Boston in summer: best things to do and see

Heading to Boston in the heat of summer? Make the most of the weather, waterfront, and fresh catch with these top summertime activities in Boston.

Boston is brilliant in summertime. This city comes alive during the warmer months, with plenty of summer activities to keep everyone entertained. Planning a romantic getaway in the sun? There's no shortage of activities for couples. Heading into Boston with your little ones? With family-friendly activities aplenty, there will be much more to smile about than the fine weather.

Boston is a foodie's paradise in summer too. With local food tours and outdoor markets, you can savor some of the city's most renowned dishes, including its celebrated seafood. This list offers 10 of the best summer activities to check out during your stay in Boston.

Best outdoor activities

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1. Take in the sights as the sun sets over Boston                                  

The Old Town Trolley is one of the best ways to see Boston. It's even better during sunset, with this iconic American city taking on a whole new dimension after dark.

Highlights:

With a summer nights sunset trolley tour, you'll be able to enjoy some of Boston's most famous attractions without moving a muscle. Expert guides are hand to talk you through the fascinating histories of Boston landmarks like the Bunker Hills Bridge and the Massachusetts State House.

Address and opening hours:

200 Atlantic Ave, Boston. Tour departure times vary.

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2. Burn off some calories as you tour Boston by bike

Have you overindulged during your stay? A scenic bike ride through some of Boston's most famous neighborhoods is the way to go.

Highlights:

With a bike tour of the city’s best views, you'll enjoy a unique vantage point from two wheels as you cycle through districts like Boston's North End and Back Bay, not to mention the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Hybrid and e-bikes are on hand for those who need a little assistance.

Address and opening hours:

3 Atlantic Avenue, Boston. Tour departure times vary.

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3. Sink your teeth into some of Boston's seafood specialties

No visit to Boston is complete without sampling some of the city's most famous seafood dishes. Whether you're craving creamy clam chowder or pan-roasted lobster, there's plenty to whet your appetite here.

Highlights:

With a seafood tasting tour, you'll be able to sample seafood classics as you explore some of Boston's most famous waterfront districts. Start your tour at Independence Wharf before passing by landmarks like Fort Point and Quincy Market. Need some dining recommendations? Your guide will be happy to help.

Address and opening hours:

470 Atlantic Ave, Boston. Tour hours vary.

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4. Take a tour of America's most-loved baseball stadium

Even if you don't have the chance to take in a game, a visit to Fenway Park is a must. First opening its doors in 1921, it's the oldest Major League Baseball stadium still in operation.

Highlights:

With a Fenway Park guided tour, you'll be able to explore beyond the diamond. Learn more about the stadium and the Red Sox. There's also an extensive museum of photographs and stadium artifacts, making it a mecca for baseball lovers.

Address and opening hours:

40-20 Jersey St, Boston. Open Monday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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5. Retrace the footsteps of legendary Bostonians along the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail lets you take in some of the most historic sights in Boston. With 16 attractions scattered along the route, you'll learn more about the American Revolution and discover fascinating insights about some of history's lesser-known heroes.

Highlights:

With a guided walking tour on the Freedom Trail, you can plan the itinerary for the rest of your trip. Many Freedom Trail sites offer free admission, making it easy to see more during your stay.

Address and opening hours:

10-1/2 Beacon St, Boston. Tour times vary.

Best water activities

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6. Brave the choppy waters of Boston Harbor aboard Codzilla

If you're looking for a water tour with a difference, the mighty Codzilla is ready and waiting. This high-octane adventure will go down a storm with little ones, making it one of the best family-friendly attractions Boston has to offer.

Highlights:

With a Codzilla Thrill Boat experience, you'll zoom past some of Boston's most iconic waterfront attractions at high speed. What's more, this fearsome vessel is capable of pulse-raising hairpin bends and 360-degree turns.

Address and opening hours:

1 Long Wharf, Boston. Departure times vary.

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7. Marvel at Boston's skyline by night with a cruise of the harbor

Nothing beats a cruise of Boston Harbor as the sun goes down. If you're looking for a more refined way to cap the evening off, a yachting excursion is the way to go. Sip on cocktails or mingle as your captain steers past some of Boston's most famous waterfront landmarks.

Highlights:

With a sunset yacht cruise, you can watch the view, mingle with fellow passengers, or listen to a light commentary as you sail past some of Boston's most significant monuments.

Address and opening hours:

Downtown, Boston. Departure times vary.

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8. Meet nature's gentle giants with a whale-watching cruise

The Atlantic waters off the coast of Boston are home to many maritime species, including the beautiful humpback whale and white-sided dolphins.

Highlights:

With a whale-watching catamaran cruise, you'll get to travel beyond the confines of Boston Harbor. Animal experts from the Whale Center of New England are on hand to answer all your questions about these beautiful creatures.

Address and opening hours:

1 Long Wharf, Boston. Departure times vary.

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9. Take in the sights of Boston Harbor

If you'd rather stay closer to shore, a sightseeing tour of Boston Harbor is the perfect summertime excursion. You'll sail past landmarks like the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill Monument, and more.

Highlights:

With a historical sightseeing cruise, you can beat the crowds and usual tourist traps as you discover more about this city and its rich heritage. With indoor viewing decks, even an unforeseen downpour won't spoil the show.

Address and opening hours:

1 Long Wharf, Boston. Departure times vary.

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10. Discover more of New England with an island-hopping day trip

With more than 4,600 islands off the coast of New England, there's plenty to discover away from the mainland. If you're staying in Boston for more than a few days, take to the water for an island-hopping adventure.

Highlights:

With a Martha's Vineyard tour, you'll soak up the summer sunshine in one of the most exclusive corners of the United States.

Address and opening hours:

Pickup from selected Boston hotels. Departure times vary.

FAQs

Where can I go swimming or relax by the water in Boston?

Boston Harbor is the obvious destination if you're looking to relax by the water. Feel enchanted by estuary views as you take a stroll along Harborwalk or lounge on the lakeshore at Jamaica Pond. If you're an avid swimmer, many of the Boston Harbor Islands offer beautiful beaches.

Are there any great summer festivals in Boston?

Boston boasts a packed schedule of summer festivals. There's the Independence Day Parade Downtown on the 4th of July, while Back Bay hosts the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the same day. Every August, the Dorchester district of the city is the staging ground for the Caribbean Carnival, while the Feast of St. Anthony is held in North End during the last weekend of August.

What are the must-visit outdoor attractions in Boston?

There are plenty of famous landmarks in Boston. A stroll through the city will take you past iconic sights like the Paul Revere House, Bunker Hill Monument, Massachusetts State House, and more.

What are some great day trips to take from Boston in the summer?

Thanks to its seaport status, Boston is an ideal departure point for day trips and maritime adventures. Spend an afternoon sailing through the harbor and exploring the Boston Harbor Islands. If you'd rather go further afield, there's always Martha's Vineyard and other destinations along the coast of New England. If your schedule allows, you can even fit in a day trip to New York if you want to.

What are some fun activities with kids in Boston in summer?

There's plenty to keep younger visitors entertained during a trip to Boston. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities at Boston's annual summer festivals, while Boston Harbor offers an array of thrilling activities. What's more, family-friendly attractions like the New England Aquarium and Franklin Park Zoo are open to visitors throughout the year.