passengers who are able to stand up to load on and off, and wheelchairs can be rented for free at the top, but the bridge itself is not wheelchair accessible. 2. Navajo Bridge: Glen Canyon, Arizona and Utah (Amelia Takacs/Dreamstime) The first direct route between Utah and Arizona, the Navajo Bridge (nps.gov/glca) opened to cars in 1929, and for nearly 70 years, drivers on highway 89A took that route to cross the Colorado River. But the area’s transportation needs eventually overwhelmed the historic structure, and its 18-foot-wide road became too much for the heavier cars and trucks of the late 20th century. Construction began on a new bridge that would run parallel to the old one, and upon its completion in 1995, the original bridge was opened to foot traffic. Today, the steel-and-concrete trestle looms 467 feet above the river, with a visitors center and a bookstore on the west side. On the Navajo Nation side to the east, Native American craftspeople set up shop, and the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center offers outdoor exhibits and self-guided walks across the bridge.Park entry, $30 per car or $15 per person on foot or bike. The historic bridge is wheelchair accessible. 3. BP Pedestrian Bridge: Chicago (F11photo/Dreamstime) The BP Pedestrian Bridge (millenniumparkfoundation.org), Frank Gehry’s first and, to date, only bridge, can be found in downtown Chicago, where it wends its way over Columbus Drive, connecting Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park over lane upon lane of urban traffic. Completed in 2004, the undulating overpass is covered with the famed architect’s signature sculptural stainless-steel panels and spans nearly two-tenths of a mile, providing both skyline and park views along the way. It’s also a companion piece to Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion—though the outdoor amphitheater has an impressive aerial sound system, the bridge contributes to the experience, serving as an acoustic barrier for free performances and festivals of all stripes.Free. The bridge is accessible, with gently sloping wheelchair-friendly ramps at each entrance. 4. Tilikum Crossing: Portland, Oregon (Vitpho/Dreamstime) With a Native American name symbolic of connection and friendship that nods to the region’s early people, Portland’s Tilikum Crossing (trimet.org/tilikum) opened in 2015, becoming the area's first new bridge across the Willamette River in 40-plus years. Roughly 1,700 feet long and utilizing more than three miles of cable, the cable-stayed bridge has lanes for buses and trains and separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians—no cars allowed—with a design takes its cues from the surrounding landscape. The sloping angle of the top cable mimics the slope of Mt. Hood in the distance, while the 180-foot-tall towers at the bridge's center have angled tops that blend with the tree line. Taking it to the next level, aesthetic lighting works in direct synthesis with the environment: LED lights on the cables and towers change color based on the flow of the river, with the water’s temperature affecting the shifting hues and its speed setting the pace for the colors' movement across the bridge. Free. The bridge is wheelchair-accessible, with extra-wide pullouts around the towers where visitors can pause to take in the views. 5. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge: Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa (Courtesy VisitOmaha.com) At 3,000 feet, including its landings, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (visitomaha.com/bob) is the longest footbridge connecting two states, stretching over the Missouri River between Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Since its official opening in 2008, the walkway has become so integral to the communities it links that it’s taken on a life of its own: Named for the former Nebraska governor and state senator who championed the project, it’s now known simply as Bob, an anthropomorphic structure with an active social-media presence and a few thousand followers. The cable-stayed bridge features 210-foot LED-lit pylons and a curving pathway that echoes the winding river beneath, hovering 60 feet above the Missouri at its midway point and connecting to 150 miles of nature trails and family-friendly public spaces on either side. Free. The bridge is wheelchair accessible and ADA-compliant. 6. Walkway Over the Hudson: Poughkeepsie, New York (Liz Van Steenburgh/Dreamstime) Opened in 1889 as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge and transformed into a pedestrian trail in 2009, New York’s Walkway Over the Hudson (walkway.org) is a state park with a storied history. Originally introduced as an industrial line, the bridge was transporting passengers between major east coast cities within a year of its debut; during World War II, it was painted black to prevent against attacks, and in 1974 its tracks were destroyed by a fire likely sparked by a train’s brakes. Today, some half a million people travel the 1.28-mile footpath from Poughkeepsie to the town of Lloyd in Ulster County, soaking up gorgeous, 360-degree views of the Catskills and the Hudson Highlands from 212 feet above the river. For even more natural splendor, the linear park connects with two rail-trail networks, the Hudson Valley and the Dutchess, to offer 18 miles of walking and cycling in verdant environs.Free, except during special events. Both entrances are wheelchair accessible and ADA-compliant, and a 21-story glass elevator operates seasonally on the Poughkeepsie side. For travel inspiration, know-how, deals, and more, sign up for Budget Travel's free e-newsletter.