Quincy in Norfolk County is commonly known as the birthplace and final resting place of the second and sixth presidents of America.
In the past, it was also a celebrated industrial hub that made a name for itself for its roles in the development and innovations within the fields of shipbuilding, aviation, and granite.
But aside from its historical ties and commercial prowess, the city boasts a bustling urban scene that is thoroughly complemented by surrounding wildlife and nature.
Many of these attractions are even open to the public without any admission fees, which brings us to this encompassing list of free things to do in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Brave the Outdoors at Quincy Quarries Reservation
The Quincy Quarries, said to be the birthplace of large-scale granite quarrying in the United States, is now a popular outdoor attraction in Norfolk County for hiking, rock climbing, and picnics.
This historic but now inactive granite quarry is accessible for free and offers free limited parking on-site.
Aside from recreational outdoor activities, the location of the quarry offers stunning views of the Boston skyline.
Speaking of location, Quincy Quarries Reservation is connected to the trail system of Blue Hills Reservation, a 7,000-acre state park in Massachusetts that covers parts of Quincy, Milton, Braintree, Canton, Dedham, and Randolph.
You can easily access Quincy Quarries Reservation via Ricciuti Drive.
Learn about American History at the Adams National Historical Park
The Adams National Historical Park at Hancock Street offers free admission during the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 16), the First day of National Park Week (April 22), the Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act (August 4), National Public Lands Day (September 23), and Veterans Day.
Visiting the park will allow you to see the great American history through five generations of the patriotic Adams family, including the second U.S. President, John Adams, who was born in the estate.
The Adams National Historical Park is also home to the Stone Library, which boasts 14,000 historic volumes and documents collected across different generations of the Adams family.
The library collection includes papers and books in the fields of classics, literature, language and linguistics, geography, economics, history, and travel.
Take a Break at Hancock Adams Common
Hancock Adams Common at Hancock Street is a contemporary park that connects some of the city center’s notable landmarks, namely the United First Parish Church, Historic Quincy City Hall, and the Hancock Cemetery.
To honor Quincy’s former industry, the city also spent years gathering granite from local projects to be refinished and reused within Hancock Adams Common.
The earnest park design called for reconstructing two major streets to give way to an integrated hub for the park and surrounding historic downtown.
For locals and tourists, the park also makes for a stunning reprieve right at the heart of the busy downtown.
Aside from the nearby places of interest and pillars of historic figures, the elegant urban park is surrounded by trees, granite benches, a fountain, and a beautiful promenade that welcomes pedestrians and cyclists.
See the Remnants of One of America’s Oldest Granite Railway
The Granite Railway in Quincy was one of the first railroads in the United States, built to carry granite from the local quarries to the site of Bunker Hill Monument at Charlestown.
A remnant of this railway is available for public viewing as a historic site in Blue Hills Reservation, while the quarries have been filled in to serve as a hotspot for rock climbing and hiking.
Initially, the railway was built with wooden rails plated with iron, until the rails were replaced with granite rails.
The Granite Railway is also credited for several important inventions, including railway switches, the turntable, and double-truck railroad cars.
If you are in for a longer stroll, the Granite Railway can be traced back to the Quincy Quarries Reservation.
You can find it on Mullin Avenue.
Visit the United First Parish Church
The United First Parish Church is also called the Church of the Presidents because this is where John Adams and John Quincy Adams attended their hometown congregation.
It is also the final resting place of both presidents and their wives, Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams.
Aside from visiting the church, you can also join a free seasonal historic tour of the church and its crypt.
Admission is free, although a donation is encouraged for those visiting the crypt.
You will find the United First Parish Church along Hancock Street, near Hancock Adams Common.
Take Scenic Pictures at Marina Bay
You can visit Marina Bay for free for a relaxing view of the bay and the dynamic architecture of nearby restaurants, neighborhoods, condominiums, and other commercial and entertainment facilities.
The beautiful seaside boardwalk is one of the nicest places to travel on foot, enjoy the sunset or sunrise, take photographs, dine, or simply break away from the frenetic downtown Quincy.
You’ll also get to see the Boston skyline and Neponset River, which should serve as a gorgeous backdrop to all your photos any time of the day.
You can follow Victory Road to easily reach the Marina Bay Complex.
Enjoy Wonderful Views at Squantum Point Park
Squantum Point Park is a former Naval airfield that is now an urban waterfront park with great views of the Boston skyline across the harbor.
The park is also a popular spot for birdwatching, running, cycling, and fishing.
Visiting Squantum Point Park should easily fit into your schedule if you are taking a tour of the nearby Marina Bay Complex.
You can choose to do recreational activities at the park proper or visit the beach area to get a closer look at the other side of the bay.
You can even take some incredible photos of Rainbow Swash (commonly referred to as the Boston gas tank), a popular local landmark on the other side of the bay.
Walk The Presidents Trail to Explore Historic Vistas
The Presidents Trail is an urban walking trail that is perfect for history-loving tourists, as it will take them to several historic landmarks in downtown Quincy.
Some of the vistas you’ll find along the way include Hancock Adams Common, Church of the Presidents, Abigail Adams Cairn, Quincy Town Hall (Old Town Hall), Hancock Cemetery, and more.
The trail is divided into three sections, starting from the Northern Section, a short loop that will take you through open fields and historic houses.
Up next is the Downtown Section of the trail, which will introduce you to other relics of the city’s rich history and its modern landscape featuring local shops, restaurants, and urban parks.
Finally, the Southern Trail will culminate with a gradual 135 feet climb up to the Abigail Adams Cairn, where you will be treated to an exceptional view of downtown Quincy.
Both the Northern and Downtown sections of the Presidents Trail are categorized as easy routes to traverse.
Take a Stroll at Wollaston Beach
Wollaston Beach is located parallel to Quincy Shore Drive in North Quincy and is considered the largest public beach in the Boston harbor.
You can take a lovely walk at the sandy beach or stay at the nearby walkway to simply enjoy the unobstructed view of Quincy Bay.
Since the beach is near the main road, you’ll also find nearby restaurants and other seasonal food places, should you fancy trying local flavors or taking shelter from the sun.
Unfortunately, the water has recently been tagged as unfit for bathing, leaving sightseeing and picnics as the typical reasons why tourists and locals flock to Wollaston Beach.
You’ll find easy access to the beach via Quincy Shore Drive, a historic parkway in Quincy.
Take the Kids to Faxon Park’s Playgrounds
Faxon Park boasts “state-of-the-art” playgrounds for kids of all ages and a walking trail for adults.
The renovated playground has three different play sets for different age groups, with benches and tables nearby to rest and recharge.
Faxon Park also has outdoor picnic areas, as well as a handful of athletic fields for enthusiasts.
The Red Diamond Trail for jogging and walking is three-quarters of a mile long and loops around the southwest part of the park, with visible markers to keep you on track.
You will find Faxon Park along Falls Boulevard.
Take a Souvenir Photo in Front of Quincy’s Old City Hall
The Old City Hall is one of the oldest functioning government buildings in the U.S.
Solomon Willard, the most influential figure in the development of the granite industry in Quincy, designed the establishment.
The exterior is predominantly inspired by Greek Revival architecture that is said to perfectly embody mid-century classical American design.
The Old City Hall is conveniently located near Hancock Adams Common and is one of the popular landmarks you’ll come across if you decide to explore through The Presidents Trail.
Explore Merrymount Park
The 80-acre Merrymount Park is said to be the largest and most utilized public park in the city of Quincy.
Location-wise, Merrymount Park conveniently covers the natural green space in the Merrymount neighborhood, offering visitors a range of wooded uplands, recreational facilities, and acres of salt marsh.
Aside from several lush trails and rows of trees, the park lends visitors a clear view of the ocean, as well as recreational spaces and attractions.
These include the Ruth Gordon Amphitheater, Adams Field (amateur baseball field), Quincy Skate Park, and Ryan Boathouse, the city’s only boating and sailing rental facility.
The park is accessible via Merrymount Parkway.
Visit the Historic Hancock Cemetery
From the 1630s until the mid-800s, Quincy's most important residents and civic leaders were buried in the historic Hancock Cemetery.
You’ll find this historic site just across from The Church of the Presidents and a short walk away from Hancock Adams Common.
The entrance is free, and the cemetery is open daily for curious visitors and history buffs.
Some of the influential people buried here are Henry Adams, Colonel John Quincy, patriot Josiah Quincy, and other notable figures in the history of Quincy and the country.
Visit Abigail Adams Cairn for an Overlooking View of Quincy
The story famously linked to the Abigail Adams Cairn is that Abigail Adams took her young son and future president, John Quincy Adams, to this spot to watch the Battle of Bunker Hill as it was going down.
The cairn, an ancient form of commemoration, was erected by the Daughters of the Revolution in 1896 using materials from private properties and other nearby historic sites.
The Abigail Adams Cairn is located in the Penn’s Hill neighborhood with limited parking, although eager touring guests can also reach the landmark on foot, particularly by following The Presidents Trail.
On top of its historic value, the elevated vista also rewards tourists with a sweeping view of downtown Quincy.
Spend Some Quiet Time at Moswetuset Hummock
The wooded Moswetuset Hummock is a Native American site that is also credited for the origin of the state’s name.
Exploring Moswetuset Hummock isn’t much of a challenge since the area isn’t that big, although traversing the rocky and sometimes slippery surface does call for caution.
The small woodland has some shades and comfortable benches, should you fancy staying for a bit to enjoy a panoramic view of Boston or Quincy.
The 1.5-acre landscape is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public for sightseeing.
Quincy is a city that has deep historical importance not just to Massachusetts but to the country itself.
The abundance of historical sites and cultural landmarks within its borders makes it a fine destination for anyone who loves to track history and celebrate community milestones.
Even better, there are many free things to do in Quincy, Massachusetts, whether you are in it for discoveries or simply looking to have a leisurely time downtown.