Memorial Day Activities for Boston Visitors - 2020
Ceremonies & Fun Things to Do on Memorial Day Weekend in Boston
Memorial Day falls on May 25 in 2020 and marks the unofficial beginning of summer in Boston.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety precautions and closure still in place, many of the usual activities won't be happening this year. Boston Calling was canceled, the Red Sox games are postponed to July 17, and the Garden of Flags on Boston Common won't be in place.
But here's the good news: Beaches and parks will be open (with social distancing guidelines still in place), weather predictions look great, and many top Boston restaurants are offering curbside pickup so picnics are a definite possibility.
And although not quite for Memorial Day, Boston's favorite Celtic punk-rockers, the Dropkick Murphys, will kick off summer in Boston by live-streaming a free concert from Fenway Park with special guest Bruce Springsteen joining in next Friday (May 29).
We're leaving our usual Memorial Day Weekend activities in place below for anyone who's planning a future trip - but here's what's happening this year, including the Dropkick Murphys/Bruce Springsteen concert:
Boston Memorial Day Activities - What's Still On for 2020
1. Boston Beaches, Parks, and Franklin Park Zoo
Beaches, parks, and zoos can reopen on Memorial Day (Monday, May 25) as part of Massachusetts' 4-phase reopening plan (although some restrictions are still in place: gatherings must be limited to a 10 or less people, and face coverings must be used if you can't maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people in public).
Fortunately, Boston has plenty of beaches and lots of wonderful parks, large and small - so toss your swimsuit, towel, and a water bottle into a bag, slather on some sunscreen, and check out beaches in Boston and local favorite, Castle Island.
So far, it's not clear if Franklin Park Zoo will reopen on the 25th - but check their website if you're interested for any possible updates: zoonewengland.org/franklin-park-zoo
2. Walking Tours of Boston
Although working from home during the pandemic hasn't been easy for lots of people, there are a few fantastic side effects: hardly any traffic, clear blue skies, and unpolluted fresh air. So enjoy it while it lasts by exploring the city on foot with these self-guided walking and running itineraries:
Over the past few weeks, more and more of Boston's top chef-owned restaurants have started offering contactless curbside pickup of ready-to-eat meals straight from their kitchens. (Some also offer delivery.)
You can find some great deals - plus it's a great (and safe) way to enjoy tasty prepared meals while supporting your favorite Boston chefs while restaurants are closed to dine-in service.
Here are some of our favorites, and links to their pick-up menu:
75 Chestnut - Beacon Hill - American comfort food; wine and beer available; menu changes weekly - 75chestnut.com
MIDA - South End - Italian, lots of choices plus look for the fantastic Mangia Memorial Day Special for two - midaboston.com
The Smoke Shop - Seaport - BBQ platters, plates, sandwiches, wings and other starters, plus weekend popups at other locations with Joanne Chang (Flour) - thesmokeshopbbq.com
We'll be adding more soon - so stay tuned.
4. "Streaming Outta Fenway": Dropkick Murphys & Bruce Springsteen Free Livestream Concert at Fenway Park
Don't miss this momentous kickoff to summer in Boston as The Dropkick Murphys return to an empty Fenway Park for a free livestream "Streaming Outta Fenway" concert with special (remote) guest Bruce Springsteen on Friday, May 29.
You can watch the concert through their Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch pages at 6pm. The concert will be available for livestreaming around the world - so if you're in a different time zone from Boston, just convert to your local time (the time zone converter from Time and Date works well) and enjoy!
Top photo: Garden of Flags on Boston Common on Memorial Day Weekend
12 Top Memorial Day Weekend Activities (Most Are NOT On for 2020!)
Many Boston locals head to Cape Cod, the Vineyard, or the New Hampshire mountains for the long weekend.
So for Boston tourists, that means attractive hotel rates, restaurant reservations, show and cruise tickets, and even Red Sox tickets will be easier to get than usual.
Patio dining at local restaurants, warm weather, and lots to do make Memorial Day Weekend a perfect time to visit.
You'll also find lots of fun activities, holiday sales, and free events.
Here are 12 suggestions for Memorial Day ceremonies, events, plus fun things to do in Boston during this first long summer weekend.
2. Explore Boston - Take a Walking Tour - GROUP TOURS ARE STILL CANCELLED - TRY OUR SELF-GUIDED TOUR
Boston by Foot, a non-profit organization, features a knowledgeable and enthusiastic group of 200+ volunteer guides who offer some of the most interesting walking tours in town at very reasonable prices - tickets generally run about $8-$20.
Tours on Memorial Day typically include walks around the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, the Victorian Back Bay neighborhood, and along the Freedom Trail. No reservations necessary; pay your guide in cash when you arrive at the meet-up point.
Another option - try this self-guided Memorial Day walking tour from Boston Common to Fenway Park to Faneuil Markeplace and the Waterfront, or try our self-guided Greenway walking tour and stop for refreshments at Trillium Beer Garden by the High Street intersection across from the Boston Harbor Hotel.
Or, walk over to City Hall Plaza (across Congress Street from Faneuil Marketplace) and explore the nine new seasonal "patios" where you'll find Wachusett Brewing's Brew Yard, Honeycomb Creamery Ice Cream, miniature golf, and more.
3. Massachusetts Military Heroes Garden of Flags, Memorial Day Services, Concerts - CANCELLED for 2020
Memorial Day honors those who died in wars defending our country and our freedom.
Every year, the Massachusetts Military Heroes organization plants a Garden of Flags - 37,000 of them - in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Boston Common to commemorate each of the Massachusetts service members who have given their lives to defend the United States and our freedom since the Revolutionary War.
Flags will be put in place on Wednesday, May 22 starting at 1pm and will remain through sundown on Monday, May 27. A name-reading ceremony to honor Massachusetts service members killed since 9/11/2001 will be held in front of the flag display on the Common on Thursday, May 23 at 10:30am. (dates/times to be confirmed)
2020 also marks the 74th Annual Memorial Day services to be held on Saturday, May 23, 11am at the Veterans Memorial Park in the Back Bay Fens in Boston's Fenway neighborhood. Veterans Memorial Park (sometimes called the Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary Memorial to honor a local hero), a tranquil green area with monuments commemorating those who fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, can be found near the Kelleher Rose Gardens. (dates/times to be confirmed)
Boston Calling, the popular 3-day indie and pop rock music festival that takes place over Memorial Day Weekend, returns to the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston.
Headliners include Foo Fighters,Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against the Machine. Other well-known acts and local groups will be announced soon - but look for a total of about 60.
You can expect three music stages, a comedy stage, and more music than ever, plus over 30 food vendors, a wide selection of beer and wine, sponsor exhibits, and surprise attractions.
Tickets typically go fast, and prices rise as the dates draw closer. In addition for single-day passes, you'll see options for 3-day passes plus a tiered array of VIP tickets; the most expensive tiers typically sell out the fastest.
5. Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park & More Memorial Day Weekend Entertainment - POSTPONED to July 17
With the Boston Red Sox playing the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park, the Celtics (maybe) in the NBA finals at TD Garden, the popular 3-day Boston Calling Music Festival underway at Harvard Stadium, Slayer at Xfinity Center plus more concerts at Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion and House of Blues, and Blue Man Group making everyone laugh, there are plenty of events going on over Memorial Day weekend to keep you entertained!
Plan your weekend and get your tickets now!
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Friday, May 22
Saturday, May 23
Sunday, May 24
Monday (Memorial Day), May 25
Tuesday, May 26
Fun Hotels near Fenway Park
If you're coming to a Red Sox game, spend the night or the weekend at one of the nearby hotels, such as the hip Verb Hotel, directly across the street from Fenway Park:
If you love to shop, don't miss Boston's Memorial Day Weekend deals - you can easily save enough to pay for your weekend in a nice hotel. Because Boston's hot weather really only lasts for about 2 months, summer things get put on deep discount sale early - yes, by this weekend!
7. Free Admission at Museum of Fine Arts & ICA Boston on Memorial Day - CANCELLED - MUSEUMS ARE STILL CLOSED
Boston's Museum of Fine Arts offers you free admission on Memorial Day (Monday) from 10am - 4:45.
Lots of special family activities will be on display, as well as plenty of special exhibits, including a quilt display, the last few days of a popular Impressionism exhibition, and an exciting display of 60 contemporary Latin American works.
Most Boston theaters are closed on Mondays - but if you're coming to Boston for Memorial Day weekend, you'll find plenty of shows and performances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
For free entertainment, head to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where Street Performers will be out in force from Saturday through Monday. Mimes, jugglers, puppeteers, musicians, magicians, and comedians will mesmerize you with their talents.
Schedules & Tickets:
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With so many Bostonians (in other words, crazy Boston drivers) out of town, Memorial Day weekend presents a great opportunity to explore Boston by bike safely. Join a group tour - offerings typically include tours of the Freedom Trail, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay.
You'll have to go offshore to find Boston's largest park: the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area.
Although the park includes 32 island and 2 peninsulas, only a few of the islands are open to the public and accessible by ferry - but they provide plenty of recreation, places to picnic, and spectacular scenery. Best of all, you can get to the closest one in only 15 minutes, and it's like being in a different world.
Brunch Cruise - Savor a delicious 3-course brunch on this relaxing sightseeing cruise around Boston Harbor
Sunday Evening Jazz Cruise - Groove to live jazz as you watch the ever-changing sunset colors as the sun sets behind Boston's city skyline
Gift Card - Looking for a special gift? Purchase a Classic Harbor Line gift card with a value of your choosing!
Whale Watching Cruise Tickets
Join one of the exciting 3-hour Whale Watching Cruises departing from the Downtown Boston Waterfront, and experience the thrill of spotting whales off the coast of Boston.
You'll see magnificent creatures such as Humpback and Finback whales close-up from the deck of your ship, and spot White-Sided Dolphins frolicking in the waters.
These cruises sell out quickly and capacity is currently limited to 15 participants per cruise, so don't wait to get your tickets now for this iconic Boston experience!
12. Visit America's First Garden Cemetery
Although Memorial Day started as a remembrance of those who died in military service, it is also an occasion for remembering others who have departed, and one of the most beautiful spots in the Boston area for doing this is Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Flowering trees and flowers, exquisite statuary and sculptures, and a gently rolling landscape complete with ponds and resident ducks fill the 175 beautifully landscaped acres.
Directions to Mount Auburn Cemetery (580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge) by public transportation: From Boston, take the Red Line to Harvard Square. At the station, take either the Watertown Square or Waverley Square trolley (#71 or #73). Get off on Mount Auburn Street at Aberdeen Avenue. Mount Auburn is across the street - you'll see the entrance gate. Cross Mount Auburn at the light. Free admission.