Boston is one of the East Coast's most beautifully-landscaped cities, known for its famed 1,100-acre Emerald Necklace park system, developed by famed Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted as a master plan for green improvement of the city in the late 19th century. Dozens of public parks offer stunning waterfront views, outdoor recreational opportunities, and summer concert series and annual special events. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway also spans more than a mile throughout the city's downtown district, connecting the path of a former freeway with fountains, lighting elements, mural and sculpture art, and ample space to sit and relax at lunch break or with friends and family during city visits.
1.The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the privately-operated arboretum facility of Boston's most famous university, originally founded in 1872 and designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as part of the city's Emerald Necklace park loop. The arboretum, which spans 281 acres throughout the Boston neighborhoods of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain, is open to the public for free 365 days a year during daylight hours, with seasonal hours offered for its indoor facilities. Gorgeous flora collections include extensive maple, lilac, crabapple, and bonsai collections, showcased alongside spacious flowering meadows and plantings of coniferous plants from around the world. A visitor center offers additional information and exhibits on the facility's plantings, with public workshops and lectures offered periodically. Free weekend tours are offered seasonally, led by experienced arboretum docents.
125 Arborway, Boston, MA 02130, Phone: 617-524-1718
2.The Back Bay Fens
The Back Bay Fens, commonly referred to as the Fens, is one of the most picturesque links in Boston's Emerald Necklace parks system, originally designed in 1879 by Frederick Law Olmsted. The park, which was designated as a Boston Landmark in 1983, serves as a namesake for the city's Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood and famed Fenway Park, the home of renowned baseball team the Boston Red Sox. Saltwater marsh lands from the Atlantic Ocean have been landscaped into freshwater park landscape, showcasing World War II victory gardens, an historic road house, and several monuments to seminal Boston literary, journalism, and humanitarian figures. An athletic field and playground are also offered for visitor use, along with several 20th-century war memorials that serve as resting plazas.
100 Park Dr, Boston, MA 02215, Phone: 617-635-4505
Blackstone Square is a charming 2.44-acre public park within Boston's Emerald Necklace, overseen by the National Park Service's Land and Water Conservation Fund in conjunction with nearby Franklin Square. The park, which was opened to the public in 1855 in Boston's South End, was originally designed by landscape architect Charles Bullfinch and redeveloped by the Olmsted Brothers in 1913. A central fountain at both parks showcases fish and seashell motifs, surrounded by plantings of sugar maple, silver linden, and white oak trees. Connecting pathways adjoin both parks, which are surrounded by iron fences. Picnics are popular at both parks, which also serve as popular neighborhood dog walking and play spots.
1535 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118, Phone: 617-635-4505
Boston Common, typically referred to as the Common, is one of Boston's most noted public parks, stretching 50 acres between Tremont, Beacon, Park, Charles, and Boylston Streets. The lovely Emerald Necklace centerpiece pre-dates the city's park linking layout, noted as the United States' oldest park for its origins dating all the way back to 1634. Today, the designated Boston Landmark serves as a common gathering space for Boston citizens from all walks of life, hosting concerts, sporting events, protests, and visits from international luminaries throughout the year. A wide variety of landmarks and monuments line the park, including a Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a Boston Massacre Memorial, and a burial ground interring Boston Tea Party participants. Two of the United States' oldest subway stations terminate at the park, which is also home to the official Boston visitor center. Other attractions include a seasonal bandstand, a children's frog pond and play area, softball fields, and a large grassy lawn hosting frequent special events.
139 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02111, Phone: 617-635-4505
5.Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area connects a chain of islands located along Boston's Atlantic Ocean and Boston Harbor coastline, many of which are open to the public for recreational and wildlife observation purposes. The National Recreation Area is overseen by the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership and is home to landmarks such as Boston Harbor Islands State Park and the Civil War-era Fort Warren. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the year at the NRA, including chances for boating, swimming, hiking, camping, and bird and wildlife watching. Other attractions include Little Brewster Island's Boston Light, the United States' oldest preserved lighthouse. Several seasonal ferry routes transport passengers to top sites within the NRA such as Georges and Spectacle Island, which offer picnicking opportunities and interpretive programming.
191w Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02109, Phone: 617-223-8666
Boston Harborwalk is a beautiful 43-mile waterfront walkway spanning along the picturesque shoreline of Boston Harbor, connecting many of the city's lovely waterfront neighborhoods. The Harborwalk, which has been in development for more than three decades, is nearing completion and will eventually stretch 47 miles between the city's eastern side and the Neponset River. It meanders along scenic piers, beaches, and wharves throughout the city, connecting neighborhoods to parks within the Emerald Necklace and sites along the city's Freedom and South Bay Trails. A wide variety of attractions, restaurants, and public facilities are linked by the pathway, which is home to dozens of memorials and public art pieces by regional and national artists. Visitors should note that the pathway is non-motorized with the exception of motorized wheelchairs and assistive mobility devices.
Harborwalk, Boston, MA 02128
7.The Boston National Historical Park
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The Boston National Historical Park is a United States national park that consists of eight separate properties linked by Boston's Freedom Trail, which showcases the city's role in the American Revolution. The park, which was designated in 1974, is home to some of the city's biggest historic landmarks, including the famed Faneuil Hall, noted for its pro-independence speeches prior to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The city's 1723 Old North Church, the city's oldest operating religious institution, is connected to Paul Revere's famed midnight ride, along with Revere's preserved historic home, which is operated as a living history museum. Other landmarks include the 1713 Old State House, the Charleston Navy Yard, Dorchester Heights, the Bunker Hill Monument, and the Old South Meeting House. Visitor centers are operated at the first floor of Faneuil Hall and the Navy Yard, with guided tours of the Freedom Trail available throughout the week at both locations.
Building 5, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA 02109
8.Boston Public Garden
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Boston Public Garden, formally known as the Public Garden, is a gorgeous central park within Boston's Emerald Necklace, originally established in 1837. The rectangular park, which is bounded by Boylston, Arlington, and Beacon Streets near Beacon Hill and Charles Street bordering the Boston Common, was the United States' first public botanical garden facility at the time of its development. More than 80 species of plants are cultivated at the garden's greenhouses, used for future plantings at other civic locations throughout the city. Due to its beauty, the garden serves as a popular wedding ceremony site year-round. Famed attractions include a four-acre pond, which is home to a noted population of swans and a seasonal Swan Boat pedal boat attraction.
4 Charles St, Boston, MA 02116, Phone: 617-635-4505
9.Bremen Street Community Park
Bremen Street Community Park is a lovely 18-acre urban park stretching throughout East Boston, connected to the East Boston Greenway shared-use pathway. The delightful park, which was designed and opened in 2007, is accessible via the MBTA's Blue Line rapid transit stop and is the home of the Boston Public Library and the historic 1909 East Boston YMCA. Year-round public amenities include several large grassy lawns, a spray fountain and pavilion, a community gardens, and several children's playgrounds. Though the park at large does not allow pets, since 2015, the park has been home to East Boston's first dog park, offering sections for smaller and larger pets. Other attractions include an outdoor performance amphitheater and a sculpture of clipper ship builder Donald McKay.
Bremen Street, Boston, MA 02128, Phone: 617-568-7442
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Castle Island is a National Register of Historic Places-listed peninsula within Boston Harbor, located within the city's South Boston district. The peninsula, which was connected to the mainland in 1928, is best known as the site of Fort Independence, a major fortification protecting Boston's shoreline since 1634. Visitors can view the eight-generation remnants of the fortress, constructed in its present form between 1833 and 1851. 22 acres of public recreational space are also offered at the park, including several connected swimming beaches open to families throughout the summer months. Several walking paths loop around the island, including the shorter Castle Island Loop and the longer Pleasure Bay Loop. Other amenities include a boardwalk, a children's playground, and a full-service restaurant.
2010 William J Day Blvd, Boston, MA 02127, Phone: 617-727-5290
11.The Charles River Esplanade
The Charles River Esplanade is a state-operated park in Boston's Back Bay district, designated as a Boston Landmark in 2009. The scenic Charles River Basin park was originally developed in 1910 as the Boston Embankment, a park area connected to the city's larger Emerald Necklace park system design. 17 miles of multi-use pathways stretch along the waterfront between Storrow Drive and the Charles River, offering opportunities for walking, jogging, cycling, and rollerblading. Children's playgrounds and sporting fields abound, along with boat launch areas and a full-service cafe. During the summer months, parkgoers can enjoy concerts and film showings at the famed Hatch Shell, including the Boston Pops' spectacular Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza.
Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA 0211, Phone: 617-727-1188
12.Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park
Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park was originally opened as part of the 1976 United States Bicentennial celebration, located within Boston's North End district. The charming park is known as one of the city's best family-friendly park areas, offering an excellent children's playground with climbing structures and a crow's nest. A rose garden creates beautiful scenery against the backdrop of the city's nearby waterfront. Across the street, visitors can ride the Greenway Carousel for a nominal fee throughout the summer months. Nearby, Faneuil Hall is home to vendors selling food and goods for lovely park picnics. Visitors should note that the park can become crowded with families during peak times and should schedule visits for mornings or evenings to avoid crowds.
Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02110, Phone: 617-635-7275
13.East Boston Memorial Park
East Boston Memorial Park is a City of Boston public park offering excellent family-friendly play opportunities for children of all ages. The 17-acre park is a great choice for outdoor sports, offering soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and softball fields available for public use and a running track for visitors looking for exercise opportunities. A spacious children's playground offers several different playground areas, including separate swingset areas for infants, older children, and adults to use. A fountain and water area operates throughout the summer months, offering safe water play for visitors of all ages. Other amenities include seasonal food vendors and several walking trails for multipurpose use.
143 Porter St, Boston, MA 02128, Phone: 617-635-4505
14.Fan Pier Park
Fan Pier Park is one of Boston's newest waterfront park developments, bordering its upscale Financial District along the city's harbor waterfront and providing a great rest and relaxation spot for area office workers during breaks. The open green space offers several waterfront seating areas with benches and picnic tables overlooking the city's shoreline, perfect for relaxing during walks or bringing lunch from restaurants or stores in the nearby neighborhood. A lookout terrace also offers space for viewing the surrounding marina area and watching boats on the harbor. During the summer and autumn months, a fire pit is available for park visitors to lounge around and stay warm throughout the evenings.
Boston, MA 02210, Phone: 617-261-4500
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Franklin Park is a lovely wooded park within Boston's Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, and Roxbury neighborhoods. The 527-acre park is Boston's largest park, originally developed as West Roxbury Park and implemented as the final jewel in the city's famed Emerald Necklace. The "crown jewel" of Frederick Law Olmsted's park plan, which was designated in 1980 as a Boston Landmark, is home to the Franklin Park Zoo today, which was opened in 1912 and offers 72 acres of family-friendly animal attractions. The 18-hole William J. Devine Memorial Golf Course serves as the nation's oldest public golf course, while tennis, basketball, rugby, and baseball fields and grassy areas for soccer and lacrosse provide additional recreation opportunities. Cross-country runners can enjoy 3,000-10,000 meter course areas, used for regional championships. Other attractions include the Playhouse in the Park open-air theatrical venue and Schoolmaster Hill, best known as the former home of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
1 Franklin Park Rd, Boston, MA 02121
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Franklin Square spans 2.48 acres within Boston's South End district, originally developed in 1855 alongside neighboring park Blackstone Square by Charles Bullfinch. The duo of parks, which were redesigned in 1913 by the Olmsted Brothers, is overseen by the National Park Service and showcases gorgeous design elements throughout, including a marine-themed fountain that was designed to match the central fountain of its sister park. Lush silver linden, sugar maple, and white oak trees populate the park, which is traversed by connecting pathways to its neighboring park. An entrance to the park is offered at Newton Street. Park guests can enjoy ample space for picnics and dog walking throughout the year.
Boston, MA 02118, Phone: 617-635-4505
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LoPresti Park, commonly referred to as North Ferry Park, is a gorgeous four-acre park on East Boston's Maverick Square, located between New and Sumner Streets. The park, which offers unparalleled views of the city's downtown skyline and inner harbor, is a prime choice for visitors looking for active recreation opportunities, offering two lighted basketball courts and a street hockey rink. An artificial turf soccer field is also available for guest use, along with several grassy lawn areas available for pick-up games, picnics, and relaxation. Waterfront facilities include a spacious pier and dock, perfect for evening fishing, and a boat launch area for launching kayaks and paddle boats into the harbor. A children's playground and spray fountain offer safe play opportunities for young visitors.
33 Sumner St, Boston, MA 02128, Phone: 617-635-4505
18.Norman B. Leventhal Park
Norman B. Leventhal Park is a charming 1.7-acre park in Boston's Financial District, constructed atop the 1,400-space Garage at Post Office Square. The award-winning park, which was designed as part of an urban redevelopment initiative to create green space atop the garage, is home to a whimsical sculptural fountain centerpiece and a 143-foot formal garden trellis, which showcases seven unique species of lush vines. Extensive cafe-style seating and benches offer respites for nearby office workers or places for enjoying lunch from the park's year-round Sip Café. A library cart is parked at the park on summer weekdays, with giant lawn games also offered for guest use during good weather. All park visitors can enjoy free wireless internet throughout the park 24 hours a day. Each summer, the park hosts public special events, including fitness and yoga courses and a midday music concert series.
130 Congress St, Boston, MA 02110, Phone: 617-423-1500
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Olmsted Park is a beautiful linear park within Boston's famed Emerald Necklace, named in honor of designer and legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The park, which was originally known as Leverett Park, stretches between Boston and Brookline and is divided into northern and southern sections above and below Route 9. In the southern section, guests can enjoy a number of public-use athletic fields, along with the scenic Jamaica, Ward's, Willow, and Leverett's Ponds. Above Route 9, the park's Mission Hill neighborhood edge connects to nearby Back Bay Fens. Attractions include a dual-path system for runners and cyclists, a nesting bird habitat area, and Allerton Overlook, which hosts the park's annual Summer Sundays concert series.
217 Jamaicaway, Boston, MA 02130, Phone: 617-635-7275
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20.Paul Revere Park
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Paul Revere Park is a five-acre public park in Charlestown, developed in 1999 as the first part of the planned Lost Half Mile park system along the Charles River. The park, which is located near Boston's Freedom Trail at North Washington Street, was completed in 2007 and spans five acres to the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. Parkgoers can enjoy many excellent amenities, including a large grassy lawn for picnics and pick-up games. A children's playground offers separate spaces for younger and older children, while a Boston Harbor pier offers fish cleaning stations. Mosaic art is showcased throughout the park, highlighting the works of regional artists. An informal performance area provides a spot for summer concerts and other live performances throughout the year.
N Washington St, Boston, MA 02129, Phone: 617-626-1250
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Peters Park is a charming community park in Boston's South End, offering five acres of multipurpose recreational opportunities. The park, which is open daily between dawn and dusk, is best known as the home of Boston's first off-leash dog park, the Joe Wex Dog Recreation Space, which offers 13,000 square feet of play space for small and large breeds. Gorgeous mural art honors the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the influential African-American poet and essayist Askia M. Toure. Other amenities offered at the park include a lovely children's playground, a Little League baseball field, two full-sized basketball courts with fan bleachers, and tennis and handball court spaces for public use.
1277 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118, Phone: 617-961-3006
22.Dorothy and David Ramler Park
Dorothy and David Ramler Park is a delightful urban oasis in Boston's Fenway neighborhood, spanning half an acre between the city's famed Museum of Fine Arts and legendary Fenway Park. The lovely Peterborough Street park was converted from a former parking lot space by a group of citizen activists and serves as a neighborhood oasis, offering a central fountain and ample bench space for visitors to relax and reflect. Arbors create quaint ambiance, while a plethora of flowering plant species and trees provide color and attract migratory birds throughout the spring and summer months. Garden maintenance events are held regularly throughout warmer months by the Friends of Ramler Park association to keep up the park's splendor. An annual summer concert series also serves as a popular neighborhood gathering event, drawing local and regional bands and artists.
30 Peterborough St, Boston, MA 02215, Phone: 617-635-4505
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23.Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway
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Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is a lovely linear park stretching throughout Boston's downtown for more than one mile, traversing its Financial District, Waterfront, Chinatown, and North End neighborhoods. The park, which was developed and opened in 2008 following the demolition of the John F. Fitzgerald Expressway, is named in honor of the Kennedy family matriarch who played an influential role in developing the city's North End neighborhood. Many landscaped garden spaces are showcased throughout the greenway, along with gorgeous centerpiece fountains, public art pieces, and special lighting systems meant to highlight the natural and architectural beauty of the park. Park areas include the serpentine-walkway Chinatown Park, popular food truck spot Dewey Square Park, the beautifully landscaped Fort Point Channel Parks, and the relaxing European-style North End Parks. The greenway is the site of a large number of annual special events, including the Chinatown Main Street Festival, Boston Local Food Fest, Films at the Gate, and the FIGMENT art festival.
185 Kneeland St, Boston, MA 02111, Phone: 617-292-0020
24.Titus Sparrow Park
Titus Sparrow Park is named in honor of the famed Boston South End resident of the same name, best known as the United States Tennis Association's first African-American umpire. The community park was designed in cooperation with resident teams from its nearby St. Botolph, Pilot Block, Cosmopolitan, and Claremont neighborhoods, offering a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, including basketball, baseball, and tennis courts for public use. Sledding is also popular at the park during the winter months. Community gardening space is available to neighborhood residents for a nominal annual fee. An annual free concert series is held at the park each summer, presented by the Friends of Titus Sparrow Park organization.
200 W Newton St, Boston, MA 02118, Phone: 617-635-7275
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24 Best Boston Parks
- The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Photo: na9179126124/stock.adobe.com
- The Back Bay Fens, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Blackstone Square, Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Boston Common, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, Photo: alwoodphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Boston Harborwalk, Photo: Tupungato/stock.adobe.com
- The Boston National Historical Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Boston Public Garden, Photo: Chee-Onn Leong/stock.adobe.com
- Bremen Street Community Park, Photo: Kevin/stock.adobe.com
- Castle Island, Photo: diak/stock.adobe.com
- The Charles River Esplanade, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, Photo: jovannig/stock.adobe.com
- East Boston Memorial Park, Photo: buharina/stock.adobe.com
- Fan Pier Park, Photo: jayyuan/stock.adobe.com
- Franklin Park, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Franklin Square, Photo: Papa Bravo/stock.adobe.com
- LoPresti Park, Photo: edb3_16/stock.adobe.com
- Norman B. Leventhal Park, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- Olmsted Park, Photo: beerlogoff/stock.adobe.com
- Paul Revere Park, Photo: Samuel B/stock.adobe.com
- Peters Park, Photo: Kristina/stock.adobe.com
- Dorothy and David Ramler Park, Photo: wirakorn/stock.adobe.com
- Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, Photo: Andreas Kuschner/stock.adobe.com
- Titus Sparrow Park, Photo: Travis/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: jStock/stock.adobe.com