17 Actually Cool Things to Do in Boston This Summer

Cue the outdoor concerts, barbecue cravings, and afternoons atop the Green Monster.

Summer is in the air, so get ready for the outdoor hangs, barbecue cravings, and all the other seasonal activities we wait for all year. Spending an afternoon at a beer garden or rooftop bar is a must, and there are other bucket list items like heading up to Maine for a lobster roll of devouring oysters on the half shell here in the city that are always on the agenda. Beyond the classics, summertime in Boston is also bringing a ton of new goings-ons, like street fairs, outdoor concerts, and puppy playdates. So make some plans and get out there, because we’ve got you covered with all the best things to do in Boston this summer.

Revere Hotel Boston Common
Revere Hotel Boston Common

Various locations
It’s rooftop season in Boston. So why stick to your go-tos when you can explore an array of options—both old and new—scattered in and around the city? For casual outings, you have Cambridge’s Daedalus, Dorchester’s Dorchester Brewing Company’s taproom, Cleveland Circle’s Cityside Tavern, and Harvard Square’s Felipe’s. But for a swanky night out, add Seaport’s Legal Harborside, DECK 12 and Lookout Rooftop, Theatre District’s Rooftop@Revere, and Charlestown’s Pier6 into the mix. On the new-ish side, Back Bay’s Contessa and South Boston’s Six\West are also worth a try. For more spots to add to your repertoire, check out our best rooftop bars in Boston roundup.

Bow Market
Bow Market

Visit one of many local open-air markets

Various locations
From weekly farmers markets to sprawling pop-ups with vintage art and crafts, the city is your oyster when it comes to outdoor vendors and collectives. For local farmers markets, Copley Square and Jamaica Plain have all the fresh and locally grown produce you need for summertime recipes. The farmers market in Haymarket tends to lean on the busier side but you won’t find better deals—plus, it’s one of the oldest in Boston. For entertainment and arts shops, you can’t beat Seaport’s SoWa Boston and Union Square’s Bow Market, featuring delicious bites, booze, and wares by local artists.

Everett
Known as the largest five-star resort outside of Las Vegas, the Encore Boston Harbor hotel has already earned its accolades with only a few years under its belt. You can go for a luxurious stay along the water alone, but most of the other visitors will be feeling lucky as they visit one of only three full-services casinos in Massachusetts.

Bleacher Bar
Bleacher Bar

Take yourself out to the ballgame

Fenway and Kenmore
Forever on the Boston bucket list, catching a Red Sox game is always a treat. And speaking of treats, Fenway Franks and draft beers are ballpark must-haves, but you’d be surprised at the number of delicious options around Fenway worth checking out before or after a game. Choose from Fenway’s Loretta's Last Call, Pho Basil, Bleacher Bar, and Eventide. For even more ideas, check out the best places to grab a pre-game bite around Fenway.

Take the ferry to Spectacle Island

Spectacle Island
With more than 114 acres to explore, Boston’s Spectacle Island has plenty in store for a quick weekend day trip. The 30-minute ferry ride brings you to the nearby destination for swimming, boating, and hiking, with a signature panoramic view of the harbor atop North Drumlin.

Boston Calling Music Festival
Boston Calling Music Festival

Harvard Athletic Complex
Looking to get back into concerts this summer? Look no further than the return of Boston Calling on Memorial Day weekend, with headliners Nine Inch Nails, The Strokes, and Metallica in addition to performances by HAIM, Rüfüs Du Sol, Run the Jewels, Weezer, Glass Animals, Avril Lavigne, and plenty more. General admission single, two, and three-day passes are still available online.

Boston Seaport
Boston Seaport

Seaport
Outdoor fitness classes are one way to make exercising more fun. And if the forecast’s right, Seaport Sweat just might be the move. From now until the end of September, the free outdoor fitness series on Seaport Common features a jam-packed schedule every week from Monday through Thursday and on Saturday with classes from mindful warrior yoga to zumba to pilates.

Trillium Brewing Company
Trillium Brewing Company

Bask in Boston’s beer garden scene

Various locations
Nothing says summer like a good old fashioned beer garden. Whether you’re popping over for an after-work happy hour or spending a Saturday contemplating which draft to choose, Boston has plenty to pick from including the Greenway’s Trillium (there’s one in Fenway too), Night Shift Owl's Nest along the Esplanade and in Allston, Charlestown’s The Anchor, Kendall Square’s Cambridge Brewing Company, Seaport’s Cisco Brewers, and Harpoon Brewery to name a few.

Newton
Who says your pup can’t join in on your summer fun? Newton’s Baramor restaurant is relaunching its Barkamor pop-up and fundraiser series featuring multiple dog-related vendors; pet portraits; dog-focused contests; drink tastings from various local breweries, distilleries, and cideries; and rotating dog-friendly food menu items coming up on June 8, June 29, and August 10. A ticket to the event will cost $15, which will count toward a donation to Jr. Paws for a Cause, raffle ticket, and a piece of Barkamor memorabilia. Not to mention, a variety of rescue dogs available for adoption will be attending each pop-up.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

See a world-class art exhibit before it’s too late

Various locations
Boston has some of the best museums in the country—if not in the world—from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. While some historic art collections and pieces might be on permanent display, the city is also rife with buzzworthy exhibits that are only in town for a limited time. For more on which exhibits to check out before it’s too late, like Immersive Frida Kahlo, read our roundup of the top museum exhibits to visit in Boston right now.

Brattle Book Shop
Brattle Book Shop | NoyanYalcin/Shutterstock

Shop for your newest read in an alley

Downtown Crossing
One of the city’s best-kept secrets (unless you happen to routinely walk past on your way to Park Street), Brattle Book Shop’s outdoor sale lot has returned. Located directly next to the book shop on West Street, the outdoor lot is tucked in an alley with stacks on stacks of selections. Not to mention it’s quite the sight for some quality snapshots of the city’s unique offerings.

Various locations
The city and its surrounding neighborhoods have plenty of breweries worth checking out including Seaport’s Harpoon Brewery, Fort Point’s Trillium, Somerville’s Aeronaut Brewing Co., JP’s Turtle Swamp Brewing, and Sam Adams Brewery. But there are a couple of newbies to add to your list as well, like the newly opened Lamplighter CX near the Lechmere T stop and Roxbury’s Flying Embers Brewery & Social Club, which originally hails from California.

SoWa Boston
SoWa Boston

Seaport
Starting in May, SoWa Open Market will be back for its 2022 season featuring food trucks, local vendors, artwork, and more. With more than 100 vendors inside and the same number popping up at a weekly outdoor tent market, there are plenty of shops to pursue to waste away a summer afternoon. The space also hosts a weekly Vintage Market located downstairs at 450 Harrison Avenue. Open year-round on Sundays, the market offers vintage antiques, apparel, and art made for your thrifting dreams.

Boston Common
Boston Common | Lukas Proszowski/Shutterstock

Stroll through the Public Garden and Boston Common

Downtown
There’s nothing more satisfying than topping off a lazy summer Sunday with a leisurely walk throughout the Public Garden and into the Commons. You can also pack a basket and prepare for a picnic along the Frog Pond for sights of tourists trying their best on the Swan Boats or owners chasing after their pups just letting out a little energy. Plus, while plans are still in the works, Sundays along Newbury Street are set to go back to pedestrian-only access for the annual Open Newbury Street.

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Photo courtesy of New Balance

Ready for a state-of-the-art sports experience like no other? Look no further than the TRACK at New Balance, a new, world-class sports and research complex designed to break records. Located at the New Balance headquarters in Boston, the TRACK welcomes athletes of all ages and experience levels. The facility has over 24,000 square feet of warm-up space, full turf for soccer, lacrosse, and other sports, a separate live music venue, and much more. It’s designed to be the fastest track in the world after all.

Explore the Emerald Necklace

Various locations
New England is equipped with a plethora of scenic sights, hiking hotspots, and walking trails worth visiting. However, if you’re looking for something a bit closer to home, look no further than Boston’s Emerald Necklace, the city’s largest park system designed by landscape architecture legend Frederick Law Olmsted. With trails from Back Bay to Dorchester, you can get your steps in without traveling too far. And arguably one of the most beloved parks within the Emerald Necklace, the Arnold Arboretum, provides a gorgeous view of the city skyline.

Bow Market
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. Order a Mike & Patty’s sandwich and complete the meal 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.

Crane Estate
Crane Estate | Steven Phraner/Shutterstock

Various locations
Boston is surrounded by a whole host of exciting suburbs, each chock full of activities and attractions worth adding to your spring bucket list. Whether you opt to take the commuter rail or hop in the car, you can gear up to spend the day walking along Newburyport’s quaint streets and scenic docks or getting lost inside Ipswich’s majestic Crane Estate. Hingham isn’t hard to get to either, with its popular shipyard The Launch offering a shopping center and a Wahlburgers for when you need to fill up.

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