Pencils and books can wait–the summer weather is going strong, and there are lots of fun things to do in Boston before school starts! A good end of summer bucket list covers the must-do activities for Boston families during the magically long days and warm nights. And we have you covered with the best Boston has to offer. So don’t pack up the beach towels yet. The sun is blazing, the festivals are still going, and New England is full of family-friendly fun. So read on and decide which of these things to do in Boston before school starts you need on your end of summer bucket list.
Seize the summer days before they start slipping away! If you’re looking to stretch your budget, see our 50 Free Things To Do in Boston This Summer. Don’t miss our Boston summer fun guide for plenty of ideas to fill the last days of August. And be sure to check our event calendar for the latest family fun in and around Boston.
End of Summer Bucket List: 30 Things to Do in Boston Before School Starts
Step right up to fun at the Marshfirld Fair. Photo courtesy of the Marshfield Fair, Facebook
1. Get Festive
Greater Boston has wonderful summer festivals and fairs for kids and families. Everything from the Fisherman’s Feast and St. Anthony’s Feast in Boston’s North End to the Marshfield Fair will have the food and fun that make great family memories.
2. Swing away
There are some awesome Boston-area playgrounds worthy of getting into the car. Cool equipment and crazy slides make these urban oases and suburban gems fun.
Get the kids out on a boat for magical summer memories. Photo courtesy of the Boston Harbor Islands
3. Spend the day boating
Boston has long been a boating community. Between the Charles River and the Harbor, there are fun boat rides for families waiting to cast off with you aboard.
4. Take a break from the city
Bring the family out to one of these fun Boston-area farms. Kids get to explore the environment and see all kinds of animals. The best part? These farms have home made ice cream!
5. Get in a few laps
The Boston area has free swimming pools for great fun at the right price!
6. Take in a flick
Pack up some popcorn and a blanket or two. These free outdoor movies in Boston put the cinema magic right under the stars.
7. Go for a hike
Get some fresh air and exercise at these great places to hike with kids around Boston. These trails are close to the city, but still a world away.
Boston is near many swimming lakes worth the drive. Walden Pond photo courtesy of livingconcord.com
8. Pond away
Pack lunch and spend a leisurely day at one of these swimming lakes near Boston. The area’s freshwater gems are worth the trip.
9. Dance the night away
Bring the family to an outdoor concert for an evening of song and dance with live music.
10. Explore a tide pool
Search for crabs and sea stars at one of these great beaches with tide pools.
Whale watching belongs on every end of summer bucket list! Photo courtesy of Newbury Port Whale Watch
11. Set sail on a whale watch
Have a whale of a time on one of these whale watching cruises from the Boston area.
12. Treat the kids to ice cream
Find a new spot for ice cream. All that whale-watching will have worked up everyone’s appetite.
Remnant Brewery at Bow Market provides a family-friendly space, Photo courtesy of Merritt Chase.
13. Treat yourself to a beer
Boston’s family-friendly breweries and beer gardens have kid-friendly offerings, like lemonade and grilled cheese. They also have parent-friendly craft brews that you have undoubtedly earned!
14. Take a day trip
A summer day trip from Boston gets the family out and exploring someplace new, fun, and out of the ordinary.
Beat the heat at a splash pad. Boston Frog Pond photo courtesy of the City of Boston
15. Cool off at a Boston spray park or splash pad
The city can heat up in a hurry; cooling off the kiddos at a sprinkler park or splash pad can keep the fun flowing, even in a heat wave.
16. See the animals
There’s more than just Franklin Park! Boston has wonderful area zoos where families can see wildlife from all over the globe.
17. Pet the animals
Your little ones will love interacting with the cute and cuddly critters at these petting zoos around Boston.
18. Go blueberry picking near Boston
Outdoor activity? Check. Working together as a family? Check. Delicious blueberry buckle? Check! Picking blueberries has it all.
19. Raft the rapids
A little excitement might be in order to wind down the summer. Try some white water rafting and river tubing near Boston.
20. Dine out with the family
An afternoon–or evening– at an outdoor restaurant serves up summer fun for the family.
August has some spectacular beach days. Photo by Shira Kronzon
21. Hit the beach near Boston
22. Go camping around New England
It might be the oldest summer activity, but it’s still a classic. Go camping at a family friendly campground with all sorts of fun extras for kids.
Get out and play while the summertime’s in bloom. Rec Fest photo courtesy of Boston Parks and Recreation
23. Get out and play
An end of summer bucket list can have some fun lose to home, right? Play outdoor water games in your backyard or at your favorite park.
24. Go to a drive-in movie near Boston
Put some pajamas on those kids and pile in the car. Summer isn’t complete without seeing a movie at a drive-in theater.
25. Do some urban hiking around Boston
North of Boston, you and your family can find some walkable cities filled with shops, restaurants, and wonderful places to explore!
26. Tee off with mini-golf
Challenge the family to some healthy, fun competition. Good times can always be had at one of these area miniature golf courses.
Get a little culture in with the last days of summer. Photo courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
27. Visit a museum like the MFA or Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
These spectacular Boston museums are always worth the trip. Even more so when the visit is free of charge!
28. Stop and smell the flowers
The area has floral fields and farms near Boston where kids can pick flowers.
29. Splurge on a day pass
to one of these very special outdoor pools in the area.
New England’s cool theme parks are a can’t miss on this bucket list. Photo courtesy of Lake Compounce
30. Spend a day at a New England amusement park
New England has some incredible theme parks that are great for families. From the roller coasters to the kiddie rides, there’s an age-appropriate thrill in store for you and yours.
Originally published August 2014; updated July 2015, July 2017 and August 2022