Boston is not well known as being a particularly warm city. In fact, it’s known as quite the opposite. Over the last couple of years, however, Boston has enjoyed some warmer weather, making springtime quite temperate and increasingly beautiful.
In May, most of the places in Boston brush off the last bit of dust and open for the spring, summer, and fall. The city truly wakes up from its winter slumber.
As one of the oldest cities in the United States, our historic nature makes it a great travel destination every time of year, especially in the late spring.
Having lived and worked in Boston for over twenty years, we know everything needed to ensure you have a great trip during this month. Now, we’re happy to share that information and some unique tips with you!
Our Tour Tips
We highly recommend a whale watching tour (more tips later), a sightseeing cruise (book tickets in advance), and the iconic and must-do duck boat tour. Don’t forget to get the Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 40+ Attractions to save money!
💡 Read more tips about the best things to do in May at the end of this article.
Is May a Good Time?
Boston is a great place and May is a very good time to visit the city. With sunny days, warm weather, plenty to see, and lots to do outdoors, a trip to Boston at any point during this month is definitely worth the expense.
Additionally, all the plants, flowers, and trees finally bloom in May. In early May you will definitely see some leaves on the trees and usually, by mid-May, everything turned green.
And who knows, maybe we’ll see you out and about at our favorite spot on the Boston Common.
During this month, on my day’s off, I love to spend as much time outdoors as possible. I often start my day with a run through many of Boston’s beautiful parks that begin to bloom in May. Then I switch into some warm weather clothes to walk around the city and in the evening will enjoy the cooler breeze of the harbor.
More about clothing later!
May’s weather is quite similar to April’s in that snow, ice, and cold has officially left the city, but May drives out the cold rain of April and embraces the summer temperatures of June.
Boston in May has an average high temperature ranging from 61°F to 71°F (16-22°C). During this month, the city gets about 3.3 inches (8.3 cm) of rain. You get warm and summerlike temperatures without the oppressive heat sometimes common in late summer.
These temperatures are so warm that, even among non-Bostonians, you begin to see people switch out of long sleeves and pants and into shorts and T-shirts. Walking down the street, you might even hear of people conspiring to find a pool to jump in!
Please keep in mind that in early May the days start much cooler when appropriate clothing is required. It’s important to know what to wear during that time. More about that later!
We’ve been known to swim in the second half of May in years past, and I’m sure that this will be the case again this year!
Average Highs In May:
- Early May: 61°F (16°C)
- Mid-May: 65°F (18°C)
- Late May: 71°F (22°C)
Furthermore, May’s weather is phenomenal as it lacks as much of the variation that April has. From the beginning of the month until the end, temperatures are relatively mild. There is almost no chance you’ll see snow or ice in May, and rainfall is much more predictable. You’re much less likely to get caught in a passing storm.
Temperature Progression On A Typical Day:
- Morning (7 AM): 59°F (15°C)
- Afternoon (3 PM): 68°F (20°C)
- Evening (9 PM): 62°F (17°C)
Perhaps the only challenge with May’s weather is that its daily temperature progression can be intense. Days often start in the 60s and can end as high as the 80s in the last week of June. The middle of the day is always the hottest, but evenings are cool enough to enjoy but not so cool that you’ll be cold.
Is May Cold or Warm in Boston?
May is not cold in Boston. May is generally considered mild and warm by locals and non-locals alike. Though some mornings in early May can be fairly cold, by mid-day and dusk, temperatures are normally up to comfortable ranges.
💡 Some days can be sporadically cold, but these are not common.
Boston is a fairly wet city, so rain in May is not uncommon. On average, 3.3 inches (8.3 cm) of rain typically fall in May, and this rainfall is typically confined to a few days. Passing showers are uncommon in May, so when it is raining, it often rains all day and is fairly heavy.
As the saying goes, “when it rains, it pours.” May is not often subject to heavy storms with lots of wind, so rainy days do not often do too much damage. However, because Boston is a relatively old city, some of its central planning was not up to modern standards, meaning that water often has a hard time draining from many of the streets.
💡In some areas of Boston, hills cause water to flow in one direction. This means that, if you are walking in some neighborhoods, you might find your shoes getting a little bit wet from the rainwater on the ground.
Though these issues are typically only confined to a few days, they can still be somewhat of an inconvenience.
Fortunately, much of the city is accessible without having to spend a ton of time outdoors. Major shopping areas and tourist attractions often have indoor or at least covered areas, making them great for a rainy day.
What To Wear/Packing List
During the mild Boston weather in May, we locals wear shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, and a light sweatshirt for the mornings and the evenings. Pack comfortable walking shoes and casual clothes for your trip to Boston in May.
Visiting Boston in May is great for a number of reasons, but one major reason is that packing is much easier. With warmer weather that is far more predictable, you don’t need to bring nearly as many clothes in order to be prepared.
Depending on what you plan to do and where you plan to go, you can dress fairly casually around the city. If you plan on entering an office or a nicer restaurant, you might want to dress a little more business casual than shorts and a T-shirt allow, but as long as you are out and about in the city, you can certainly wear very casual clothes.
Perhaps the most important thing you can bring on a trip to Boston in May is a good set of walking shoes. With wonderful weather, you’re going to want to spend as much time as you can outside, which means quite a bit of walking. A decent set of sneakers is definitely worth the investment, should you plan on walking for a while.
Mornings and early May: Additionally, bringing a light sweatshirt or jacket with you as you wander the city is always a good idea. It very well may not be necessary on some days, but it can be very helpful in the morning and evening, particularly in early May when the city is a little colder.
Here is a full packing list of what you might want to bring with you. This list is suited to both men and women:
- Button-up shirt
- Long sleeve casual shirt
- Rain jacket
- Comfortable shoes
- Nice shoes
How Busy | Crowds and Rates
May is perhaps the busiest month in Boston outside of the summer tourism season. As colleges finish the year and schools start to let out, many people visit the city during all parts of the week. By the end of May, around Memorial Day, the city gets very busy, and things get far more expensive.
May is the time of year when families across the country begin to change their schedules to align with vacations. While there may not be many people on vacation quite yet, weekend trips to the city become more and more common, and by the end of the month, the city reaches the beginning of its peak tourism season.
This can sometimes mean crowds in many tourist spots, but this is uncommon. By the middle of May, tourist destinations have hired and onboarded enough staff that they are ready to accommodate large crowds even if these crowds aren’t always there.
This means that, assuming there are not more people than normal at a certain destination, crowds and wait times will be reduced.
However, prices for visiting the city do often go up during May. The beginning of the month is far cheaper to visit with hotel and airline rates than the end of the month, and every weekend prices surge. The cheapest time to book a stay in Boston typically falls between Tuesdays and Thursdays at the beginning of the month, with prices going up on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.
Things To Do
Boston has a ton of exciting stuff to do in May, especially because of the Memorial Day weekend. Some of the best things to do in May are to check out a Boston Red Sox Game, take a walk on the Freedom Trail, or go see a show like the Blue Man Group. There is so much to do; you can’t go wrong!
Boston Duck Boat Tour
One of the best things to do when you’re in Boston during May is to get a ride on Boston’s Duck Boats. The Duck Boat Tours give you a full tour of the city, pointing out many of the historically and culturally significant sights in the city. The Duck Boat Tours will also bring you out onto the Charles River, a unique experience!
Intriguing! This is a must-do when you are here! Whale watching tours in Boston are available throughout May. It’s a great time because May is the first month when enough whales are present in the area.
What an amazing tour! We saw to see the USS Constitution out on the harbor. That was an impressive experience. The rest of the tour was also unforgettable. Our guide shared many intriguing insights as we navigated the waters. This one hour flew by so fast.
You also have to check out the Freedom Trail while you’re in Boston during May. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-hour walking tour of the city, so doing it in May when the snow is gone and the weather is warm but not too hot is a perfect time to go! Just be sure to bring a good set of walking shoes!
Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
If you’re a history fan, visiting the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum will keep you fascinated for ages.
Finally, no trip to Boston would be complete without visiting the Boston Aquarium in May. We’ve been over 10 times as locals, and we can’t get enough. The interactive tanks are always an incredible experience, especially if you have young children with you – and of course, you can’t forget about the incredible penguins!
With the warmer weather comes a bunch of events and shows to the city. One awesome group unique to Boston that everyone should experience is the Blue Man Group. A family-friendly drumming group, catching a show by these hysterical performers is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.
Another fun event to check out is a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Boston is a serious sports city, so being able to see a Red Sox home game is always a treat. Ticket prices and the opening day date often vary, but you can find more details here.