Boston, MA is a unique mix of culture, history, academia, and fun; It’s a busy metropolitan area and economic hub while maintaining its old-world charm and character. The city that boasts Ivy league colleges, prestigious hospitals and medical facilities, major league sports teams, and famed historical landmarks draw visitors, students, and tourists throughout the year.
With all of Boston’s popularity, when is the best time to visit the city?
The high tourist season runs from May until October, with late spring and early autumn being the busiest season. The weather is the nicest during those months, and all of the tourist attractions are open. However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds or want to go off-season, the rates are the cheapest during the winter months.
- The Seasons in Boston
- The Best Time to Sightsee in Boston
- The Best Time to see the Red Sox in Boston
- Best Time to Attend Events in Boston
- The Best Time for Shopping in Boston
- The Best Time to Visit Boston on a Budget
- So, When Is the Best Time to Visit Boston?
The Seasons in Boston
In the northeast of the United States, Boston has the stereotypical four seasons: warm and blooming spring days, hot and humid summers, crisp and colorful autumns, and cold winters with some expected snowfalls.
The most moderate temperatures in May to June and from September to October attract the most tourists. The parks, outdoor attractions, and historical walking trails are all perfect for the pleasant days in these New England seasons.
Spring weather may range from the 50s to the 70s F. Eateries set up outdoor tables, the parks are green again, and it’s a pleasure to walk the Freedom Trail between the historical sites. Note that it is likely to rain in April and May, so be prepared for some showers if you’re going to Boston in the early spring.
If you’re heading to the area for the nearby beaches, though, book your trip for the summer. The summer does get hot, and visitors can crowd the streets and tourist landmarks. July and August weather can reach the high 80s, and while that may be hot walking through the streets, it is pleasant on the water. Boating, whale watching, fishing, and the beach are popular summer activities.
Many local events take place in Boston over the summer, so be sure to check out the city’s events calendar. July 4th is always a big deal for the city that fought for the country’s independence, and you can always expect a fireworks show.
Autumn in Boston is beautiful, with the leaves changing colors and the weather still nice enough to walk outside, taking in the sites and sounds of the city. Coming out of the summer, the weather can still be in the 70s, but it drops as the season progresses.
Some tourists prefer the cold winter months as the attractions are less crowded and the hotel rates are usually cheaper. You can score some great discounts during the off-season for tourists. Keep in mind that some attractions and tourist destinations may be closed or running on a shorter schedule during the winter than during the tourist season.
Pack a warm coat and shoes if you still decide to come in the winter because it can get pretty cold and windy, especially around the water. The temperature can drop below thirty and into the teens. Ice-skating is a favorite winter pastime, with several indoor and outdoor rinks to choose from.
The Best Time to Sightsee in Boston
If you’re coming to Boston to visit the historical landmarks and museums, most of them are open year-round, although May through October sees the most tourists. Always check the hours of operation of each attraction that you’re planning to visit, especially if you’re coming during the spring, summer, or early fall. It’s best to book in advance or make reservations if they are available.
The schedules of operation of some attractions may change depending on the season. Some may have longer hours or more tours available during the busy tourist months. Many attractions may also host events at specific times during the year. Look at the attractions’ event schedule if there are any that you want to plan your visit around.
The Freedom Trail
The walk along The Freedom Trail, with historical sites and landmarks along the route, is the most popular from May through October, when the weather is the most accommodating to being outdoors. While you can do the tour during the winter, it’s a much more pleasant experience in beautiful weather than in the cold rain or snow. The tour schedules change throughout the year and are the busiest during the high tourist season in the spring and early fall.
The trail is 2.5 miles long, with many sites and landmarks that are part of the history of the Revolutionary War. Some famous sites along the Freedom Trail include Paul Revere’s house, Massachusetts State House, Boston Massacre Site, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill Monument, and the USS Constitution.
Over four million tourists visit the Freedom Trail each year. You can use a tour guide or take a self-guided tour, stopping at all or some of the sites. The tours are available throughout the year, through all seasons. Book early during the busy months, though, as they do fill up fast.
The Duck Tours
The Boston Duck Tours is a fun way to see the city – from the city streets straight into the Charles River. The tour does not operate in the winter months, so check their schedule if you’ll be in Boston from December through March.
During the months that they are open, they operate in the rain, but not in severe weather conditions or storms.
The Duck Tours are a popular attraction in Boston, and you should consider booking your tickets in advance so as not to be locked out. There’s a limited number of boats available.
The Swan Boats
The Swan Boats in Boston Commons is iconic and dates back to the 1800s when they were first launched in the public gardens. The boats only operate in the spring through early fall. If you’re planning your visit for the late fall through the winter, this attraction will be closed. They usually open for the season in April.
Each museum varies in its days and hours of operation, so check before you head out to visit. Some may have events taking place at specific times in the year.
During the popular tourist months, and in the summer when the students and locals have a vacation from school, it can get busy. The best time to go is during the week and early in the day to beat the crowds.
Boston has beautiful parks, the most famous being the Boston Common in downtown Boston. The park, which opened in 1634, is the oldest public park in the United States. From April until November, the swan paddle boats are available on the lake in the park.
The spring and autumn months are the optimal times to get the most out of the gorgeous grounds and enjoy nature in the parks. If you’re there in the winter, go check out the ice skating rink at Boston Common for a fun activity.
Whale watching ships are a big attraction for visitors to the New England coast. May through October are the optimal months to spot the whales as they migrate to and from the warmer waters at the beginning and end of the season.
Several whale-watching tour ships in Boston report a high success rate of spottings. Guests will typically see humpback whales and dolphins during these months.
The Best Time to see the Red Sox in Boston
If you’re a baseball fan and are heading to Boston to see the Red Sox and Fenway Park, check the team’s schedule to catch a home game. Baseball season runs from the spring until the early fall.
Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is a major attraction, too, even if a game isn’t in session. You can book tours of the stadium, subject to availability.
Best Time to Attend Events in Boston
Many local events take place throughout the year in Boston. If you’re interested in attending a specific event, you may choose to plan your visit around the time of the scheduled event. Some of the popular events that Boston hosts include:
- Boston Harborfest – The famous Fourth of July weekend celebration commemorates Independence Day in the city where some of the most well-known Revolutionary War battles and events took place.
Some of the attractions are historical performances, site tours, walking along the Freedom Trail, musical entertainment, live shows, parades, boat tours, and more. Of course, there will be a grand display of fireworks from Boston’s Long Wharf. If you’re planning a trip in July, this is definitely an event to attend.
- Boston Film Festival – The film festival takes place in September with premieres and screenings of select films and an awards ceremony.
- Cambridge Art Stream Festival – The extravaganza in July featuring musical, theatre, and dance is one of the popular festivals locals and tourists look forward to each year.
- Boston Wine Festival – The annual Boston Wine Festival runs from January through March with a schedule of events and, of course, wine tasting.
- The Boston Marathon – The Boston Marathon, which first started back in 1887, takes place annually on the third Monday in April. Tens of thousand runners join the race, and an estimated half a million people come to watch the well-renowned race.
- Boston SciFi Film Festival – The Science Fiction film festival runs for a week in February.
- St. Patrick Day’s Parade – The parade in March to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is one of the city’s largest parades. Marching bands join with bagpipes, floats, and dancers to parade down the historic streets.
- Duckling Day – Duckling Day is a tradition in Boston Commons. Every mothers day in May, families gather at the park, the site of the famous children’s book Make Way for Ducklings. The younger children dress as ducks and run along the route described in the charming tale. A live band and a reading of the book conclude the memorable day.
- Boston Gay Pride Week – Boston celebrates Gay Pride Week in June with several events, a Gay Pride parade, and dance parties. The streets are usually very congested during these events, so be prepared to use public transportation or walk.
- Thanksgiving Celebration – If you’re near Boston during Thanksgiving, check out the Thanksgiving festivities on Plymouth Rock.
- Boston Tea Party Reenactment – Relive the night of the Boston Tea Party every December 16th! Watch the debate between Paul Revere, John Adams, and John Hancock, and then take part in throwing the tea overboard on the ships.
The Best Time for Shopping in Boston
Boston boasts a multitude of high-quality stores and boutiques for fashion-minded visitors. Since there’s no sales tax for clothing under $175, and the sales tax for other purchases is only 6%, it can be an excellent opportunity to buy what you had your mind on earlier.
The Best Time to Visit Boston on a Budget
If you’re looking to save money on a trip to Boston, the winter months of January to February may just be your best option. Hotel rates are usually cheaper during those months than in the spring and fall during peak tourist season.
So, When Is the Best Time to Visit Boston?
Boston is a beautiful and meaningful city full of historical significance, culture, and also modern life. The best time to visit Boston to take full advantage and appreciate all of its sites is from May through October. However, there’s plenty to do in Boston during the rest of the year, from museums, historical sites, and frequent events.
Whenever you go to Boston, check out the local events calendar to see what’s happening around the city. Whether it’s tourist season or not, there’s always something happening in Boston.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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