City, Coronavirus, News

Guide to 2020 fall festivities in Boston and beyond

Although fall in Boston may look a little different this year, there are still many things to do while staying safe. Along with outdoor activities like leaf-peeping in Boston’s parks and exploring the Franklin Park Zoo, students will find that many shops and attractions around Boston are still open to safely serve up some good times this spooky season.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Boston still offers plenty for city-goers looking to engage in fall festivities. FALON MORAN/ DFP FILE

Head over to Red Apple Farm at Boston Public Market

If you’re looking for something to kickstart your fall, head over to the Red Apple Farm booth in the Boston Public Market. Red Apple Farm’s booth is lined with pumpkins and sells mini apple cider donuts, a selection of apple cider, other apple products — including smoked apple BBQ sauce — and squares of fresh fudge. 

Red Apple Farm employee John Paul, 22, of the North End said the Farm has been working on a recipe for a pumpkin-flavored donut that will be on the market sometime this fall. 

Visit flower vendor Eric Mazzio at Boston Public Market’s Seaport farmers market

Boston Public Market hosts two seasonal farmers markets, one at Dewey Square on the Greenway Tuesdays and Thursdays through November and the other at Boston Seaport, just outside the Boston Public Market’s in-store location, Saturdays until the beginning of October. 

Around the corner from rows of fresh fruits, vegetables and other produce that fill Seaport Common on Saturdays, flower vendor Eric Mazzio, 37, of Ipswich sets up a folding table surrounded by dozens of buckets of seasonal flowers. 

Mazzio said he sells pumpkins during fall and Christmas trees during winter.

While business has slowed because of the pandemic, Mazzio said he still comes to the Seaport location every Friday and Saturday to help customers pick out bundles of flowers.

Spend a day in historic Beacon Hill

This quiet neighborhood in Boston’s historic district is a great place to spend a day walking down cobblestone streets, past brick buildings decked out with chrysanthemums, pumpkins and other festive decorations. Down on Beacon Street, you’ll find a few blocks of small shops and restaurants, including Beacon Hill Chocolates

The store was founded 15 years ago, when owner Paula Barth had the idea to create “jewelry boxes for your chocolate,” according to employee Hope Cordes, 24, of San Antonio, Texas. 

The store is lined with decorative boxes customers can select and fill with the store’s selection of chocolates from local and international chocolatiers. The store offers Halloween treats as well, from pumpkin gelato to chocolate-covered Oreos decorated to look like Frankenstein. 

Cordes said the Halloween treats are pre-packaged to prevent COVID-19 spread.

“Parents can still splurge a little and give their kids some really yummy goodies,” Cordes said, “without having to pass up on Halloween.”

Hunt for a Halloween costume

Halloween may look different this year, but students can still don a fun costume.

For all your costume needs, check out The Garment District in Cambridge, which sells hundreds of vintage styles at thrift-store prices. In the same building, you’ll find Boston Costume, where you can supplement your clothing finds with specific Halloween accessories. 

At Dorothy’s Boutique on Massachusetts Avenue, you can find dozens of wigs, masks, shoes and hair products to complete the look.

Visit the MFA’s newest exhibit 

Boston’s Museum of Fine Art will present its newest exhibit, “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation,” to the public on Oct. 18. The exhibit will feature the artwork, videos, music and fashion of Jean-Michel Basquiat, an American artist known for street and graffiti art, according to the MFA’s website.

The MFA will reopen its doors to the public on Saturday. Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, visitors will need to purchase timed-entry tickets online in advance.

Go leaf-peeping around Boston

New England is known for its colorful autumn foliage, and the thousands of trees in Boston’s parks are no exception. 

Head over to the Boston Public Garden in September and October to catch a glimpse of the Garden’s Japanese maple trees, which turn a deep red in early fall. 

If you want to extend your foliage-finding into the colder months, take a walk to the Boston Common, where oak, beech, chestnut, maple and elm trees will change hues through November and sometimes into December. 

Catch a horror movie double-feature at Barrett’s Haunted Mansion

Due to health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, the mansion’s yearly haunted attractions are closed. Instead, Barrett’s has turned its grounds into a drive-in movie theater, featuring back-to-back horror movies on Friday and Saturday nights until Halloween. 

The Mansion has teamed up with local restaurant Abington Ale House to deliver snacks and meals straight to your car. Purchase tickets for Barrett’s Haunted Mansion’s drive-in events here

Check out the Franklin Park Zoo’s “Boston Lights” event

This fall, the Franklin Park Zoo is offering “Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience.” 

The new event, which will run until Nov. 1, features displays of hundreds of intricate glowing lanterns spread across the 72-acre property. Displays range from entrance arches to a 197-foot-long dragon, according to the zoo’s website. Purchase tickets here

Take the commuter rail out to Massachusetts’s Halloween capitol city of Salem

Many of Salem’s classic Halloween events — such as the Salem Haunted Happenings — have been canceled or moved to a virtual format this year due to COVID-19. 

However, there’s still plenty to do around the town that will put you in the Halloween spirit. Many of Salem’s spooky and historical walking tours, including Bewitched After Dark and Haunted Footsteps, are still running, though at reduced capacity and with masks required. Salem’s witchy shops like Artemisia Botanicals, The Coven’s Cottage and Die With Your Boots On are open for business as well. 

Visitors can get to Salem via the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail’s Newburyport or Rockport line, which departs from North Station. Face coverings are required on all MBTA lines.


  1. Your article makes fall in Boston so appealing I wish I was able to be there!!!

  2. That was one great article, jam packed with plenty of things to do in the Boston area this fall. Great article Julia!