If you’ve ever wanted to find out the best time to visit Massachusetts, where to go whale watching, how to experience Boston’s nightlife, and why you should head to Salem for an authentic Halloween celebration, this is the travel guide that answers it all.
We’ll also show you the cheapest time to visit Massachusetts, when to avoid the crowds, as well as when not to head there at all. But first, let’s see why you should bother visiting this picturesque state at all.
The Best Time to Visit Massachusetts
The best time to visit Massachusetts is either in spring (March–May) or summer (June–August), with the latter marking the peak tourist season.
Spring and summer are great for exploring cities, but as the temperatures increase, many visitors are drawn to high-elevation areas such as the Berkshires or Cape Cod.
Temperatures aren’t the only thing increasing in spring and especially summer — prices skyrocket as school holidays begin and families flock to Massachusetts. A frosty month, March has average temperatures between a maximum of 43.5°F and a minimum of 30.9°F.
April and May see higher temperatures — highs of 66.4°F and lows of 40.5°F. Going in March means you get to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and there’s no better place for it than Boston.
April, on the other hand, sees crowds arriving for Patriots’ Day. Commemorating the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Patriots’ Day is an annual event overlapping with the yearly Boston Marathon.
Daffodil lovers should keep their eyes peeled for the well-known Nantucket Daffodil Festival. Whale-watching is another exciting activity. Most tours begin in late April, so if you visit from that point onward, don’t miss it!
May visitors “smell” their way through Massachusetts as flowers bloom and green landscapes become a spring norm.
Without summer’s intense humidity, May can be one of the loveliest months to visit. As summer approaches, temperatures increase, and the festival programs follow suit with the opening of the Boston Symphony Orchestra summer schedule.
Other notable June events/festivals include:
- Boston Pride Week,
- Nantucket Film Festival,
- Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival,
- Rockport Music Festivals.
Being the warmest month, July travelers find refuge in the country’s beauty and the rich cultural program festivals have to offer. Events worth attending include:
- Lowell Folk Festival,
- Boston Pops Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular,
- Boston Harborfest,
- New Bedford Folk Festival,
- Festival Betances,
- Shakespeare on the Common.
August is ideal for hitting the beach as the intense temperatures persist — but entertaining festival events are still in full swing for those who want more fun.
Cheapest Time to Visit Massachusetts
If there’s any period in the entire year when accommodation prices drop, flights are affordable, and budget visitors can pack and head to Massachusetts on their own terms, then it’s the month of November.
Besides going easy on your wallet, this month is worth considering if you wish to avoid the harsh winter conditions, as the weather is more or less still relatively stable.
Besides Thanksgiving, key events marking November include Franklin County Cider Days and the opening of the ice skating rink in Fenway.
Least Busy Time to Visit Massachusetts
The least busy time to go to Massachusetts is in the fall (September–November) since school is back in full swing, tourist crowds start to diminish, and summer travelers make their way home.
That said, just because this season isn’t as popular as the summer or spring period, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on in Massachusetts.
In fact, heading to Massachusetts can be quite exciting at this time — if you know how to take advantage of the events at your disposal and the fall scenery. September events include King Richard’s Faire, The Big E, and Franklin County Fair.
With its leaf-changing colors each year, October is ideal for travelers marveling at nature’s landscapes in gold, orange, and red.
Boston-based events feature the well-known Head of the Charles Regatta, whereas Salem attracts visitors for its Salem Haunted Happenings. Other events include Topsfield Fair, Wellfleet Oysterfest, and King Richard’s Faire (a continuation).
September and October have average highs of 72.7°F and lows of 48.4°F. November is quite frosty, with temperatures ranging between a maximum of 49.5°F and a minimum of 37.9°F.
Worst Time to Visit Massachusetts
From a weather standpoint, the worst time to visit Massachusetts is (you guessed it!) in winter (December–February). It’s cold, it’s snowy, and it’s not for the faint-hearted.
That said, although it’s a quiet time in most of the state, the capital remains relatively busy due to the myriad of festive events. If we had to choose a couple of December events worth freezing for, it’d be Boston’s eminent First Night Celebration or the annual Christmas Stroll.
Also, ski resorts in the Berkshires open in December, so pack your ski suits and head to the nearest ski slopes.
If skiing isn’t for you, you can always explore some of the now-deserted beaches in Cape Cod without the summer chaos and crowds, but we’ll admit — it’s a niche activity that’s not for everyone.
January, given the harsh winter temperatures, goes together well with museum hopping. That said, ensure you make room for the well-known Boston Wine & Food Festival, too. Expect wine dinners, pop-up tastings, and master-class seminars.
February is ideal for heading to Boston’s Chinatown and indulging in the Chinese New Year festivities, along with slightly longer days. These three months have temperatures fluctuating between average highs of 39.9°F and lows of 23.5°F.
Things to Consider
Organizing your journey during the best time to visit Massachusetts is just the beginning of ensuring you have a great time! Here are some additional things to keep in mind during your stay:
- If you visit Boston, purchase a Go Boston Card and/or Boston CityPASS. Not only will either save you some money, but they’ll also provide you with insights into some of the top attractions, tours, and activities worth engaging in.
- The Boston Red Sox and their Fenway Park are truly an attraction. That said, wearing any Yankees outfits is best avoided.
- Don’t be surprised at the accent you may come across. Although it’s called the “Boston accent,” chances are you’ll hear it in other parts of Massachusetts as well. The most significant characteristic is the omission of “r” in the middle or at the end of a word.
- While locals are very polite and friendly, they turn into beasts once behind the wheel. Yes, Massachusetts drivers are highly aggressive — it won’t be long before you realize why others refer to the locals as “Massholes.” In any case, don’t let the Massachusetts traffic and residents’ behavior get to you and ruin your stay.
- If you’re planning on watching basketball, purchase your tickets at least a month prior to the event.
- Making reservations for lunch and dinner at restaurants is highly recommended, especially if you have your eye fixed on a specific place.
- Tobacco products aren’t allowed in most places, such as hotels, restaurants, bars, and even public transportation, with the exception being so-called designated smoking bars with a special kind of license. Also, you’re not allowed to smoke on beaches or at public parks. That said, this may vary from one city to another, so we suggest following local advice whenever you go.
- Get travel insurance before you set off.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some good facts about Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is also referred to as the “Bay State”, denoting the state’s well-known bay, Cape Cod, where the Pilgrims had settled first. The first Thanksgiving took place in Massachusetts in 1621.
The first US subway system was developed in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has five land borders: New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut. Dunkin Donuts was founded in Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, you can see the lake with the longest name not only in America but worldwide as well — Lake Chaubunagungamaug (you’re not even going to bother saying it out loud, are you?).
What food is Massachusetts famous for?
Food-wise, Massachusetts is known for: fluffernutters, grilled blueberry muffins, Boston baked beans, lobster rolls, apple cider doughnuts, Hoodsie cups, fried clams, clam chowder, grape-nut custard, baked stuffed scrod, and scallops.
Does Massachusetts get natural disasters?
Compared to the rest of the US, Massachusetts is at very low risk of natural disasters. However, some of them include flooding, heavy snow, winter storms, freezing rains, heat waves, hurricanes, and wildfires.
How many days in Boston is enough?
On the whole, spending between three to four days in Boston may be enough. Anything less than that simply wouldn’t suffice — sure, most of Boston’s attractions are in close proximity to each other, so you can see a lot in a brief period.
But to truly get a sense of what makes Boston special and get a feel for the culture and the people living there, you’ll need at least several days.
How do tourists get around Boston?
There are several ways to navigate Boston: taxi, renting a car (not recommended), ride apps such as Lyft or Uber, and the highly reliable “T” subway system featuring trains, subways, and trolleys.
Where does Massachusetts rank in crime?
Based on the 2023 State of Safety survey, “Massachusetts ranks the lowest in property crime out of all the states included in the report.” Certain factors were taken into consideration for compiling the report, such as gun violence, property crime rate, and violent crime rates.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
The best time to visit Massachusetts is either in spring (March–May) or summer (June–August), the two busiest seasons.
Prices may be higher, but well worth it — with Massachusetts’ climate at this time, combined with the exciting festivals, visitors can make the most out of their stay.
The cheapest time to visit Massachusetts is in November. If you’ve ever wished to come across airfare deals and affordable accommodation options in Massachusetts, mark your calendar for November and schedule your trip.
Next, the least busy time to head to Massachusetts is in the fall (September–November). Summer holidays wrap up, kids head back to school, and crowds dwindle drastically.
Still, just because summer’s over doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on in the state — there are many events worth attending that will keep you entertained during your visit.
Then, the worst time to visit Massachusetts is in winter (December–February). These months are the slowest with tourists; the weather isn’t promising as it’s quite cold and snowy, so completing your itinerary plans may not be as smooth as expected.
However, if you can bear the hard winters and hope to experience some of the Massachusetts Christmas magic, this is the time to go.
All in all, Massachusetts boasts a plethora of engaging events, points of interest, and venues regardless of when you decide to visit — there’s no way you can go wrong. So what are you waiting for? Begin planning your Massachusetts getaway right away!