Boston Summer Activities

Beaches, Whale Watching, Biking, More

12 Best Boston Activities for Summer

Find the Best Things to Do in Boston in the Summer - Sailing, Concerts, Biking, Beaches, More!

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.

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

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:

  • 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
  • Jazz Cruise on Northern Lights - Sunday evenings thru Oct 11- Enjoy live jazz music and dazzling city lights as you cruise around Boston Harbor past scenic attractions
  • Adirondack III Day Sail - Enjoy cool breezes and the afternoon sun on this relaxing sightseeing sail around Boston Harbor and the Inner Harbor Islands - Choose a 1.5 or 2 hour sail on this classic 80-foot pilot schooner
  • Boston Harbor Cruise on Northern Lights - thru Oct 25 - Soak up Boston's unique sites and rich history on this comfortable sightseeing cruise around the Harbor - perfect friends and family experience!  Drinks and small bites are available for purchase at the bar
  • Adirondack III Sunset Sail - Relax as the setting sun turns the sky brilliant colors during this calming sunset sailing experience - these sell out fast, so don't wait to book!
  • Northern Lights Sunset Cruise - Unwind on this popular after-work cruise as the sky changes brilliant colors and light music plays in the background.  Stop by the bar for a drink, watch the sights go by, and hear the USS Constitution's traditional sunset salute
  • City Lights Champagne Cruise on Northern Lights - Unwind with a glass of champagne as you gaze at Boston's sparkling skyline as relaxing music plays softly in the background on this after-dark cruise around the Harbor

Coming Soon:

  • Holiday Brunch Cruise - 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
  • An Irish Christmas Carol Cruise - Get into the holiday spirit with Slainte, the Northern Lights' house Irish band.   Raise your glass and toast the holidays as you join in singing some merry Irish holiday ballads on this popular Harbor cruise - Book now
  • Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise - Sip hot chocolate and treats as the Blue Motion Quartet plays your favorite jazzy holiday music on this holiday cruise - Book now

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.  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:

6.  Enjoy Boston's Sidewalk Cafes

Patio dining at Stephanie's on Newbury, in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood
Patio dining at Stephanie's on Newbury, 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

7.  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

8.  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

9.  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

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

Boston concert schedule - June
Foo Fighters concert at Fenway Park - Photo courtesy of digboston.com

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:

TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+


Find all Boston concerts for each month

11.  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 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:  (Season starts on July 23-24 - Schedule TBD, so check back)

TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+


Find more tickets for Red Sox home games at Fenway

Best hotels near Fenway Park

More to Know When You Go to Fenway Park

12.  Relax at a Boston Beer Garden

The Patios on Boston's City Hall Plaza
"The Patios" on City Hall Plaza

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   MAY REOPEN LATER IN THE 2020 SUMMER
  • 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.  More info   2020 SUMMER - OPEN FOR FOOD AND DRINK, RESERVATION ONLY - NO GAMES ETC THIS SUMMER
  • 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  SUMMER 2020 - NOT NOW, BUT MAYBE LATER - SO STAY TUNED

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:

Booking.com

More about how to save on Boston hotels


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