A long New England winter and less then ideal spring temperatures mean Bostonians and their neighbors are itching to get out and about this summer to enjoy their favorite Boston attractions. From May to August, you can join in on any of a wide variety of festivities in the Greater Boston area—music festivals, whale watch cruises, and sporting events are just the beginning of the list.
Start your summer a little early with the Independent Film Festival Boston, which concludes its 12th annual installment on April 30th. The Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, and the Somerville Theater host a rotating schedule of films ranging from full-length narratives features to documentaries and animated shorts.
Skip to mid-May and you’ll find Boston summer in full swing. Celebrate local beer, local music, and the long anticipated arrival of summer weather with Harpoon Brewery at HarpoonFest. This May 16th and 17th brewery party draws thousands of beer lovers, so head there early to grab a pint! If you’re in the mood for more beer, you can always head over to the Sam Adams brewery tour in Jamaica Plain for a different take on a crowd favorite.
Over at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the season has already kicked off with an ongoing celebration called Season of Color, focused around the Quilts and Color exhibition currently on display. From Technicolor musicals to quilt-making demonstrations, creative types will be endlessly entertained through July 27th.
Bicycling is a big part of Boston culture, and though the fiercest among us are out on two wheels year round, the spring and summer months are when the fair weather bicyclists take to the roads and paths. Join in on this adventurous, eco-friendly pastime on May 18th for the Brookline Bike Parade. No bike? No problem. A Boston bike rental from Urban AdvenTours is all you need to join the crowd of cyclists taking over a five mile stretch of Beacon Street (closed off to cars for the parade).
Memorial Day weekend is all about music this year with the second spring production of Boston Calling music festival in City Hall Plaza. Boston may have been late to the festival scene, but it’s certainly catching up fast. After last year’s sold out shows, this year’s 3-day festival features artists such as Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Jack Johnson, The Decemberists, and Brand New.
In June, head to the Boston Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in the United States, to see the early summer flowers in full bloom. The ornately landscaped Public Garden is known for its iconic Boston Swan Boats, unique vessels with over a hundred years of history. Enjoy a ride around the pond, and make sure to bring your camera.
The summer months are also a great time to catch a Sox game at historic Fenway Park, which remains one of the most iconic Boston attractions. If you’re a big fan, take a Fenway Park Tour during the day and then come back in the evening with your Boston Red Sox ticket for early VIP entry to the game. This will give you the opportunity to get situated (grab a Fenway Frank, etc.) and take some priceless pictures before the crowds arrive.
June appears to be prime time for local street fairs and festivals. Some of the celebrations include the Somerville Food Truck Festival (June 7), the Coolidge Corner Arts Festival (June 7), the Pride Parade and Festival (June 6 – 15), the Dragon Boat Festival (June 15), and the Roxbury International Film Festival (June 25-29).
July’s unifying thread is live local music. Smaller scale music festivals in the Greater Boston area are at the forefront of the entertainment scene. The most famous is the Newport Folk Festival (with its counterpart the Newport Jazz Festival in August), which will be held July 25th-27th, but the Lowell Folk Festival has been gaining in popularity over the past few years. The Plymouth Independent Music Festival is also a growing production, and fans of alternative local music will find their home here.
Of course, the annual Fourth of July celebration, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, will be back for its 40th year on the Esplanade. The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s special ensemble performs a mix of pop music and patriotic tunes on the banks of the Charles River.
July’s sunny days and balmy evenings offer the perfect environment in which to explore the great outdoors. Start with a New England Aquarium Whale Watch featuring a tour of the Boston Harbor and the chance to see the area’s incredible marine wildlife in their natural habitat. Be on the lookout for humpback whales, finback whales, minke whales, and white sided dolphins as you cruise in the comfort of a high-speed catamaran.
In the evening, turn your eyes to the sky to experience Astronomy After Hours at the Boston Museum of Science on Friday nights. The Museum’s best-kept secret is the Gilliland Observatory on top of the Museum’s parking garage. This free-admission public event is one of the most unique Boston attractions, featuring a view that’s hard to get anywhere else in the city.
Finally, spend the last month before fall making trips to Cape Cod and the Islands. Take the Provincetown Ferry to the tip of Cape Cod for the Provincetown Festival on August 16th & 18th or the week-long Provincetown Carnival celebration which starts on August 16th. If you’re looking for a quieter, more relaxed August vacation destination, opt instead for the Martha’s Vineyard ferry out to the beautiful island known for its many sandy expanses, mild weather, beach bluffs, and of course, vineyards. You’ll still find plenty to do if you’re looking for it, such as the late August Agricultural Fair which attractions a large number of tourists.
While we’ve briefed you with a pretty extensive list, there are many more Boston attractions and popular events in the summer months. Prepare for the summer of 2014 by taking a look at all the options on a Boston attractions pass and start making your summer bucket list now.