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Time Out Boston
Image: Time Out Boston

The 50 best things to do in Boston

Want to know the best things to do in Boston? Here’s your year-round guide to having a good time in The Hub.

By Eric Grossman, Time Out Boston Staff and Gerrish Lopez

January 2021: We’re all about making the most out of what's left of 2020. Temps are dropping, but there are still plenty of cool things to do outdoors while safely getting some fresh air. Among the best things to do year-round in Boston are beloved pastimes that take place away from the elements, but given the current conditions, options like awesome hiking, scenic beaches, calming cruises and heated outdoor dining should move to the top of your list.

Given the ever-changing nature of government rules and restrictions, not everything listed here might be open to the public — remember to always confirm plans in advance.

No matter where your interests lie, you can always find something to get excited about in the Hub. The best things to do in Boston run the gamut—from seriously fun to awesomely educational. Looking for culture? Spend a day exploring Boston museums. Hungry? You've come to the right place. There are tons of amazing restaurants in Boston that highlight the city's rich and diverse culinary landscape. We've searched all across the city to assemble this list of the best things to do in Boston. Follow it and never get bored here again.

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the best things to do in the world right now.

50 best things to do in Boston

Boston Common
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Wander around the Boston Common and Public Garden

What is it? Americas first botanical garden (Public Garden, 1837) and oldest public park (Boston Common, 1634).

Why go? The dual jewels of the Emerald Necklace perfectly reflect the vision of venerated landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Depending on the season, you can ice-skate on Frog Pond, play softball or tennis, or simply lounge with a book on the 50-acre Boston Common. But its smaller adjunct across Charles Street, the Public Garden, is the real star; its the perfect park in miniature, with pathways designed for promenading, formal flower beds and a petite lagoon fringed with weeping willows. 

Don’t miss: The seasonally operated, waterfowl-shaped Swan Boats (introduced in 1877) are adored by children. 

Photograph: Courtesy gconservancy

2. Stroll the Greenway

What is it? This verdant, mile-long ribbon of grassy parks and outdoor resting places invites the weary traveler (or office warrior) to stop and take a break. 

Why go? The linear park covers an expansive 15 acres that connect the Chinatown Gate with the iconic Zakim Bridge. During the day, people stroll, bike and lounge along its length, which is dotted with fountains and serviced by food trucks, making the area the perfect warm-weather hangout.

Don’t miss: Keep an eye out for the periodic festivals, events, and parades taking place on or near the park.

B&G Oysters, lobster roll
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Marianne P.

3. Try one or all of the city’s freshest lobster rolls


What is it? Perhaps the ultimate seafood treat, lobster rolls are found on menus across town.

Why go? The best lobster dishes in Boston feature the beloved crustacean in a variety of ways, but a fresh lobster roll is a go-to option any time of year in Boston. Sourced from cold waters along the New England coast, chunks of sweet lobster meat are removed from the shell, allowing diners to enjoy all of the flavor with none of the messy work. Classic versions, like the famed roll at Neptune Oyster, are served hot or cold on a humble toasted bun, while more modern versions—see Eventide Fenway's brown butter lobster roll on a Chinese-style bun—are a bit more upscale.

Dont miss: For a low-key, no-frills lobster roll experience, head to Belle Isle Seafood in quiet Winthrop. 

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

4. Explore the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Museums Art and design Mission Hill

What is it? Modeled on a Venetian palace, the former home of the American art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner is a sightseeing gem. 

Why go? As per Gardner’s explicit instructions, the museum stands “for the education and enrichment of the public forever.” The ISG’s most famous treasures remain unlabeled, turning the whole thing into a glorious guessing game (printed guides in each room are on hand to help, as is the museum's website). The museum also boasts a flower-filled courtyard that blooms all year long. 

Don’t miss: Enjoy free admission on your birthday; anyone with the first name Isabella gets in for free as well.

Concord Bridge
Photograph: Courtesy GBCVB

5. Take a hike


What is it? Serious local hikers may head farther afield to the White Mountains or the Appalachian Trail, but when you just need a little bit of nature, there are plenty of quality hikes near Boston that are easy to get to.

Why go? Whether it’s climbing a lung-busting hill or exploring trails through scenic wooded reservations, these Boston hikes offer relaxation and a healthy dose of fresh air. 

Don't miss: Just a few minutes outside of the city proper the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation has 125 miles of resplendent hiking trails. Climb to the top of Great Blue Hill and enjoy an unmatched view of the city skyline.

Freedom Trail, Sights and attractions, Boston
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Retrace historic steps along the Freedom Trail

What is it? A stroll along the Freedom Trail is a great way to take in local history and culture.

Why go? While the Freedom Trail isn’t the only historical walk in town, it's the most famous for a reason. The self-guided, 2.5-mile tour provides a useful sightseeing starting point for newcomers, and locals always spot something new to appreciate along the way.

Don’t miss: Improve your photo skills with a PhotoWalks Beacon Hill tour.

Boston sunset cruise
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kunal Mukherjee

7. Get a different perspective of the city from a cruise on the water

Things to do

What is it? Ask locals for a special occasion recommendation and they’ll likely tell you to get out on the water by taking one of the city’s best cruises.

Why go? Nautical types will argue how the best way to truly see the city in all of its glory is through an entertaining, informative cruise. A longtime local favorite, Odyssey Cruises offers a variety of cruises; most feature food, drink, live music, and dancing. 

Dont miss: If time on the water has you fiending for fish, seek out one of Bostons best seafood restaurants.

Arnold Arboretum, Boston, park
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Smell the flowers at the Arnold Arboretum

What is it? The 281-acre Arboretum, one of the world’s leading centers for plant study, was planned and designed in collaboration with Frederick Law Olmsted in 1872.

Why go? As a National Historic Landmark, the Arboretum is one of the best preserved of Olmsted’s landscapes. With thousands of trees, shrubs, and woody vines, it's also recognized as one of the most comprehensive and best documented of its kind in the world. Take a stroll on a nice day to see see bursts of green, blooming flowers, and plenty of birds.

Don’t miss: Free guided tours are available on designated days throughout the year.

Select Oyster Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Select Oyster Bar

9. Slurp the freshest local bivalves at a popular oyster bar

What is it? Boston is famous for its fresh seafood; enjoy the fruits of the sea with a visit to one of the city’s top oyster bars.

Why go? Ever since the Union Oyster House opened in 1826, raw oysters have been integral to Boston’s culinary scene. Today, the briny bivalves appear on a wide array of restaurant menus. You'll find locally-sourced varieties including Wellfleet, Cotuit, and Glidden Point as well as popular imports like Kumamotos. Oyster happy hours are a great way to sample these goodies at a lower price.

Don’t miss: Cozy spots like B&G Oysters and North Square Oyster offer oyster-friendly wine pairings, while Row 34 can match the perfect beer.

New England Aquarium, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy New England Aquarium

10. Visit the penguins at the New England Aquarium

Attractions Zoo and aquariums Waterfront

What is it? New England’s largest aquarium, and one of Boston’s most popular attractions.

Why go? More than 80 African, rockhopper and little blue penguins live in the New England Aquarium’s first-floor display, which surrounds the Giant Ocean Tank, a gigantic coral reef exhibit that's home to myriad marine creatures—including sharks and loggerhead sea turtles. The building is designed in such a way that the penguins can be seen from multiple vantage points. 

Don’t miss: Be sure to say hi to the harbor seals at their enclosure out front (free and open to the public), even if you’re not visiting the aquarium.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Institute of Contemporary Art/Chuck Choi

11. Browse the Institute of Contemporary Art

Museums Art and design Seaport District

What is it? The dramatic, glass-walled ICA is unquestionably the cultural cornerstone of the buzzing Seaport District. 

Why go? The 65,000-square-foot building houses galleries, a theater, and a café. The museum staff prides itself on providing a platform for challenging, sometimes controversial works. After youve contemplated the art, retreat to the scenic outdoor deck, site of myriad performances and events. Note: Admission is free on Thursdays from 5pm-9pm.

Don’t miss: Across the water in East Boston, the ICA Watershed is a seasonal satellite gallery, open Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Museum of Fine Arts
Photograph: Roger Metcalf

12. See world class art at the Museum of Fine Arts

Museums Art and design Fenway/Kenmore

What is it? Founded in 1870, the Museum of Fine Artswhose globe-spanning collection encompasses more than 500,000 objectscontinues to grow and innovate.  

Why go? Of particular note is the collection of American art, including Paul Revere’s Liberty Bowl and paintings by John Singleton Copley; the Egyptian collection, much of which was acquired through excavations in conjunction with Harvard University; the Japanese collection (the first in America, and one of the finest in the country); and the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist sections, including one of the largest collections of Monet's work outside Paris. 

Don’t miss: The museum offers one of the citys best freebies on Wednesdays after 4pm, when admission is by voluntary contribution. 

Encore Boston Harbor
Photograph: Courtesy Encore Boston Harbor

13. Shop, dine and go big at Encore Boston Harbor

Things to do

What is it? Encore Boston Harbor is the mega-casino resort Boston has been waiting for.

Why go? The 210,000-square-foot complex—which cost nearly $3 billion—includes 15 dining and lounge venues, 671 guest rooms and suites, 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, and an ultra-premium spa.

Don't miss: The four-season, six-acre Harborwalk features pedestrian and bike paths, picnic park, gazebo, viewing decks, waterfront dining, and lush green space with magnificent floral displays.

Photograph: Dmadeo

14. Discover the deCordova Museum & Sculpture Park

Museums Art and design

What is it? Head west to suburban Lincoln to visit the former estate of Massachusetts merchant Julian de Cordova. 

Why go? Even during the peak of winter or dog days of summer, the deCordova Museum & Sculpture Park lures art lovers to its a 35-acre spread in leafy Lincoln. Open year-round, the regions premier outdoor sculpture park is the perfect place to get some fresh air while checking out world-class art. The ever-changing indoor exhibits provide shelter from the sometimes-fickle elements.

Don’t miss: Check the museumcalendar to learn about special outdoor events and the like.


Newbury Street
Photograph: Shutterstock

15. Splurge on Newbury Street

What is it? Boston’s premier retail strip wins kudos for its sheer volume and variety of shops.

Why go? Between Arlington Street and Massachusetts Avenue, there are eight blocks of bow-fronted brick townhouses stuffed with everything from ultra-luxe designers like Chanel and Burberry to chic boutiques (Intermix, Rag & Bone) and international chains. With a never-ending assortment of galleries, salons, cafés, bars and eateries to explore, you can easily spend an entire day browsing, relaxing and indulging here.

Don’t miss: If youre more interested in unique, indie finds, head to the neighboring South End

Harbor Islands
Photograph: Kyle Klein Photography/GBCVB

16. Hit the beach


What is it? There are a number of awesome beaches not far from the city.

Why go? Some of the best can be found north of the city in Essex County. Crane Beach, which can be reached by a shuttle bus that departs from the Ipswich commuter rail station throughout the summer, boasts some of the best wildlife-attracting salt marshes around. Another pair of relaxing destinations—Singing Beach and Good Harbor Beach—are also accessible by the commuter rail. 

Don’t miss: If you’re not content with merely relaxing by the waves, hop on the train to Plum Island, where you can also explore the seaside town of Newburyport.

Photograph: Shutterstock

17. Watch out for whales and enjoy some fresh air

What is it? The waters surrounding Boston offer some of the best whale watching opportunities in the US.

Why go? Whale watching isn’t just for school field trips. Hop on one of the boats departing Boston Harbor daily and rediscover how awesome it actually is to be within spitting distance of the largest mammals on earth. Bring a sweater and park yourself at the hull of the boat for the day and keep your eyes on the water. 

Don’t miss: Don’t make the rookie mistake of shunning sun protection, or youll join those who resemble lobsters after picking up a wicked sunburn.

Pier 6
Photograph: Courtesy Pier 6

18. Enjoy a breeze with your meal at a waterfront restaurant


What is it? Some of the best restaurants in Boston feature prime waterfront dining. 

Why go? When warm sun and cool breezes are the norm, there's no better place to dine than on the waterfront. From fresh seafood to a simple hot dog, everything tastes better when there's a vew. Waterfront restaurant locations stretch from the Harbor to the beach. Indulge in lobster rolls, elevated Mexican cuisine, or a tasty roast beef sandwich, all with a view of the water.

Don't miss: Legal Harborside, the flagship location of the Legal Sea Foods empire, has waterfront dining, rooftop dining with a view of the Harbor, and is within earshot of concerts at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion.

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

19. Learn something new at the Boston Public Library

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations Back Bay

What is it? The BPL (1852) contains approximately 19 million volumes and electronic resources, making it the second-largest public library in the US behind only the Library of Congress.

Why go? At nearly 1 million square feet, the BPL impresses like few libraries can. The original structure, designed by Charles McKim and completed in 1895, is now the research library, while an extension (opened in 1972) functions as the general library. Talks, performances, and tours delight culture vultures, and recent renovations have introduced interactive elements to the complex.

Don’t miss: At the center of the library is a cloistered courtyard, one of the citys most beautiful, tranquil places to read a book.

Harvard University, Sights and attractions, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

20. Get a feel for Ivy League life with a tour of Harvard

What is it? There’s a lot more on the grounds of Harvard University than elite pupils and posing tourists.

Why go? The iconic red brick walls contain some truly stunning stories, and a visit will connect you to a Whos Who of American history—alumni include John Hancock, JFK and Barack Obama, while Matt Damon, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are among the famous dropouts. The campus also features striking architecture designed by such luminaries as Bulfinch, Le Corbusier (his only American building), and Sert.

Don’t miss: Steps from campus, Harvard Square contains some of the best eating and shopping in the city.

Mapparium, Sights and attractions, Boston
Photograph: Mark Thayer

21. Discover a lost world at the Mapparium

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations Fenway/Kenmore

What is it? Located inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library, The Mapparium is essentially a three-story model of the globe built to scale. 

Why go? Calling all geography nerds: The Mapparium, the worlds largest walk-in globe, is among the citys quirkiest landmarks. The perfect sphere runs 30 feet in diameter and can be crossed by means of a glass bridge that bisects its interior. Inside, sound bounces off the globe rooms non-porous glass walls, amplifying it ten-fold—which means that whispered sweet nothings from your partner across the room register directly in your ear.

Don’t miss: The 608 stained-glass panels recreate the world as it was in the mid-1930s, when the project was completed. (Keen eyes will note the outdated borders.)

Museum of Fine Arts
Photograph: Shutterstock

22. Save some cash and check out the best free things to do

Things to do

What is it? Not all of the best things in life come for free. But gratis enjoyments can be found all around Boston, a city known for its high cost of living.

Why go? An outing in Boston makes for a pretty great cheap date, owing to the city’s ample history, architecture, museums, green spaces and exciting performances.

Don't miss: The city's museums are world-class, even more attractive on their various free days.

The Colonnade
Photograph: Courtesy The Colonnade

23. See Boston from above at a rooftop bar


What is it? An assortment of rooftop bars provide killer views of the city.

Why go? Boston never looks better than it does when youre drinking a designer cocktail at a buzzing rooftop bar. Popular options include hip hotel spots such as Rooftop@Revere and Lookout Rooftop and Bar. For a low-key alfresco option, head to Harvard Square, where the rooftop lounge at Daedalus is a favorite of local academics.

Dont miss: Besides killer water views, the rooftop lounge at Legal Harborside offers the chance to hear live tunes from the neighboring Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion.

Gilliland Observatory, Things to Do, Boston
Photograph: Nicolaus Czarnecki

24. Look for the stars during public stargazing programs

What is it? A pair of astronomy programs—both free to the public—offer primo star-watching opportunities.

Why go? Every Wednesday night (weather permitting), Boston University’s Coit Observatory offers free (tickets required) public viewings of the stars. The program starts at 7:30pm in fall/winter, 8:30pm in spring/summer. Visitors can use telescopes and binoculars to see the great beyond. At the Museum of Science, the Astronomy After Hours program is offered for free on Friday nights from April through October. Both are weather permitting—call first.

Don’t miss: IMAX movies in the five-story Mugar Omni Theater and multimedia shows at the Charles Hayden Planetarium, when visiting the Museum of Science.

Franklin Park Zoo, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Zoo New England

25. Get wild at the Franklin Park Zoo

Attractions Zoo and aquariums Roxbury

What is it? The citys zoo wont make any national best-of lists, but its compact size and kid-friendly approach make it a local favorite.

Why go? As fascinating as lions and tigers are on the TV screen, they’re far more impressive in the flesh. The zoo—whose mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain endangered species—has them all, as well as zebras, gorillas, giraffes and a host of other exotic animals that wouldn’t normally be seen in the wilds of New England. 

Don’t miss: Little visitors are well-served at the childrens zoo, which features everything from a prairie dog neighborhood to a grass maze.

SoWa Artists Guild, Museums and galleries, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy SoWa Artists Guild

26. Get an inside view of SoWa’s studios

Art Galleries South End

What is it? As the citys premier artistic hub, the 450 Harrison building is a veritable hive of artistic activity in the back of the South End. 

Why go? Many artists open their doors a few times a month for open studios events where they greet locals and visitors. First Fridays (5-9pm) is the flagship event; held each month, more than 200 artists, galleries, shops and showrooms welcome everyone from art aficionados to afterwork activity-seekers for an evening of art, wine, cheese and mingling.

Don’t miss: Once youve had your fill of art, follow the other culture vultures by enjoying the best of the South End.

Photograph: Courtesy Eataly

27. Explore culinary creations at Boston's best food halls


What is it? The food hall trend is exploding here in Boston, with a wealth of food halls popping up around the city.

Why Go? Food halls are a great dining choice when you’re with a group of friends with different tastes—there’s something for everyone. Boston food halls offer all types of food—spanning numerous genres and cuisine types—all in one spot. They make for a great anytime meeting spot; just show up and see what kind of mood you’re in.

Don't Miss: Eataly is a haven for Italian food enthusiasts. The Boston Public Market has fresh produce in addition to prepared foods.

Bon Me Truck
Photograph: Courtesy Bon Me

28. Check out a food truck


What is it? Food trucks are often a testing ground for new chefs, leading to popular brick-and-mortar locations (Clover, now a local empire, started as a mere food truck).

Why go? Food trucks offer convenien, delicious fare that can be enjoyed outdoors. From tacos to noodles to grilled cheese, food trucks have a range of fast, fun bites.

Don't miss: Many trucks set up near ideal picnic spots like Copley Square or the Rose Kennedy Greenway, so take a lunch break outdoors and enjoy the weather.

John F Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

29. Ask not what your country can do for you at the JFK Library

Museums History Dorchester

What is it? Located behind UMass Boston’s Dorchester campus, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum occupies I.M. Peis dramatic concrete-and-glass monolith.

Why go? The well-presented multimedia journey through the former president’s life continues to fascinate, as do temporary exhibits and special events that incorporate politics, culture, and current events. On the ground floor, the stunning atrium commands panoramic views of the sea and the city. Downstairs, the museum contains an extensive display of memorabilia, as well as a series of temporary shows. 

Don’t miss: Check the Librarys homepage in advance to learn about special events and award ceremonies.

Boston Marathon
Photograph: FayFoto/Boston

30. Plan for the Boston Marathon

Things to do

What is it? The Boston Marathon dates back to 1897, making it the world’s oldest annual marathon. It draws more than 30,000 participants from around the world and thousands of spectators who party and cheer their hearts out.

Why go? The 2021 Boston Marathon, normally held in April, has been postponed indefinitely. That gives you more time to train for it, or just figure out where you'll watch it.

Don't miss: There are several prime spots for watching the marathon. Heartbreak Hill, 20 miles in, is a great spot to offer encouragement as runners tackle a half mile uphill stretch.

The Fours
Photograph: Courtesy The Fours

31. Cheer on the local teams at the liveliest sports bars


What is it? The next best thing to being at the game, these sports bars are the best spots to cheer on the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins.

Why Go? Of all the fantastic things to do in Boston, catching a game has got to be somewhere near the top of the list, whether it's hearing the roar of Red Sox fans at Fenway, braving the cold to cheer on the Patriots in Foxborough, or celebrating a Celtics or Bruins win at the Garden. You can't always make it there in person (or travel for away games), but good beer, lively company, and lots of screens make these bars a great alternative.

Don't miss: For fans of memorabilia, McGreevy's is a shrine to the Red Sox (and the Dropkick Murphy's), while the walls of The Fours are plastered with photos, jerseys, balls, and more from all teams.

TD Garden
Photograph: Courtesy TD Garden

32. Catch a game or a show at the TD Garden

Things to do Event spaces West End

What is it? Besides serving as the home for the NBA’s Celtics and NHL’s Bruins, the city’s premier arena hosts big-name concerts and events.

Why go? While it’s not the original Boston Garden (a no-frills venue that hosted some of the most important cultural events in Boston history), the spirit of Boston sports runs deep throughout the venue. An assortment of fans—from intense locals whose season tickets go back decades to new-school supporters sporting the latest in merch and gear—scream and shout while supporting the local teams.

Don’t miss: Fuel up before a big game with a killer Italian meal in the neighboring North End.

North End festival
Courtesy: Creative Commons

33. Join an Italian festival in the North End

What is it? In the summer months, the North End goes full-throttle as the local Italian community throws a number of lively feasts and festivals in honor of Italian saints. 

Why go? The streets fill with participants and bystanders alike, all watching the confetti fly, the banners sway and the processions make their way through the narrow cobblestone streets. The biggest celebrations, such as the Fisherman’s Feast of the Madonna and Saint Anthony’s Feast (both in August), bring out capacity crowds. Expect great food, live entertainment, enthusiastic vendors, and statues covered in dollar bills.

Don’t miss: Given the crowds, traffic, and lack of parking, it’s wise to take the T to Haymarket. Brush up on the best spots for Italian, pizza, and more with the North End neighborhood guide.

Sam Adams Brewery
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Thomas C.

34. Sample the best of local breweries

What is it? For a city that’s often hamstrung by booze-related blue laws, Boston sure has a fine collection of breweries. 

Why go? Historically, the city’s most famous brewer was Samuel Adams, the Revolutionary and “maltster” for whom the city's most famous beer is named. Tours of the Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain are as inexpensive ($2 suggested donation) as they are entertaining. But recent years have seen a craft brewery boom across the city. Taste small-batch farmhouse-style ales at Fort Point’s Trillium Brewing Company, or experimental suds at Somerville’s Aeronaut Brewing Company, founded by a science-focused trio with MIT connections.

Don’t miss: Any of the lively, beer-fueled holiday festivals at the Harpoon Brewery.

Black Rose
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

35. Drink a proper pint at an authentic Irish pub


What is it? Boston’s collection of cozy, welcoming Irish pubs might just be the most impressive in the country.

Why go? In a city chock full of proud Irish expats and Irish-Americans, it’s little wonder Boston boasts an excess of authentic Irish pubs. To get the full experience, head in on a lively trivia night, or during an authentic Irish live music performance. Longtime favorites such as The Burren, and The Druid all but guarantee a lively night of big laughs and fun times.

Dont miss: For a centrally-located option with nightly live Irish music, look no further than the Black Rose.

J.P. Licks, Restaurants and cafés, Boston
Photograph: J.P. Licks

36. Stop for a scoop at Boston’s best ice cream shops

What is it? According to some studies, New Englanders eat more ice cream than just about anyone, which explains Bostons impressive array of ice cream shops.

Why go? J.P. Licks is a local institution, with branches scattered all over the city serving creamy, crowd-pleasing flavors. A bit tougher to get to is Inman Square’s Christina’s, a favorite for painstakingly-crafted, seasonal flavors such as fresh rose, burnt sugar and ginger molasses. Toscanini's is another Cambridge spot with offbeat ingredients; the staff constantly labors to come up with new and interesting varieties like salty caramel or green tea.

Don’t miss: Make an evening of it by checking out Picco in the South End, where you can enjoy gourmet pizza followed by homemade ice cream.


SoWa Open Market
Photograph: Courtesy SoWa Open Market

37. Find local goods and goodies at SoWa Open Market

Shopping Markets and fairs South End

What is it? The South Ends SoWa Open Market runs every Sunday from May through October. 

Why go?The area becomes a street festival that draws visitors from all over the city and beyond. Around 200 makers and vendors sample and sell their wares, and there's a farmers' market, food truck bazaar, and beer barn. Both kid- and pet-friendly, the market is a favorite area pastime among young families.

Don’t miss: There’s more inside the market building—the SoWa Vintage Market (Sundays, 11am-4pm) offers stall after stall of quirky vintage clothes and housewares.

The Landing
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

38. Have a drink outside


What is it? Head to one of these outdoor Boston bars where you can enjoy sun and fun as the weather improves.

Why go? From cheery terraces to waterfront views, these outdoor bars in Boston offer al fresco drinks and a good dose of fresh air. 

Don't miss: Some spots like B&G Oysters offer cozy outdoor space to enjoy both excellent drinks and delicoius food.

Photograph: Shutterstock

39. Take a foodie crawl through Chinatown

What is it? As one of the Bostons most densely-packed and exotic neighborhoods, Chinatown thrills adventurous gourmands. 

Why go? Many of the citys best Chinese restaurants can be found in Chinatown. Rather than sticking to one spot and doing a big meal, pace yourself by walking around the neighborhood, snacking along the way. Gourmet Dumpling House is a smart place to start; enjoy some house-made dumplings with spicy dipping sauce to fire up your palate. Next, stamp your culinary passport by trying a few Taiwanese specialities at Taiwan Cafe. Finish off with a bang at Peach Farm, where you can select seafood straight from the tanks.

Don’t miss: Exotic hand-pulled noodles at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe.


Harvard Art Museums
Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Bill Comstock

40. Study fine art at the Harvard Art Museums

Museums Art and design Harvard Sq

What is it? Harvard’s history and status help to explain how it has one of the country’s best university art collections. 

Why go? Following a lengthy expansion project, Harvard’s three art institutions—the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum—were united under one Renzo Piano–designed glass roof. Visitors are able to peruse highlights from the university’s collection of roughly 250,000 pieces, from Neolithic sculpture to 21st-century conceptual installations. 

Don’t miss: Harvards Museum of Natural History, home to one of the universitys most famous treasures, the acclaimed Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants.

colorful produce, farmer's market
Photograph: Sarah Bentivegna

41. Browse a farmers market for local produce


What is it? Over the past decade, the Boston area has become flush with farmers markets, each a colorful display of locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Why go? Environmentally and nutritionally sound, market shopping is a favorite pasttime of local foodies. And while the best market experiences can be had during the warmer months, there are a few markets—e.g. Boston Public Market, Haymarket—that remain open year-round, meaning you can score tempting small-batch dairy and homemade baked goods whenever you like.

Dont miss: For a centrally-located option, look no further than Boston’s biggest and busiest, the Copley Square Farmers Market (open mid-May through mid-November).

Sacco's Bowl Haven, Things to Do, Nightlife, Boston
Photograph: Bing/Creative Commons Attributions License

42. Go candlepin bowling at Sacco’s Bowl Haven

Restaurants Pizza Somerville

What is it? A unique, casual Somerville hangout where you can enjoy gourmet pizza and craft brews while trying your hand at candlepin bowling.

Why go? Candlepin bowling is a uniquely New England quirk—the pins are tall and much thinner than those of standard ten-pin, and balls are closer to softball-sized. For those seeking this social, group-friendly activity, the lovingly maintained Sacco’s Bowl Haven (which dates back to 1939) at the Somerville location of Flatbread Company is a local favorite. An eclectic mix waits for lanes to open up while nibbling on organic pizzas with eccentric toppings.

Don’t miss: Reservations are accepted for groups of eight or more; call ahead or expect to wait.

Central Square
Photograph: Sara Skolnick

43. Dance the night away at a hot club

What is it? Boston’s best clubs might not compare to the nightlife in Miami or Vegas, but there are plenty of popular options for late-night fun.

Why go? With hot spots such as Royale, Venu, and Icon, the Theatre District hostss biggest concentration of nightclubs. A far cry from the Top 40 club-banging hotspots on the other side of the river, Central Square offers an eclectic assortment of places to shake it like there's no tomorrow. Popular options include house DJ nights at the Middlesex Lounge, the eclectic throwback and hip-hop parties at Phoenix Landing.

Don’t miss: If toe-tapping along to live jazz is more your speed, check out Wallys, a South End institution.

44. See Shakespeare for free on the Common

What is it? Boston’s favorite way to see Shakespeare is in the park, sitting on a blanket while (discreetly) enjoying treats from home. 

Why go? Claim a grassy spot on the Boston Common and check out the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's productions of the Bard’s best works, with performances taking place during some of July and August. All performances are free, making for a perfect summertime date or relaxing literary outing.

Don’t miss: Boston is one of America's best cities for theater, with Shakespeare productions taking place regularly. Consult our Theater Guide to learn more.


Fenway Park, Sights and attractions, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

45. Root for the home team at Fenway Park

Things to do Sport events Fenway/Kenmore

What is it? Seeing a game at Fenway Park has been a rite of passage among most locals since it opened in 1912.

Why go? As the oldest ballpark in the majors, its one the smallest, with a capacity of around 38,000, meaning tickets can be hard to come by for big games. Fortunately, public tours are offered year-round, wowing even non-baseball types by detailing the park's colorful history and intricate details. 

Don’t miss: If you get the chance, take a seat atop the stadiums most distinctive feature, the 37-foot-high left-field wall known as the Green Monster. Before or after the game, check out all the great restaurants, bars, and other things to do in the Fenway neighborhood.

Middle East
Photograph: Michael Young

46. Catch a concert at the Middle East

Music Music venues Central Sq

What is it? One of New England’s best locations for live music features a kaleidoscope of genres and styles.

Why go? Most nights of the week, the Middle East will host a show on each of its stages—upstairs, downstairs, and the corner. Weekends are especially busy, with frequent matinee concerts. Each Saturday night, the complex’s fourth branch—the bar and restaurant ZuZu—hosts "Soulelujah," a funky throwdown fueled by classic soul tracks.

Don’t miss: Keep the party going by enjoying the best of Central Square or more of the best live music in Boston.


The Hawthorne
Photograph: Gustav Hoiland

47. Experience high-end mixology at a top cocktail bar

Bars Cocktail bars

What is it? Given the area’s focus on academics and the sciences, its no surprise that Boston has a bevy of talented mixologists.

Why go? Why merely go out for a meal when you can embark on an immersive sensory trip? For a truly mind-blowing experience, head to local trailblazers such as Drink and The Hawthorne, both of which offer an endless variety of creative cocktail options.

Don’t miss: For a next-level experience, try cocktails featuring house-made spirits at the Bully Boy Tasting Room and GrandTen Distilling.

Coolidge Corner Theatre, Cinemas, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Coolidge Corner Theatre

48. Catch a late-night flick at Coolidge After Midnite

Movie theaters Independent

What is it? In Brooklines Coolidge Corner, this beloved non-profit movie house hosts the citys most popular late-night film series.

Why go? With this weekly late-night film series—screenings are held on most Fridays and Saturdays—the Coolidge Corner Theatre has established itself as the areas premier destination for campy, weird, avant-garde and niche cinema. The schedule incorporates everything from ’90s cheesefests to horror staples such as Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Don’t miss: Be sure to fuel up before (or during) the show—late-night food and drink options near the cinema are few and far between. To catch more flicks, check out Boston's best movie theaters.

Blackbird Doughnuts
Photograph: Courtesy Blackbird Doughnuts/Brian Sacco

49. Make the rounds at Boston’s best donut shops

What is it? Get your fill of fried goodness at some Boston’s top donut shops, spanning the latest cult bakeries and under-the-radar mom-and-pops.

Why go? The antithesis of mass production (sorry, Dunkin), Boston’s best donuts are lovingly made by hand, satisfying even the most discerning sweet tooth. Stick with the classics if you must—cake donuts and honey glazed are local favorites—but we recommend tearing into exotic options such as sea salt bourbon caramel or blackberry lavender, found at popular new-wave spots such as Union Square Donuts and Blackbird Doughnuts.

Don't miss: For an old-school, no-frills, late-night option, head to Allstons Twin Donuts.

Improv Asylum
Photograph: Courtesy Improv Asylum

50. Laugh it up at the best Boston comedy clubs


What is it? There are many opportunities to laugh your socks off at one of the city’s veteran comedy clubs, or at one of the regular comedy nights in a club or bar.

Why Go? Some of America’s most popular contemporary comedians (e.g. Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno) honed their craft in Greater Boston. In the Theater District, big name comedians hold court at a variety of venues. Spending your evening yucking it up is a great way to unwind and boost your mood.

Don't miss: The Improv Asylum in the North End has a loyal following, especially the more risque weekend midnight shows.

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Uluru’s ‘Field of Light’
Photograph: Mark Pickthall, courtesy Field of Light, Uluru, Bruce Munro 2016

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Going out and doing things satisfies our need to explore, to learn and to grow (and then to brag about it on social media). Our hope is that the DO List becomes not just your bucket list, but your inspiration to experience and appreciate the corners of magic in the world.

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Oak + Rowan
Photograph: Courtesy Oak + Rowan

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Schlow burger at Tico
Photograph: Courtesy Tico

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Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sue C.

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