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12 fun (and safe) things to do in Boston now that a normal-ish spring is upon us

safe fun spring activities in boston
From left to right, top to bottom: Running by the Charles River, a kayaker near the Veteran's Memorial Bridge in Scituate Harbor, a boy on a Boston Duck Tour, the Public Garden, and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.Globe Staff

The weather is warming, coronavirus numbers are dwindling, restrictions are easing, and Massachusetts residents might be on the verge of experiencing an unfamiliar phenomenon: something to look forward to.

Governor Charlie Baker announced on Tuesday he would further ease COVID-19 protocols in Massachusetts.

On Friday, masks will no longer be required outdoors, as long as it is possible to socially distance. By May 10, large venues, both indoors and outdoors, can operate at 25 percent capacity. By Memorial Day, street festivals, bars, beer gardens, and wineries can reopen. And by August 1, all industry restrictions will be lifted. (Though Boston’s reopening timeline will trail the state’s by three weeks).

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It’s a lot for residents to process after a very difficult year. To help us all reacquaint ourselves with all the activities that make this city so great in the springtime, we compiled a list of a dozen things you can do today, and in the coming weeks, as normal-ish life finally begins to make its return to the area.

1. Grab an IPA at a beer garden

Several Boston-area breweries have already reopened their outdoor patios for the season, welcoming visitors to sip on cold, frothy beers in the spring sunshine.

The breweries currently operating need to abide by many of the state’s restaurant guidelines, including that they must seat customers and serve food, keep tables 6 feet apart, cap the number of people per table, and impose 90-minute time limits on visitors. But by May 29 in Massachusetts and June 19 in Boston, beer gardens won’t need to serve food and some measures, like the number of people allowed per table, will be relaxed.

Here are a few you can visit now: Aeronaut Brewing Co., Somerville, Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen, Brighton, Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge, Cisco Brewers Seaport, Boston, Dorchester Brewing Co., Dorchester, Harpoon Brewery, Boston, Idle Hands Craft Ales, Malden, Night Shift Brewing, Everett, Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston and Jamaica Plain, and Trillium Brewing Co., Boston and Canton.

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Jennifer and Cory Pickering enjoyed a beer at Trillium Garden on The Greenway on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston.
Jennifer and Cory Pickering enjoyed a beer at Trillium Garden on The Greenway on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

2. Go on a tour of the city

Some popular options include the Old Town Trolley Tour, the Boston Duck Tours, and the Boston Harbor historic sightseeing cruise.

The Old Town Trolley Tour is narrated by a local historian and will take you everywhere from Paul Revere’s House to the site of the Boston Massacre.

Sightseeing and organized tours like duck boats were allowed to begin operating again in April after the state loosened more restrictions. The tours must operate at 50 percent capacity, according to measures imposed by the state, and guides and guests should maintain 6 feet of distance and wear masks.

Tourists rode the Old Town Trolley bus tour in early March.
Tourists rode the Old Town Trolley bus tour in early March.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

If you’re inclined to learn more about Boston’s inner and outer harbors, consider a sightseeing cruise. Here, you will learn about local legends of the sea, and how the Boston Harbor was transformed, while seeing sights that include the Harbor Islands National Park Area.

And if you’re in the mood to traverse the city on both land and water, you may want to hop on a duck boat — also known as the transportation of choice for Boston’s championship sports teams.

Tourists boarded the Duck Boat near the Prudential Center on April 1, 2021.
Tourists boarded the Duck Boat near the Prudential Center on April 1, 2021. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

3. Go to a game (or eventually a concert) at Fenway Park

Red Sox fans returned at 12 percent capacity to the beloved ballpark on Opening Day, and by May 10, crowds can swell up to 25 percent. Bruins and Celtics fans have also returned to TD Garden.

Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins tickets are available through online ticket sellers. Some of the websites note there are currently COVID-19 restrictions in place at the stadiums, and inform customers of refund procedures in the event of a COVID-19-related cancellation.

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By mid-July, concerts are scheduled to resume at Fenway. The Plainridge Park Casino Fenway Concert Series kicks off on July 16, with shows running until Sept. 14. New Kids on the Block, Def Leppard & Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, and Aerosmith are on the schedule.

Fans watched as the Boston Red Sox hosted the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park in April.
Fans watched as the Boston Red Sox hosted the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park in April. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

4. Walk one of Boston’s historic trails

Learn more about Boston’s rich multicultural and immigrant history by walking the Black Heritage Trail, Freedom Trail, Irish Heritage Trail, and Boston Equality Trail.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, in-person tours of the Black Heritage Trail and Freedom Trail are currently suspended, but virtual tours are available. Some sites along each respective trail, like the Museum of African American History in Boston and the USS Constitution Museum, are open with COVID-19 measures in place.

Action Tour Guide has created a number of self-guided audio tours to try by walking or biking. People can stroll or ride along the Freedom Trail, Harvard Square, and the Boston Harborwalk while listening to narrated stories from local guides about points of interest. The company also offers self-guided driving tours through Cape Ann, Salem, and Cape Cod.

The costs of the virtual walking tours range from $4.99 to $6.99, and can be accessed using the Action Tour Guide app on your phone.

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Any walking tours currently operating are limited to no more than 25 people, excluding guides, according to the state.

Director of Education Catherine Matthews pointed out a cherub to Teddy DeWitt at the Old North Church in the North End neighborhood of Boston, on April 17, 2021. The Old North Church & Historic Site kicked off Patriots Day Weekend by re-opening its doors to visitors after a 13-month closure in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The city's oldest surviving church is one of the first institutions to re-open along the Freedom Trail.
Director of Education Catherine Matthews pointed out a cherub to Teddy DeWitt at the Old North Church in the North End neighborhood of Boston, on April 17, 2021. The Old North Church & Historic Site kicked off Patriots Day Weekend by re-opening its doors to visitors after a 13-month closure in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The city's oldest surviving church is one of the first institutions to re-open along the Freedom Trail.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

5. Hit Newbury Street

In the mood to shop?

While retail stores have been permitted to be open for much of the pandemic they have been operating under state COVID-19 restrictions. Currently, stores are allowed to operate at 50 percent of their capacities, and masks are required at all times for workers and customers.

Take a spin through distinctive shopping districts including Newbury Street, the Prudential Center, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace. There are options for those favoring designer brands and small businesses alike.

People walked along Newbury Street Tuesday afternoon.
People walked along Newbury Street Tuesday afternoon.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

6. Visit a museum

If you’re interested in the arts, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are all open.

Other options include the Museum of Science, Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, and Museum of African American History.

For those with kids, the Boston Children’s Museum is scheduled to open in May. And while it’s not a museum, the New England Aquarium is also now open at reduced capacity and likely to provide a day’s worth of entertainment.

Museums are currently allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, and and masks are required at all times for workers and visitors.

The MFA is currently not selling tickets at the museum, and all visitors have to reserve tickets online in advance. At the ICA, those planning to visit have to book tickets in advance for a specific time slot in order to maintain physical distancing while there, according to the museum’s website.

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If you’re planning to visit a museum, make sure you plan ahead and check online to see if you need to reserve a ticket and a time slot in advance.

A man and young girl took in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
A man and young girl took in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

7. Lace up for a road race

Statewide, anyone interested in lacing up their sneakers and engaging in some friendly competition again at a road race will be able to do so starting May 10. This also applies to any other large, outdoor organized professional or amateur group athletic event.

Runners and other athletes in Boston will be able to participate in such races and events starting June 1. There are also some virtual races planned for over the summer.

In the meantime, the Charles River Esplanade provides some fairly decent views for those who wish to hit the pavement as the weather warms up.

Based on the new reopening timeline announced Tuesday, the most elite runners among us can look forward to participating in the Boston Marathon, which wasn’t run during its normal April slot this year or last, this coming October.

Turkeys crossed the road while runners participate in the annual Feaster Five Thanksgiving Race in Andover last November.
Turkeys crossed the road while runners participate in the annual Feaster Five Thanksgiving Race in Andover last November. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

8. Enjoy the return of patio season

Outdoor dining resumed in most of the city at the end of March, but as the temperature outside continues to rise, it’s all the more reason to support a local business, grab a table, and enjoy a good meal in the sun.

And on May 29 in Massachusetts and June 19 in Boston, the number of people allowed to dine at a table will increase to no more than 10, according to the new reopening timelines in the state and city.

In search of some al fresco dining options? We’ve got you covered.

People dined outside at La Voile on Newbury Street Tuesday afternoon.
People dined outside at La Voile on Newbury Street Tuesday afternoon.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

9. Check out the city’s array of gardens

Is there anything more representative of springtime than flowers, plants, and open green space? And with springtime in full bloom, there’s no better time to take a stroll through some of Boston’s iconic gardens.

For those eager to get a taste of nature and fully embrace the season, consider visiting the Boston Public Garden — the first public botanical garden in America — and the Arnold Arboretum, a 281-acre landscape featuring over 16,000 plants.

Other spaces include the Fenway Victory Gardens — the only remaining continuously operating World War II victory garden in the country — and the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden.

Allie Wolff was surprised when her dog, Ranger, attempted to eat a tulip while she took pictures of her dog at the Public Garden on April 22, 2021.
Allie Wolff was surprised when her dog, Ranger, attempted to eat a tulip while she took pictures of her dog at the Public Garden on April 22, 2021. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

10. Have a picnic on the Boston Common

And on a stunning spring day in Boston, perhaps after taking a stroll through the Boston Public Garden, venture across the street to the Boston Common, lay down a blanket, and have a picnic with some friends.

The Esplanade is also a worthy option, particularly for those who enjoy having a view of the water.

People soaked up the sun in Boston Common as temperatures soared into the 70s on April 20, 2021.
People soaked up the sun in Boston Common as temperatures soared into the 70s on April 20, 2021.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

11. Rent a bike, canoe, kayak, or paddleboard

For the more adventurous (or athletic) among us, there are several options available to make the most of a sunny day in the city.

Urban AdvenTours offers a range of bike tours — from one that covers many of Boston’s famous neighborhoods and sights to another that will take you through the Emerald Necklace park system. Visitors and residents can also rent a bike from the bikeshare program Bluebikes.

If you want to hit the water, Charles River Canoe & Kayak offers several rental locations in Greater Boston, where people can take out a canoe, kayak, and paddleboard. Weather and water temperature permitting, they plan on opening some of their sites on May 1 by reservation only.

A person rode their bike along the Esplanade.
A person rode their bike along the Esplanade.Jorge Salcedo/jStock - stock.adobe.com

12. Catch a movie with some friends

If you miss watching a movie in a theater — on the big screen, popcorn in hand, and chair reclined — several have either opened up at reduced capacity or are planning to in the next couple of weeks.

The historic Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline recently announced plans for a phased reopening, set to begin on May 13. Tickets will go on sale on May 7, and their lineup of films for the month includes “Get Out” and “Citizen Kane.”

Regal Fenway & RPX is already open, showing films such as “Together Together” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” along with AMC Boston Common 19, which is featuring movies including “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Promising Young Woman.”

Movie theaters are currently limited to 50 percent capacity, and audience members have to wear face coverings at all times, even while seated.

Jacob Raillon (right) and Maddie Durso (left) rode past the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline in 2019.
Jacob Raillon (right) and Maddie Durso (left) rode past the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline in 2019.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the capacity limits at Fenway Park. The park can operate at 12 percent capacity. Globe Correspondent Diti Kohli contributed to this report.


Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98. Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker. Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.