New England weather is notoriously fickle. It can be perfect for a hitting up one of the best hikes near Boston or for viewing fall foliage (or even a day at a Boston beach), but sometimes it's too rainy, too cold, or too darn hot. Instead of vegging out in front of the TV, check out the best indoor activities in Boston and you won't mind the weather. From an active indoor climb to a quiet cup of coffee or a cultural excursion, these indoor activities will keep you occupied until the next beautiful day. 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
The best of the city under one roof
Eating your way through Time Out Market Boston is 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. Time Out Market boasts 15 curated food offerings, a demo kitchen, two slick bars and lots more. There's plenty of seating and some of the biggest culinary names in Boston delivering a varied assortment of delicious dishes and killer bites.
Best indoor activities in Boston
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.
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.
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.
Boston’s most notable art galleries are found in inviting neighborhoods like the Back Bay and the South End, where the SoWa (south of Washington) Art + Design District lures countless art lovers. But art galleries have also spread throughout the city, and to less central neighborhoods, too. You might discover the next great master right on your doorstep.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A good cup of coffee is never far away in Boston. A warm, caffeinated beverage is a great friend on a snowy or rainy day, and a cool iced version helps beat the heat. Either option is best enjoyed in a cozy coffee shop that encourages you to slow down and linger.
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.
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.
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.