Planning a trip to Beantown? Here are the best and worst times to visit Boston.
Boston, Massachusetts is a beloved destination for those looking to dive deep into American history. It's a spot where culture abounds thanks to fantastic museums and science centers like the Museum of Fine Art and the Museum of Science, and it's an academic powerhouse, with schools like Harvard, MIT, Emerson, Northeastern, Boston College, and Boston University calling the city home. And it's all waiting for you to come and explore.
"Boston is a vibrant city rich in history, world-class museums, and a diverse culinary scene," Saba Alhadi, the founder of PhotoWalks Tours of Boston, shared with Travel + Leisure. "Many attractions are within walking distance or easily accessible by the subway system."
Saba Alhadi is the founder of PhotoWalks Tours of Boston, which offers photography and history walking tours of the city.
William Bunce is the general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, a luxury hotel in Downtown Boston.
There is another thing Boston is well known for — its four very distinct seasons.
"Whenever you decide to visit Boston, regardless of the season, there's always an energy and vitality here that captivates our visitors," William Bunce, the general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, shared. "Our restaurants have fast become some of the most diverse in the country, with chefs showcasing cuisines from all over the world in neighborhoods that are easily walkable from downtown. That's why they call us America's walking city! Our waterfront is programmed with seasonal activities that will keep you enjoying the outdoors all year round."
Boston is one of America's most iconic cities. While it offers year-round excitement, the weather can vary greatly from season to season. Crowds and prices for hotels and excursions also vary throughout the year. Boston's three main tourism seasons are:
High Season: Summer, from June to early September
Shoulder Seasons: Spring and fall, from September to November and April to May
Low Season: Winter, between December and March
Here are the best times to visit Boston for fewer crowds, beautiful weather, and more.
Related: T+L's Guide to Boston
Best Times to Visit Boston for Smaller Crowds
The best time to visit Boston for smaller crowds is during its shoulder and low seasons. The city's shoulder season runs from September through December, into the low season from January through February, and again in the early spring for the second shoulder season in March and April. Thankfully, the city’s major museums, attractions, hotels, and restaurants never shut down, meaning even in the lowest tourism season, you’ll still be able to get reservations for just about everything you want to do, just with fewer other tourists present.
Best Times to Visit Boston for Good Weather
Though the idea of “good” weather is subjective, we can confidently say you’ll experience comfortable weather throughout Boston’s high season in the summer, as well as its shoulder season in the fall. As WeatherSpark reported, Boston’s warm season lasts for just over three months, between early June and mid-September, when the average high temperature is 73 degrees Fahrenheit. (The warmest month is July when the average high temperature hits 82 degrees.) The fall is particularly inviting in Boston, when the temperatures fall to the high 60s, causing the leaves to change into a kaleidoscope of colors. The leaves begin to change in September and usually peak in mid-October. However, the colorful leaves can last well into November, when temperatures start to dip into the mid-50s.
Best Times to Visit Boston for Lower Prices
The best time to visit Boston to get great deals on hotels and potential discounts on excursions and other offerings is during its low season over the winter months. In fact, prices are known to drop dramatically for some of the city’s top hotels between December and March. As Meet Boston reported, the average daily rate for hotels in Boston was $186.38 in January 2023 and jumped to $334.28 in May. Beyond lower hotel rates, the city’s museums also offer free days or reduced admission times all year long, including the Boston Children’s Museum, which offers $1 admission every Sunday from 1:30- 4:30 p.m., and the Museum of Contemporary Art, which offers free admission every Thursday night from 5-9 p.m.
Best Times to Visit Boston for Sports
Beyond the excellent hotels, world-class dining, museums, and historical sites, Boston is perhaps one of the best sports cities in the world. It’s home to several major sports teams, including the Boston Red Sox, the Celtics, and the Bruins (and technically the Patriots, but we won’t count them here as their stadium is in Foxboro and not Boston proper). It’s also home to one of the most celebrated marathons on Earth, which brings in thousands of participants and spectators each year.
The best day to visit Boston for sporting events is Patriots' Day, which honors the first battle of the American Revolution, celebrated every year on the third Monday in April. This also happens to be Marathon Monday, which visitors are welcome to enjoy from the sidewalks stretching from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. Visitors can also catch a Red Sox game on Patriots' Day; as Boston Pastime explained, the Red Sox have played home games on Patriots' Day (almost) every year since 1960.
“Our sports teams, to the dismay of those who live outside of Boston, are often champions in their leagues, and history buffs love broadening their perspective through our revolutionary past,” Bunce said. “There’s always something happening in Boston that will undoubtedly enthrall and delight any visitor.”
If you miss Patriots' Day, that’s okay, because the Red Sox play more than 80 home games at Fenway Park throughout the entire summer. And that runs right into basketball and hockey season, which both begin in October, so you can always catch a Bruins or Celtics game to root on the home team no matter when you visit.
Worst Times to Visit Boston
Again, “worst” is subjective, however, there are times you may want to avoid visiting Boston. The winter months can be excessively cold and snowy in Boston. According to WeatherSpark, the cold season in Boston usually falls between early December and mid-March, with average daily highs in the high 30s to low 40s. January is the city’s coldest month when the average high temperature hits just 37 degrees and the average low is a bone-chilling 24 degrees.
Additionally, because Boston is a very college-centric town, you may want to avoid the city in early September during move-in time and early to mid-May during graduation season. During these times, the city is saturated with students and their families, so if you’re not among them, perhaps pick another time to visit.
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