Things to Do in Boston in May

Updated: Januar 21, 2024

This post lists the top things to do in Boston in May, updated for 2024, including free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly activities and events. 

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.


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN MAY

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

The Boston area is home to many different music venues, big and small.

Below, we have listed a few top musicians playing in and around the Boston area this May.

Some of these concerts are located just outside of the city, but if you’re a fan of the artist, it may be worth a trip to see them perform.

Concerts

Music Festivals

Find even more concerts in the Boston area in May here.


2. Go to a Sporting Event

In May the baseball season is in full swing and hockey is in its playoff season. You're sure to find many games to attend.

Baseball

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.

Basketball

Soccer

Check here for even more sports events in the Boston area in May.

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!

Boston Travel Tips

4. Have an Evening at the Theatre

Boston attracts some of the best musicals and plays in the world, including new off-Broadway or traveling Broadway musicals as well as classic plays.

It's also home to a Blue Man Group production, and has family-friendly shows worth checking out

Musicals/Plays

Performance Art

Family-Friendly Shows

Check this list to see even more theatrical shows in Boston this April.


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 15-19th, 2024.

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

If you need a good laugh, there will be several notable comedians and comedy shows in the Boston area during May.

Stand Up Comedy

Comedy Clubs

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

In 2024, Memorial Day, a day honoring those who have died serving our country, falls on May 27th.

On May 22nd, 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.

Even if you can't make it for one of our guided outings, we also have a self-guided Freedom Trail tour and a GPS-guided audio tour.

The Museum of Fine Arts will also offer MA residents free entry on Memorial Day.

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. Enjoy Other Events and Activities

There's always plenty to do in Boston. Here are just a few events taking place in May in the Boston area.

Boston Theatre Marathon XXIV | May 1st | 50 ten-minute plays by New England talent put on at the Boston Playwright's Theatre.

IFF Boston | May 1st-8th | An independent film festival taking place in Somerville, Brattle, and Coolidge.

SoWa First Friday | May 3rd | Visit artists' studios for free and enjoy onsite food trucks.

Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill | May 16th | People open their private gardens for visiting and viewing

Harpoon Fest | May 17th & 18th | "Beer, Bands, and Summer Fun" at Harpoon Brewery.


Honorable Mention: 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.


THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN MAY

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.

TIP: Both the Boston City PASS and the Go Boston Card include at least one free cruise.


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!


FREE THINGS TO DO IN MAY

Boston offers lots of free activities and sights.

Two activities mentioned above include seeing the Garden of Flags and taking a free tour of the Symphony Hall

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 39th 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 a set day in May, one that hasn't been released yet, 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 Arboretum events page on their 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.

Visit the Revere Parks events page for more information.


Visit a Free Museum

If you missed April's 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.


FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN MAY

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 2024, the parade is set for May 12th.

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 information on the various tour options


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!  

Purchase Six Flags New England tickets or learn more.


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.


Mother’s Day

Make Mom feel special on May 12th, 2024. Check local restaurants for special Mother’s Day Brunch menus, and take Mom shopping on the famous Newbury Street.

There are also some lovely restaurants to visit for brunch including Meil Brasserie, Bistro du Midiund Cafe Luna.

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.

Hours are:

  • 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.


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About The Author

Brian Burgess

I was born in Cambridge and have been living in the Boston area all my life. I am a graduate of Boston's Emerson College with a degree in communications with a journalism/history focus. I have been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston since it was started in the city of Boston in 2012, and enjoy sharing my knowledge of Boston's rich history with not only the guests on my tours, but with everyone I meet. <a href="https://freetoursbyfoot.com/contributors/brian-burgess/" Read More...
Updated: Januar 21st, 2024
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