The Best Things to do in Boston in the Summer

The 15 Best Things to Do in Boston in Summer

Boston in the summer is different from many other US cities. While many major cities throughout the country are experiencing their busiest season, Boston can often be on the quieter side in summer. With Boston being such a college town, many students go home for the summer, leaving the streets tranquil in the summer heat.

While that’s not to say you should never expect crowds in Boston in the summer, Boston is generally much busier in the fall, making summer one of the prime times to visit. In addition to fewer people, another reason to plan a summer trip to Boston is the fact that it’s fully awake after its sleepy winter slumber. Outdoor activities in Boston are back in the summer, with little threat of snow keeping them closed. 

Looking for things to do in Boston in the summer for your sunny summer vacation? I’ve compiled a list of fun Boston summer events and activities to keep you busy, from festivals to food tours. Pick your favorite things to do from this list, and you’re bound to have a fantastic time navigating this historic city during your trip.

The Top 15 Things to Do in Boston in the Summer

1. Take a Food Walking Tour

Boston during Summer: Food Walking Tour

Boston isn’t just a college town. It’s also a haven for great food. With its diverse neighborhoods, there are different food scenes around every corner. If you find yourself in Boston in the summer, book yourself a walking tour that lets you take in the beauty of the city and its incredible food, like a tour of the North End or a Chinatown food and culture tour.

2. Visit the Lawn on D

Things to do in Boston During Summer: Lawn on D

The Lawn on D, located in the Seaport district, is like an adult playground. It’s filled with some of the best outdoor activities in Boston. 

Ride on the Instagrammable giant neon swings, try your hand at pickleball, and challenge your friends to some lawn games. From Thursday through Saturday throughout the summer, you can boogie down to live music and order food and drinks from the on-site vendors. 

3. Ride a Swan Boat

Places to Visit in Boston During Summer: Swan Boat

There’s nothing like the Public Garden in summer. While the Boston Common isn’t exactly known for its beautiful blooms, there’s so much life in the Public Garden next door, and one of the best ways to see it is by hopping on a Swan Boat

These paddle wheel boats have been a staple of spring and summer in the Public Garden for over 100 years. Enjoy a relaxing, scenic tour while you navigate the waters of the US’s first public botanical garden.

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4. Eat at Your Favorite Food Trucks

Boston during Summer: Food Trucks

Boston has a huge food truck scene, but like many outdoor activities in Boston, they’re pretty dormant for the winter. In summer, these many trucks are out and about in locations like the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the Boston Public Library, and City Hall Plaza.

There are tons of food truck options, from Bon Me to Hungry Nomads. But for a special summer treat, be sure to grab an ice cream sandwich with two of Cookie Monstah’s incredible cookies.

5. Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Things to do in Boston during Summer: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

As one of the best museums in Boston, there’s never a bad time to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. But summer just may be one of the best times.

In addition to its expansive art collection, the museum is known for its stunning courtyard, which is redesigned based on the season. The courtyard actually transforms for three different displays throughout the summer! 

Summer is welcomed in by an array of hydrangeas, continues on in July with the calming Summer Blues display, and then ends with the lush blue and green bellflower display. 

6. Hop on Board a Duck Tour

Places to Visit in Boston during Summer: Duck Tour

There’s a story to everything you see in Boston, with every inch of the city dripping with history. If you’re traveling with little ones and want an entertaining, immersive way to learn about the city, try riding on a Duck Tour

You’ll hop aboard an amphibious vehicle that will take you all around the city while your conDUCKtor weaves a tapestry of tales of Boston’s past and present. Then, you’ll splash down in the Charles River for a one-of-a-kind view of the city’s skyline.

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7. Splash around the Frog Pond

Boston during Summer: Frog Pond

Winter in Boston means that the Boston Common Frog Pond turns into a skating ring, but summer in Boston marks the return of the Frog Pond as a place to cool off from the hot summer heat. This famous pond turns into a spray pool, providing a perfect play space for little ones. The Frog Pond area also offers free yoga and movies throughout the summer. 

If you’re looking for a larger pool to cool off in, Boston has a litany of pools available to the public, some free and some paid. Examples include the Mirabella Pool in the North End, the Francis J. McCrehan Memorial Swimming and Wading Pool in Cambridge, and the Reilly Memorial Swimming Pool in Brighton, which are all free to swim.

8. Dine at a Rooftop Bar

Things to do in Boston during Summer: Rooftop Bar
Image courtesy of The Colonnade Hotel

Summer in Boston means that rooftop bar season is in full swing. Take in some incredible views as you catch the sunset over the city’s skyline from prime points in some of Boston’s best rooftop bars and restaurants. Some top picks include Terra at Eataly Boston, RTP at The Colonnade Hotel, and Deck 12 at YOTEL

9. Catch a Red Sox Game

Places to Visit in Boston during Summer: Red Sox Game

The regular baseball season continues all the way through early fall, so attending a Red Sox game is a must-do if you’re spending your summer in Boston. Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, is a historic landmark. Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, it’s worth spending some time taking in the sights at this iconic park. 

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10. Feast Your Way through the North End

Boston during Summer: North End

The North End is home to some of the best summer events in Boston. The North End is known for its Italian heritage, and throughout the summer, the neighborhood hosts festivals and feasts in honor of Italian saints and martyrs. 

These weekend-long events feature live music, cultural performances, parades, and tons of Italian street food!

11. Enjoy a Free Concert

Things to do in Boston during Summer: Free Concert

Looking for some of the best free things to do in Boston this summer? How about a free concert? The Berklee College of Music hosts free concerts throughout the city as a part of its Summer in the City program. Performances feature students, faculty, and alumni and a diverse array of genres.

If you’re interested in classical music, you can also head to the Hatch Shell throughout the summer to see performances by the Boston Landmark Orchestra.

12. Ring in the Fourth with Harborfest

Places to visit in Boston During Summer: Harborfest

With a historic city like Boston, it would be easy to make this whole list of the best things to do in Boston in summer a list of Fourth of July festivities. But if I was going to highlight any Independence Day events, I had to shout out Harborfest, one of the best Boston summer events. 

This multi-day festival is the biggest Fourth of July festival in the US and offers hundreds of activities. Some highlights include the Chowderfest food festival, historical reenactments, and a massive fireworks finale.

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13. Visit the Beach

Boston During Summer: Visit the Beach

Boston has a few beaches of its own to explore, but one of the best things to do in Boston in the summer is take a trip to one of the many sandy spots just outside the city. 

For a day trip option, head over to Massachusetts’ northern cape, Cape Ann, where you’ll find beaches in seaside cities like Gloucester. For a weekend getaway, take a trip down to the South Shore to see Cape Cod’s many beaches.

14. See the Lights at Franklin Park Zoo

Summer in Boston features the return of the Boston Lights at the Franklin Park Zoo, which typically runs from mid-summer to mid-fall. Spend your summer nights wandering through an illuminated world, with impressive light displays and incredible lanterns lighting up all 72 of the zoo’s acres in a spectacular fashion.

15. Watch Shakespeare in the Common 

You may have heard of Central Park’s Shakespeare in the Park, but did you know that Boston has its own version? Boston in summer marks the return of Shakespeare in the Common in the Boston Common. 

The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company puts on free performances of a Shakespearean classic throughout the summer, typically running from mid-July through the beginning of August, helping to make Boston theater accessible for all.

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Boston in the summer. What’s your favorite summer activity? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author:

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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