In this post, we share dozens of great things to do in Boston during the month of July 2023, including family-friendly, free, as well as nighttime activities and attractions.
TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES IN JULY
This section will cover the eleven most interesting events and activities taking place during the month of July in Boston.
Whenever possible, we will note if any of these ideas are free, good for families, or happening after dark.
For even more fun activities, make sure to read our full post about things to do in Boston.
1. Go on a Sightseeing Tour
There are a lot of famous and popular landmarks to see in Boston, and summertime is the perfect opportunity to go sightseeing.
If you need help finding your way around the city, the following pay-what-you-wish walking tours will be available in July:
- Freedom Trail Tour
- Cambridge/Harvard Tour
- Chinatown Tour
- Back Bay Tour
- Beacon Hill Crime Tour
- Little Italy Tour
We also have GPS-enabled audio tours and self-guided tours available for those who prefer exploring the city at their own pace.
Boston is also home to a variety of hop-on-hop-off trolley tours, boat tours, and even duck tours which cover most of the major sites in the area.
2. Walk the Freedom Trail
This trail includes many notable landmarks and locations which were important to the history of the United States of America, making them perfect sites to visit for the 4th of July.
We offer a pay-what-you-want Freedom Trail walking tour which covers the most historic locations, but you can also just follow our Freedom Trail Map and take a self-guided tour.
3. Go Whale Watching
Enjoy some whale watching in Boston this July!
The summer is actually one of the best times to see whales in this area, and prices are typically quite reasonable.
Some groups offer discounts with memberships in organizations like AAA and AARP.
4. Visit the New England Aquarium
The visit to the New England Aquarium is an excellent family activity.
They are open from Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm, and on weekends from 9 am-6 pm.
Even if you can't afford tickets, you might still want to visit this attraction just to see their free exhibit: the Atlantic Harbor Seals!
These adorable aquatic animals are located just outside of the aquarium on the front plaza, and there is plexiglass allowing all visitors to come and see them during the day -- no ticket required!
They are currently functioning under a timed-ticketing procedure due to covid so ask that you purchase tickets ahead of time.
5. Attend a Popular Concert
Boston attracts a lot of notable musicians throughout the year, but there are even more great performances than usual during the summer months.
- Ed Sheeran | July 1st
- Tori Amos | July 1st
- Elvis Costello | July 6th
- UB40 | July 7th
- Thomas Rhett | July 8th
- Shania Train | July 9th | Mansfield
- Barenaked Ladies | July 9th
- Drake | July 11th
- Counting Crows | July 15th
- Garbage/Noel Gallagher | July 15th
- Luke Combs | July 22nd
- Snoop Dogg | July 28th
- Sad Summer Festival | July 16th | Leader Bank Pavilion | Featuring: Taking Back Sunday, The Maine, PVRIS, and more
- Happy Together Tour | July 30th | Lynn Memorial Auditorium | Featuring: The Turtles, Little Anthony, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, and more
Check this list of concerts in Boston during July to find even more great musical performances.
6. Attend a Sporting Event
Although it’s currently the off-season for professional sports such as basketball and hockey, there are still a few great games to attend.
Summer means it's baseball time, so think about going to a Boston Red Sox game.
Tip: The Go Boston Card includes tickets to both a Boston Red Sox game and tour of historic Fenway Park.
7. See Something on the Stage
July brings musicals, comedy, and family-friendly events to theatres in and around the Boston area. There's something for everyone.
Plays and Musicals
- Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat | July 1st, 21st, 23rd, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th | New Bedford
- Evita | July 1st-16th | Cambridge
- Sound of Music | July 11th-23rd | Beverly
- Shakespeare on the Common | July 19-August 6th | FREE
- Blue Man Group | July 1st, 8th, 16th, 22nd, 29th
- Yannis Pappas | July 8th
- Neal Brennan | July 15th
- Kathleen Madigan | July 22nd
- Ali Wong | July 28th
- KIDZ BOP | July 8th
For other shows, visit the full list of theatre offerings in July in Boston.
If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to paid comedy shows, there are several great clubs and venues that offer free open mic comedy nights.
8. Celebrate Independence Day
What better place to honor the history of our country than in Boston, where the seeds of the American Revolution were planted?
There will be a flag-raising ceremony at Boston City Hall, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Granary Burying Ground, and a parade to the Old State House,
You'll be able to visit several historic sites from throughout American history. We recommend walking the Freedom Trail if you're feeling especially patriotic.
At the end of the day, the Boston Pops will perform a traditional concert at the Hatch Shell followed by fireworks.
For more after-dark attractions, make sure to read our things to do at night post.
9. See a Show at the Hatch Shell
In addition to the Independence Day concert, this popular open-air venue on the Esplanade usually hosts several additional events throughout the month.
See The Hatch Shell website for details.
All of these attractions are entirely free for all visitors. Check our free things to do section for more affordable fun in Boston this month.
Also, check our family-friendly section for even more activities your children will enjoy.
Although they may open back up this summer, it's impossible to tell what their plans will be or how the pandemic will impact this activity.
10. Go to Boston Harborfest
Throughout the week leading up to and after Independence Day, Boston celebrates its rich American history with a variety of fun events.
For more details, make sure to read the Boston Harborfest schedule.
Here are just a few of the more notable activities that take place during Harborfest:
Roving colonial re-enactors and staff from the USS Constitution will engage with visitors, and the 215th Army Band perform in Downtown Crossing.
You'll find live musical performances at Downtown Crossing. Best of all, it's free!
DTX Arts Market
An arts and crafts market pops up at Downtown Crossing. Local artists and vendors send their works and wares.
Head to Downtown Crossing to taste several free samples of chowder from Boston’s best restaurants.
The Middlesex County Volunteers Fife & Drams
The ensemble that performs dance and folk music from the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries will be strolling between Franklin St. and Washington St.
Parade of Light & Fireworks
Those near Boston's Inner Harbor will see fireworks launched from a barge in Boston's Long Wharf while festively lit boats line the harbor.
To find even more free activities, make sure to check our free things to do section.
Consider Getting a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass
There are a lot of great attractions to visit in Boston during the summer, and admission to many of them is included with at least one tourist pass.
This is a great way to save 50% or more on tickets to the most popular locations in the city.
Here are a few of the best activities available with a Boston tourist pass:
- Boston Duck Tour
- Whale Watching
- Fenway Park Tour
- Boston Harbor Cruise
- Hop-on-Hop-off Trolley Tour
- Red Sox Game Ticket
- New England Aquarium
- Skywalk Observatory
- Franklin Park Zoo
- Six Flags New England
Some of these locations offer skip-the-line privileges to pass holders, helping you save time as well.
For more details, make sure to read our post about Boston tourist passes.
FREE THINGS TO DO IN JULY
The following section will cover some of the best activities and events in Boston during the month of July.
Check our other sections for even more ideas like Boston Harborfest, free shows at the Hatch Shell, and Independence Day celebrations.
For a list of free activities, you can enjoy throughout the year, read our full post covering free things to do in Boston.
See the Harbor Seals at New England Aquarium
Tickets to this attraction may not be free, but they do offer one exhibit that you can see without paying a dime.
Their Harbor Seals attraction is located right outside the ticket booth, and you don’t have to enter the aquarium to see it.
All you have to do is walk up and take a look at the seals as they wander around the exhibit!
If you do decide to enter the New England Aquarium afterward, admission is included at a discount with at least one Boston tourist pass.
Visit the Frog Pond in Boston Common
During the summer, Boston Common turns on the water at their Frog Pond, allowing young kids to splash around and cool off on a hot day.
If you're looking for something else to do, consider heading to the Boston Public Garden on the Western side of the park where you can get Swan Boat rentals for a very low price.
Tickets are included with the Go Boston card.
NOTE: The Freedom Trail will take you right through Boston Common, so you may want to consider making a stop here while you're walking the historic trail.
Enjoy Concerts in the Courtyard
Even if you miss events like the Latin Music Festival or Jazz in the Park, there will still be an opportunity to hear live music at Boston Central Library.
Throughout the summer, a series of one-hour concerts will be taking place every Wednesday in the courtyard of the library.
There will be a wide range of genres represented at Concerts in the Courtyard, including classical, jazz, folk, and world music.
In addition to the music, this library also offers free tours covering the artwork on display and the architecture of the building.
Grab a Bite at Boston JerkFest
If you’re looking for a good alternative to the Boston Pizza Festival, this celebration of Caribbean food should do the trick.
Visitors will have the chance to try out a variety of authentic Caribbean and Jamaican jerk spiced food from several different vendors.
In addition to the food, there will also be chef demos, a kids/family zone, a fashion showcase, and live music.
While admission is free, you should plan on bringing some cash for the food.
The 7th Annual Boston JerkFest will be held on July 7th - 8th at the Harvard Athletic Complex.
Visit SoWa First Fridays
On the first Friday in July (and in fact all year long), the "artists, galleries, shops, and showrooms of the SoWa Art + Design District" welcome the public in.
Between 5 pm and 9 pm, visitors can meet the artists, view their exhibitions, and enjoy the talents of these creative people.
For more fun, after the sun goes down, check our nighttime activities section.
For a list of free activities, you can enjoy throughout the year, read our full post covering free things to do in Boston.
THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN JULY
The following section includes fun activities to enjoy after dark in Boston during the month of July.
Don’t forget to check our other sections for even more activities you can enjoy at night such as Hatch Shell events, concerts, sporting events, musicals, Independence Day celebrations, and more.
For more great ideas, read our full post covering things to do at night in Boston.
Take an Evening Cruise
Summer is one of the best times to take a cruise in Boston Harbor, and there will be several companies offering evening cruises.
In addition to specialty cruises for Independence Day, some companies also offer sunset and dinner cruise options throughout the week.
Whether you want to see the skyline as the sun sets or when the city lights up after dark, there will be plenty of services available in July.
For more details, make sure to read our post covering Boston cruises.
NOTE: Some cruises are included with Boston tourist passes.
See Shakespeare on the Common
In addition to all the fun you can have with your kids at the Frog Pond, Boston Common will also be hosting a summer series of classic Shakespeare plays.
This annual event takes place in 2023 from July 19th - August 6th on Boston Common.
Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, will be performed.
Shakespeare on the Common doesn’t cost a thing and there are no tickets sold, so all you need to do is show up and get a good spot! Chairs though can be rented for $10, although you can bring your own chair or blanket along. You can also bring "modest" food items.
TIP: If you’re looking for something to do before the show, don’t forget that our Freedom Trail Tour runs through Boston Common.
Go to a Bastille Day Celebration
This event is a great way to celebrate the best of French food, drink, and music.
For adults, French appetizers will be passed, glasses of rosé de Provence will be offered, and a jazz band will play French songs.
For kids, there will be board games, storytime in French, face painting, and giant games.
The event takes place on the second floor of (the air-conditioned) Las Voile restaurant in Brookline.
Tickets are $70 and children under 12 are free.
Note: this hasn't been reconfirmed yet for 2023, so check their website for updates.
Have a Blast at Lawn on D
This outdoor space is set up like an adult playground. Think circular LED swings that change color, lawn games like Bocce, Cornhole, JENGA, Ping Pong, Giant Chess, and Lawn Checkers, along with food and drinks.
Hours for food, drinks, and games are:
- Thursday 3:00 pm - 10:30 pm
- Friday & Saturday 12:00 pm - 11:00 pm
- Sunday 12:00 pm - 10:30 pm.
Check the calendar to ensure it's open before heading out as they sometimes close for private events.
Those who want to make table reservations need to book them two weeks in advance. There will also be a mobile food truck serving quick food options.
Attend Summer Thursdays at the Museum of Science
Every summer, the Museum of Science holds a special event known as Summer Thursdays.
The series has several performances, film screenings, collaborations, and other fun activities.
Events take place at the Charles Hayden Planetarium and the Mugar Omni Theater all summer long.
NOTE: General admission tickets to the Museum of Science are included with at least one Boston tourist pass.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN JULY
This section will cover a lot of great things that you can do with your family in Boston during the month of July.
For even more excellent attractions and events, take a look at our other sections for ideas like taking the kids to a spray pool, Hatch Shell events, sporting events, Independence Day celebrations, the Boston Triathlon, and more.
Make sure to check our post about things to do with your kids in Boston for additional family-friendly activities.
Take the Kids to a Spray Pool
If it’s a particularly hot day, you might want to take your children to one of the spray parks in Boston.
The most popular location is called the Frog Pond in Boston Common. During the summer months, they have a spray pool where kids can run around and cool off.
Alternatively, you may also want to visit the Esplanade where you’ll find the Alfond Memorial Spray Deck.
Both of these public pools are free to visit, and they’re pretty close to other popular sites like the Freedom Trail and the Hatch Shell.
Go to the Sand Sculpting Festival
The beach is always a popular location to visit in the summer, but it’ll be especially popular during this special event.
From July 28th - 30th, the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival will draw some of the best sand artists in the world to create a variety of unique sculptures.
While it doesn’t cost anything to come and see these works of art with the family, you might want to bring some cash for food and other vendors.
This beach is just North of Boston, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get here from the city. Just be ready for some traffic, because this event has drawn millions of visitors in the past!
Attend Festival Betances
This celebration of Latin culture has been held annually for more than 50 years in Boston, and it’s a great activity for families.
Festival Betances includes a lot of great live music and dance performances from both local and international artists.
In addition to the entertainment, there will also be a parade, a greased pole competition, arts & crafts, face painting, inflatables, and other kid-friendly things to do.
This festival will take place on July 15th starting at noon at Plaza Betances in Boston. It is entirely free to attend.
Take the Kids on a Firefly Walk
Guided nighttime tours are led along the trails and through the gardens of Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in search of fireflies.
Children are given a small activity packet to take home "and continue their firefly studies".
Note: Dates for 2023 haven't been released yet, but check their website for updates.
Experience the Art Beat Festival
This is one of the biggest and most interesting art festivals in the Boston area, and it will include a lot of fun activities for all ages.
In addition to all the artwork you can expect to see, there will also be live music from dozens of bands, performances from dance troupes, and more.
Visitors can also expect over 70 different craft vendors and a variety of different foods available for sale.
This year’s theme will be “Consumed,” and most of the art on display will attempt to answer what this idea means to the artist.
Art Beat will begin at 11 am on July 15th at Davis Square in Somerville and the festival will be entirely free for everyone.
See the Lion Dances
From noon to 1 pm from July 31st - September 18th, catch the Lion Dances at Chinatown Gate.
The Lion Dance is considered good luck and is thought to chase bad spirits away.
Go to the Puerto Rican Festival
If you can’t get enough of celebrating Latino culture at Festival Betances, this is another great event to consider.
The main event is a parade that starts at the Hynes Convention Center and ends at City Hall Plaza.
There will also be a lot of live music, carnival rides, and plenty of vendors providing classic Puerto Rican foods for sale.
While the festival itself is entirely free, you might want to bring some money along to get some food.
The Puerto Rican Festival runs from July 29-July 30th, 2023, with the parade taking place on the last day.