While Boston does tend to get a bit chilly in the wintertime, and often quite snowy, there’s still plenty of fun to be had both indoors and out.
Whether you’re a culture buff or an outdoor nut, there’s plenty of things to do in Boston in winter 2016-2017, including holiday activities and seasonal attractions. So bundle up, plan your wintery itinerary, and you’re ready to roll!
Save on Attraction Admission
Regular admission to a number of these attractions are included on the Go Boston® Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, some of these special Winter events may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card.Note: the below ads are not affiliated with SmartDestinations.com
Holiday Bricktacular at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston
Every weekend in December LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston transforms into a festive winter wonderland geared towards holiday fun.
Kids will love all of the seasonal hands-on activities they can do, including a Winter Wonderland Creative Challenge, Festive Big Build – a LEGO® gingerbread house creative activity, Holiday Village Scavenger Hunt in MINILAND (with potential prizes!), and kids can even send letters to the Master Model Builder.
Getting in: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston tickets are included with a Go Boston Card and Holiday Bricktacular activities are included with admission, unless otherwise noted.
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights at the Museum of Fine Arts
Where: Museum of Fine Arts
When: December 14, 2016; 5:00 pm-10:00 pm
For a third year running, this amazing artistic celebration of Jewish art and culture returns to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Learn all about the museum’s Judaica collection, tour the galleries, check out seasonal art installations, and participate in a special candle-lighting ceremony in the courtyard. Admission is totally free!
Getting in: Museum of Fine Arts tickets and Hanukah: The Festival of the Lights exhibition are included with the Go Boston Card and free with admission.
Santa Saturdays at the Franklin Park Zoo
When: Saturdays: December 3, 10, & 17; 10:30 am-2:00 pm
Jolly old St. Nick is returning to the Franklin Park Zoo. Kids can visit Santa and get a photo inside the Tropical Forest Building, home to western lowland gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs, a giant anteater, and more.
After visiting with Santa, be sure to check out the zoo’s winter-themed arts and crafts activities, holiday enrichment geared towards the animals, and more.
Getting in: Franklin Park Zoo tickets are included on the Go Boston Card.
Snowmazing! at Boston Children’s Museum
When: Thursday, December 22, 2016; 4:30 pm-8:30 pm
Check out the fascinating hands-on exhibits and special festive seasonal activities, such as ornament decorating, and events at Boston Children’s Museum.
Skate in an alpine village with your socks on and catch a special performance of “A Year with Frog and Toad,” the musical about two amphibians whose friendship carries them through the seasons.
Getting in: Boston Children’s Museum tickets are included on the Go Boston Card, however, holiday events are separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card. An additional charge of $5.00 is required to view the performance of “A Year with Frog and Toad,” and sock skating is an additional $25 per person. Special event tickets must be purchased in advance.
Christmas Tours at the House of Seven Gables
Where: House of Seven Gables in Salem, MA
When: November 28, 2016 through December 31, 2016 (closed December 24-25, 2016)
During the month of December, take a tour of the House of Seven Gables all decked out for the holidays with true-to-the-times decorations.
Your tour will include information about the history of the House itself, plus an overview of the Christmas history of colonial Massachusetts.
Getting in: Christmas Tours and House of Seven Gables tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker by the Boston Ballet
When: November 25, 2016 through December 31, 2016
This Boston tradition is the perfect way to get yourself in the holiday spirit. Each year this amazing performance is different, with revamped costumes, redesigned sets, and new choreography.
Getting in: Admission to The Nutcracker is separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance, as they can sell out rather quickly.
Where: Boston Symphony Hall
When: November 30, 2016 through December 31, 2016
The longtime conductor of the Boston Pops, Keith Lockhart, will lead this most famous orchestra in the performance of all your holiday favorites.
This festive event is family friendly, encouraging sing-alongs and featuring visits from Santa at all pre-Christmas shows.
We also recommend getting tickets in advance to this high-demand event.
Getting in: admission to the Holiday Pops is separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card.
Holidays at Plimoth Plantation
Where: Plimoth Plantation
When: December; various dates in 2016, check online calendar for more info.
Christmastime is one of the best times to visit Plimoth Plantation during the offseason.
You’ll be able to enjoy everything from a holiday wreath-making workshop, to breakfast with Santa, to a performance of Charles Dickens’ famed A Christmas Carol that comes with an accompanying delicious dinner, and lots of specialty items in the gift shop.
Getting in: Plimoth Plantation tickets are included on the Go Boston Card, however, holiday events are separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card.
Faneuil Hall Tree
Where: Quincy Market
When: December, 2016
Decorated and lit just after Thanksgiving, this festive display of lights is one of our favorites throughout the city.
It provides a fun and cheery atmosphere in one of the city’s most popular shopping and touring districts, and is a nice place for the whole family to enjoy some holiday spirit.
Getting in: admission to the Faneuil Hall Tree is free.
Official Boston Christmas Tree
Where: Boston Common
When: December, 2016
Each year this magnificent tree travels down from Nova Scotia to grace the Boston Common with its beautiful and majesty.
It’s a gift to the city of Boston in remembrance of a time when Boston sent aid to Nova Scotia in the event of a big fire.
Today it’s one of the most impressive sights in the city around the holidays and gets a major lighting ceremony in early December.
Getting in: admission to the Official Boston Christmas Tree is free.
Ice Skating at Frog Pond
Where: Boston Common
When: December through March, weather permitting
Located just adjacent to the Boston Common Tree, Frog Pond is a charming little venue that turns into a fun urban ice-skating rink for a few months each winter.
The kids will love this easy-going atmosphere, and parents will enjoy the nearby Frost Bar for some warming drinks. Skates are available for rental on site.
Getting in: admission to the The Boston Common Frog Pond Rink is separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card.
Holiday Décor on Newbury Street
Where: Newbury Street, downtown Boston
When: December, 2016
Who doesn’t love a good window display? If you’re looking for some of the most beautiful seasonal displays in the city, then Newbury Street and the adjacent Boylston Street are the places to be this winter.
You’ll see grand decorations and magnificent miniatures all together in painstakingly crafted displays. Conveniently, it’s also a great place to get some holiday shopping done!
Getting in: admission to Newbury Street is free (the shopping however, is far from it).
Where: Stone Zoo
When: November 21, 2016 through January 1, 2017; 5:00 pm-9:00 pm
Watch as the Stone Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with magical lighting and other festive décor.
Kids can participate in fun seasonal activities and special programming, and even adults will enjoy watching the animals play with their holiday treats.
Getting in: admission to Stone Zoo and ZooLights is separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card.
Christmas in Salem House Tour
Where: Salem, MA
When: December 2-4; various times, check the online calendar
Salem, Massachusetts is about so much more than just witches (although that’s quite a lot of fun around Halloween time). It’s a historic town with a wealth of beautiful old architecture that’s well-worth scoping out.
This holiday season, nine private homes and four community sites will go all out in the holiday décor department and open their doors to the visiting public.
Getting in: admission to the Christmas in Salem House Tour is separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card.
Take a Trip to the Museums
The colder months give you the perfect excuse to explore many of Boston’s art museums.
There are plenty of fascinating special exhibits to be found at popular Boston museums across the city, from the visual and performing arts to science and technology.
If you love the art world, then special exhibits spanning the gamut from photography and performance art to rich modern painting and sculpture at venues like the Museum of Fine Arts or the ICA will be a treat to the senses.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of the Boston art world’s better-kept secrets from tourists, and is worth the visit even just to see their fantastic wintry gardens.
If you’ve got kids in tow, then perhaps the MIT Museum or the Museum of Science would be some good options. They’re filled with fun and interactive special exhibits and are a handy way to get the kids to burn off some energy.
Remember to Save on Attraction Admission
So there you have it. Our list of a few things to do in Boston in the winter, including holiday events, other seasonal activities in December, January, and more.
Remember, many of these options are included on the Go Boston Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, the Winter events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go Boston Card.
We hope you plan to add a few of these fun options to your winter vacation itinerary.