This post lists the top things to do in Boston in May, updated for 2023, including free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly activities and events.
- Top 10
- Nighttime Activities
- Free Things to Do
- How's the Weather?
- Kostenlose Touren zu Fuß
Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.
This section covers our top ten list for May. You might also read our post on things to do in Boston (at any time of the year).
For more ideas on popular things to do in Boston, check out our popular posts:
Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
1. Catch a Concert
Boston has some fantastic music venues, which means big names come through quite often. We list the highlights of the month below the video.
See who else is performing in Boston this month on StubHub.
Boston Area Concerts
Concerts Further Afield
Boston Calling Music Festival | May 26-28
- Foo Fighters
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- Alanis Morisette
- Noah Kahan
- Flaming Lips
- and more!
2. Go to a Sporting Event
Boston’s home teams are very well-known. And in May, there are plenty of games to attend!
Baseball season is in full swing and hockey is in its playoff season.
Going to a sports event is a good way to keep kids entertained if you are traveling with them. They might also like a tour of Fenway Park.
- Monster Jam | May 6th, 13th, 14th
For other family-friendly activities, check out our things to do with kids section below.
3. Go on a Sightseeing Tour
You can learn about the city’s history and the country’s history on our pay-what-you-like Freedom Trail Tour.
Or if you’re interested in Little Italy, we have a pay-what-you-like North End Tour too.
If you want to cover more ground, you should also check out:
Boston has such a wide variety of tours available - there’s something for everyone!
4. Have an Evening at the Theatre
Boston's Citizens Bank Opera House and other theatres in the area have some entertaining traveling Broadway shows, plays, and other theatrical performances coming through this May!
Here are a few of the most notable shows taking place in the Boston area this month:
- Beetlejuice | May 2nd - 14th
- Legally Blond | May 3rd
- Blue Man Group | May 4th - 28th
- Champions of Magic | May 5th, 6th
- The Little Mermaid Ballet | May 6th, 7th
- Piff the Magic Dragon | May 18th
If you're looking for even more opportunities to visit the theater, make sure to check this list of theatrical productions in Boston in May.
5. Nantucket Wine & Food Festival
One of the most well-known wine festivals in the country, the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival, takes place on May 17th - 21st, 2023.
With a daily array of tastings and events, there is something for all wine connoisseurs!
Set on the historic and quaint New England island of Nantucket, this is an event you will never forget.
Additional activities include seminars and a culinary village. Note that this event is 21+. Ticket prices vary per event.
6. Save Money With a Tourist Pass
If you want to see multiple popular attractions while in Boston, you could save a significant amount of money by purchasing a city pass upfront.
Boston currently has several different types of passes to choose from, and they each include a lot of popular activities including tours, museums, cruises, and other things to do.
Here are a few of the most popular tours, museums, and other things to do included with these passes:
Depending on which type of pass you choose, you should be able to save at least 20% – 50% off or more from retail prices.
For additional details, please read our post covering Boston tourist passes.
7. Go to a Stand-up Comedy Performance
Boston tends to attract some of the best stand-up comics in the world, and many noteworthy comedians will be in town throughout the month of May.
If you're in need of a good laugh, there's no better time to head out for a night at the comedy club!
Here are some of the most popular stand-up comedians performing in Boston this month:
- Paula Poundstone | May 5th
- David Cross | May 6th
- Steve Martin/Martin Short | May 13th
- Lewis Black | May 12th, 13th | Plymouth/Worcester
- Paul Reiser | May 19th | Manchester
- Tracy Morgan | May 20th
- Samantha Bee | May 21st
Check this list of stand-up comedy shows in Boston to see who else will be performing in the area this May.
For more evening activities, check out our things to do at night section.
8. Enjoy a Martha’s Vineyard Day Trip!
A gem among Boston locals and tourists alike, the New England summer colony of Martha's Vineyard has been a longtime favorite.
Located just south of Cape Cod, the island boasts beaches, farmland, lighthouses, and quaint harbor towns.
Plus, delicious eateries, gingerbread cottages, and beautiful hydrangeas when they’re in bloom.
There are multiple ways to get to Martha’s Vineyard. For more information click here.
9. See the Garden of Flags on Memorial Day
A day honoring those who have died serving our country in addition to being the unofficial kickoff to summer, Memorial Day is a day well spent in Boston.
In 2023, Memorial Day falls on May 29th.
On May 24th between 1:00 - 4:00 pm, 37,000 small American flags will be placed in Boston Commons by the Massachusetts Military Heroes organization.
This is to commemorate every Massachusetts service member killed defending his/her country. It is free to see the flags.
If you're looking for something to do, there's no better time to take our Freedom Trail tour!
It's also worth noting that the Boston Calling Music Festival will be held during Memorial Day weekend.
For more memorial day activities in Boston, click here.
10. Eat in the North End
Home to Boston’s “Little Italy”, the old and narrow streets of the North End are chock full of delicious and often family-owned & operated Italian eateries.
A must-try is the famous Mike’s Pastry where you can devour one of their numerous delicious homemade cannolis.
Walk off the calories by joining our North End/ Little Italy tour.
Evenings in May in Boston are pleasant and there are a lot of activities happening!
Some night activities listed in the top 10 include seeing a Red Sox game, going to the theater, or a concert, such as the Boston Calling Music Festival.
Below are more evening events to keep you busy in May!
For additional evening ideas, please read our full post covering things to do at night in Boston.
For additional ideas, check our full post covering things to do at night in Boston.
Enjoy a Ghosts and Gravestones Tour
Hop aboard the “trolley of the doomed” and join your host on an approximate two-hour tour learning Boston’s deepest, darkest secrets that are sure to be filled with murder and mayhem!
Stops on tour will include various Boston graveyards--some of the oldest in the US among other places.
Tickets from $39.90; parental guidance is encouraged for children under the age of 13.
More information is here.
See the City from the Water
May nights are lovely for an evening cruise in Boston. There are several different companies that offer sunset or dinner cruises on the harbor.
Whichever you choose all allow you to see the city skyline and lights as the sun goes down.
If you want to learn more about these opportunities, make sure to read our post covering Boston boat tours.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Grab your sombrero and get ready for a weekend of fun celebrating Cinco de Mayo!
Join a pub crawl or take a 5th of May-themed boat cruise. Be sure to check local pubs and restaurants for drinks, food, and music specials.
The city is sure to be busy with party-goers so be ready for big crowds at the city’s pubs!
Boston offers lots of free activities and sights.
Below are some free activities. To see even more ideas, check out our full Free Things to Do in Boston article.
Boston Public Gardens
Located in the heart of Boston and adjacent to Boston Commons, the Boston Public Gardens have been around since 1837. (See video above),
Filled with colorful plants and flowers, statues, and water features the gardens are a lovely spot for an afternoon walk.
Don’t forget to see the swan boats and even take a ride if you’re so inclined!
MayFair at Harvard Square
At this annual Boston favorite, you can enjoy a day of free activities.
Highlights include live music, dance, and street performers, arts & crafts vendors, vintage goods for sale, and food from around the globe.
See the Harvard Square website for all the details.
Note: Official dates for the 38th annual MayFair festival haven't been released yet, but last year it took place in mid-May.
Attend Lilac Sunday
Since 1908 Lilac Sunday has been celebrated.
Harvard Arboretum's collection of almost 400 lilacs (representing 177 kinds) is in bloom.
On May 14th, take a tour with an expert guide from the Arboretum, or take a self-guided tour. You can also picnic there.
For more information, visit the Lilac Sunday website.
If you like flowers, you might also enjoy the 94th Annual Beacon Hill Hidden Garden Tour on May 18th.
Watch Kites Fly
Head over to Revere Beach for the annual Beach Kite Festival.
This colorful and family-friendly event takes place on the oldest public beach in the United States.
You're welcome to take your own kite along, or just sit and watch others.
This year the event takes place on May 20th. Visit the kite festival website for more information.
Visit a Free Museum
If you miss ArtWeek, or just can't get enough art into your life, you are going to love Boston.
There are several great museums in Boston that offer free admission.
Find out which museums you can see without paying a dime from our full post covering free museums in Boston.
Take a Free Tour of the New Massachusetts State House
There is nothing new about the New Massachusetts State House. It was built in 1798!
On land that was once owned by John Hancock, it's the oldest building on Beacon Hill in Boston.
You can take a free tour of this historic building Monday to Friday throughout the year from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm.
Tours last approximately 30-45 minutes and include an overview of the history and architecture of the State Capitol.
Read more about these free tours here.
This and the other sites on the Freedom Trail are covered on our Freedom Trail guided tour!
Find more free activities from our post covering free things to do in Boston.
Families of all ages will find dozens of fun things to do in the city of Boston.
The free MayFair listed above is open to all ages as is taking a stroll through the Boston Public Gardens.
Here are a few more activities that are family-friendly. Don't forget our full family-friendly article!
See the Duckling Parade
Celebrate the classic children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings,” at the annual Duckling Day Parade. In 2023, the parade is set for May 14th.
This event draws over 1,000 people for a parade through the city’s public gardens dressed as characters from the book.
Prior to the beginning of the parade, enjoy a number of family activities on Boston Common including crafts, face painting, circus games, and a magician.
Catch a Red Sox Game
With one of the biggest fanbases in the country and a stadium that is the oldest in Major League Baseball, catching a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park is the biggest highlight for many visitors to Boston.
The team has plenty of home games in the month of May but act fast on tickets, as they can easily sell out.
You can also tour the historic Fenway ballpark, read our post for advice.
Visit the New England Aquarium
Welcoming visitors for over 50 years, the New England Aquarium is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Boston.
See penguins, seals, and dozens of different fish and meet the aquarium's most famous resident, Myrtle the Green Sea Turtle!
NOTE: Admission is included with the Go City Boston tourist pass!
Ride a Rollercoaster at Six Flags New England
This popular amusement park is now open for the season! This is a family favorite with rides suitable for people of all ages and sizes!
Eat at Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall Marketplace is an excellent location that is appealing to all ages. You can find anything for that fussy little eater!
In addition to dining, look out for street performers and musicians, there’s always something fun to watch!
The marketplace is open daily and hours vary.
Make Mom feel special on May 14th, 2022. Check local restaurants for special Mother’s Day Brunch menus, and take Mom shopping on the famous Newbury Street.
In addition to these activities, you might also want to look into Mother's Day cruises on the Boston Harbor!
Visit the Museum of Fine Arts
First opened to the public on July 4th, 1876, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts now holds over 450,000 pieces in its collection.
Featuring art from all over the world, visitors of the MFA can look forward to European and American classics, photography, drawings & prints, sculpture, and contemporary art as well.
- Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Saturday | 10 am - 5 pm
- Tuesday | Closed
- Thursday, Friday | 10 am - 10 pm
Tickets for adults are $27; child ticket prices vary.
Be sure to read our post covering things to do with kids in Boston for more ideas.