Boston offers so much during every season, but summer just might be when the city truly shines. From sunny weather every day to fresh lobster rolls, you can still safely make the most of Beantown by exploring all of the outdoor venues of the city.
Read on for 10 COVID-19 friendly activities to keep you busy during your next trip to Boston.
1. Have a Picnic in Boston Common
Start by exploring Boston through the city’s parks, including Boston Common, which may be the best of them all. Established in 1634, the Common holds the title as America’s oldest park. Located in the heart of downtown, the Common offers walking trails, flower gardens, ballfields and a frog pond with ducks and swans. “Boston just felt like a ghost town, and every time I passed the Common it was consistently empty,” Boston University junior Ian Ribner said. As a huge park in the center of the city, the Common provides visitors with a safe way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air without coming into close contact with other people. Also, with dozens of restaurants just a few steps away on Newbury Street, the park provides an ideal place for a summer picnic complete with raspberry Linzer cookies from Tatte Bakery and Cafe.
2. Go for a Bike Ride Down the Esplanade
Biking along the Charles River serves as the perfect way to see Boston without using public transportation. The paved biking and running trail on both sides of the river, referred to as the Esplanade, offers locals and tourists alike a shady workout route. Not only does the trail provide a great way to get some exercise, but the breathtaking views can be seen from either side of the river. “After a long day on campus, biking on the Esplanade is a great way to unwind from the city,” Boston University junior Ben Drevitch said. “Because the path is quiet, shaded and centrally located, I like the fact that it provides an escape close to my apartment.” From the path, bikers see the view of MIT, Boston University and Harvard as well as seven different bridges including the Longfellow Bridge, Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge and Harvard Bridge.
3. Eat Fresh Lobster Rolls in the Seaport District
While lobster in Boston can be delicious any time of year, nothing beats a fresh lobster roll in the middle of summer (unless followed by ice cream!). For the best places to try a lobster roll, the Seaport District definitely fits the bill. With a plethora of food trucks and harborside outdoor dining options available including Legal Seafood, James Hook & Co and Yankee Lobster, it is easy to safely enjoy the city’s best sandwich.
4. Kayak on the Charles River
In order to fully appreciate the city, try to get active and see Boston from the water, specifically paddling down the Charles River in a kayak. Charles River Canoe and Kayak offer kayak, sailboat and stand-up paddleboard rentals right now by appointment only with seven different locations in the Boston metropolitan area. Be sure to bring sunglasses, water and your best friend for an unforgettable Boston experience.
5. Walk the Freedom Trail
Often found at the top of most Boston itineraries, the Freedom Trail stands as the easiest way to see Revolutionary War history including Paul Revere’s house, Faneuil Hall and the Old State House in Boston. The two-and-a-half-mile route links 16 different historical sites, with seven of the sites open to the public right now. With so much history packed into the city, the trail allows visitors to get a glimpse of life in Boston during the Revolutionary War as the sites have been preserved for generations. Be sure to stop allow the trail to take pictures and enjoy America’s revolutionary history.
6. Find the Best Asian Takeout in the City
From dim sum in Chinatown to Asian food markets in Allston, Boston has a plethora of amazing Asian restaurants open for takeout. No matter your craving for something spicy, salty or sweet, supporting small businesses, especially minority-owned restaurants, makes a huge impact right now and has delicious benefits for your taste buds. Tiger Mama in the Fenway neighborhood serves up authentic Southeast Asian cuisine in a tropical forest eatery meets a sleek youthful public house. In Back Bay, Thai Basil offers crave-worthy Thai dishes at an affordable price. Lastly, for melt-in-your-mouth homemade dumplings, make a trip to Chinatown to visit the Gourmet Dumpling House.
7. Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
While most museums in the city remain closed, the Boston Tea Party Ships are safe to explore from their dock in the Boston harbor. In 1773, members of the Sons of Liberty dumped 340 chests of tea in the Boston Harbor and sparked the American Revolution. The unmissable stop provides essential historical background information on the beginnings of the fight for independence in America. Visitors have the opportunity to board both the iconic ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, enjoy a tour of the museum, check out the gift shop and dine at Abigail’s Tea Room starting July 17.
8. Have a Cannoli Taste Test Between Mikes and Modern
For anyone with a sweet tooth, head to the North End, Boston’s Little Italy. While the historic neighborhood offers countless fabulous dinner options from Carmelina’s to Giacomo’s Restaurant and Trattoria Il Panino, dessert often divides visitors over the best Italian bakery: Mikes Pastry versus Modern Pastry Shop. Located a block away from one another on Hanover Street, the two bakeries serve irresistible cannoli, cakes, cookies and pretty much anything else covered in sugar. “The only comparable cannoli to the ones in the North End are probably some Italian markets in Jersey, but they hit the spot,” Elon University junior Samantha Herbert said. “The filling is thick and creamy, and the cookie shell is just the right amount of sweet. They pair perfectly with a cappuccino or espresso after a good dinner.” Regardless of which bakery you decide to try, be sure to sample the classic cannoli with ricotta filling and chocolate chips for the ultimate North End experience.
9. Take a Hike at the Arnold Arboretum
After exploring the city up close and personal, take a trip to the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University for unparalleled views of the Boston skyline and 281 acres of gardens, greenery and forest. Open every day of the year and free to the public, the arboretum offers visitors a great place to relax, unwind and enjoy the outdoors without leaving the city behind. “At home, I would always escape to the trees when real-life seemed too busy, so finding the peace and quiet of the arboretum in Jamaica Plain was a blessing and a place I’ve come to rely on for a breath of fresh air,” Boston University junior Hodi Miller said. When searching for the best place to clear your mind and tune out all the bad news of the world for a moment, the arboretum provides a peaceful haven of trees and nature preserve.
10. Watch Good Will Hunting
End the trip with a classic Boston film featuring Robin Williams, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who plays a stubborn but incredibly brilliant janitor at MIT. Written by Damon and Affleck, who both grew up in Cambridge, the charming script won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1998. Not to mention, young Matt Damon plays the cutest misguided math genius everyone roots for by the end. “’Good Will Hunting’ is one of my favorite movies partly because it illuminates the best parts of one of my favorite cities: the juxtaposition between the intellectual refinement and gritty heart of Boston,” Boston University junior said Megan Mazer said. “’Good Will Hunting’ embodies the mix of people in Boston. A kid who comes from Southie gifted with a genius that would rival any student or professor at Harvard or MIT.” After exploring Boston for yourself, the movie takes on another form as a wonderful depiction of the city on screen.
Even though a lot has changed this year, given Boston’s beautiful summer weather, visitors exploring the city will have plenty to do outside while staying safe and seeing the sites.