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Brooklyn Boulders Somerville
Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Boulders Somerville Brooklyn Boulders Somerville

The best indoor activities in Boston

What to in Boston do when the weather is not that great

By Olivia Vanni and Eric Grossman

You never know what's going to happen when it comes to Boston weather. Sometimes, it can be sunny, temperate and perfect for doing one of the best hikes near Boston, for viewing fall foliage or even for spending the day at a Boston beach. But then, it can also be too rainy, too cold or too friggin' hot. Rather than camping out on the couch and vegging in front of the TV, we encourage you to try one of the best indoor activities the next time it's just plain crummy outside. From a sweaty rockwall climb to a quiet cup of coffee or a cultural excursion, these indoor activities will keep you occupied and comfortable until you can once again return outdoors. 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

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

1. Visit one of Boston’s best museums

Things to do

From contemporary and classic art, to history and science, Boston's wealth of museums covers all kinds of subjects and allows you to 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 natural history collections at Harvard. When you need to spend some time indoors, these cultural hubs offer almost endless educational experiences.

Brooklyn Boulders Somerville
Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Boulders Somerville

2. Go indoor rock climbing

Things to do Somerville

Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville offers thousands of feet of climbing terrain—all under one sheltered complex. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced climber, prefer to boulder or to belay, there’s an option for you. Get a great workout and conquer new heights while avoiding inclimate weather. An added perk: When you’re done, head next door for a celebratory pint at Aeronaut Brewing.

Boston Public Library, Sights and attractions, Boston
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Enjoy the Boston Public Library

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations 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 of this historic building to marvel at its art and mix of 19th-century and modern architecture. (Even better, complimentary guided tours of both the architecture and the art collection are available). Before you head over, check the BPL calendar to see if there’s an author talk or book reading that you can attend. 

Harvard Film Archive
Photograph: Courtesy Harvard Film Archive

4. See what's playing at our top movie theaters


Perhaps one of the most beloved poor weather pastimes is hunkering down in a movie theater and watching the big screen. Whether you’re seeking some AC to escape a real scorcher or simply a roof over your head on a rainy day, our city has plenty of places that can provide refuge and excellent entertainment in the form of film. Check out Boston’s best movie theaters—from landmark institutions screening cinematic classics to modern complexes playing new releases—and grab tickets for those particularly dreary days.

Gallery NAGA
Photograph: Courtesy Gallery NAGA

5. Visit one of Boston’s best art galleries

Things to do

Boston is brimming with art galleries and studios, where you can meet creatives from near and far, explore their work and maybe make a purchase or two. A number of these spaces are situated close to one another in neighborhoods like the Back Bay and South End, which means art lovers with some time on their hands can do a makeshift crawl and visit several in one sitting. Other areas of the city also have their own fair share of art galleries, so don't be afraid to go out of your way—you might just discover the next great master right here in The Hub. 

6. Take shelter and throw axes

Things to do

Ride out that poor weather by getting your lumberjack on at Revolution Axe Throwing. This Everett spot offers everything you need for an indoor axe-throwing outing, including expert instructors who can help anyone who’s never chucked a weapon at a wooden target before. Hour-long reservations are available for groups of six people or fewer, and, after you’re done wielding sharp objects, you can head over to one of the many nearby breweries—Night Shift, Aeronaut or Bone Up—to finish your inside activities with a draft.

Down the Road Beer Co.
Photograph: Courtesy Down the Road Beer Co.

7. Check out our popular local breweries

Bars Breweries

Over the last decade, Boston has seen a boom in renowned craft breweries that use a variety of techniques to make fresh, tasty beer. These breweries offer tours, and most of them have inviting spaces where you can hang out indoors, drink, play games and have 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.

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

8. Visit the Aquarium

Attractions Zoo and aquariums Waterfront

Upon entering the New England Aquarium, you’ll be mesmerized by the 200,000-gallon, saltwater replica of a Caribbean coral reef. Watch as eels, stingrays, turtles and sharks blissfully glide through the water at the center of this aquatic space. 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.


9. Get a chocolate fix at the Taza factory

Shopping Chocolate and candy Somerville

Anytime you need an indoor activity, you can spend some time in Somerville exploring just how chocolate is made—from bean all the way to bar. The Taza factory offers an Intro to Stone Ground Chocolate tour, where you can watch as the local company makes their delicious, minimally processed chocolate using hand-carved granite millstones. You’ll be able to sample Taza's full range of flavors and see exactly why they choose to follow this authentically Oaxacan process to make their products. Be sure to stash up and bring some home.

TD Garden
Photograph: Courtesy TD Garden

10. Cheer on the Bruins or the Celtics

Things to do Event spaces West End

If you’re in Boston, whether as a local or tourist, you have to at least pretend to care about the Celtics and the Bruins. So whenever the weather isn't being too agreeable and you have no choice but to remain inside, go ahead and grab some tickets to whatever game is going on at the Garden. Spend some time cheering for the home team (that would be us) and get ready to hear lots of local accents.


11. Sample some of the best coffee in Boston


A good cup of coffee is never too far away in Boston. Curling uo with a hot caffeinated beverage is a great way to pass a snowy or rainy day, while chugging a cool, iced version of your favorite java drink can truly help beat the heat. Either option is best enjoyed in a cozy coffee shop that encourages you to slow down and linger.

The Banshee
Photograph: Courtesy The Banshee

12. Get comfy at an Irish pub


When the weather is just too extreme, it’s hard to find the motivation to get out and meet up with friends. If you rally and head to one of Boston’s many Irish pubs, though, 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 cold winters, sweltering summers and any crazy storms in between.


13. Shop the Pru and Copley Place

Shopping Shopping centers Back Bay

Head to these adjoining malls to spend hours shopping and dining without ever having to step outside. Shop mid-range chains and luxury brands for clothing, jewelry, accessories, toys and more. Browse carts and kiosks that sell everything from college gear to roasted nuts. Take a break at one of several eateries, including Anna’s Taqueria, Num Pang and Wagamama. And of course, there’s Eataly, where you can spend even more time eating, browsing delectable Italian goods or taking a class.

New City Microcreamery
Photograph: Courtesy New City Microcreamery

14. Cool off with some ice cream


When it gets too hot (or, let’s face it, even when it’s freezing out), nothing will brighten your day than sitting down at one of our city's top ice cream spots. Whether you prefer a classic vanilla softserve on a cone, an innovative flavor like PB & chili, or a vegan scoop, Boston has an ice cream shop that'll be able to suit your frozen treat taste and provide refuge inside as you indulge.


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