13 Fall Activities in Boston

Whether you’re a student, working professional, or a tourist visiting for the weekend, Boston has something to offer everyone in the fall. Explore our nation’s history or spend a night painting the town red with friends. You’ll never be bored in Boston! If you’re visiting this fall, be sure to check out these 13 fall activities in Boston.


What: Boston Trolley Tour

Where: Multiple pickup locations around the city

When: Seven days a week

Why: While Boston is notorious for its multitude of trolley tours, the Old Town Hop On Hop Off Trolley is by far the best. Located right on campus, Old Town offers a variety of tour options which all include free access to the Old State House, discounted tickets to the Boston Tea Party Museum, and more! This is definitely one of the best ways to see the city and learn about its history.


What: Smolak Farms

Where: North Andover, MA

When: Weekends now through the fall season

Why: Smolak Farms has been a working farm for over forty years and is well known for its apples, harvest pies, and hayrides! If you’re looking for a way to get into the Halloween spirit or to simply immerse yourself in fall foliage and the countryside, this is most certainly worth visiting. They offer a calendar of rotating events and even a specialty Christmas event.


What: SOWA Market

Where: South End, 500 Harrison Avenue

When: Every Sunday, May- October from 10:00-4:00 PM

Why: You’ve never experienced an art market like this. Open every Sunday, SOWA has a massive selection of local art to browse, as well as open art galleries and of course, a food truck lot. Shoppers can immerse themselves in local merchant goods, ranging from food and bakery items, gifts and candles, clothes and jewelry, and books and hot sauce stands. Literally, anything you can think of, SOWA has it all, including a fun chalk graffiti wall. No more than a twenty-five-minute walk from Emerson’s campus, I encourage you to fill up your Sunday schedule with all things SOWA Market! Click here for the Arts Boston calendar to learn more about SOWA and other festivals happening this fall. 


What: Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market

Where: 4 S Market Street

When: Seven days a week

Why: Located in the heart of the Financial District, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market are two iconic Boston landmarks. Full of historical tours, street performers, and events based on the season, there is always something going on, and trust me, you’ll want to be a part of it. If you’re a market person, don’t miss out on local merchant goods. If you’re into street performers, there’s always someone doing backflips or attempting life-threatening tricks. Or, if you’re a history nut like myself, you can stop by the Green Dragon Tavern where the Sons of Liberty used to have secret meetings (and lots of beer, probably). Click here to check out their seasonal calendar with places to eat, things to do, and tours to go on!


What: New England Aquarium

Where: 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110

When: Seven days a week

Why: The aquarium is one of my absolute favorite places to visit in Boston. It’s a fantastic way to learn about our oceans, marine wildlife, and how we can help conserve their habitat. Located directly off of the Aquarium Blue Line stop, you can walk down the pier, watch the sailboats cruise by, or even grab some Ben and Jerry’s stationed right outside the main entrance. The New England Aquarium is also home to Myrtle, a ninety-five-year-old sea turtle who weighs over five hundred pounds! She is majestic and absolutely loves brussel sprouts, which you can watch her devour at one of the aquarium’s information sessions. Immerse yourself in rotating aquatic exhibits and be sure to stop by and waive hello to the friendly penguins as you explore everything the aquarium has to offer.


What: The Freedom Trail

Where: All over Boston

When: Seven days a week

Why: If you’re looking to learn about the history of Boston, the Freedom Trail is a great way to do it, and it’s free! This two-mile red-bricked walking path takes you through the heart of Boston Commons. You’ll see the Massachusetts State Capital Building, and Granary Burial Grounds, where you can see the headstones of Paul Revere, John Hancock, and other revolutionary influencers. Other stops include the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House, and much more!


What: Brookline Booksmith

Where: 279 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

When: Seven days a week

Why: Brookline Booksmith is an absolute icon and is nestled in the charming streets of Brookline’s Coolidge Corner neighborhood. If the twinkle lights strewn across the ceilings and tables full of candles don’t rope you in, then maybe the hidden annex of used books below the store or massive gift section will. The creaky floorboards and the smell of books will make you feel right at home while you’re browsing the shelves. Surrounded by local food shops and cafes, spending a day (and money) surrounded by books is never a bad idea.


What: Window shopping on Newbury Street

Where: Newbury Street

When: Seven days a week

Why: Whether you’re looking for a new outfit, window shopping, or just looking for a tasty bite to eat, Newbury Street is the place to see and be seen. Filled with luxury goods and high-end brands, Newbury Street can make you feel like you’re part of Sex in the City or Gossip Girl. Rest your feet after a hard day of shopping at Jonquils Cafe & Bakery and enjoy one of their unique artisan pastries.


What: Harvard University

Where: Cambridge, MA

When: Seven days a week

Why: That’s right, folks. It’s time to “pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd.” Don’t know what I’m talking about? No worries, that just means you need to make your way into Cambridge and tour the gorgeous campus within the notorious black iron gates. Stroll through Harvard Square, where you can grab yourself a coffee from Tatte Bakery and pretend that you’re an IVY league student (pretend only because Emersonians do it better). The campus offers self-guided and guided tours to help you immerse yourself in the rich history of its campus.


What: South Street Diner

Where: The Leather District

When: 24 hours a day

Why: Founded in 1947, South Street Diner is the perfect spot for late-night chocolate chip pancakes and a soda. Open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, you’ll always meet someone new here day or night. As one of the most affordable breakfast spots in the city, their menu is massive, delicious, and worth checking out!


What: The Boston Public Library

Where: Copley Square

When: Seven days a week

Why: The Boston Public Library is a local favorite and is completely free to visit, roam the halls, or join in for a tour. If you’re looking for a quiet place to work on your thesis, or if you want to grab a bagel with friends and walk around the map room, the Boston Public Library has it all. The outdoor courtyard with massive fountains and giant marble columns are great for pictures on crisp fall days. Not to mention food trucks are ALWAYS parked outside, so you’ll never leave hungry. So grab a bite to eat and walk around Copley Square, and make sure to stop at the nearby L.A. Burdick Chocolate store for some much-needed drinking chocolate (it’s iconic, trust me!). 


What: Tree Lighting in the Commons

Where: Boston Commons

When: December

Why: If you’re looking for something festive during the holiday season, the Boston Commons is a great place to spend some time. Whether it’s ice skating on Frog Pond or having a snowball fight by the baseball diamond, the Commons always has a sense of magic in the air. In December, the city lights a massive pine tree next to the Park Street T Stop. Not only does this make going to class gorgeous with that view, it’s a free, holiday-themed event that every Emersonian grad should attend. Even if you aren’t a Hallmark movie-binger like me, it’s a great way to see such a historical location light up, literally. 


What: Salem, MA

Where: Salem

When: Seven days a week

Why: Witches, ghosts, scaries, oh-my! Salem is known for the season of all things spooky. Just a quick 20-minute train ride north from Boston, it’s easy to make it a day trip destination. Tour the Witch Museum, take a Ghost Tour or enjoy the scenic downtown filled with shops, restaurants, and local breweries. Every weekend local merchants host a farmers market where shoppers can stroll through Witch Village, and travelers can stop into authentic Wicca shops to embrace their inner witch or wizard. Or, you can find a vampire to hang out with like I did. Either way, you’re bound to love it.

Follow Hanna Shemke:

Hanna Shemke is a ’20 Publishing & Writing MA alum and the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Emerson’s Graduate Admissions department. Currently, she is working from home in Michigan and working on her Young Adult urban-fantasy trilogy, the House of Shadows.