As a major city, Boston sees a stream of visitors all year round. Crowds and prices don't fluctuate much by season, except a little during peak autumn months, when school is back in session and the leaves are bursting with vibrant colors.
Spring also sees heightened activity, particularly during school-commencement season and the Boston Marathon. Summer brings outdoor activities and the most tourists, while winter peaks with cultural events. Any time can be a good time to visit the city, depending on what you're looking to do.
Fall is generally the best time to go, though spring and summer are pleasant as well. These times bring in healthy-sized crowds due to favorable weather and special events. Prices can be a little a higher, and it might be difficult to find availability. While winter has the worst weather, it's also when locals and visitors flock to indoor activities such as the theater, museum exhibits, fine dining, wine and food festivals, and holiday celebrations.
- high season: April to June, September to October
- low season: January to March
- shoulder season: July to August, November to December
Summer is the hottest time of year, with an average high of 80 degrees and frequent high humidity. December, January, and February are the coldest months, with average lows in the 20s. These months also have the most snowfall. Spring and fall tend to have the most moderate, pleasant weather.
Despite what historical averages say, weather can be unpredictable, fluctuating from warm and sunny to chilly and cloudy, with temperatures varying 20 degrees or more over the course of a day. Temperatures also tend to be cooler by the ocean than on city streets. It's often best to dress in layers, and bring a warm coat in the winter.
There can be large crowds during the fall, particularly around the weekend of the Head of the Charles regatta in October. Fall foliage is a huge draw throughout the season. Spring gets busy too, mostly during the Boston Marathon in April and commencement season in May and June. Summer around the Fourth of July also sees sizeable crowds. Winter has the fewest crowds.
If you want to avoid crowds, head to the part of the city that's not hosting peak events, or explore those areas at different times of the year.
A small number of outdoor attractions such as cruises and tours close from December through March.
When to Save
The best times to find bargains are January through March, and August. The most expensive times are May and the fall months. To encourage visitation, some hotels and other travel providers offer extra perks and discounted rates during off-peak holidays such as Memorial Day, when locals flee the city for destinations such as Cape Cod.
When to Book
Prices for travel services don't vary much throughout the year, but it's best to book well in advance for travel during May, June, September, and October. Note that some hotels near universities fill up a year or more in advance for commencement. Dinner reservations near colleges can be hard to get during graduations and parents' weekends as well, so plan in advance.
Information provided by the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.