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The 21 best things to do in the summer in Boston

We've earned some fun in the sun, so don't miss out on these summer activities.

JQ Louise
Written by
JQ Louise
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Summer in Boston is in full swing. While the warm weather will only be here for a brief period of time, that time is sure sweet. So, whether you enjoy nature, taking in some historical sites, getting out on the water, attending an outdoor concert or having a picnic, there is still time to enjoy these quintessential summer activities in Boston. There is so much to do for the whole family so be sure to also check out the best things to do with kids in Boston and the best beaches in the Boston area

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston
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Time Out Market Boston
  • Restaurants
  • Fenway/Kenmore

Like some variety when you go out to eat? Time Out Market Boston has you covered. Boston's first contemporary culinary hub boasts a tantalizing variety of curated food offerings, two top-notch bars and lots more. There is plenty of seating—both indoors and on a roomy, sun-splashed patio with lots of heaters—and some of the biggest culinary names in Boston are delivering a varied assortment of delicious dishes and 'Gram-worthy bites. Stop by Time Out Market Boston this summer!

Best summer activities in Boston

  • Things to do
  • Sport events
  • Fenway/Kenmore

Seeing a game at Fenway Park has been a rite of passage amongst locals since the stadium opened in 1912. Fenway Park is the oldest ballpark in the Major League, in America—and also one the smallest, so there really isn't a bad seat in the house. Tickets can be hard to come by for big games, but you can also experience the park by going on a public tour or scoring seats to one of the big-name concerts held here in the summer. And remember to check out Time Out Market Boston before or after your next Fenway visit.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Boston Common

The Public Garden is America's first botanical garden. A beautifully designed park with pathways meant for strutting your stuff. Stroll alongside the formal flower beds and willow-fringed lagoon, and pause for a photo opp at its wrought-iron bridge and graceful swan boats. It's a great spot for summer picnicking and whiling away the day. The Boston Public Garden is a place all visitors and locals need to visit each summer. 

  • Things to do

Seek shelter from the heat while becoming more interesting at the same time when you visit one of Boston’s top museums. Our city is teaming with world-renowned universities and intellectuals, and we have ample institutions to show for it. Whether you’re looking to admire art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, explore natural history at Harvard or feel presidential at the JFK Library, there are plenty of options for getting your culture fix. Another reason to spend a sweltering summer day in one of our local museums: AC is a must when keeping exhibits in pristine condition, so you can reap all of those cooling benefits, too.

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  • Restaurants

In the summer heat, there are few things more refreshing than slurping down some cold, fresh oysters alongside a nice chilled glass of rosé. New England is renowned for its spectacular seafood, and our oysters are no exception. It’s rare to find a restaurant in Boston that doesn’t offer local oysters on the halfshell, but we also have a number of eateries and raw bars that specialize in these briney delicacies. Look out for deals on these bivalves during the week, when you can have a drink and a dozen oysters for a cheap(er) evening out.

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Seaport District

This major outdoor venue, which seems to change names every couple of years (Formerly known as the Bank of America Pavilion and the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, as well as many other names), is located on the waterfront in the ever-buzzing Seaport District. From May to October, shows feature mainstream rock, pop and R&B acts, with a sprinkling of contemporary newcomers. Summer is a great time to see a show because the warm weather and balmy breeze make the experience just perfect.

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  • Things to do

Join the hordes of water-happy adventurers on The Charles during the summer months. You can rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board to wind your way along the river. There are a few different rental and launch locations, so read more for additional info.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Jamaica Plain

This living collection, which boasts thousands of trees, shrubs and woody vines, is recognized as one of the most comprehensive and well documented of its kind in the world. Take a summertime stroll and see bursts of green, blooming flowers and plenty of birds. Free guided tours are available on designated days throughout the year.

10. Go on a whale watch

Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary is one of the best spots for whale watching in the world. Each summer, around 50 humpback whales, identified by researchers, return to this hotbed of biological activity. Female whales bring their calves to teach them how to hunt for food in the plentiful waters. Take a whale watching cruise to learn more about these maritime mammals and their habitat. You might spot seals, porpoises and dolphins, too. Check out the Massachusetts Whale Trail site for more info.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Downtown

The Greenway is one of the most celebrated results of the now-infamous Big Dig, formed when I-93 was taken underground. The mile-long ribbon of parkways is the perfect place to get a dose of the outdoors and some art, as it's always peppered with public exhibits and installations. Fair-weather food and drink pop-ups also make it a great spot for picnics. Look out for periodic festivals, events and parades that take place here.

  • Restaurants

Much like our affinity for year-round iced coffee, we tough Bostonians love a good ice cream cone regardless of the weather. But in summertime, when those typical scorchers and high levels of humidity have us sweating, snagging a scoop of the frozen stuff is nearly essential. Fortunately, there are plenty of local ice cream shops that serve primo flavors—both classic and innovative—as well as other deliciously cold options like sundaes, frappes and floats.

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  • Things to do

From the Emerald Necklacethe nation’s oldest string of parksto the Rose Kennedy Greenway (a gift courtesy of the Big Dig), Boston offers a whole slew of beautiful greenspaces. Take a stroll, sit back and relax, have a picnic and enjoy a little bit of nature at one of the best parks in Boston.

  • Things to do

For the first-time visitor to Boston, the Freedom Trail provides a useful starting point for diving into the best attractions in Boston. For locals, it's a chance to brush up on everything you should know about your city's history. The two-and-a-half-mile-long trail is easy to follow for a self-guided stroll, or join one of the organized tours on offer.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Boston is known for being a charmingly walkable city, with a wealth of historic landmarks that are easy to explore. Guided tours of the Freedom Trail and the unique neighborhoods that make up the Hub are a great way to take in local history and culture. A photo tour will show you some of the most Insta-worthy spots, and food tours will steer you towards the best of Boston's rich culinary scene.

  • Bars

Sunshine and rising temps are basically begging you to sip on some cocktails outside. Even better: Have those outdoor drinks with a side of city views from up above. From the bustling Back Bay to the scholarly Harvard Square, Boston's best rooftop bars provide a sky-high oasis for you to escape from the hectic streets and feel like you're on cloud nine. 

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  • Restaurants

Summer in New England means getting your hands on some lobster, whether it's steamed or stuffed in a roll. The city isn't short on options when it comes to restaurants that offer delicious lobster preparations—from seafood shacks that crank out the classics to upscale eateries that serve this crustacean in creative ways. To get your fill of this summer favorite, work your way through the best lobster dishes in Boston.

Explore the Seaport patios
Photograph: Olivia Vanni

18. Explore the Seaport patios

We are so fortunate to have lots of trendy patios in the Seaport these days. From the newly opened Serafina Seaport, to Lola 42, to Para Maria at the Envoy to the good-old Woods Hill Pier 4 the Seaport is spoilt for choice. Dress to impress and head to a few of the hotspots in this waterfront neighborhood. Perhaps start with drinks at Para Maria, have dinner at Serafina or Woods Hill and finish with dessert at Lola 42.  

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JQ Louise
Editor of Time Out Boston
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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

The city’s most iconic tour combines Boston’s rich history and architecture with plenty of humor—all while traveling through land and water. Riding inside one of its revamped, World War II-era amphibious vehicle, you'll see landmarks such as the State House, Bunker Hill, Boston Common and Quincy Market before plunging into the Charles River for views of both the Boston and Cambridge skylines. Added perk: You get to quack at people on the streets in a somewhat socially acceptable manner.

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