A Guide to Boston’s Green Spaces

Although Boston is one of America’s oldest cities, it has made huge strides towards a sustainable future. For travelers who like to get outdoors, you’ll find a city that prides itself with parks and green spaces. The Kennedy Green-way, Freedom Trail, and Harborwalk provide miles of trails to take you through Boston’s neighborhoods. The city has plenty of park space to hang out in too, including America’s first public park.

Waterfront, Boston, MA, USA
Bostonians breathed a sigh of relief when the Central Artery/Big Dig project was finally completed. The resulting 40 acres of prime real estate are a gift to the environment and residents of the city. Cutting right through central downtown and the waterfront, a green pathway is there for all to enjoy, walk and find respite. Artwork, outdoor sculptures and performances keep it active and filled with people at all times of day.
139 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02111, USA
The Common becomes extraordinary on winter evenings when the Christmas tree is up and soft lights seem to hold back the twilight chill, but the truth is there’s no bad time to visit the nation’s oldest public park. The former cow pasture has been a focal point for Boston’s history and culture since its inception in 1636—a site for riots and rallies from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War era as well as weddings, hangings, and burials. Summer splashing and winter skating at the Frog Pond are local traditions, and you can spend hours wandering from landmark to landmark (like Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s famous bas-relief Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment, or the Soldiers and Sailors monument atop Flag Staff Hill). Or you can just laze in the sun on the park’s west-side lawn.

Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA, USA
Borrow a bike and get down by the Charles River to explore this popular linear park, which runs along the river through the Back Bay and the Beacon Hill neighborhood (albeit separated from both by the Storrow Drive expressway). A paved, 18-mile multiuse path popular with cyclists, runners, and in-line skaters helps connect the Esplanade to the parklands of Boston’s Emerald Necklace and provides easy access to landmarks like the Hatch Memorial Shell (the summer stage for the Boston Pops and other performers) and Harvard Bridge (aka the Smoot Bridge). The landmark Community Boating boathouse has kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and sailboats for rent when you want to get out on the river.
1 Long Wharf, Boston, MA 02110, USA
In the summer, when the temperatures reach sweltering and the city is crowded with tourists, the Boston Harbor Islands are where Bostonians go to escape. The Harbour Islands are comprised of 12 islands in total. Although it’s a mere 15 to 20 minute ferry ride from the wharf, you’ll feel worlds away. You can purchase ferry tickets at the kiosk at North Long Wharf. Don’t forget to double-check when the last ferry returns, or, pre-book a campsite on one of the three islands that offer overnight stays. If you start mid-morning, you should have plenty of time to visit two islands in one day. Movie buffs might recognize Peddocks Island, where Scorsese filmed the psychological thriller “Shutter Island”.
One of the first things I like to find when visiting a new destination is a place to take a good walk. Winding through the city’s waterfront neighborhoods, the design of the HarborWalk allows the public to connect with the cleaned and restored Boston Harbor. The section in South Boston and Fort Point Channel takes you along some of the city’s best views of sparkling high rises, as well as plenty of good restaurants to stop in. Take time to people watch and grab a bite. Their interactive map shows the visitor just where they can connect to it.
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