Boston is an excellent city to spend time in, whether you love staying indoors or prefer to venture outside. No matter your preferences or the time of year you visit, you’ll have more than enough to do. People come to Boston year-round to experience what the city has to offer. If you’re there just for a brief time, you’ll even be tempted to start planning your next trip to see the city during a different time of year.
Experiencing the Different Seasons in Boston
Wintertime in Boston is pretty cold, but if you’re willing to brave the weather, you can take in a football game or do your holiday shopping in the city. Springtime in Boston is lovely, with lots of attractions to choose from and green spaces to spend sunny afternoons. Even though summertime is busy with tourism, there are a lot of outdoor activities to keep you busy. Moving into fall, you can be among the buzz of returning students and stick around to see the leaves at their prettiest.
Winter in Boston can be quite cold, especially once December comes, so if you’re coming from a warmer part of the world, make sure you’re prepared with proper clothing. At the very least, you’ll want a good pair of boots and a thick coat. Pack gloves and a scarf, too.
The snow in Boston can be unpredictable, and some winters only get a little bit of snowfall, while other years see blizzards. It’s coldest and snowiest during January, but this is also when hotel rates are their lowest. If it’s too cold to walk around the city, you can hop in a Lyft or Uber.
The Boston Wine Festival occurs during the winter, where you can try all sorts of food and wine.
Weather in Boston during the spring is temperamental. You might get a gorgeous, mild spring day, or you may deal with days upon days of rain. Either way, though, the blooming flowers are prettiest here during spring, so it may be worth it to chance the weather. Average temperatures during the spring range from the 50s to the 70s, rising the further you get into June.
There are two big reasons to visit Boston during the spring: Saint Patrick’s Day and the Boston Marathon.
The summertime is when most tourists flock to Boston, so if you want to avoid the crowds, plan to visit during a different time of the year. If you do travel to Boston during the summer, just be aware that hotel rates will be higher than during the rest of the year. Average temperatures in July climb to the low 80s, and you may experience very warm days as late as September.
There are tons of free events during the summertime, like concerts at the Hatch Memorial Shell (which is by the Charles River) or Summer in the City performances thanks to the Berklee College of Music. You can probably find a running club or yoga class to join, too.
Once the summer ends and September’s here, the weather in loses its humidity and is more comfortable for spending a day outside. However, sometimes fall in Boston stays warm for a bit, and you may get experience temperatures in the 70s as late as September and October.
While tourists tourism thins out during the fall, students return to school this time of year. Boston is home to more than two dozen colleges, and there are over 130,000 students in the area. Some parts of Boston attract a bigger youth crowd than others. For example, Kenmore Square and the Fenway neighborhood tend to be teeming with students. However, all of those younger people mean that Boston has excellent nightlife and less-costly dining options. Plus, over holidays, spring break and the summer, the city empties out.
What You Should Know About Fall Foliage
One of the prettiest times to visit Boston is during the fall, and you should time your trip with when the leaves change and are at their peak color. People travel from all over the country to see the bold colors of Boston’s foliage.
Even though peak foliage changes a bit from year to year, there’s a general schedule you can count on. Midway through September, you’ll start to see vibrant colors here and there. By the beginning of October, more leaves have changed. Usually, peak foliage is during the third week of October, and they’ll only last to the beginning of November if they make it that long.
If you want to soak in the sight of gorgeous fall foliage, take a cruise on the Charles River or book a Duck Tour, and bring your camera to catch the reflection of the leaves in the water. If you’d rather stay on dry land, go to Boston Common, and pick up a cider in a nearby café to keep you warm. You can also couple leaf-peeping with a tour of Harvard Yard – the walking tour will give you plenty of views of the leaves as you learn about Harvard University.
What to Expect Each Month in Boston
There’s really no bad month for visiting Boston, but if you want agreeable weather and fewer tourists, plan your trip for spring (April to June) or early fall (September and October). However, some people feel that Boston is great to visit at any point between June and November because you’ll avoid the springtime rain and the coldest winter months. Ultimately, it’s up to you and what you plan to do during your time there.
Let’s go over what you can expect each month so you can perfectly plan your trip to Boston. (Note that temperatures are in Fahrenheit.)
January is Boston’s coldest month. Average temperatures don’t creep much higher than 36 degrees, and they can get as low as 22 degrees. There’s also a lot of snowfall during January, the most out of the year, with 13 inches as the average.
While February in Boston is still chilly, temperatures have risen since January. Average temperatures range from 25 to 39 degrees, and snowfall drops to 11 inches on average. That’s still a good amount of snowfall, though, and you may catch a storm during your trip.
Celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chinatown, or check out a local college’s hockey team compete in The Beanpot tournament. Also, if the Patriots have made it to the Superbowl, head to one of Boston’s many sports bars to watch the game along with an excited and rowdy crowd. If the Pats win, there’ll be a Duck Boat parade in the streets in celebration.
Spring finally arrives in March, and temperatures range from 31 to 45 degrees on average. It can still get pretty cold at night, and you may even see some snowfall during March – the average is 8 inches. This is also the month with the most rainfall; the average precipitation is 4 inches.
Saint Patrick’s Day is huge in Boston, especially in predominantly Irish neighborhoods like South Boston. There won’t be a lack of parades to catch. The rest of the month, check out different restaurants and get special deals during Dine Out Boston (the March edition – there’s also one during the summer).
It’s still not quite spring weather in Boston during April. It’s possible there’ll still be some snowfall – the average is 2 inches – and temperatures range from 41 to 56 degrees on average. Since this is when temps start to climb, hotel rates follow.
The Boston Marathon takes place every April, and people come from all over the world to participate or to spectate. Try to get to town a couple of days early so that you can check in without fighting the crowds, and book even further in advance. Also, keep in mind that hotel rates are higher than normal when the Marathon’s in town. You may also want to take in a Red Sox game – their season starts in April.
Warmer weather is officially here during May, with average temps ranging from 50 to 66 degrees. This is when it starts to really feel like springtime in the city.
There’s a lot to do in Boston during May. Attend the Boston Calling Music Festival, experience the beauty during Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum and go to the Duckling Day parade at Boston Common.
June welcomes the summertime, and temperatures don’t tend to dip below 60 degrees, sometimes climbing to 76 degrees. Toward the end of the month, you’ll really start to feel the warm summer weather kick in. Overall, June weather is warm enough to walk outside in comfortably, and it may even get hot enough to warrant a trip to the beach.
June is also when the school year wraps up, so if you want to visit a college area, you won’t have to compete with crowds of college kids during your trip. One of the most popular events during June is the Boston Pride Parade.
July is Boston’s hottest month, with temperatures ranging from 65 to 81 degrees. The sun’s out all the time, too, for a total of 300 hours during July.
If you’re in Boston at the start of the month, you can celebrate Independence Day with the locals – there’s a lot that goes on along the Charles River, like a performance by the Boston Pops and fireworks. Or, learn about the history of the city at Boston Harborfest.
Even though you may assume August is hotter than July, the average high temperature actually drops slightly this month (the low temperature stays the same for now).
During August, there are a lot of food festivals to take advantage of, like the Italian-focused Saint Anthony’s Feast. You can also order from prix fixe menus during Dine Out Boston, which is a great opportunity to dine at expensive and popular restaurants.
Even though fall technically starts in September, temperatures are still on the warm side, ranging from 57 to 72 degrees. This is a gorgeous time to visit the city, combining summer weather with autumn foliage.
Sports fans can ring in the season for the Patriots and the Red Sox. Or, try different eats at the Boston Local Food Festival. There’s also The Boston Arts Festival for a dose of culture.
The autumn season – and its gorgeous, colorful leaves – ramps up in August, with average temps ranging from 47 to 61 degrees; summer is officially over. Like during the summer, though, hotel rates are still pretty high during October, because it’s a popular time to come to town.
Watch the Head Of The Charles Regatta, a rowing race that’s been a Boston staple since 1965.
Snowfall starts in November, and average temperatures range from 38 to 51 degrees. Don’t worry too much about the snow – the average precipitation is one inch. However, you may end up getting caught in the rain, so carry your umbrella.
This is when the city begins celebrating the holidays, and the streets will be adorned with festive lights – keep your eyes peeled for holiday displays, too. Head to Boston Common for the tree lighting, and see if you can get tickets to the Boston Comedy Festival.
Average snowfall in December rises to 9 inches, and sunshine drops to a measly 148 hours for the month. Temperatures average 28 to 41 degrees.
Aside from holiday shopping, December is the perfect time to take a spin around the ice rink at Frog Pond or to attend the Boston Tea Party Reenactment. You may also want to take a stroll through the Beacon Hill neighborhood, where you’re bound to see festive decorations.
More to Do in Boston
For the best chance of taking advantage of the activities and events available in Boston, visit sometime between late spring and early fall. The weather’s the nicest during this span of time, and just about every attraction is open. For example, you can take the USS Constitution cruise from late March to early November. You’ll visit the ship at the Charlestown Navy Yard and head inside to take a tour. There’s also a naval museum right nearby. Once the winter rolls around, though, tours will be closed for the season.
If you’re looking for low-cost or free things to keep you busy, check out university calendars. The area colleges often have film series, lectures and other types of cultural or educational events at no cost throughout the school year. Also, a lot of the city’s museums will have days when you can enter for free, and they’re open year-round.
You may not think of a city having a ton of natural appeal, but Boston actually has tons of parks and green spaces to enjoy. You’re almost always close to a park, and during the summer, you can cool off in a splash pad. Boston’s Emerald Necklace, which was designed by the landscape architect who we can thank for Central Park in New York, is a ring of green space that connects a lot of the places you’ll probably want to stop, like Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Arboretum. Also, check out the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which is a walkable strip of beautifully landscaped grounds that also display public art. To check a national park off your list, go to the Boston Harbor Islands, which you can get to by ferry – and bring your hiking sneakers.
What happens when it rains, though? There are tons of museums that you can visit no matter the time of year or weather. On top of art museums, there’s also the Children’s Museum and the Museum of Science. Just remember that the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum are partly outside, so you’ll want to save that for a nice day.
Getting Around Boston
Boston is a walking city, so you’ll want to bring season-appropriate footwear that’s comfortable for a day of walking. This is especially true if you plan to stroll along The Freedom Trail. The path, which is easy to find because it’s red brick, connects different historical sites throughout the city. It’s about two and a half miles, and best taken on foot.
While Boston is compact, especially the downtown area (it’s about two square miles), prepare to be on your feet all day long. Yes, there’s a subway system, but it can actually be quicker to walk to your destination than to get on a train. If you need a break from walking, though, you’ll be able to find a subway station every couple of blocks.
Odds are you’ll have driven your car into Boston, but once there, you won’t want to take it out. And you may even be better off taking public transportation into the city. Some hotels charge $40 or more per day to park in their lot. (To park on the street, you’d need a resident’s permit.) Even if you’re willing to pay the price to park, there’s a lot of traffic in Boston, so it’s easier and less aggravating to walk.
Seasonal Hotel Prices
Unless you’re staying with friends during your time in Boston, you’ll have to secure accommodations. Hotel prices are highest from May through October. Even though the summertime is busy with tourism, some hotels may have their highest prices during October, because a lot of people are in town to see the fall foliage. The lowest prices are during January and February – the weather is its coldest then, and there’s a good chance of snowfall, so it’s not a heavy tourism time.
Crowds and Tourism
The peak tourist season in Boston lasts from May through October. However, don’t let that scare you away – this is when tourism tops out in the city, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be standing on endless lines to get into attractions. Even when tourism is at its busiest, you’ll still be able to access the most popular attractions.
That said, put a bit of thought into when you visit Boston if you have kids with you. Since kids aren’t in school during July and August, local families try to do a lot in the city during the summer. If you’re traveling with little ones, you may want to plan your trip for a different time of year so that family-friendly activities aren’t crowded.
If you like cold weather, consider visiting Boston during February. Hotel prices are low, and a lot of locals head outside the city to go skiing.
Boston is gorgeous during the fall thanks to changing leaves. The nicest time to visit Boston in the fall is mid-to-late October (the third and fourth weeks of the month), which is when the weather will be crisp and the foliage will be at peak colour.
The temperature in Boston during mid-October ranges from about 45 to 65 degrees, with temperatures dropping quickly once the sun goes down. October isn’t particularly known for precipitation, so you can look forward to crisp, dry days.
Since you’ll spend a lot of time walking outside, you’ll want to wear layers so that you can stay warm when outdoors without getting overheated once you arrive at your destination. Wear pants and a light long-sleeve top, then layer a sweatshirt or thin jacket over that. Bring along a hat and pair of gloves, too, and grab a heavier jacket if you’ll be out in the evening.
Like Boston, the best time to visit Massachusetts is from June to November. To avoid tourists, don’t book your trip for the summertime. Massachusetts can be charming during the winter – and the cost for accommodations is low – but just be ready to face cold temperatures and heavy snow.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Boston
The best time to visit Boston is based on your preferences. If you love cold weather and bundling up to explore charming streets and shops, head there during the winter. Spring and fall are the two prettiest seasons in the city, and there’s a ton to do both indoors and outside. Summer is hot and tourism is high, so you may want to avoid coming to Boston during June, July and August. Other than that, though, narrow down your options by the events you want to attend or your favorite weather – since Boston experiences all four seasons, there’s no “bad” time to visit, with each season offering its own charm.