Botanical Gardens and Natural Areas in Boston
Boston's public gardens are some of the most beautiful in the city. With a mix of historic and newer park spaces, there's something for everyone. Not only will you find gardens along the outskirts of the city, but also right within the heart of central Boston and along the river and greenway trails. Here are some of the must-see garden spots around Boston.
The Arnold Arboretum spreads out over 281 acres and is a major horticultural research institution. The arboretum was designed by C.S. Sargent working with Frederick Law Olmsted. It was designed with a less formal intent than most botanical gardens and today it offers a relaxing place to explore and enjoy nature.
125 Arborway, Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA, 02130
Back Bay Fens
Where Back Bay merges into Fenway, this large green space has a variety of interesting things to do and see. In addition to walking and biking trails, visitors can explore the rose garden and World War II memorial. Also here is an area of community gardens, a playground for the kids, and ball fields.
73 Park Dr, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
Boston African-American National Historic Site
The Boston African American National Historic Site offers information on 15 pre-Civil War structures that are significant within the African American community, including the oldest standing black church in the United States.
76 Mount Vernon Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
Boston Common is a famous central park in downtown Boston. It's also the oldest city park in the country, dating back to 1634. The park spans 50 acres and has a botanical garden and a pond where you can enjoy the iconic experience of taking a Swan paddleboat. Visitors can also find a playground and other fun activities for kids. During the winter months, an ice skating rink is set up, and a huge Christmas tree and other decorations adorn the park.
167 Tremont Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
Boston National Historical Park
The Boston National Historical Park maintains a number of historic sites relating to the American Revolution. Seven of the eight sites are part of the famous Freedom Trail.
Dock And Faneuil Square, Dock Square, Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Nature Center
The Boston Nature Center is divided into three sections. There's the pollinator garden, which is designed to attract butterflies and other insects, the Clark-Cooper Community Gardens, which is a public garden for Boston residence, and the Boston Food Forest Coalition, which features edible plants. There's also a sensory trail and many birds throughout the grounds.
500 Walk Hill St, Mattapan, MA, 02126
Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden, dating back to 1837, was the first botanical garden in the country. It is heavily influenced by the Victorian era with seasonally flowers that change regularly. The Boston Public Garden is an iconic park in the city with its famous Swan Boats that you can use to paddle around the pond. There are flower beds that line the paths and many places to enjoy a leisurely stroll. Boston Public Garden is a relaxed and romantic setting and you'll often see weddings or wedding pictures being taken in the park.
4 Charles St., Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02116
Castle Island Park & Fort Independence
Located in South Boston, this is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. There's a nice white sand beach where you can relax. Fort Independence is a granite fort dating back to 1851. Within the park there are two walking and running trails. For the easiest and shortest option, try the Castle Island Loop. The longer trail is the Pleasure Bay Loop. There are also great areas where you can enjoy a picnic and a nice playground that is perfect for kids who like to climb, jump, and run.
2010 William J Day Blvd, South Boston, Boston, MA, 02127
Charles River Reservation
This 17 mile long public recreation area runs along the Charles River, passing through Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, and Newton. It offers a number of activities including bike paths, boating, picnic areas, and sport fields.
840 Memorial Drive, Cambridgeport, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139
Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park
At the north end of the Waterfront district and the southern side of North End, this large park is a great place to relax, have a picnic, and enjoy the weather. Here you'll find a ship-themed playground for the kids, a rose garden, a gorgeous trellis, fountains, and some open lawn areas along with benches for lounging. If you're looking for a place to rest or relax before going on a whale watching cruise or into the aquarium, this is a convenient spot.
110 Atlantic Ave, Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts
Commonwealth Avenue Mall
Stretching west from the famous Boston Common, Commonwealth Avenue is home to a wide and beautiful tree-lined median for eight blocks. This public park and garden area is home to a number of monuments, statues, and public spaces where visitors can relax, have a picnic, or explore the history of Boston. While you're here, peruse the statues of Alexander Hamilton, Leif Eriksson, and Samuel Eliot Morison among others, as well as the Women's Memorial and the Firefighters' Memorial. Also, admire the historic homes on either side of the avenue while you're here.
Commonwealth Avenue, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum
This 30 acres outdoor park and museum offers a peaceful place to explore with fields, gardens, lawns, forests, and terraces. It's located about 20 miles to the west of Boston, so if you're looking for a peaceful place to escape the city, this is a nice option.
51 Sandy Pond Rd, Lincoln, MA, 01773
The recently revitalized Fan Pier is located just to the southeast of North End and Downtown Boston. Here, visitors can find a number of fun activities as well as shopping and restaurants. Home to the Boston Children's Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Boston Tea Party Museum, this area is worth exploring, especially if you're looking for a good meal. A park on the north end has nice views of central Boston and a quiet setting, while the large playground at Martin's Park by the Children's Museum is a fun spot for the kids.
50 Seaport Blvd, Seaport District, South Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston Harborwalk is a nearly complete project designed to connect the waterfront walkways along the harbor. Currently, visitors can enjoy over 43 miles of walkways along the harbor, much of which runs along the main Waterfront and North End areas of central Boston near many of the city's top attractions. Along the trail, visitors can find public restrooms along with restaurants, cafes, shops, tourist attractions, marinas and wharfs, ferry terminals, and more. While it's quite easy to run and jog along the trails, bikes are only allowed along specific sections which have less pedestrian traffic. Bikes are allowed on the section from the Neponset River Greenway to Castle Island State Park. See the website and map for more details if you're looking to bike.
North End, Boston, Massachusetts
The historic and central area of Harvard University, the oldest in the nation, this large green space is intermixed with University buildings, trees, and the occasional statue. The area is generally open to the public and for tours, although at times the gates may close, so plan ahead.
Harvard Yard, Cambridge, Massachusetts
At the northern shore of North End in old Boston lies this community oriented park with a playground, ball fields, a public pool, and a basketball court. And with views looking out over the water, it's a nice spot to take a walk and relax, too.
529 Commercial Street, North End, Boston, Massachusetts
Moakley Park and Carson Beach
Located in South Boston, this large park sits on the shore and has a beach and a kids playground, along with ball fields, too. The Dorothy Curran Playground has a terrific nautical theme that can keep your kids entertained for hours (and it also has a spray area in the summer months). Or, stroll over to either Carson Beach, L Street Beach, or M Street Beach on the other side of the field for some fun in the sand. The South Boston Bark Park at the upper end of the park will keep the dogs happy, too. Tennis courts, basketball courts, ball fields, and more can be found here, too. And finally, this is a good spot to hop on the trail that runs along the waterfront for your walk, run, or bike ride.
1005 Columbia Rd, South Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery is a public park and also a cemetery, arboretum, and wildlife sanctuary. It's a National Historic Landmark and spans 72 acres with a number of different types of wildlife present including foxes, wild turkeys, and birds. This is a popular place for locals who want to escape the city. There are a number of events held here and for the best viewpoint, climb Washington Tower and you'll enjoy views over the city.
580 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA, 02138
New England Holocaust Memorial
The New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston is dedicated to the Jewish people who were killed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.
Congress Street, Dock Square, Boston, Massachusetts, 02102
North Point Park
Located on the river, this park has a playground, jogging and biking trails, a dock for boats and stand-up-paddleboards, and some nice lawn space for relaxing. It also has great views of the water and the skyline.
1 North Point Blvd, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Located about 5 miles from downtown Boston, Revere Beach is about 3 miles long. The beach is popular, in part, because it can be reached on the MBTA Blue Line. The beach hosts a number of events including a sand sculpting competition.
320 Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere, Massachusetts, 02151
Rose Kennedy Greenway
This stretch of interconnected parks running through Downtown Boston is a great spot for a walk, run, or even a bike ride - or for just exploring the city. Starting at the north in North End near the Haymarket T station, the connected parks and trails run south through the Waterfront and Downtown areas until they reach Chinatown Park. Along the way, visitors will find smaller parks, interactive fountains, a carousel, gardens, public restrooms, restaurants and cafes, and more. If you're wandering along the path, it's quite easy to make short detours to explore the various attractions and historical spots of Boston.
John F. Fitzgerald Expressway, Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110
Roxbury Heritage State Park
This history themed park is located in the oldest part of Roxbury. It's prominent feature is the Dillaway-Thomas House, which is a colonial building dating back to 1750. From the park visitors can enjoy views of the Boston skyline.
60 Malcolm X Boulevard, Roxbury Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02120
The Esplanade is a riverside park in the Back Bay neighborhood. It has a number of charming footbridges including Arthur Fiedler Footbridge. Within the park you'll also find the Hatch Shell
bandstand, which is where the Boston Pops Orchestra holds its annual Fourth of July celebration. There are also a number of movies and concerts in the park during the warmer months. The park is a nice place to explore with a number of nice running trails, or you could enjoy a walk beside the river. Also here is the Esplanade Playground
for kids which is quite large.
Back Bay, Boston, MA
Where to Stay in Boston