Boston Tips for the Budget Traveler


“I Hear Boston is Expensive”

Boston does have a tendency to be pricey but like most big cities budget hidden gyms and free activities are in great abundance. You just need to know where to find them. That’s where we come in! Here’s an insider guide on visiting a top East Coast city on a budget. 

Budget Foodies

Cambridge and Boston have a great food scene. While you won’t find Happy Hours (drink specials) anywhere in this city, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat, drink and be merry without breaking the bank.

Pinocchio’s Pizza and Subs

This unassuming pizza and sub shop has been in Harvard Square since 1966. They serve fresh slices of pizza as well as whole pies and subs.

Charlie’s Kitchen

If you’re looking for cheap drinks, cheap bar food, and a great outdoor patio (provided the weather is decent), Charlie’s is the place to be.

Middle East and Zuzu’s

Stop by the front desk and grab a20% off coupon for either of these restaurants! Enjoy live music? Check out their events as well. This Central Square restaurant/event space/bar is a hot spot for daily fun.

Food Trucks

If you’re looking for a quick bite and local flavor, track some of the Boston/Cambridge food trucks. These trucks often hang out near Harvard offering a variety of food. Although most accept cards, some are cash only so keep that in mind!

El Jefe’s

El Jefe’s is a Harvard Square Mexican Restaurant. Build your own tacos, burritos, bowls, and more!

Grendel’s Den

Although drink specials aren’t allowed in the city, Grendel’s offers a Happy Hour nightly from 5-7:30pm. Buy a drink (and they are well priced) and get food for half off! You can’t beat that.

Irving House Breakfast and Coffee

When you stay at Irving House you don’t have to worry about paying for breakfast or coffee. Both are offered daily and are included in your stay.

Getting Around

“In Boston town, of old renown, the gentle cows the pathways made, which grew the streets that keep the stranger quite dismayed.”  That’s the theory on how Boston roads were made – by following the path of cows. While this might not be 100% accurate, it is an old city with interesting streets that bend and end without warning. For this reason (and the traffic), many people rule out driving. And why not when there are so many other ways to get around the city on a budget?

Rent a bike from Cambridge Bicycle

Cambridge is pretty bike friendly. Bike lanes, bike shops, bike stands galore. When you rent from our friends at Cambridge Bicycle you can get $10 off a 24 hour bike rental! Stop by the front desk for a coupon.

The T

The T (Boston’s Subway) is easy to use and just a 10 minute walk from Irving House. The red line will take you to Central Square, MIT, into Boston, and beyond! A day pass is $12 or you can pay $2.75 for a single ride. Plus, if you rent a bike you can also take that with you for no additional cost!

Speaking of the T, did you know you can take it FOR FREE from the airport? Don’t spend $30+ on a taxi when you can take the Silver Line from your terminal to South Station on the red line. Once you’re on the red line, get off at Harvard and walk just 10 minutes to Irving House!

Free and Discount Activities

Harvard Walking Tour

If you want to learn more about Harvard, take a free, student led tour! Space is limited and make sure you check the schedule!

Boston Esplanade

Just on the other side of the Charles River you can explore the Boston Esplanade. Known as the place for the 4th of July fireworks show, this park has much to offer. Not just a park and not just a concert venue, the esplanade also offers some of the best views of Cambridge.

Graffiti Alley

Located in Central Square, Graffiti Alley is a quirky, ever changing alley filled with graffiti art. No two visits are alike because new art is constantly replacing what was before. It’s the perfect spot for a unique picture that represents a different side of Cambridge.


Irving House guests can get 25% off of shows by using a discount code (ask the front desk). It’s a perfect indoor activity for rainy or snowy days.

MIT Museum

From September – June, the last Sunday of the month is free at the MIT Museum.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

This museum offers FREE admission on your birthday. Just be sure to bring your ID.

Museum of Fine Arts

Although not in Cambridge, the MFA is one of the of the top art museums in the US. Wednesdays from 4pm till close are free. Other free days are also offered throughout the year. Just check out their site to see when

Institute of Contemporary Art

Another museum in Boston, the ICA is located in Seaport. The architecture alone is a reason to visit, plus the view of Seaport from the inside. Thursdays after 5pm are free.

When to Visit

Cambridge and Boston *can* be an affordable destination if you’re traveling on a budget. Remember to avoid peak times like May through October. Visiting in the cooler months will save a lot. Plus, Irving House offers rooms with shared baths that tend to cost less as well. Booking directly on our website is your best bet for the best rate. Click here to check rates and book! During your stay, chat with the front desk staff for even more recommendations.