There’s nothing better than Boston in the spring.
After a long winter, Bostonians are eager to head outside, bask in the warm sunshine, smell the grass and flowers, and partake in their city’s wonderful outdoor experiences.
Boston comes alive in the spring, and many fun and exciting activities and events take advantage of the season.
The following list showcases the thirty-one best things to do in Boston in the spring.
Explore the Public Garden and Boston Common
One of the first things Bostonians love to do when the weather warms up is to stroll the Public Garden and Boston Common. These two green spaces are centrally located in the city and situated next to each other, but each has a unique feel.
When spring flowers bloom, the Public Garden is the place to be with its dazzling display of daffodils, tulips, peonies, and rhododendrons. Established in 1837, the Public Garden was the first botanical garden in the United States, and its design harkens back to Victorian times.
Just east of the garden and across Charles Street is the Boston Common, established in 1634. This space was the country’s first public park. Unlike the gardens, you won’t find as many flowers here. Highlights of the common include the Frog Pond, The Embrace statute, and the Parkman Bandstand, where performances occur. The Freedom Trail also begins here (see more below).
Visit Fenway Park
The beloved Boston Red Sox start their playing season in the spring, and there’s nothing better than watching a game at Fenway Park.
Fenway Park opened in 1912, making it the oldest ballpark among Major League Baseball teams. Due to its age, it’s known for a few unusual features, such as its quirky dimensions and as one of the last remaining hand-operated scoreboards in Major League Baseball.
Tickets to Red Sox games can be purchased online. Spring training begins at the end of February, and the regular season at the end of March.
Walk the Freedom Trail
One of the best ways to explore the city and learn about its history is to follow the Freedom Trail. And Boston in the spring is the best time to do it!
The Freedom Trail begins in Boston Common, near the intersection of Tremont and West Street. Here, a medallion indicates the start of the trail, followed by a brick path that winds throughout the city.
Following the path, you’ll encounter many of the city’s most historic sites, such as the Old South Meeting House, Paul Revere’s House, and the Old North Church. The Freedom Trail’s total walking distance is 2.5 miles.
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Attend the Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon, the city’s most iconic event, happens on the third Monday in April, and it’s definitely one of the best things to do in the spring!
This event is world-renowned as one of the premier marathons in the world. It’s the oldest modern marathon, having begun in 1897, and runners from around the world gather in Boston each year to compete.
It’s key to pick the right spot to watch the marathon. Popular spots include the start of the race in Hopkinton, near downtown Natick, as the course reaches the halfway point near Wellesley College, and Heartbreak Hill in Newton. Spectators also line the streets starting in Brookline to the finish in Back Bay, Boston.
While it’s exciting to watch runners as they near the finish line, keep in mind that these sidewalks will be very crowded. One of the best ways to take in the runners is to find a spot with few other spectators along some side streets of Natick, Wellesley, or Newton.
Enjoy cherry blossoms at the Arnold Arboretum
One of the best things to do in Boston in the spring is to head to the Arnold Arboretum to see its cherry blossoms in full bloom. This beloved Boston tradition has occurred for over a century since the first cherry blossom trees were planted in the late 19th century.
Cherry blossoms bloom in Boston between late March and, in some years, can last until as late as May. Although the Arnold Arboretum is owned and managed by Harvard University, it’s far from its campus. The best way to visit the arboretum is to take the T, Boston’s subway, to the Forest Hills stop. It’s also possible to drive, although it may be difficult to find parking.
The Arnold Arboretum is open from dawn until dusk.
Go on a bike tour
As the weather warms up, most Bostonians are eager to get outside! And a fun way to enjoy the sunshine is to join a bike tour.
Several bike tours are available in the Boston area. Many last a couple of hours and travel through the city’s varied neighborhoods, stopping at its many monuments, historic landmarks, parks, and architecture.
The following are three well-regarded tours.
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Visit the Museum of Fine Arts
Visiting The Museum of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) is a treat any time of the year, but it’s also a perfect activity for those rainy spring days.
This is the premier regional and the world’s 20th-largest art museum. The M.F.A.’s collection consists of nearly 500,000 works and 8,161 paintings spanning various art movements and cultures. You can find everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to Dutch Golden Age and French Impressionist paintings here.
The M.F.A. is open from Wednesday through Monday, 10 AM to 5 PM, with extended hours on Thursday and Friday until 10 PM. The M.F.A. offers free admission in the spring on Monday, May 29th, 2023 (Memorial Day) and Monday, June 19th, 2023 (Juneteenth). (465 Huntington Avenue, Boston)
Visit Harvard Square in Cambridge
Although not technically in Boston, Cambridge’s Harvard Square is still a fun thing to do when visiting Boston in the spring.
One of the best things to do in Harvard Square is to wander its streets – popping into retail stores, cafes, and eateries, and spending time at Harvard University. The spring sunshine and warm weather add to the ambiance of the visit.
See related: Top 15 Best Things to Do in Harvard Square
Take a ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands
Few tourists realize that thirty islands, known as the Boston Harbor Islands, are within the city of Boston.
Spring is the perfect time to catch a ferry to visit one of the four accessible Boston Harbor Islands. Upon arrival, you can hike throughout the island, take in the peaceful views, and, on most islands, explore historic structures.
Boston Harbor Island ferries begin in the mid-to-late May. Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the Boston Harbor Island stand on Long Wharf, across from the Boston Marriot Hotel.
Walk along the Boston Harborwalk
Another way to take in Boston’s harbor is to take a leisurely stroll along the Harborwalk.
This nearly 40-mile walk winds through Boston’s neighborhoods along the shore. It begins in Dorchester and traverses through South Boston, Fort Point, the Financial District, the North End, and into Charlestown. The Harborwalk can also be found sporadically across the water in East Boston.
If you’re not inspired to complete the full forty-mile walk (who is?), you’ll want to focus on a few central scenic areas. One popular place to start is at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) in the Seaport District. From there, follow the Harborwalk across Seaport Avenue, continuing to meander along the shoreline through the North End and into Charlestown.
Ride the Boston Garden Swan Boats
Springtime in Boston means spending time in the Boston Gardens and riding on the iconic Swan Boats.
These boats have been a fixture of the gardens since 1877, when they first appeared. Robert Paget designed them after seeing the opera Lohengrin, in which a knight rescues a damsel by riding a swan across a lake.
With no motor, the Swan Boats are operated by the driver pedaling, similar to a bicycle pedal. Passengers sit on wooden benches as the boat moves around the small pond.
The Swan Boats are operational from the middle of April to the beginning of September. Ticket prices are $4.50 for adults, $3.00 for children (age 2-15 years), and children under two ride for free.
Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Another popular activity on a rainy spring day is to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
This museum is best known for its unique blend of art and architecture. The garden in the courtyard feels like an oasis in the busy city and certainly hints of spring with its many flora and fauna.
Beyond the courtyard, the museum houses an eclectic collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from various cultures and time periods. It’s also known for the enduring mystery of the infamous 1990 heist, in which thirteen pieces, including art by Vermeer and Rembrandt, were stolen.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is open Wednesday through Monday, 11 AM to 5 PM, with extended hours on Thursday till 9 PM (visitors also receive free entry from 3 PM to 9 PM on Thursdays). (25 Evans Way, Boston)
Go shopping on Newbury Street
Newbury Street, in Boston’s Back Bay, is the city’s shopping street. And Bostonians enjoy nothing more than wandering down this lively street when the sun shines and the weather is warm.
Starting at Massachusetts Avenue and ending at the Boston Garden, you’ll find just about every type of boutique, shop, gallery, cafe, and restaurant imaginable. The mile-long walk is also jam-packed with unique architecture, and you’re bound to see many equally unique characters along the way.
Take a Boston Duck Tour
One of the more popular things visitors can do in the spring is take a Boston Duck Tour.
These tours occur in an amphibious vehicle that drives through the streets of Boston and then transforms into a boat to ride the Charles River.
Along the tour, you’ll hear about the city’s fascinating history and get an overview of its various neighborhoods. Even long-time Bostonians are likely to learn a thing or two on the tour.
Duck Tours resume for the season at the end of March. They are eighty minutes long and depart from three locations: the Museum of Science, The New England Aquarium, and The Prudential Center. Tickets can be purchased online.
Bike, run, or walk along the Charles River Esplanade
After a long winter, Bostonians are eager to get out and enjoy the spring weather, and there’s no better place to do that than the Charles River Esplanade!
This green space runs the length of the Charles River from the Boston University Bridge to the Longfellow Bridge. However, any journey along the esplanade can continue further since it’s part of the Emerald Necklace, a 1,100-acre chain of parks in Boston and Brookline.
You can also cross the Boston University Bridge, Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, or the Longfellow Bridge and continue on the Cambridge side of the river, effectively creating a loop.
In the springtime, you’re bound to see many people walking, jogging, or cycling along the esplanade. Children’s playgrounds and the Hatch Shell (see below) are also nearby.
Catch a show at the Charles River Esplanade Hatch Shell
Once the weather warms up, an event always seems to be happening at the outdoor Charles River Esplanade Hatch Shell.
Springtime events include various musical events and fundraisers. Check the website for an up-to-date listing of events. (47 David G. Mugar Way)
Enjoy high tea
Spring means special occasions such as Mother’s Day, and a perfect way to celebrate is to have high tea at one of Boston’s many establishments.
Here are a few of the best places to enjoy high tea in Boston:
- Silver Dove Afternoon Tea: a lovely tearoom with a fixed-price menu providing savory and sweet delicacies and a choice of tea. Reservations recommended. (24 Tremont Street)
- The Map Room Lounge: located within the Boston Public Library’s main branch, this tearoom has an extensive lunch menu and also serves alcohol in addition to tea. (230 Dartmouth Street)
- Trifecta: located in the Four Seasons hotel, this is a high-end experience. In addition to teas and savory and sweet bites, guests are given a glass of champagne. (1 Dalton Street)
Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Patriot’s Day is the third Monday in April, making it the perfect time to relive patriotic history with a visit to The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.
Situated on the historic Congress Street Bridge, the museum provides an immersive experience where guests can participate in interactive reenactments of the iconic Boston Tea Party.
Museum visitors are transported to 1773 as they board authentically restored tea ships, engage with costumed actors portraying historical figures, and even toss tea into the harbor, recreating the protest against British taxation.
The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum provides tours from 10 AM to 5 PM from April 1st to October 31st and from 10 AM to 4 PM from November 1st to March 31st. (306 Congress Street, Boston)
Visit the Boston Seaport District
The Seaport District, a trendy neighborhood in northern South Boston, can be a fun place to wander and explore – especially when the weather is warm.
Over the past decade, the Seaport District has transformed from an industrial desert to a bustling destination. You’ll find stunning harbor views (like the Harborwalk!), art exhibits, hip restaurants, and plenty of shopping here.
The Seaport District hosts numerous events, some seasonal, throughout the year. Check the Seaport’s calendar to see what’s taking place when you visit.
Explore the Boston Children’s Museum
A fun thing to do with kids in Boston in the spring is visit the Boston Children’s Museum.
And given its location on Congress Street, it’s easy to combine a visit with wandering throughout the Seaport District or touring the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.
The Boston Children’s Museum is the second oldest children’s museum in the United States and features over sixteen interactive exhibits. One of the most popular exhibits is the New Balance Foundation Climb, a three-story structure with wooded planks and mesh wiring that kids can climb through.
The museum also features a reconstructed house from Kyoto, Japan, and the exhibit Raceways, which allows kids to roll golf balls on various tracks.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 4 PM. Note that admission is only one dollar on Sunday afternoons from 1 PM to 4 PM, but you must make online reservations. (308 Congress Street, Boston)
Ride bikes along Memorial Drive
Just across the Charles River, Cambridge’s Memorial Drive hugs the shoreline, providing a four-lane thoroughfare with scenic views of Boston and the river.
And beginning at the end of April, the city closes Memorial Drive every Sunday afternoon to allow pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone else to use the space car-free.
The closed portion of Memorial Drive begins at Gerry’s Landing Road and ends at Western Avenue. It closes between 11 AM and 7 PM.
Shop at the Copley Square Farmers Market
Beginning in the middle of May, a fun thing to do in Boston in the spring is to peruse the vendors at the Copley Square Farmers Market.
This market is the city’s biggest and is centrally located in the Back Bay. Over three dozen farmers and food producers offer a wide range of produce, flowers, ready-to-eat meals, baked goods, and local goods at this venue.
The market occurs on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 AM to 6 PM from mid-May to mid-November. Vendors are located across from Copley Square, just outside the public library’s central branch. Check the website for details.
Wander through the Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (often referred to as Faneuil Hall Marketplace) are combined tourist attractions open year-round. And once the weather warms up, the surrounding area comes alive.
Inside Faneuil Hall Marketplace, you’ll find a variety of food stalls and a few shops. Once the winter is over, the exterior pedestrian streets feature several street performers and vendors. New events pop up daily.
Other fun things to do nearby include visiting the Boston Public Market and wandering through the Greenway and North End.
Ride the Greenway Carousel
A fun thing to do with kids in the spring is to bring them to the Greenway Carousel.
This one-of-a-kind thirty-six-seat carousel is operated by the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. It showcases fourteen original characters representing the land, sea, and air around Boston.
The Greenway Carousel is open daily from mid-April through mid-October. Rides are only $3 each. (191 Atlantic Avenue)
Visit the U.S.S. Constitution Museum
Although open year-round, the U.S.S. Constitution Museum is best visited in warm weather, making it a perfect spring activity. That is if you plan to also tour the ship during your visit.
As the name suggests, this museum features exhibits about the USS Constitution, launched in 1797 and considered to be the oldest commissioned warship in the world today. It’s a fun, interactive museum perfect for families with children and history buffs. The ship is docked close to the museum and is open for tours.
The museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, and the ship is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM. (Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, Boston)
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Boston Spring Events
Several special events happen in Boston in the spring. Here are some of the most popular.
The Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon is more than just an event – it’s a historic, cultural, and athletic experience – which is why we’ve mentioned it twice. It happens annually on Patriot’s Day, the third Monday of April.
Duckling Day Parade
Inspired by the classic children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey, the Duckling Day Parade occurs annually on Mother’s Day in the Boston Public Garden. Children and their families dress up like characters from the story and parade around the gardens.
Boston Calling Music Festival
Boston Calling is a three-day music festival held annually at the Harvard Athletic Complex at the end of May. It features a diverse lineup of musical acts, food vendors, and other entertainment.
Lilac Sunday at Arnold Arboretum
Lilac Sunday is an annual event occurring in May at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. Visitors can enjoy the blooming lilacs and participate in various activities.
Art in Bloom
Art in Bloom is an event by the Museum of Fine Arts. It occurs annually at the end of April. Each year, dozens of florists create interpretive floral arrangements of works of art from the museum’s collection.
Boston International Film Festival
Film enthusiasts can attend the Boston International Film Festival in April. The festival showcases independent films from around the world and includes screenings, panels, and discussions.
Harvard Arts First Festival
Harvard University’s Arts First Festival celebrates the arts, featuring student performances, exhibitions, and installations across various disciplines. It takes place annually either at the end of April or the beginning of May.
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About Kerry Flatley
Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.