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The best indoor activities in Boston

What to in Boston do when the weather is not so great outside

By Gerrish Lopez, Eric Grossman and Time Out Boston Staff |
Brooklyn Boulders Somerville
Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Boulders Somerville Brooklyn Boulders Somerville

New England weather—it can be beautiful one minute and raining buckets the next. When it’s too hot, too cold, or too rainy, you don’t have to be stuck inside all day. Put down that device, turn off the TV, and check out some of the best indoor activities in Boston. You’ll be entertained, active, and protected from the elements. Or you can stay at home and order some of Boston’s best delivery. When the weather improves, take one of the best walking tours in Boston or hit up one of Boston’s best parks.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

Best indoor activities in Boston

Boston Public Market
Photograph: Melissa DiPalma

Sample a variety of foods at a food hall

Food halls are a great way to spend time indoors. Get a bunch of friends together, and everyone can try something different. You can also wander around and graze on snacks and samples. Some food halls, like the Boston Public Market, offer frequent cooking demos and classes. But to experience the best of the city, visit Time Out Market Boston, now open.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Things to Do, Boston
Photograph: Siena Scarff
Things to do

Visit one of Boston’s best museums

From contemporary art to classic works to miracles of science, Boston has a wealth of museums where you can easily lose track of time while staying out of the elements. Enjoy the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum and its lovely cafe; cutting-edge works at the ICA; or one of the best university art collections at Harvard. When you need to spend some time indoors, Boston’s museums offer myriad beautiful, educational experiences.

Sam Adams Brewery
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Thomas C.
Bars, Breweries

Visit the Samuel Adams Brewery

icon-location-pin Roxbury

You’ll find Sam Adams on tap around the city and the country, so why not see where the magic happens? Classic tours are offered every day but Sunday. The tour is free, with a small donation suggested for charity. Learn about the history and the brewing process, sample the beers, and take home a tasting glass. For the more enthusiastic beer aficionado, specialty tours like the Morning Mash-in, Beyond the Brewhouse, and Sam Adams Barrel Aged Experience are available.

Down the Road Beer Co.
Photograph: Courtesy Down the Road Beer Co.
Bars, Breweries

Check out other popular local breweries

Sam Adams isn’t the only beer in town. Boston has spawned a number of renowned craft beer breweries using a variety of techniques to make fresh, tasty beer. These breweries offer tours, and most have inviting spaces where you to hang out indoors with games and snacks. Some are even kid- and pet-friendly. Whether you’re looking to stay warm with a rich winter brew or cool off with a fruity lager, these breweries have you covered.

Boston Public Library, Sights and attractions, Boston
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

Enjoy the Boston Public Library

icon-location-pin Back Bay

The Boston Public library is a great place to curl up with a book—perhaps an old classic or a new release—when you need to stay indoors. You can also stroll the halls and marvel at the art and mix of 19th-century and modern architecture. Even better, complimentary guided tours of both the architecture and the art collection are available. Check the BPL calendar to see if there’s an author talk or book reading.

Brooklyn Boulders Somerville
Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Boulders Somerville
Things to do

Go indoor rock climbing

icon-location-pin Somerville

Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville offers thousands of feet of climbing terrain indoors. Whether beginner or advanced, bouldering or on belay, there’s an option for you. Get a great workout and conquer new heights while staying out of the elements. Bonus—when you’re done, head next door for a celebratory pint at Aeronaut Brewing.

Taza Chocolate
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cristin S.
Shopping, Chocolate and candy

Get a chocolate fix at the Taza factory

icon-location-pin Somerville

Especially in the winter, but any time you need an indoor activity, spend some time exploring chocolate as it goes from bean to bar. Taza makes stone ground chocolate with hand-carved granite millstones, and their Intro to Stone Ground Chocolate Tour will tell you everything you need to know about the process. You’ll be able to sample their full range of chocolates—just try to resist taking some home.

TD Garden
Photograph: Courtesy TD Garden
Things to do, Event spaces

Cheer on the Bruins or the Celtics

icon-location-pin West End

If you’re in Boston, whether as a local or tourist, you have to care about the Celtics and the Bruins. If the weather is not agreeable for an outdoor outing, chances are there’s a game at the Garden. Spend some time cheering for a couple of the best teams in their respective sports, and get ready to hear lots of local accents, as fans rabidly cheer on their favorite players.

The Shops at the Prudential Center
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ada C.
Shopping, Bags and luggage

Shop the Pru

icon-location-pin Back Bay

Head to the Prudential Center for shopping and dining that will keep you inside for hours. Shop mid-range chains for clothing, jewelry, accessories, toys, and more. Browse carts and kiosks selling anything from college gear to roasted nuts. Take a break at one of several dining options, including Anna’s Taqueria, Num Pang, and Wagamama. And of course there’s Eataly, where you can spend more hours browsing delectable Italian goods.

Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center, Things to Do, Boston
Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

Enjoy the views from the Skywalk Observatory

icon-location-pin Back Bay

Whether you’re shopping the Pru or not, the Skywalk Observatory is a great option for beating the heat or staying out of the cold. From this spot atop the Prudential Center, you can get 360-degree views of the city. In the winter, gaze upon snow-covered rooftops and the frozen Charles River. In the summer, stay cool while enjoying views as far as 80 miles away.

New England Aquarium, Sights and attractions, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher
Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Visit the Aquarium

icon-location-pin Waterfront

Upon entering the New England Aquarium, you’ll be mesmerized by the 200,000-gallon saltwater replica of a Caribbean coral reef. Watch eels, stingrays, turtles, and sharks blissfully glide through the water. Pet a sea urchin or starfish in the touch tank, and see what the penguins are up to in their habitat. When you’re done with the animals, see what’s showing at the IMAX theater.

The Banshee
Photograph: Courtesy The Banshee

Stay warm at an Irish pub

When the snow starts to pile up in the winter, it’s hard to find the motivation to get out and meet up with friends. Head to one of Boston’s many Irish pubs though, and you’ll be glad you left the house. Warm and lively, with plenty of hearty beers on tap, these authentic pubs are a pleasant way to help you get through the cold winters.

Emack & Bolio's
Photograph: Courtesy Emack & Bolio's

Cool off with some ice cream

When it gets too hot (or, let’s face it - even when it’s cold out), get yourself to one of these top ice cream spots. Whether you prefer a classic vanilla cone, an innovative flavor like PB & chili, or a vegan scoop, Boston has an ice cream shop where you can stay inside and indulge.