10 free outdoor events happening this May

They're easy — way easy — on the wallet.

Lawn on D swings
Visitors using the swings at Lawn on D in 2014. Dina Rudick / The Boston Globe

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Springtime in Boston means heading outside. Fortunately, if you know where to look, many outdoor events are free.

Walk, jog, or bike Memorial Drive

Take in a killer view while walking, jogging, biking, or just plain lounging on Memorial Drive every Sunday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. from now through the second week of November. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) closes the Cambridge side of the drive to car traffic between Western Avenue and Mount Auburn Street so pedestrians can get in some R&R by the Charles River. Spectacular view of the city included. (Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Memorial Drive, Cambridge; all ages)

Take a historic walking tour of Newbury Street

Sure, you’ve shopped and dined on Newbury Street, but have you ever stopped to study the architecture? You’ll have your chance during ArtWeek 2018, when guests will have a rare opportunity to learn about the history of Boston’s famous street from William Young, a former longtime staff member of the Back Bay Architectural Commission. The free tour will focus on how art and architecture have impacted the street, both in the past and present. (Thursday, May 3 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.; Newbury Street, Boston; free)

Celebrate a new season at SoWa Open Market

Take in the sights and sounds of the SoWa Open Market during its 15th season kickoff event on Sunday. More than 175 artisans, farmers, and vendors will greet you, selling everything from art to vegetables to specialty goods like cheese and jam. Don’t miss the lawn games or food trucks, either. New this year will be a SoWa Beer Barn, where adults 21-plus wearing a bracelet can order local brews and ciders. (Sunday, May 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; SoWa, Boston; all ages)

Watch a classic film at the Lawn on D

Grab a lawn chair or a blanket and settle in for a movie at the Lawn on D on Thursdays throughout the month of May. Watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” on May 10, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on May 17, and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on May 31. While you’re at it, hop on an iconic Lawn on D swing. Can’t make a movie night? There are plenty of other free events happening on the lawn throughout the month, such as live music, lawn games, and face painting for kids. (Thursday, May 10, 17, and 31 at 8 p.m.; Lawn on D, Boston; all ages)

Jam out at a Boston Calling block party

Boston Calling will rock out in Allston over Memorial Day weekend, and, yes, it costs money to attend. But you can always drop by the festival’s Block Party series, happening on Thursday nights beginning May 10 and running through Sept. 13. The annual series features a cash bar and local bands playing live music in the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s Dewey Square Park. (Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.; Dewey Square Park, Boston; 21+)


Lilac Sunday at Arnold Arboretum

Ryan Boucher and his daughter Juliet smell the lilacs during Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum in 2015.

Smell hundreds of lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum

You can picnic amid nearly 400 lilac plants at the Arnold Arboretum on May 13 during Lilac Sunday, a 110-year-old tradition. The arboretum’s lilac collection represents more than 165 different kinds of lilacs. Tours of the plants and family activities will take place throughout the day. Guests of the arboretum are allowed to picnic on the grounds, but bring your own food — it won’t be available to purchase. (Sunday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Arnold Arboretum, Boston; all ages)

Explore nature with the fam along the Charles River Esplanade

Go on a nature walk along the Charles River Esplanade with your family this Mother’s Day weekend, and identify the birds and animals along the way. During the two one-mile “Mother’s Day Wildlife Walks” — one at 10 a.m. and one at 11 a.m., both beginning at Fiedler Field — groups will learn about wildlife habitats and ways to help preserve them from Esplanade Association staff. Families will also receive a free pair of binoculars to play “wildlife bingo.” Organizers ask that participants arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled walk. (Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m.; Fiedler Field at the Charles River Esplanade, Boston; all ages)

Soak in the night sky at Boston University

If you enjoy astronomy but don’t own a telescope of your own, you can head over to Boston University’s Coit Observatory for some free stargazing fun. The university hosts a Public Open Night every Wednesday evening (weather permitting), where guests can find telescopes, binoculars, and the astronomy knowledge of an expert. The event is free, but space is limited, so Boston University asks that you reserve a ticket for admission in advance. (Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.; Boston University, Boston; all ages)

Experience new public art at Chinatown Park

Head over to Chinatown Park for a chance to examine a new piece of public art created by artist Risa Puno. The “Year of the Dog” art installation, commissioned by the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy and installed this past February, is made of spinnable wooden blocks that contain traditional Chinese characters and memories and stories gathered from the people who live, work, or play near Chinatown Park. It’s located in front of the park’s Essex Street gate and will be on display until February. (Ongoing; Chinatown Park, Boston; all ages)

Sweat on the Seaport Common

If breaking a sweat outside sounds more appealing than heading to the gym, Seaport Sweat may have your answer. The free outdoor workout series kicks off May 29 on the grass of the Seaport Common and will feature nine workout classes a week for 20 weeks. The classes, which are offered Monday through Friday, include boxing, yoga, and boot camp. (Daily at various times; Seaport Common, Boston; all ages)