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The 18 best things to do in the summer in Boston

We've earned some fun in the sun, so get going on these summer activities

Olivia Vanni
Written by
Olivia Vanni
&
Gerrish Lopez
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After a long winter (and spring) enduring the cold—while occasionally enjoying the Boston’s best winter activities and best indoor activities—it’s time to get outside and soak up the sun. Whether it’s enjoying nature, taking in some historical sites, getting out on the water, attending an outdoor concert or having a picnic, there are plenty of top-notch summer activities in Boston. If you have little ones, check out our lists of 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

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. It's the oldest ballpark in the Major League—and also one the smallest. 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 promenading. 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.

  • Things to do

Seek shelter from the heat while becoming more knowledgeable and visit one of Boston’s best 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 wine. 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, 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, when warm weather and cool breezes from the water enhance the experience.

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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 best 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.

  • 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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