Tour Boston by Water Inexpensively

Boston Water Tours

Planning a family-friendly vacation in Boston doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, especially if a substantial portion of your itinerary focuses on enjoying the many nature-based attractions in and around the city. Since no matter where you go in Boston, you’re never too far from a body of water, it’s fitting that one of the most popular activities in the area consists of hopping on a boat and taking a scenic tour of the region’s sights, many with deep historic ties.

The appeal of water tours in Boston is undeniable. As you cruise along the city’s historic waterfront, you’ll be captivated by stunning views of iconic landmarks such as the Boston Harbor Islands, the USS Constitution, and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. The city’s skyline, with its towering skyscrapers and architectural gems, takes on a whole new perspective when viewed from the water.

In this post, we’ve got you covered with some of the best and most affordable water tours in Boston. From the Charles River to the Boston Harbor, we’ll guide you through the best budget-friendly water tours in the city. So, get ready to see some incredible views, learn some history, and explore the city in a new and exciting way, all while staying within your budget. Let’s dive in!

Charles Riverboat Company

The go-to company for a trip along the Charles River and Boston Harbor is the Charles Riverboat Company, which was founded in 1990 by Captain Russell Cushman. Intent on helping others appreciate the waterways to the fullest, Cushman had riverboats constructed capable of completing scenic cruises while also allowing passage under nine low bridges interspersed along the Charles.

Charles Riverboat Company boat
Charles Riverboat Company boat by chris.rycroft

Now a hugely popular cruise outlet, the company offers several very affordable trips each day, during the regular season from May until October. For the general price of $13 (adults), $10 (seniors), or $6 (children), riders can choose from tours of the Charles River or Boston Harbor, in addition to group tours, which include discounted fares for parties of 20 to 200 individuals, and special events, such as the U.S.S. Constitution Turn Around Cruise on the Fourth of July.

Daily sunset cruises at 6 pm and 7:30 pm, from June through August, feature the extra touch of cocktails at a full bar. Children are welcome on the trips, as well, but tickets must be purchased a week in advance.

Visit Charles Riverboat Company online to learn more about one of the biggest and most memorable bargains for vacationers in Boston. As the 60- to 75-minute cruises depart from Canal Park, mere feet from the entrance of East Cambridge’s CambridgeSide Galleria, it’s easy to extend a river tour into a day of shopping and/or dining at the mall’s numerous stores and eateries.

The company has even partnered with the mall and the world-famous restaurant the Cheesecake Factory to make special lunch and shopping packages available for tour participants. These currently include lunch and a cruise for $29.75 per person (includes one entrée, non-alcoholic beverage, and a cheesecake dessert) and savings coupons for various stores.

Canal Park at CambridgeSide Galleria: 100 CambridgeSide Place, Cambridge, 617-621-3001

Water Tour Destinations

Exploring the city’s waterways through affordable water tours is not only a budget-friendly option but also a fantastic way to experience the charm and beauty of Boston from a unique perspective.

Boston Harbor.

This bustling harbor is home to a plethora of attractions, including the famous Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, the New England Aquarium, and the historic Fort Independence. Exploring the harbor on a budget-friendly water tour will not only give you a chance to see these iconic attractions up close but also provide you with stunning views of the city’s skyline and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

USS Constitution is tugged through Boston Harbor.
USS Constitution is tugged through Boston Harbor. by Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Boston Harbor Islands.

These islands, accessible by ferry, offer a serene getaway from the bustling city. With affordable ferry services available, you can spend a day exploring the beautiful landscapes, hiking trails, and secluded beaches of the Boston Harbor Islands. It’s a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature without breaking the bank.

Boston Seaport District.

This vibrant neighborhood is known for its modern architecture, trendy restaurants, and lively atmosphere. Taking a budget-friendly boat tour around the Seaport District will give you a chance to admire the stunning waterfront developments, soak in the vibrant energy of the area, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of the iconic Boston Fish Pier in action.

Seaport District, Fort Point Channel - Boston
Seaport District, Fort Point Channel – Boston by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Charles River.

This iconic river flows through the heart of the city, offering breathtaking views of Boston’s skyline and landmarks such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the historic Cambridge neighborhood. Many tour companies offer affordable boat rides along the Charles River, allowing visitors to soak in the city’s beauty while learning about its fascinating history.

Tips for finding discounts

With a little savvy planning and research, you can find incredible discounts, deals, and promotions on water tours that will make your experience even more affordable. Here are some helpful tips to help you navigate the waters while keeping your budget intact.

  • Sign up for newsletters and alerts: Many tour companies offer exclusive discounts and promotions to their subscribers. Make sure to sign up for their newsletters or follow them on social media to stay informed about any upcoming deals or special offers.
  • Check online deal websites: Websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Travelzoo often feature discounted water tours in Boston. Keep an eye out for these deals and snatch them up when they become available. Just be sure to read the fine print and check for any restrictions or blackout dates.
  • Utilize local tourist information centers: Visit the local tourist information centers or visitor bureaus in Boston. They often have valuable resources and brochures that include coupons and discounts for various water tours.
  • Timing is key: Consider visiting during the off-peak season or weekdays when tour prices tend to be lower. Additionally, some tour operators may offer discounted rates for specific time slots or last-minute bookings. Stay flexible and be open to taking advantage of these opportunities.
  • Combine packages: Look for package deals that include multiple attractions or activities. Some tour companies may offer discounted rates if you book a water tour along with other popular tourist attractions in the city. This way, you can save money while enjoying a comprehensive experience of Boston’s waterways.
  • Ask for local discounts: Don’t be afraid to inquire about local discounts. Some tour operators may offer special rates for residents or students. Remember to bring valid identification to take advantage of these discounts.

Final Word

We hope our ultimate guide to affordable water tours in Boston has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration for exploring the city’s beautiful waterways on a budget. From the iconic Charles River to the stunning Boston Harbor, there are plenty of affordable options available to experience the city from a unique perspective. By following our tips and recommendations, you’ll be able to enjoy memorable water tours without breaking the bank. So grab your camera, sunscreen, and sense of adventure, and get ready to embark on an affordable and unforgettable journey through Boston’s picturesque waterways.

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