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Boston Marathon
Photograph: Courtesy Greater Boston Convention & Visitors BureauBoston Marathon

Everything you need to know about the Boston Marathon

Where to go and what to do during the Boston Marathon, including where to cheer and where to eat

Written by
Time Out Boston Staff
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UPDATE: The 2020 Boston Marathon has been postponed to Sept. 14 due to the ongoing situation surrounding the coronavirus. Other events on this list may be affected—if you’re unsure, please call ahead to confirm.

Not only is the Boston Marathon the world’s oldest annual marathon, it’s also one of the toughest. It takes place every year on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April. More than 30,000 participants — from top-notch runners to eager amateurs looking for a challenge — come to Boston from all over the world to participate, with around 1 million spectators cheering them on. For specific info about the Boston Marathon route and where to watch, check out our guide to the Boston Marathon route. Listed here are the best activities and events happening during the Boston Marathon, plus spots where you can enjoy both the race and a bite to eat. After the race, you can have a drink on behalf of the finishers at one of Boston’s best bars. If watching thousands of runners complete a marathon inspires you to be healthier, check out our list of Boston’s best parks, the best hikes near Boston, and Boston’s best healthy restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

The best of the city under one roof

  • Restaurants
  • Fenway/Kenmore

Looking to see some of the Boston Marathon but also eat and drink well close to the route? Time out market has everything you need for a great Marathon/Patriots' Day. Choose from 15 curated food offerings and two top-notch bars. There is plenty of seating—both indoors and on a sun-splashed patio. Stay tuned for special Marathon/Patriots' Day events.

Boston Marathon guide

Attend the Marathon Expo
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Hynes Convention Center

1. Attend the Marathon Expo

With more than 200 exhibitors, the Boston Marathon Expo is a premier gathering for the running industry. The general public is invited to join top athletes and running enthusiasts to check out new running products and services. The Expo takes place at the Hynes Convention Center from Apr 17-19. More info here.

  • Things to do

Whether you choose to watch the marathon at the starting line, the finish line, or somewhere in between, the Boston Marathon route has many unique viewing spots. Help the runners make it up Heartbreak Hill, cheer with the kids at Boston college, mingle with Red Sox fans at Kenmore Square, or watch as runners cross the finish line.

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Experience “Scream Tunnel”
Photograph: Creative Commons/Ericshawwhite

3. Experience “Scream Tunnel”

Head to this Wellesley College spot where supporters turn the volume up to 11. It’s halfway through the race, so runners will need a big push. You’ll also see students with decorative signs displaying encouraging messages.

  • Things to do
  • Sport events
  • Fenway/Kenmore

The annual Patriots’ Day game (first pitch: 11:05am) is a special Red Sox tradition and part of the holiday’s festivities. It’s the only morning game on MLB’s schedule, and takes place as thousands of runners hit the streets for the Boston Marathon. The area around Fenway is buzzing all day, but even more so as fans exit the game in time to see the runners pass the Citgo sign.

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Watch at a bar along the route
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sophie P.

6. Watch at a bar along the route

Plenty of popular bars along the route will be showing the marathon on TV and/or offering specials. The energy is always high as patrons cheer on the runners with drinks in hand. Check out The Publick House, Pour House, or Bukowski Tavern.

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Grab a bite to eat near the route
Photograph: Courtesy Deuxave/Andy Ryan

7. Grab a bite to eat near the route

Cheering for all those runners can work up an appetite. Fenway in particular is a great place to eat during the race. From Hojoko and Eastern Standard to Sweet Cheeks and Tasty Burger, the options are many. Once in the Back Bay, go fancy at spots like Deuxave or Uni, or celebrate like you just ran 26.2 miles with a big-ticket meal at Abe & Louie's.

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