Boston's best activities for summer let you take advantage of beautiful sunny days, warm nights, and the city's excellent waterfront location.

You'll quickly see why Boston offers the perfect combination of sports, culture, and lots of fun outdoor things to do on land and water.

Use our guide to find Boston's best summer activities:  sailing, whale watching cruises, outdoor concerts, bike tours, local beaches, Red Sox games at Fenway Park, outdoor dining at our top restaurants, and lots more!

Weather forecast not so good?  Find out what to do in Boston in the rain.

Top photo: Soaking up some sun at Columbus Park in Boston's North End, (c) Boston Discovery Guide

Boston Discovery Guide is a reader-supported publication.  When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost for you.  Learn more

Boston Discovery Guide's Recommendations:   12 Top Activities for Summer Fun in Boston

1.  Explore Boston ... the Fun Way

Beantown Trolley in Boston's historic Charlestown neighborhood
Hop On Hop Off Trolley in Boston's historic Charlestown neighborhood

These popular tours and cruises give you a fun way to explore the city:

2.  Cruise around Boston Harbor

Boston sailing and yacht cruises

Tour Boston by boat - the best way to see the city!  

Check out these fun sightseeing, music, and entertainment Boston Harbor cruises on the Yacht Northern Lights and Schooner Adirondack III:

 Popular Cruises on the Northern Lights:

  • Northern Lights Sunset Cruise - Grab a refreshments from the bar and then relax as you watch the sun set on this sail around the Harbor, just in time to catch the USS Constitution fire its cannons as the sun dips down past the horizon
  • Brunch Cruise on the Northern Lights - Savor a delicious 3-course brunch on this relaxing sightseeing cruise around Boston Harbor
  • Boston Harbor Cruise on Northern Lights - Soak up Boston's unique sites and rich history on this comfortable sightseeing cruise around the Harbor - perfect friends and family experience!  Food and beverages available for purchase at the bar

Sailing on the Adirondack III:

  • Adirondack III Day Sail - Enjoy cool breezes and the afternoon sun on this relaxing sightseeing sail around Boston Harbor and the Inner Harbor Islands - Starts May 2
  • Adirondack III Sunset Sail - Relax as the setting sun turns the sky brilliant colors - Starts May 2
  • Adirondack III 90-Minute Mimosa Day Sail - Soak up the sun on this afternoon sail through the Inner Harbor and Harbor Islands with drinks available for purchase at the bar - Starts July 6

Mothers Day Cruise

Fun Book Your July 4th Cruises Now (because they sell out far in advance)!

3.  Chill Out on these City Beaches 

Running on Revere Beach, accessible from Boston by subway
Relaxing on Revere Beach, accessible from Boston by subway

Escape the summer heat by heading to a Boston beach.

True, Boston beaches don't rival the gorgeous sandy expanses of Cape Cod, the rugged beauty of Gloucester beaches, or ocean-facing beaches in Maine or Rhode Island - but you can reach them in less than an hour on public transportation from Boston, so you can't beat the convenience. 

If you want a place to swim, build a sand castle, and soak up some sun without leaving the city, you'll find a lot to love at these convenient city beaches.

More about Boston beaches

Boston Hotels with Outdoor Swimming Pools

Boston hotels with outdoor swimming pools:  The Verb
Enjoy your summer vacation to the fullest in when you stay at a Boston hotel with an outdoor swimming pool:

Find more Boston hotels with outdoor swimming pools 

4.  See Whales & Dolphins Up Close

Whales spotted during a Boston whale watching cruise
Whales breaching at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Located just 25 miles from Boston by water, Stellwagen Bank is the best place for whale watching along the East Coast. 

Going on a Boston whale watching cruise brings you up close to some of the ocean's most fascinating creatures.

What will you encounter?  Typically, you'll see humpbacks, minke whales, and finbacks, along with dolphins, sea birds, and other aquatic life.  Plus, you'll pass numerous Boston Harbor Islands and several historic lighthouses.

Don't miss this unforgettable experience.  Not surprisingly, for visitors and locals alike, whale watch cruises are one of Boston's most popular summer activities. 

Find whale watching cruise reservations

Find out more about whale watching cruises

5.  Visit Franklin Park Zoo

Inside Bird's World at the Boston Zoo
Zebras at the Boston Zoo

Boston's Franklin Park Zoo comes alive in summer as zebras, lions, kangaroos, tigers, wildebeests, ostriches, and others move outside to enjoy the sun (and sometimes, the shade). 

You'll also see tropical forest animals such as gorillas, lemurs, pigmy hippopotamuses, ocelots, birds, plus farm animals. 

Rainy day?  Not to worry!  Head inside to explore the tropical forest at Bird's World and other fascinating environments. 

Dining at the Giddy-Up Grill is available when you get hungry, and don't forget to look for special and holiday events and education programs that take place throughout the summer (as well as the rest of the year).

Get your tickets online before you go.

6.  Hoist the Sails

Sailing in Boston Harbor
Sailing in Boston Harbor

Water surrounds Boston on 3 sides, making it one of the best spots on the East Coast for sailing.  

Of course, you can enjoy the water on one of the many Harbor cruises - but if you'd like more active involvement, spend a few days taking sailing lessons and you'll be addicted to this favorite local sport. 

Find out about Boston sailing lessons, charters, clubs. 

Check out Tall Ship cruises on the Adirondack III around Boston Harbor:

Boston Harbor Cruises on the Adirondack III:

7.  Enjoy Boston's Sidewalk Cafes

Patio dining along Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood
Patio dining along Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood

Dining outdoors is one of the great pleasures of being in Boston in the summer.

If you want to find the highest concentration of restaurants and cafes in all price ranges offering patio seating, head over to the centrally-located Back Bay neighborhood, where over a dozen restaurants with outdoor dining nestle among the designer boutiques and art galleries. 

More about outdoor dining in Back Bay

For dining outdoors overlooking the waterfront, the Seaport area of the South Boston Waterfront boasts plenty of exciting options.  More about South Boston Waterfront/Seaport restaurants overlooking the Harbor

8.  Take a Walk through History on Boston's Freedom Trail

The red stripe marks the Freedom Trail as it leads across Boston Common up to the Massachusetts State House
The red stripe marks the Freedom Trail as it leads across Boston Common up to the Massachusetts State House

Get some exercise and learn about Boston and American history at the same time when you walk the length of the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail, starting at Boston Common.  

The Trail takes you to 16 sites crucial to American liberty in historic downtown Boston, the North End, and Charlestown. 

Join a Freedom Trail Tour

Find out more about the Freedom Trail

9.  Explore Boston by Bike

Bike riders near Boston's City Hall Plaza
Bike riders near Boston's City Hall Plaza

Combine exercise with Boston sightseeing when you join a group tour led by avid cyclists who will share details about the city's history and culture as you ride. 

Tours accommodate all skill levels and most are for kids as well as adults.  One of the most popular summer activities in Boston! 

More about biking in Boston

10.  See Boston in Bloom

Kelleher Rose Garden near Fenway Park
Kelleher Rose Garden near Fenway Park

Boston's magnificent gardens, both public and private, burst into bloom in late spring and continue their spectacular displays throughout the summer.

Whether you're an avid gardener or just like flowers, garden tours in Boston and Cambridge from May to September let you view these special and sometimes hidden paradises - plus they provide a great way to explore the parts of the city where they're located:  Beacon Hill, Fenway, the South End, Cambridge, and more. 

Find out more about these colorful garden tours

Explore Boston's best-known parks

11.  Summer Concerts in Boston - Find the Best Outdoor Venues

Foo Fighters concert at Fenway Park, with the late Taylor Hawkins on drums - Photo courtesy of, Creative Commons, (c) Scott Murry
Foo Fighters concert at Fenway Park, with the late Taylor Hawkins on drums - Photo courtesy of Scott Murray,, CC BY 2.0

As soon as warm weather hints at summer's arrival, Boston concerts move to outdoor venues, where you can experience memorable performances by megastars, emerging artists, and popular favorites.   

Check out lineups for Boston concerts in July at these popular outdoor concert areas:

Enter DISCOVERY10 to save 10% on TicketLiquidator & TicketNetwork tickets.  Good for purchases made through 12/31/24.

Find all Boston concerts for each month

12.  Experience the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park!

Boston Red Sox playing the Tampa Bay Rays in Fenway Park
Boston Red Sox playing the Tampa Bay Rays in Fenway Park

What to do on a warm summer afternoon or balmy evening in Boston? 

Head to Fenway Park, home field of the Red Sox.  

The in-town ball park is super-easy and fast to get to using public transportation, the smell of Fenway Franks divine, and the experience of being part of the crowd cheering in the stadium is exciting, no matter which team wins.

Check the Red Sox home game schedule: 

Enter DISCOVERY10 to save 10% on TicketLiquidator & TicketNetwork tickets.  Good for purchases made through 12/31/24.

Find more tickets for Red Sox home games at Fenway

Best hotels near Fenway Park

More to Know When You Go to Fenway Park

13.  Concerts at the Hatch Shell

Landmarks Concerts at the Hatch Shell
Landmarks concert at the Hatch Shell

In addition to the famous Boston Pops July 4th concert at the Hatch Shell on Boston's Esplanade, you can enjoy free weekly concerts by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra throughout July, August, and early September at this popular outdoor venue.

The concerts usually start at 7pm and run about 2 hours.  Bring a blanket or low folding chairs to sit on, and a picnic dinner.

Find concert dates and details for July, August, and September

More about what to see & do on Boston's Esplanade

14.  Relax at a Boston Beer Garden

Trillium Beer Garden on Boston's Greenway
Trillium Beer Garden on Boston's Greenway

Need a relaxation break? 

Head over to Boston's Greenway, where a beer garden, food trucks, food stands, plenty of places to relax and hang out, games such as putt-putt mini golf, and other activities transform this linear park where an elevated highway once stood.

You'll find plenty of other similar spaces around Boston, usually combining food, perhaps a beer garden or two, and space to hang out and relax.

Here's a small sample of places to enjoy:

  • The Greenway - Grab fixings for a picnic from nearby Boston Public Market and find a grassy spot to enjoy your feast.  Cool off in the splash fountains (no, they're not just for kids).  Stroll through the gardens where something's always in bloom.  Or quench your thirst at Trillium's seasonal pop-up beer garden.  More info   
  • Time Out Market - Located on Park Ave in Back Bay - Popular food hall next to the Trillium Beer Gardem.
  • Lawn on D - Located next to the Boston Convention Center in Seaport/South Boston, Lawn on D is where you'll find giant tire swings sized for adults, chairs for relaxing, lawn games such as cornhole, food trucks, occasional concerts, and a beer garden. 
  • The Esplanade - This long, narrow strip of parkland next to the Charles River, hidden from view unless you know how to access it, is where you'll find a series of summer concerts, movies, and other activities including the famous July 4th Pops concert and fireworks.  It's also an ideal spot anytime for relaxing on the floating docs, riding a bike, strolling or jogging, or sampling what's on offer at the seasonal beer gardens.  More info 
  • Hub on Causeway - Indoor food hall next to TD Garden, Big Night Live, and North Station in Boston's West End
  • High Street Place Food Hall in Downtown Crossing
  • Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall Marketplace on Boston's Freedom Trail - The oldest, largest, and one of the best food halls in the country.

Make Your Boston Hotel Reservations

Enter your travel dates in this hotel map from to see what's available and find lowest rates:

More about how to save on Boston hotels

Check Out Top Boston Events Each Month

January   |   February   |     March   |  April   |    May    |    June   |   July   |    August   |    September  |  October   |    November   |    December  |  Year at a Glance