Actually Cool Things to Do in Boston this Summer

Here comes the sun.

With a hopeful summer on the horizon, businesses and restaurants across the city are continuing to open up, which means that more activities will soon be available to all of us cooped-up Bostonians. And as long as we all take the proper precautions before heading outside, this summer should bring a much-needed return to some level of normalcy when it comes to hanging out with family and friends. 

To celebrate our collective reemergence from pandemic-fueled hibernation, however hesitant it may be, we’ve put together this list of fun-in-the-sun ideas to keep you busy from June clear through to September. Mask up and get on out there, Boston.

Scope out the city’s sky-high bar scene

Various locations
Boston’s rooftop bars have been greatly missed. This summer, throw on that outfit you’ve had hanging in your closet since the start of quarantine and head out to safely enjoy sweeping views with a refreshing beverage in hand. No matter your mood, Boston has an open-air drinking den for you, from Seaport stunners Lookout Rooftop Bar and Deck12 to chill Cambridge hideouts like Coppersmith, Daedalus, and Felipe’s Taqueria. Just make sure to call ahead or make an online reservation before stopping by.

Explore New England’s swimming holes

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Massachusetts is filled with all kinds of hidden outdoor gems, including our fair share of natural swimming spots for those craving splashy daytime adventures. From Amherst’s Puffer’s Pond to Nahant’s 40 Steps Beach, you won’t want to waste another sunny day inside with all these crystal clear waters out there just begging for a cannonball.

Cool down at a local ice cream shop 

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For those days you can’t seem to beat the heat, there’s no better way to cool down than with a slow-churned scoop from one Boston’s top ice cream institutions. The obvious choice is J.P. Licks, which you can now find just about everywhere in and around the city. To change it up, check out Toscanini’s in Cambridge, Taiyaki NYC in Seaport, Amorino on Newbury Street and in Harvard Square, or FoMu in Allston, Jamaica Plain, South End, and Fenway.

Day-trip it out to the ‘burbs

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Little known fact: Boston is surrounded by a whole host of exciting suburbs, each chock full of new activities and attractions worth adding to your summer bucket list. Whether you opt for the commuter rail or hop in your car, gear up to spend the day walking along Newburyport’s quaint streets and scenic docks or getting lost inside Ipswich’s majestic Crane Estate. The nautically-minded can even trek over to Duxbury for a sailing lesson at the Duxbury Bay Maritime School or schedule a private Island Creek Farm tour—and that’s barely scratching the surface.

Or make a weekend of it by booking an eye-catching New England Airbnb

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If you prefer to stretch your road trip into a verifiable weekend getaway, check out these hand-picked accommodations surrounded by the ocean, mountains, and even among the trees. Whether you remain in Massachusetts or venture out to New Hampshire or up to Vermont, you’ll find everything from tiny houses and cabins to rustic tree houses tucked away in the forest with help from our list of the best Airbnbs near(ish) Boston.

Bring out your competitive side with Volo

Allston/Brighton, Dorchester, Somerville, Southie
Formerly known as Social Boston Sports, Volo channels your inner gym class hero with adult sports leagues open for joining all across the city. With COVID-19 protocols in place to ensure an extra safe season, you can finally flex those long-neglected muscles by signing up to play kickball, softball, beach volleyball, soccer, and more this summer.

Shop and dine at Somerville’s Bow Market

Union Square
The hub for quaint entertainment, dining, and drinking, Union Square’s Bow Market has a ton of activities packed in one spot. Wash down a Mike & Patty’s sandwich with one of Remnant Brewing’s IPAs, then poke around Vinyl Index to pick up your next soundtrack or wall decor. Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Saus for a helping of fries paired with the perfect dipping sauces.

Take yourself out to the ball game at Fenway Park

Fenway Park is excited to welcome fans back into the stands for the 2021 season, and increasing to 25% capacity effective May 10, your odds of snagging a ticket might be a bit higher. For more details, check out the Red Sox website. Heads up—individual game tickets are sold in two-seat and four-seat pods, or if you’re feeling like splurging with your group, you can also book an 8-seat private suite.

Take a walk in the Fenway Victory Gardens

Back Bay
If you’re looking to switch up your usual strolls through the Boston Public Garden or the Common, check out Fenway Victory Gardens for something new. Part of the Emerald Necklace, the flowery sanctuary is filled with more than 500 gardens and spans 7.5 acres along Boston’s Muddy River. According to their website, the gardens are the only remaining continuously-operating World War II victory gardens in the United States and tended to by more than 375 local gardeners.

Lend a helping hand at The Greenway

As a way of giving back to one of the city’s beloved meeting grounds, sign up to volunteer at The Rose Kennedy Greenway. Lend a hand by gardening or cleaning up around the park to keep the area looking pristine all throughout the year. And if you’re still in the volunteering spirit, there are many other local organizations that could use your help—just check out our list to get started.

Venture out to the nearby woods for a hike

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For when you need to upgrade your little walks, the city has plenty of nearby spots to help you pick up the pace and take in scenic sights. From the Chestnut Hill Reservoir to Hingham’s World’s End, take a look at our list of the best hikes near Boston for inspiration.

Show off your hand-eye coordination at Seaport’s dart club

Seaport’s Flight Club Darts takes a night out to a different level. Brought to you by UK-based chain Flight Club, there are currently only two existing locations in the US, one in Chicago and of course, one here in Boston. You can book an hour of darts and drinking online but groups are limited to six people. The menu has a lot to offer too, with your choice of flatbreads, burgers, fries, and pub-inspired apps.

Make time for a museum visit 

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Support Boston’s historical art scene and world famous exhibitions as they recover from a difficult year by picking up tickets to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, or the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. You can also indulge in the city’s rich history by stopping into the ever-festive Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

Get back to your favorite patio 

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With outdoor dining finally back in full swing, the city is literally teeming with enticing patio options. Get your fill at seafood destinations like Seaport’s The Barking Crab and Mare Oyster Bar in the North End before diving into our full rundown of the best al fresco dining options around the city.

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Jillian Hammell is a contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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