Let's Get Outside!
Boston has a beautiful summer climate, making the many parks, beaches, and waterfront areas ideal for an afternoon of fun in the sun. Many parks around town offer family-friendly summer activities, while the historical areas come to life as visitors flock to the city walk along the Freedom Trail or explore the museums. Here are the best things to do in Boston in the summertime on your next trip.
Zoo New England - Franklin Park Zoo
This award-winning zoo is a terrific destination for the whole family. Featuring a variety of animal exhibits that focus on education, awareness, and rehabilitation, visitors can see lions, emus, turtles, a variety of bird species, kangaroos, hippos, tigers, lemurs, and more. You'll also find a fun playground that promotes physical fitness, a section of the zoo aimed at younger children, and a variety of community events.
1 Franklin Park Rd, South Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, 02121
The Institute of Contemporary Art
The Institute of Contemporary Art is in the Seaport District by the harbor. From the location you can enjoy impressive views of the Boston Harbor. The beautiful museum features 20th and 21st century work by notable women including Louise Bourgeois, Doris Salcedo, and Eva Hesse. There is also a satellite space that is opened seasonally during the summer months. It's accessible by shuttle but must be booked in advance.
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Seaport District, South Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, 02210
The Esplanade is a riverside park in the Back Bay neighborhood. It has a number of charming footbridges including Arthur Fiedler Footbridge. Within the park you'll also find the Hatch Shell
bandstand, which is where the Boston Pops Orchestra holds its annual Fourth of July celebration. There are also a number of movies and concerts in the park during the warmer months. The park is a nice place to explore with a number of nice running trails, or you could enjoy a walk beside the river. Also here is the Esplanade Playground
for kids which is quite large.
Back Bay, Boston, MA
The Boston Harbor & Whale Watching
Head to the Boston Harbor to enjoy a number of iconic experiences in the city. The views from the harbor are impressive. This is also where you catch most of the boats for whale watching. Whale Watching is a popular activity in Boston. For the best experience, visit during the summer months from May through October. This is when you're most likely to see whales migrating through the area. There are a number of different tours that leave from the Boston Harbor. They average between two and four hours in length and the boats vary in size, speed, and quality.
Spectacle Island is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. It's just 20 minutes by ferry from downtown Boston and it offers a sandy oasis that's the perfect day trip from May through Columbus Day. There are lifeguards available during the summer months and a visitor center with a few exhibits. Many locals consider this to be one of the best beaches in the area. It also offers nice views of the city skyline when the weather is clear. For runners and walkers, there's a five mile loop that goes around the island.
Rose Kennedy Greenway
This stretch of interconnected parks running through Downtown Boston is a great spot for a walk, run, or even a bike ride - or for just exploring the city. Starting at the north in North End near the Haymarket T station, the connected parks and trails run south through the Waterfront and Downtown areas until they reach Chinatown Park. Along the way, visitors will find smaller parks, interactive fountains, a carousel, gardens, public restrooms, restaurants and cafes, and more. If you're wandering along the path, it's quite easy to make short detours to explore the various attractions and historical spots of Boston.
John F. Fitzgerald Expressway, Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110
Pleasure Bay Beach
Pleasure Bay Beach is a clean and relaxing beach in the Boston area. It has a lot of family-friendly amenities and it's a popular summer destination for Boston's local families. There are also restrooms available. Bring a picnic and plan to spend the day hanging out by the water in the sun.
William J Day Blvd, South Boston, Boston, MA, 02127
Paul Revere Mall
Also known as the Boston Prado
, Paul Revere Mall features a large statue of, you guessed it, Paul Revere. Also along this stretch of pedestrian-only cobblestones are plaques along the walls that feature other notable and important people from Boston's and America's history such as Benjamin Franklin. The plaza runs between Old North Church and St. Stephen's Church.
North End, Boston, Massachusetts
Old State House
Dating back to 1713, the Old State House was the site of the Boston Massacre where British soldiers fired into protesting colonists. This building was the seat of British government at the time, and became a spot where local colonists debated the details about their government leading to the revolution. Now, the building is a museum (combined with the Old South Meeting House) showcasing exhibits from the history of the revolutionary era.
206 Washington St, Downtown, Boston, Massachusetts
North Point Park
Located on the river, this park has a playground, jogging and biking trails, a dock for boats and stand-up-paddleboards, and some nice lawn space for relaxing. It also has great views of the water and the skyline.
1 North Point Blvd, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery is a public park and also a cemetery, arboretum, and wildlife sanctuary. It's a National Historic Landmark and spans 72 acres with a number of different types of wildlife present including foxes, wild turkeys, and birds. This is a popular place for locals who want to escape the city. There are a number of events held here and for the best viewpoint, climb Washington Tower and you'll enjoy views over the city.
580 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA, 02138
Moakley Park and Carson Beach
Located in South Boston, this large park sits on the shore and has a beach and a kids playground, along with ball fields, too. The Dorothy Curran Playground has a terrific nautical theme that can keep your kids entertained for hours (and it also has a spray area in the summer months). Or, stroll over to either Carson Beach, L Street Beach, or M Street Beach on the other side of the field for some fun in the sand. The South Boston Bark Park at the upper end of the park will keep the dogs happy, too. Tennis courts, basketball courts, ball fields, and more can be found here, too. And finally, this is a good spot to hop on the trail that runs along the waterfront for your walk, run, or bike ride.
1005 Columbia Rd, South Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Long Wharf, home of the New England Aquarium and a variety of shops and restaurants, is located just to the east of Downtown and North End. In addition to the aquarium, visitors can find the Marriott hotel, Christopher Columbus park, whale watching cruises, trolley tours, and more. This is also a good spot to start your journey along either the Harborwalk along the water or the Rose Kennedy Greenway if you want to explore North End or go down to Chinatown. To get here, take the T to the "Aquarium" station.
296 State Street, Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts
Jamaica Plain, often called "JP", is a diverse neighborhood with a number of local businesses and a large amount of green space. Head to Jamaica Pond to take a relaxing walk. This is also a very active neighborhood with a number of great festivals and outdoor concerts. This neighborhood really comes to life during the warmer seasons when the festivals and street fairs are common.
Located in the central area of North End, Haymarket Square has a storied history, but now feels more like a large intersection. This area is home to the farmers market on Fridays and Saturdays where patrons can find low-cost produce.
Chardon & N Washington, North End, Boston, Massachusetts
This historic baseball stadium is home to the Boston Red Sox. Catch a game in the summer, or come check out the Fenway Park Living Museum. The stadium is famous for the "Green Monster", the huge wall of greenery in the outfield. First opened in 1912, this is the oldest Major League ballpark in the country, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
4 Jersey Street, Fenway-Kenmore, Boston, Massachusetts
The recently revitalized Fan Pier is located just to the southeast of North End and Downtown Boston. Here, visitors can find a number of fun activities as well as shopping and restaurants. Home to the Boston Children's Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Boston Tea Party Museum, this area is worth exploring, especially if you're looking for a good meal. A park on the north end has nice views of central Boston and a quiet setting, while the large playground at Martin's Park by the Children's Museum is a fun spot for the kids.
50 Seaport Blvd, Seaport District, South Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
One of the most popular spots in Boston, Copley Square is flanked on one side by the gorgeous Trinity Church which is reflected in the neighboring John Hancock Tower, and on another by the luxurious Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Also in the area visitors can find the Boston Public Library and the Old South Church.
Boylston & Dartmouth, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
Commonwealth Avenue Mall
Stretching west from the famous Boston Common, Commonwealth Avenue is home to a wide and beautiful tree-lined median for eight blocks. This public park and garden area is home to a number of monuments, statues, and public spaces where visitors can relax, have a picnic, or explore the history of Boston. While you're here, peruse the statues of Alexander Hamilton, Leif Eriksson, and Samuel Eliot Morison among others, as well as the Women's Memorial and the Firefighters' Memorial. Also, admire the historic homes on either side of the avenue while you're here.
Commonwealth Avenue, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park
At the north end of the Waterfront district and the southern side of North End, this large park is a great place to relax, have a picnic, and enjoy the weather. Here you'll find a ship-themed playground for the kids, a rose garden, a gorgeous trellis, fountains, and some open lawn areas along with benches for lounging. If you're looking for a place to rest or relax before going on a whale watching cruise or into the aquarium, this is a convenient spot.
110 Atlantic Ave, Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts
Castle Island Park & Fort Independence
Located in South Boston, this is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. There's a nice white sand beach where you can relax. Fort Independence is a granite fort dating back to 1851. Within the park there are two walking and running trails. For the easiest and shortest option, try the Castle Island Loop. The longer trail is the Pleasure Bay Loop. There are also great areas where you can enjoy a picnic and a nice playground that is perfect for kids who like to climb, jump, and run.
2010 William J Day Blvd, South Boston, Boston, MA, 02127
Technically, its own city, Cambridge is an iconic area near Boston that is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The town has a number of museums, mostly affiliated with either of the universities, as well as a lively music scene, an impressive art culture, and excellent restaurants. The Charles River is a defining feature of Cambridge. There are also a number of notable city squares as well as several distinct neighborhoods within Cambridge. While nightlife might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Cambridge, there are actually some great clubs and bars where you can grab a drink and party with the Ivy Leaguers.
Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden, dating back to 1837, was the first botanical garden in the country. It is heavily influenced by the Victorian era with seasonally flowers that change regularly. The Boston Public Garden is an iconic park in the city with its famous Swan Boats that you can use to paddle around the pond. There are flower beds that line the paths and many places to enjoy a leisurely stroll. Boston Public Garden is a relaxed and romantic setting and you'll often see weddings or wedding pictures being taken in the park.
4 Charles St., Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02116
Boston Common is a famous central park in downtown Boston. It's also the oldest city park in the country, dating back to 1634. The park spans 50 acres and has a botanical garden and a pond where you can enjoy the iconic experience of taking a Swan paddleboat. Visitors can also find a playground and other fun activities for kids. During the winter months, an ice skating rink is set up, and a huge Christmas tree and other decorations adorn the park.
167 Tremont Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
Boston City Hall Plaza
Located adjacent to City Hall, this large, open space was opened in 1962 as part of the new building's inauguration. Boston's locals frequently gather here for some of the city's biggest events and festivals, including the Boston GreenFest, Boston Techjam, Puerto Rican Festival of Massachusetts and Boston Cycling Celebration. It was here that the Boston Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins paraded to their respective championship parades for nearly 20 years also.
1 City Hall Square, Boston, Massachusetts
Back Bay Fens
Where Back Bay merges into Fenway, this large green space has a variety of interesting things to do and see. In addition to walking and biking trails, visitors can explore the rose garden and World War II memorial. Also here is an area of community gardens, a playground for the kids, and ball fields.
73 Park Dr, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
The Arnold Arboretum spreads out over 281 acres and is a major horticultural research institution. The arboretum was designed by C.S. Sargent working with Frederick Law Olmsted. It was designed with a less formal intent than most botanical gardens and today it offers a relaxing place to explore and enjoy nature.
125 Arborway, Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA, 02130
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $23 to $145. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $62. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in Boston
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