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
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Boston Discovery Guide's Recommendations: 12 Top Activities for Summer Fun in Boston
1. Explore Boston ... the Fun Way
These popular tours and cruises give you a fun way to explore the city:
- Boston Hop On Hop Off Trolley Sightseeing Tour - This narrated trolley tour around the city shows you over 125 interesting places and attractions from the comfort of a fun retro trolley. Get off and explore whenever you like - and then hop back on for more sightseeing.
- Boston Brewery Tour plus Lunch or Dinner - You'll explore Boston's vibrant brewpub scene - and taste up to 16 different local brews at 4 locations. Get behind-the-scene views. Light lunch and transportation included.
- Boston's North End and Freedom Trail - Food & History Tour - This half-day tour combines food, history, and Boston's top sights along the Freedom Trail - enjoy all the food and drinks along the way!
- Boston Ghost & Graveyard Tour - Explore the dark side of the city on this popular "Trolley of the Doomed" tour.
- Boston Harbor 90 minute Historic Sightseeing Cruise - You'll see Boston's top historic and modern attractions on this fully-narrated fun cruise.
2. Cruise around Boston Harbor
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:
Fall Foliage Cruises (through November 6)
- Fall Foliage Brunch Cruise on Northern Lights - Enjoy a tasty gourmet brunch, fall foliage, and panoramic views as you cruise around Boston Harbor
- Fall Foliage Lunch Cruise on Northern Lights - Sip hot cider as you enjoy lunch on this relaxing fall foliage cruise to celebrate seasonal colors
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
- Sunday Evening Jazz Cruise on Northern Lights - End your weekend on the perfect note by grooving to live jazz as you watch the ever-changing sunset colors as the sun sets behind Boston's city skyline (Oct 23, 30)
- Holiday Brunch on Northern Lights - See historic sights and panoramic views around Boston Harbor with friends and family as you enjoy this relaxing cruise with brunch, hot chocolate, and holiday cheer - Book now
- Holiday Cocoa & Carols Cruise - Sip hot chocolate and treats as you listen to jazzy holiday favorites on this festive cruise - Book now
- New Year's Eve Cruise on Northern Lights - Say goodbye to 2022 and welcome 2023 on this festive Boston Harbor cruise with music and gourmet appetizers; beverages for purchase onboard - or pre-order a bottle of Moet & Chandon when you book - Book now
- New Year's Day Brunch Cruise - Welcome the New Year with a tasty hot 3-course brunch on this relaxing sightseeing tour around Boston Harbor - Book now
3. Chill Out on these City Beaches
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.
Boston Hotels with Outdoor Swimming Pools
- Verb Hotel next to Fenway Park (shown in photo) - Find Lowest Rates
- Colonnade Hotel near Prudential Center - Find Discount Rates
- Revere Hotel in the Theatre District -Find Discount Rates
4. See Whales & Dolphins Up Close
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.
5. Visit Franklin Park 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
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:
- Adirondack III Day Sail - Enjoy cool breezes and the afternoon sun on this relaxing sightseeing sail around Boston Harbor and the Inner Harbor Islands
- Adirondack III Sunset Sail - Relax as the setting sun turns the sky brilliant colors
- 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 June 4
- Adirondack III - Harborfest Fireworks Cruise on an 80-foot schooner - July 2
- Adirondack III - USS Constitution Turn-Around Cruise with drinks available for purchase at the bar - July 4
- Adirondack III - July 4th Fireworks Cruise - 3 to 3.5 hour cruise from Boston to watch Winthrop's fireworks, with complimentary drink & desserts - July 4 (about to sell out)
7. Enjoy Boston's Sidewalk Cafes
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
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.
9. Explore Boston by Bike
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!
10. See Boston in Bloom
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.
11. Summer Concerts in Boston - Find the Best Outdoor Venues
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:
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12. Experience the Boston Red Sox at 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 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:
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More to Know When You Go to Fenway Park
- Best parking garages and lots near Fenway Park
- Top sports bars near Fenway Park
- Recommended restaurants near Fenway Park
- More about Fenway Park
- More to see & do near Fenway Park
13. Concerts 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.
14. Relax at a Boston Beer Garden
Need a relaxation break? Head over to "The Patios" at City Hall Plaza, 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 otherwise empty space across from City Hall Plaza. More information
More great places to relax and have fun in the city:
- 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 the pop-up beer garden. More info
- 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
Make Your Boston Hotel Reservations
Enter your travel dates in this hotel map from Booking.com to see what's available and find lowest rates: