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Boston plays host to a wide range of green spaces and parks, from waterfront gardens filled with attractions and art to leafy oases that provide a peaceful refuge from the city’s hustle and bustle. Read on for our picks of the top parks and gardens in the Massachusetts capital.
Founded in 1634, 50-acre (20-hectare) Boston Common is the US’s oldest park and Boston’s main green space. Originally used for pasture and public executions, it’s now an expanse of grass, tree-lined paths, fields, and recreational spaces. Jump out here on a hop-on-hop-off-trolley tour, or chart its revolutionary history on a self-guided, private, or group walk along Boston’s Freedom Trail, the tourist walkway that crisscrosses its lawns.
Across the street from Boston Common, Boston Public Garden is a more formal affair, with manicured flower beds, statuary, a pond, and nine bronze ducks—a tribute to the beloved children’s book Make Way for Ducklings, set in the park. Call here on a hop-on-hop-off-trolley circuit, ride a “swan” boat on its waters, or zip around its pathways with ease on a pedicab tour.
Laid out in 2008, the Rose Kennedy Greenway is a string of parks extending from Boston’s Chinatown to the North End. The lawns hold plenty of attractions—including a carousel, art exhibitions, and food trucks—so there’s always plenty going on. Explore on a bike tour or rent a bike to roam as you wish.
Hemming the Charles River, this 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) park is a peaceful getaway that boasts a jogging path, lawns, playgrounds, and panoramic river views. Bike tours are perfect for exploring and especially scenic in spring, when the cherry trees bloom, and fall, when brightly colored foliage takes center stage.
This 7-mile (11-kilometer) ribbon of parks between Boston and Brookline includes beauties such as the Arnold Arboretum—home to 15,000 trees—and Jamaica Pond, a wooded park framing a large pond. All come into their own in fall, when their trees are a vision of ochre and red. Kick through the leaves on a stroll, or join a bike tour to take in the autumnal colors.
This waterfront gem crowns Boston’s North End neighborhood and is one of the city’s prettiest spots. Graced by a rose garden and trellis-covered walkway, it commands open views of Boston Harbor. Rent a bike to ride along the waterside, or visit as part of a hop-on-hop-off-trolley tour.