Boston City Guide

45 Best Things to Do in Boston

Last Updated on August 29, 2022 | 0 Comments
colorful Boston scene with trees, clouds, and a view of Quincy Park

Beautiful gardens, delicious food and iconic buildings make it easy to find many things to do in Boston, Massachusetts no matter your interests. As one of the oldest cities in the United States, it is also home to many historic sites and quaint neighborhoods. 

Enjoy fresh lobster rolls or a relaxing waterfront cruise, or find things to do in Boston for free, like wandering the verdant Public Gardens. Peruse the list of cool things to do in Boston below to plan your next trip to the city!


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Foodie Things to Do in Boston

1. Take a Cooking Class

Cooking classes in Boston offer something for all palates, whether you’re craving sushi, hearty Italian food or vegan fare. All of the cooking classes near you are led by a professional chef who will provide step-by-step guidance throughout the class in a relaxed, upbeat environment. But if you’d rather stay in for the evening, interactive online cooking classes offer the same personalized experience from the comfort of your home kitchen.

cooking classes are the best things to do in Boston
via Cozymeal

2. Hire a Private Chef

For your next party, anniversary or date night, consider hiring one of the many talented private chefs near you to cater your event. When you book one of the private chefs in Boston, you’ll get a private dining experience featuring gourmet dishes and personalized touches. Not only does the chef handle all of the shopping, prep work and cooking, but they even serve and clean up before leaving.

3. Take a Local Food Tour

One of the best things to do in Boston to get to know the city is to take walking food tours in Boston with an experienced guide. You’ll get to know the hidden gems and best-in-class foods while exploring an interesting Boston neighborhood. Pick food tours near you to discover local spots, or explore farther afield!

bottom half of a small group walking in a city
via Cozymeal

4. Virtual Classes and Tastings

Mix drinks or taste wine in the comfort of your own home with interactive, live online experiences. During online mixology classes with experienced instructors, you'll learn to shake, stir and mix your favorite cocktails. Try out virtual wine tastings with a few friends to hone your taste for reds and whites if that's more your speed. 

5. Brunch in South Boston 

South Boston has recently boomed with young professionals, and with the young professionals comes a cluster of delicious brunch restaurants. If you’re looking for more delicious things to do in Boston, treat yourself to a long brunch at a place like Lincoln or The Broadway.

Brunch is one of the best things to do in Boston
via The Broadway

6. Grab Ice Cream at a Local Shop

Boston has plenty of local ice cream shops serving creamy treats in classic and unique flavors. Try Toscanini’s in Cambridge if you’re in the mood for offbeat flavors, or visit a J.P. Licks for classic and delicious scoops. 

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7. Lobster Rolls at Neptune Oyster

Dining on lobster rolls is a necessity when visiting the Northeast. If you’re willing to wait, Neptune Oyster on Boston’s North End has one of the best hot lobster rolls in the city, as well as plenty of other truly delicious seafood dishes. Or dine on your lobster roll waterfront at James Hook & Co., which has been around since 1925.

a lobster roll and french fries
via Neptune Oyster

8. Dine on Fresh Local Oysters

Fresh oysters are a local tradition, and you can’t get more local than the Union Oyster House, which has been operating for almost 200 years. Eating raw oysters tops the list of classic things to do in Boston that you don’t want to miss. 

9. Grab a Beer at a Local Pub

If you’re looking for things to do at night in Boston, get a taste of Boston’s Irish heritage and visit a local pub. Local favorites include The Burren and The Druid.

The Druid is one of the best things to do in Boston at night
via The Druid

10. Food Crawl Through Chinatown

Visit the only Chinatown in New England in Boston. This historic neighborhood is host to dozens of Asian restaurants and markets. Enjoy food ranging from ​​Chinese, Thai, Japanese and more.

11. Snack on Specialty Doughnuts 

Enjoy a sweet snack at some of Boston’s best doughnut shops as a fun thing to do in Boston that doesn’t break the bank. Both Union Square Donuts and Blackbird Doughnuts are popular with locals for their creative toppings.

a box of various colorful donuts
via Blackbird Doughnuts

12. Try Boston Cream Pie

Along with Boston foods like lobster rolls and clam chowder, Boston is known for its special Boston cream pie. You can find delicious renditions of this sponge cake with cream at Parker’s Restaurant, Bova’s Bakery and Mike’s Pastry. 

13. Sip a Cup of Joe at Polcari’s Coffee

An old-fashioned coffee house that sells coffee beans and market items like herbs, nuts and oils, this Italian-American shop is worth a stop to see how coffee culture has developed over the past century. Enjoy a fresh brew of black coffee made with carefully chosen beans as you peruse the packed shop.

Polcari's Coffee is the best thing to do in Boston for coffee-lovers
via Polcari's Coffee

14. Public Food Halls Like Eataly and Boston Public Market

Get your fill of some of Boston’s best dishes by visiting a food hall on your next trip to Boston. Eataly, a sprawling Italian market, offers authentic ingredients and delicious dishes. Boston Public Market features 30 local food artisans serving all kinds of fabulous fare. 

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15. Quincy Market

Quincy Market is a shopping and dining destination that’s been around for almost 200 years. There are also lively street performers to see as you eat or shop.

American flag in front of a Colonial-style building reading Quincy's Market
via Canva

Romantic Things to Do in Boston

16. Take in the View on a Waterfront Cruise

For a creative date idea in Boston, enjoy fresh sea air and a view of the city skyline on a waterfront cruise with Odyssey Cruises. This is the perfect romantic thing to do in Boston with a date, but you could also enjoy the cruise with a few friends. Dancing, drinks and food are usually included.

17. Visit Cape Cod

Outside of Boston are the beautiful blue waters of Cape Cod. Explore the sandy beaches, quaint restaurants and local galleries as you enjoy all this peninsula has to offer.

Cape Cod is one of the best things to do in Boston
via Canva

18. Explore Boston’s North End

There are plenty of things to do in the North End of Boston — it’s the Little Italy of Boston, packed with authentic restaurants and Italian markets. Book a food tour to explore the neighborhood in depth with an experienced guide.

Free Things to Do in Boston

19. Wander Boston Common and the Public Garden

The Public Garden, America’s first botanical garden, and the Boston Common, America’s oldest public park, are can’t-miss things to do in Boston. These gorgeous outdoor spaces feature beautiful flora and plenty of shady spots to rest. Go for a walk, jog or simply take in the atmosphere on a picnic bench.

a flowery park and a statue of a man on a horse in Boston Common
via Canva

20. Hike at the Blue Hills Reservation

Escape from the city for a few hours at the Blue Hills Reservation just outside Boston. This free thing to do in Boston offers fresh air, beautiful hiking trails and views of the city skyline for a great photo of the Boston silhouette against the clouds.

21. Visit the Beautiful Boston Public Library

Ornate reading rooms and the hush of academia make a visit to the Boston Public Library a peaceful and interesting outing if you’re looking for things to do in Boston that don’t require money. Also, a cloistered courtyard rests at the center of the library — the perfect place to spend a long afternoon.

Boston Public Library is one of the best things to do in Boston
via Canva

22. Walk Freedom Trail

One of the best things to do in Boston for newcomers is to take a walk on the Freedom Trail, a self-guided 2.5-mile tour of Boston’s most iconic historical sites. From Bunker Hill to Paul Revere’s house, you’ll get an overview of the history that made the city. 

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23. Explore Beautiful Beacon Hill

Explore the beautiful Beacon Hill neighborhood, a free thing to do in Boston that locals and newcomers enjoy. The steep, tree-lined streets are famous for red-brick Victorian houses and quaint shops and restaurants. 

a Victorian red-brick townhouse in Beacon Hill, Boston
via Canva

24. Enjoy Fall Foliage

Boston’s fall foliage is iconic, a beautiful array of yellow, orange and red on every corner. Visit the Boston Common, Beacon Hill or the Public Garden to see some of the best fall colors in the city. 

Fun Things to Do in Boston for Adults

25. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner’s former home, modeled on a Venetian palace, is a museum full of curiosities and stunning art. While viewing the sumptuous interior is the thing to do in Boston, Massachusetts for art lovers, don’t forget to spend some time among the lush greenery of the courtyard outside.

a room full of art paintings and antique furniture
via Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

26. Institute of Contemporary Art

In an impressive glass building, the Institute of Contemporary Art showcases modern, sometimes boundary-pushing art and cultural programs. If you’re enjoying Boston on a budget, admission is free on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. 

27. Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston exhibits classic American pieces like Paul Revere’s Liberty Bowl, the first Japanese collection in America and an impressive gallery of Monet’s work — the largest outside of Paris.

Boston Museum of Fine Art is the best thing to do in Boston for art lovers
via Museum of Fine Arts Boston

28. Go Luxury Shopping on Newbury Street

Another fun thing to do in Downtown Boston is go shopping on Newbury Street, a stretch of blocks studded with designer stores like Chanel, Cartier and Armani. 

29. Brattle Book Shop

Wander through the three stories of the Brattle Book Shop on your next trip to Boston. The oldest and largest used book store in the country is a cozy spot to spend a few hours, particularly if you’re looking for things to do in Boston on a rainy day.

outdoor scene of used books for sale in front of a Toni Morrison mural on a brick building
via Brattle Book Shop

Things to Do in Boston With Kids

30. Ride on the Swan Boats 

The iconic Swan Boats at the Public Gardens are a fun and unusual way to spend a few minutes out on the water. It would be a fun thing to do in Boston with kids or without — who doesn’t want to ride on a swan boat? The boats are open from April to Labor Day.  

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31. New England Aquarium

Beloved penguins are a big draw at the New England Aquarium, another thing to do in Boston that will entertain both adults and kids. See stunning sea creatures, friendly seals and, of course, inquisitive penguins.

New England Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Boston for kids
via New England Aquarium

32. Visit the Arnold Arboretum

Designed in 1872 by Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park, Boston’s Arnold Arboretum is a fun thing to do in Boston for adults or kids. Enjoy towering trees, show-stopping flowers and local plants. 

33. Visit the JFK Presidential Library

Housed in an impressive glass building by architect I.M. Pei, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library contains artifacts from the popular president’s time in office as well as special exhibits about his family and relevant historical events.

outdoor shot at dusk of a modern building with the US flag hanging inside
via John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum 

34. Go Whale Watching

Did you know that whales visit Boston Bay? Go whale watching for your next weekend adventure — it’s a fun thing to do in Boston that gets you out of the city and gives you a peek at some amazing sea creatures. 

35. Tour Fenway Park or Catch a Game

The iconic Fenway Park is open for tours year-round, so don’t miss a chance to see this famed baseball stadium. If it’s baseball season and you want to catch a game, buy tickets well in advance, as the small stadium sells out quickly.

Watching a baseball game is one of the best things to do in Boston
via Fenway Park 

36. Boston Children’s Museum

The Boston Children’s Museum is the perfect thing to do in Boston with kids. Kids can learn about science, art and more in fun exhibits about dinosaurs, an art lab and even a Japanese-style house. 

37. See the Big Cats at the Franklin Park Zoo 

A day at the zoo would be a fun thing to do with kids in Boston. See the lions, tigers and more (oh my!) at the Franklin Park Zoo, which exists to preserve endangered species.

a tiger among trees
via Franklin Park Zoo

38. Plimoth Patuxet Museum

An hour outside Boston is the historic Plymouth settlement, the original 1620 settlement spot of Europeans in North America. Visit the Plimoth Patuxet Museum and historical village to get a taste of pilgrim life in the 1620s. 

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39. Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

A quintessential thing to do in Boston is visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. See the ships where the “tea party” occurred and pursue the museum for more interesting facts about that infamous night.

Boston Tea Party ship sitting in the harbor with Boston in background
via Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Things to Do in Boston as a College Student

40. Go Candlepin Bowling

Candlepin bowling is a unique New England quirk — the bowling pins are taller and thinner than you’d see at a standard bowling alley. Try it for yourself at a place like Sacco’s Bowl Haven, which also serves up popular thin-crust pizza for a fun thing to do in Boston at night. 

41. Tour Harvard’s Campus

Get a taste of Ivy League life on a tour of Harvard’s storied red-brick campus. Many public tours are led by current students, so you’ll truly get an inside look at what it’s like to attend this iconic school.

Harvard's campus is one of the best things to do in Boston
via Canva

42. Enjoy the Shopping and Dining at Harvard Square 

Harvard Square in Cambridge has some of the best shopping and dining in the area. Wander the quaint streets and eat your fill of whatever looks good while shopping for unique and beautiful items. 

43. Rent a Rowboat 

Join the Boston rowing craze and get out on the water for an hour or two by renting a rowboat on your next trip to Boston. The Boston Rowing Center offers boats for rent and guides for your rowing voyage.

People in rowboats with covered bridge and gray and red building behind
via Boston Rowing Center

44. Take a Bike Tour

Pedal your way past some of Boston’s top attractions on a bike tour around the city. From the North End to the Freedom Trail and Copley Square, you’ll get a thorough look at Boston from an on-the-ground vantage point.

45. Visit the Copley Square Farmers Market 

The bustling Copley Square Farmers Market, located right across from the Boston Public Library, is the place to get fresh produce and artisanal goods in the middle of the city. The market is open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays from May through November.

Copley Farmers Market is a fun thing to do in Boston for college students
via Copley Farmers Market

This long list of things to do in Boston doesn’t even cover all there is to see in this historic city. But it’s a great place to start planning your trip, especially if you’re on the hunt for things to do in Downtown Boston. 

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