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A Complete Guide to Visiting Boston in the Winter, From a Local

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Boston in the Winter can be a wonderful time to visit, as long as you plan accordingly.

I’ve lived in this historic city for 20 years now, so I have an insight into all the best winter activities and tried-and-true tips on how to deal with the weather.

If you’re planning to visit Boston in the Winter, here’s my comprehensive guide to help you with weather tips, a packing list, and a curated selection of activities you don’t want to miss.

Weather in Boston in the Winter

A Winter trip to Boston is sure to include chilly weather with a chance of snow. Here’s what you can expect month by month, from December through February.

Weather data courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.


Average temperatures in Boston in December typically range from 30°F to 45°F. That’s a decent range, so to narrow it down, the average temperature in December 2023 was 40°F.

The beginning of the month usually starts pretty mild, but as the month progresses, the temperatures start to drop.

Sometimes you’ll get snow, although usually it’s just flurries. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a big snowstorm though!


January brings the full blast of winter to the city! Average temperatures range from 24°F to 36°F, and we usually get a good snowstorm or two.

Every few years, though, we get blasted with a blizzard in January or February, with temps dropping even lower.


February is much like January. Average temperatures range from 26°F to 37°F and there’s bound to be a snowstorm or two.

I highly recommend getting a travel insurance policy that covers inclement weather. There’s a higher chance this time of year that you’ll have to move your trip due to ice or snowfall.

What to pack for Boston in the Winter

Top-down photo of a woman packing a suitcase with warm layers, like sweaters, jeans, and boots.

If you’ve decided to brave the cold and visit Boston during the winter season, packing smart is essential.

To put it simply, layering is your best friend. Here’s a comprehensive packing list to ensure you’re prepared:


  • Comfortable walking shoes or boots: Make sure they are warm, comfortable for lots of walking, and have a good grip. It’s best if they’re waterproof, too. Most of all, pack a minimum of two pair!
  • Hats, gloves, and scarves: These warm layers can be added or removed as needed.
  • Winter coat: A waterproof coat is best, in case you get met with snow or rain, but above all, make sure it’s warm!
  • Casual layer-able clothing: Unless you have a fancy event to attend, you can stick to casual wear. Bring clothing that you can layer so you don’t get too hot or cold.
  • Warm socks: Opt for moisture-wicking materials that dry quickly, like wool.
  • Lip balm and moisturizer: The dry winter air is no joke here. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
  • Small backpack or day bag: Bring something easy to carry and will fit what you need for the day.


  • Camera or smartphone: You’ll want to record all of your fun memories!
  • Portable phone charger: Stay charged up throughout the day with a power bank.
  • Waterproof, insulated snow boots: Check the weather before you leave, as this might be overkill.
  • Thermal underwear: If you’re not used to the cold, you may want to wear thermals under your clothes for added warmth.
  • Hand and toe warmer inserts: These are great to have on hand if you’ll be outside lots.

Things to do in Boston in December

Boston goes all out in December when it comes to the Winter holidays! There’s no shortage of events for Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa!

Here are my top picks for things to do in Boston in December.

Shop for the holidays

Photo of a street sign at Newbury and Berkeley streets in Boston.

Get your holiday shopping done in style along Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay. This famous shopping street is lined with boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, plus many of your favorite chain stores.

For a more festive atmosphere, check out the Seaport Holiday Market at Snowport and the SoWa Winter Festival in the South End.

These vibrant pop-up markets offer unique, handcrafted gifts and plenty of snacks from local vendors.

See the holiday lights

Photo of a giant Christmas tree lit up at night in Boston.

Boston twinkles with festive lights during the holiday season.

Explore places like the Boston Common, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which are adorned with a myriad of holiday displays that add a warm glow to chilly evenings.

Each year, a giant Christmas tree is lit up on Boston Common, as well as a large menorah, accompanied by live music and other festivities.

Want to make a night of it? Check out the Holiday Lights Trolley, which takes you around the city to see the best light displays.

It’s BYOB for 21+ and includes a pit stop at the Snowport market for the afternoon run and Encore Casino for the evening run.

See a holiday show

There are always several good shows running throughout the area that celebrate Christmas. Here are my top recommendations:

First Night Boston

Photo of fireworks exploding in Boston Common on New Year's Eve during the First Night Boston celebration.
Photo by Kyle Klein, courtesy of Meet Boston.

Ring in the new year on December 31 at First Night Boston.

This free event includes live music, ice sculptures, a parade, fireworks, and other family-friendly fun.

Activities take place throughout the city at key spots like the Boston Common, City Hall Plaza, Downtown Crossing, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

For more details about this year’s city-wide party, check out the First Night Boston website.

Things to do in Boston in January

Start the new year with a winter vacation to Boston in January! Here are a few fun events to check out this month.

Boston Celtic Music Festival

Closeup of the top of a Celtic harp.

This festival features traditional Irish, Scottish, and Cape Breton music, as well as dance performances and introductory music classes.

Also known as BCMFest, it usually takes place over a weekend in mid-January. For more information, check out the festival’s Facebook page.

Boston Wine & Food Festival

The Boston Wine & Food Festival is a culinary extravaganza put on by the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Each weekend, from mid-January through March, there are wine tastings, seminars, tastings, and themed brunches and dinners.

Check out the festival’s website for more information, including how to make reservations or buy tickets.

Things to do in Boston in February

Whether you’re in town for the Super Bowl or a romantic getaway, here are the top fun things to do in Boston in February.

Boston Beanpot Hockey Tournament

Photo of two men playing ice hockey.

The Beanpot Hockey Tournament has been a Boston institution since 1952!

This tournament features the men’s and women’s hockey teams from 4 major colleges in the area: Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University, and Northeastern University.

The men’s teams typically face off on the first 2 Mondays of February at the TD Garden, while the women’s teams play on the first 2 Tuesdays with the location rotating each year between the 4 schools.

Black History Month Film Festival

Another excellent film festival in Boston in February is the Black History Month Film Festival.

Hosted by The Boston Globe, this event includes virtual and in-person film screenings and discussions featuring films that “celebrate the lives, culture, and creativity of Black Americans,” as the festival’s site states.

For more information on dates and a schedule, check out the festival website.

Boston Science Fiction Film Festival

Photo of a science fiction-inspired scene featuring a man in a glowing bodysuit walking down a path with neon lights on each side.

Each February, Sci-Fi film fans flock to Somerville Theatre for screenings, panel discussions, parties, and premieres.

Recently, an online component was added on Filmocracy so fans worldwide can join in, even if they can’t make it to Boston.

Check out the festival website for dates and schedule.

Things to do in Boston in the Winter

Even with Winter’s bite, the city of Boston comes to life with seasonal events and activities that celebrate this special time of year.

Here are more must-do activities that will make your winter visit to Boston memorable, no matter when you visit during this season.

Celebrate Chinese New Year

Photo of a dancing dragon from a Chinese New Year celebration in Boston.
Photo courtesy of Meet Boston.

Boston’s Chinatown hosts a Chinese New Year celebration, complete with a lion dance parade, cultural performances, and a street fair.

The date varies but typically occurs between the end of January and the end of February. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England (CCBA) is a good source for celebration dates and information.

Outdoor dining (hear me out…)

Yes, that’s right – you can dine outdoors in Boston in the winter! There are a handful of spots that have heated igloos and yurts for outdoor dining that also provide a bit of privacy.

Here are a 5 top spots to consider:

  • 75 on Liberty Wharf
  • The Anchor Boston in Charlestown
  • The Bowery Bar in Dorchester
  • Deck 12 in Seaport
  • Lookout Rooftop Bar at the Envoy Hotel

Ice skating

Aerial photo of the Boston Common Frog Pond ice skating rink during sunset.
Photo by Kyle Klein, courtesy of Meet Boston.

Embrace the season with ice skating. The Boston Common Frog Pond and the Rink at 401 Park offer picturesque outdoor locations for a spin on the ice.

Skate rentals are available at both locations, so no worries if you don’t have a pair of your own!

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour

Venture on a behind-the-scenes tour to learn about Taza’s stone-grinding techniques and sample their delicious chocolates.

This is a perfect indoor activity for a brisk winter day or a unique date activity!

Black Heritage Trail

Photo of a tour guide dressed in costume pointing to a sign for the Museum of African American History in Boston, as tour guests look on.
Photo by Kyle Klein, courtesy of Meet Boston.

The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6-mile walk through the Beacon Hill neighborhood that highlights over a dozen important sites in Boston’s Black history and heritage.

The walk can be self-led via an audio tour from the NPS app or you can join a guided tour through the National Park Service during the Summer.

Boston Bruins & Celtics games

Photo of TD Garden at night with light trails from cars driving past.
Photo by Kyle Klein, courtesy of Meet Boston.

We’re a bit obsessed with our professional sports teams here in Boston.

If you’re visiting during the winter months, you can catch a Boston Bruins hockey game or Boston Celtics basketball game, both held at the TD Garden.

You can catch the home game schedules here: Boston Bruins | Boston Celtics.

Explore Boston’s finest museums

Photo of a person admiring a contemporary art piece at a museum in Boston.

If outdoor activities aren’t your thing, dive into Boston’s rich history and renowned museums.

Here are the top spots to hit up this time of year:

What are your favorite things to do in Boston in the Winter?

Boston in the Winter brings lower crowds and for some, a romantic snowy backdrop.

On the other hand, the weather can be a turn-off for some. But if you pack smart and plan lots of indoor activities, you’ll have a great time.

Just be sure to book refundable hotels and transportation and make sure your travel insurance covers cancellations or rescheduling fees due to inclement weather.

About the author

Photo of travel blogger Meg Frost, of Frost + Sun, in Havana, Cuba.
Photo by Meg Frost, all rights reserved.

Meg Frost is a Boston-based travel blogger that helps people embrace technology to make vacation planning and traveling wicked easy, affordable, and fun.

She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and B.S. in Communication & American Studies from University of Miami.

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