Boston in Winter

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When most people think of Boston in winter a shiver goes down their spine as they remember the bitter cold. However, during the holiday season, every corner of ‘Beantown’ becomes illuminated by thousands of Christmas lights, creating a magical and romantic atmosphere too precious to ignore. From the markets in Faneuil Hall, down to the famous Boston Harbor, the city seems to come alive with activity, especially on Black Friday.

Just after the first snowfall, kids are ready with skates and sleds in hand ready to adventure through Boston Common. The remnants of a secret revolution from centuries ago are waiting to be discovered, and the steps of the Freedom Trail are still warm from the founding fathers who were here not that long ago. In the coldest months, people line up outside some of the most important museums in the world, while others hurry through Christmas markets eager to find that perfect gift. So put on your warm festive clothes and see what makes winter in Boston one of the best cities to explore.

Boston in Winter

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snow-covered street
Taking a photo of Acorn Street is one of those iconic winter things to do in Boston.

20 Things To Do In Boston In Winter

1- Feast On The Local Dishes Or Do Some Christmas Shopping In Faneuil Hall

Snow Banked Up And Decorated Christmas Trees
Faneuil Hall Marketplace is an excellent place to warm up indoors in Boston in the winter.

What better way to warm up from the cold than to fill your stomach with some of the best of Boston’s local dishes at Faneuil Hall and get some Christmas shopping afterwards?

Also known as Quincy Market, this building was constructed in 1742 as a marketplace and meeting hall but Faneuil Hall’s history is better for being ‘the home of free speech’ on the Freedom Trail due to many famous Americans proclaiming their need for independence.

Nowadays, this beautiful marketplace houses some of Boston’s tastiest local seafood dishes like New England clam chowder, but you’re just here to shop, you will likely find exactly the right gift from over 100 vendors that offer a great variety of clothing, gifts, and accessories.

During the holidays the pathways are adorned with thousands of brilliantly coloured Christmas lights, and if you are here on November 21, you will have the chance to see the famous lighting of the Christmas tree featuring a 300-foot Norway spruce. Take this self-guided Christmas tour.

You may also like this tour.

2- Go Ice Skating Or Sledding On The Boston Common

When the temperatures plummet below freezing and the snow blankets the city, Bostoners go out to play and their favourite spot for wintertime fun is the Boston Common.

right in the heart of the city, this expansive park lures both locals and visitors year-round.

Near the centre of the park, Frog Pond normally attracts people eager to cool off in the hot summer but during the winter, the water freezes over creating the perfect ice rink for skating.

Skaters of all ages and abilities will have fun here, and there’s no need to bring your own skates.

The park provides rentals for all sizes, including aids for children learning to ice skate.

If it’s your first time and you need a little help, lessons are available too.

The rush of sledding down hills in winter is unforgettable, and Boston Common has plenty of slopes ready to be conquered.

It may be a little tricky bringing your plastic sled on the metro ‘T’ so consider buying a blow-up tube to use instead.

When it comes time to warm up and grab a bite to eat, there are several cafes in the park with hot cocoa, warm cider, and other delicious treats to help you shake off the winter chill.

The Boston Common is at 139 Tremont St, Boston.

Save money by getting a Go City: Boston All-Inclusive Pass with 45+ Attractions and Tours

3- Get Acquainted With Aquatic Life At The New England Aquarium

Animal lovers will find themselves right at home while they wander through over 70 exhibits at the New England Aquarium.

You can watch penguins out for their daily stroll or go face to face with sea turtles, tropical fish, stingrays, and even sharks as they swim inside the 4-story Giant Ocean Tank.

For over 40 years, the New England Aquarium has taken great care in bringing guests into the world under the seas.

The Simons IMAX theatre gives you an even more in-depth look into the lives of these aquatic animals from around the world.

If you are seeking an even wilder aquatic experience, take a boat tour on a Whale Watch into Cape Cod Bay and see these giant mammals rise to the surface during feasting time, right in front of your eyes!

New England Aquarium is at 1 Central Wharf, Boston. Skip the lines and buy your tickets online here.

4- Be Amazed By The Exhibits At The Boston Museum Of Science

Boston Winter
Shopping is one of the things to do in Boston during the winter.

Featuring the Hayden Planetarium, domed IMAX theatre, and over 700 interactive exhibits focusing on math, science, and biodiversity, the Boston Museum of Science presents more than enough activities to entertain and educate people of all ages.

on the Charles River just one mile from the city centre, the museum also contains the Live Animal Care Center where guests are treated to a behind-the-scenes look at how veterinarians care for over 125 animals.

The life-size dinosaur replicas in the main hall keep the imagination reeling, and the Theater of Electricity pushes visitors to the edge of their seats as lightning bolts from the three large Tesla coils shoot across the room!

As one of the world’s largest science centres and the highest-attended cultural institution in New England, be ready to be amazed and impressed by how much the museum has to offer.

It’s the perfect place for families to spend a cold winter day learning about the natural wonders of our world.

The Boston Museum Of Science is at: Museum Of Science Driveway, Boston. Save money by getting a Go City: Boston All-Inclusive Pass with 45+ Attractions and Tours

5- Step Back In History At The Boston Tea Party Ships And Museum

The history of the United States changed forever on one quiet night in 1773 when 340 chests of tea were tossed from the boats in Boston Harbor.

The event is known as the Boston Tea Party and was a righteous act of defiance against the taxes imposed by England sparked the Revolutionary War.

At the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum you can relive this fateful moment in the country’s history and set foot aboard two 18th-century replica boats used in that time to transport tea.

At the end of the tour you can also throw off tethered mockup ‘tea chests’ into the harbour just like they did two centuries ago.

The museum also contains the Robinson Tea Chest, which is the only surviving tea chest from the Boston Tea Party.

Several other artefacts, interactive exhibits, and 3D film also shed more light on this world-shaping event.

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is at 306 Congress St, Boston. Skip the line and book your tickets online here.

6- Catch A Game Or Concert Event At The TD Garden

Known for being home to the Boston Bruins and Celtics, the TD Garden supplies year-round entertainment for sports fans and eager concertgoers ready to rock out to some of the best live performers from around the world.

The TD Garden was built in 1995 to replace the iconic Boston Garden from 1928 which was famous for its wooden parquet floors that concealed the ice hockey rink below.

The older stadium became a gem of Boston’s culture and was the home to 16 NBA championships, 5 Stanley Cups, and world-famous concerts, and the place where John F.

Kennedy made his final address to the city during the 1960 presidential campaign.

TD Garden is at 100 Legends Way, Boston.

Book tickets to these games:

7- Take A Cruise Around Boston Harbor

Boston Skyline
The Boston skyline.

The holiday season is the perfect time to jump onto one of Boston’s many cruise ships and see the city skyline lit up at night.

Even when the temperatures drop below freezing, the decorated boats provide a warm and cosy place to relax and take in the scenery of the harbour with family and friends.

Festive cruises feature Christmas carols and holiday jazz music.

You can sit and enjoy the ride while sipping on hot chocolate or one of your favourite cocktails.

Several holiday cruises depart daily from Long Wharf, right next to the New England Aquarium.

Check out the:

8- Enjoy A Holiday Show At The Historic Boch Center – Wang Theater

Ushering in the holiday spirit since 1925, the lavish interior designs of Wang Theatre warm the hearts of guests during the winter season.

Originally constructed as the Metropolitan Theatre ‘Met’, the theatre underwent restoration in 1983 thanks to a very generous donation by Dr. Wang.

With a capacity of 3,500 seats, it’s one of the largest stages in the country, and the premier venue in the city for Broadway shows, dance performances, concerts, comedy acts, and much more.

In the days leading up to Christmas, you can see the Nutcracker, Christmas Carol, or several other holiday-themed shows.

It’s an excellent way for family and friends to get together and escape the winter blues.

Boch Center – Wang Theater is at 270 Tremont St, Boston. Tour the Boch Center Wang Theatre and Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame.

9- Spark Your Child’s Imagination At The Boston Children’s Museum

Comuters Truggle Home Though The Snow In Downtown Boston
Wandering around downtown Boston is one of the interesting things to do in Boston winter.

When the kids start to get cabin fever, and you need to find something to keep them going through the winter months, the Boston Children’s Museum is sure to keep them well entertained for the day.

Founded in 1913, the Boston Children’s Museum is one of the most influential museums in the world.

With over 50,000 items in the museum’s permanent collection, children can explore artefacts from Native Americans, natural history, rare dolls, and global cultures.

The interactive exhibits take kids on a journey to learn more about science, literacy, health, and the environment.

On a rotating schedule, new works of art are presented by local artists to enjoy.

The museum is geared more toward children under the age of 10, but people of all ages can enjoy the fun of exploring the Japanese House or learning more in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Lab.

In the winter months, you can expect large crowds on the weekends so it may be better to visit during a weekday afternoon or you can go on a Friday after 5 pm when the museum only charges $1 per ticket.

The Boston Children’s Museum is at 308 Congress St, Boston.

10- Attend The ‘Holiday Pops’

During the wintertime, the Boston Pops Orchestra puts on special performances called the ‘Holiday Pops’ where guests are treated to spectacular renditions of famous Christmas songs known throughout the world.

This cherished tradition began in 1973 when it was originally called ‘A Pops Christmas Party’.

Performances also include narrations of stories such as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and selections from ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’.

The Boston Pops began in 1885 as an offshoot of the well-known Boston Symphony Orchestra.

These events were first called ‘Promenade Concerts’ and then later on the locals started referring to them as ‘Popular Concerts’ or ‘Pops’.

The ‘Pops’ performances take place year-round and cover a range of musical styles including jazz, big band, indie rock, classical music, and many more.

Without a doubt, attending the festive ‘Holiday Pops’ will lift your Christmas spirit.

The Boston Pops events take place at the Boston Symphony Hall at: 301 Massachusetts Ave, Boston.

11- Admire Famous Works At The Boston Museum Of Fine Arts

The Castle At Boston University
Going on a ghost tour is one of the spooky things to do in Boston in winter.

With more than 100 galleries with works from famous artists from around the world, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) offers a wonderful way to stay warm during the snowy season while admiring impressive art from centuries ago.

Divided into seven sections, the museum’s sculptures, paintings, and artefacts take you on a tour through many different periods, from ancient Egypt to modern times.

The expansive collection also features works from well-known artists such as Rembrandt, Degas, and Van Gogh.

Plan to put aside at least half a day to cover all the best the museum has to offer.

The Boston Museum Of Fine Arts is at: ​​465 Huntington Ave, Boston.

12- Relive Early American History At The Old North Church

As the oldest church in Boston constructed in 1723, Old North Church’s fame does not come from its age, but rather from its height.

As the tallest structure in the city at this time, it served as the perfect location to alert the Charlestown Patriots of the approaching British forces.

On Paul Revere’s famous ‘Midnight Ride’ in 1775 his first stop was the Old North Church to hang lanterns from the steeple to signal about the imminent attack.

‘One if by land, two if by sea’ meant that the number of lanterns seen around the city would indicate in which form the British were coming.

At present time, informational tours of Old North Church are given Tuesday through Saturday and you can even visit the bell tower where Paul Revere once stood.

The Old North Church is at: 193 Salem St, Boston. This audio guide will tell you everything you need to know.

13- Ponder Modern Designs At The Institute Of Contemporary Art

Housed inside an elegant and modern building that looks across the Boston skyline and harbour, the Institute of Contemporary Art offers a diverse collection of national and international artworks in a variety of media forms.

In past exhibitions, the museum presented the first works of Frank Llyod Wright, Paul Gauguin, and Francesco Clemente.

At present day, the thematic exhibitions focus on pieces created by female artists, and up-and-coming contemporary artists.

With 5-m high ceilings and column-free gallery areas, the museum’s feel is spacious and inviting.

On the second floor, the 325-seat theatre presents a variety of contemporary music and dance performances and films.

The Institute of Contemporary Art is a great way to escape the winter cold and on Thursday night admission is free after 5 pm.

The Institute Of Contemporary Art is at 25 Harbor Shore Dr, Boston.

14- Enjoy The SoWa Winter Festival

Furry Winter Boots Covered In Snow
Dress appropriately for winter in Boston as it can get snowy and cold.

Stretching over four weekends in November and December, the SoWa (South of Washington) Winter Festival features dozens of artists, artisans, and vendors all under the roof of what used to be the world’s largest power-generating plant.

Food trucks and live music keep the guests in great holiday spirits as they examine the handcrafted leather products, jewellery, woven baskets, and speciality food items available for sale.

You may also like to warm up on a brewery tour.

The SoWa Market is at 500 Harrison Ave, Boston.

15- Step Back In Time At The Paul Revere House

Preserved for two centuries, the Paul Revere House offers a unique look into what Boston’s homes would have looked like around the time of the Revolutionary War and sheds light on the life of a man who changed the country’s history forever.

Built around 1680, the house was owned by the famous American patriot from 1770-1800.

It’s the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston.

The tour of the Paul Revere House educates visitors on 18th-century colonial life in the city and displays Revere’s success in business and craftsmanship.

Paul Revere House is at 19 N Square, Boston.

16- Watch ‘The Nutcracker’ At The Boston Ballet

During the winter, the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’ seem to linger in the air and from November until the end of December the Boston Ballet presents this unforgettable ballet performance at the Citizen’s Bank Opera House for all to enjoy.

The Citizens Bank Opera House at: 539 Washington St, Boston.

17- See Boston From A Bird’s-Eye View At The Prudential Skywalk Observatory

Rising 50 stories above Boston’s busy streets, the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center provides unparalleled panoramic views of the city from above.

Seeing the most famous landmarks of Boston covered in snow during the winter adds another dimension of enjoyment to this amazing experience.

If you arrive later in the day, you are likely to catch an incredible sunset with clouds glowing in orange and red hues.

Prudential Skywalk Observatory is at: 800 Boylston St Floor 52, Boston.

18- Brave The Crowds At The Holiday Market At Snowport

Boston Charles River Winter
The frozen Charles River and Massachusetts Avenue Bridge in winter.

Featuring products from over 120 local small businesses along with tasty treats and drinks inside tents to warm up from the cold, the Holiday Market at Snowport draws crowds from all over the city during the holiday season.

The seaport of Boston is steadily becoming a vibrant and trendy hub for shopping and entertainment and at the holiday market you find all sorts of great gifts for the family and friends including apparel, gourmet foods, jewellery and art.

Snowport is at 100 Seaport Blvd, Boston.

19- Visit The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

As one of the world’s most unique art museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum offers the rare opportunity to appreciate the works of artists such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Degas and Whistler inside a three-story Venetian-style palace.

In the centre of the museum, you can enjoy a flower-filled courtyard covered in sunshine provided by an enormous glass ceiling above.

It’s the perfect way to escape the bitter cold of a winter day in Boston.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is at 25 Evans Way, Boston.

Save money by getting a Go City: Boston All-Inclusive Pass with 45+ Attractions and Tours

20- Explore The Harvard Art Museums

Simmons Hall
Simmons Hall near Boston in winter.

Not far from Boston in Cambridge, Harvard University contains three fantastic art museums worthy of a day trip from the city during the winter.

The Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum and the Arther M. Sackler Museum each contain a different history collection, guiding philosophy, and identity.

The collections feature works from ancient times up to the present and come from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Harvard Art Museums are at Harvard University in Cambridge. You can join a tour of Harvard to learn more about the university from its students.

red door decorated with wreath
Beacon Hill Area in Boston in the winter.

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Grant Doremus is a freelance writer from the United States, eager to share his travel experiences and knowledge about some of the best destinations in the world. He grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, and after a successful career in finance, he decided to chase his dreams of becoming a digital nomad. As an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast he went on a road trip across the U.S. visiting 26 states, exploring most of the country's national parks, and climbing some of the highest peaks in the country. After a year on the road, he headed to Europe where he backpacked through 10 countries before finally settling in Spain. Grant loves to write about Spanish culture, its rich history, and traditions. His favourite destination so far is Mallorca, but he hasn’t finished his travels just yet!