The Best Outdoor Activities in Boston

Things to Do in Boston That Will Get You Outside

Boston has some of the best outdoor spaces of any city in the country. Boston Common, The Esplanade, the Harborwalk, and the Kennedy Greenway are all excellent spots to hang out, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.
Boston Common
Boston Common
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
Copley Square
Copley Square
One of the most popular spots in Boston, Copley Square is flanked on one side by the gorgeous Trinity Church which is reflected in the neighboring John Hancock Tower, and on another by the luxurious Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Also in the area visitors can find the Boston Public Library and the Old South Church.
Boylston & Dartmouth, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
Interested in more travel advice for Boston? Check out The Best Neighborhoods For Shopping in Boston and The Best Parks in Boston.
Boston Public Garden
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
Harvard Yard
Harvard Yard
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
Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park
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
Freedom Trail
Freedom Trail
Boston's famous Freedom Trail is a three mile long route that goes by 16 of the city's most notable historic sites. The trail is marked by red bricks in the sidewalk and there are footprints through the street crossings. There are a number of brochures available in different places, including the city's visitor center (found in Boston Common), that will tell you about the history along the trail. Notable sites along the route include the Old Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel Burying Ground, Old South Meeting House, and the Old State House. The route begins in Boston Common and ends across the bridge in Charlestown at the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument.
Boston, MA
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
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
Planning a trip to Boston? You might also be interested in Historic Sites and Landmarks in Boston and The Best Street Art in Boston.
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
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
Revere Beach
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
Black Heritage Trail
The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6 mile walking trail through Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood that showcases a variety of historical sites focused on the lives of Black Americans from the time periods around the American Civil War. During this time in history, Black Americans in this area of Boston fought to abolish slavery and gain the same freedoms and rights as other Americans. Part of the trail centers on the Museum of African American History while other locations are historic residences, schools, and meeting houses.
Beacon Hill, 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
Spectacle Island
Spectacle Island is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. It's just 20 minutes by ferry from downtown Boston and it offers a sandy oasis that's the perfect day trip from May through Columbus Day. There are lifeguards available during the summer months and a visitor center with a few exhibits. Many locals consider this to be one of the best beaches in the area. It also offers nice views of the city skyline when the weather is clear. For runners and walkers, there's a five mile loop that goes around the island.
Boston, MA
Planning a trip to Boston? You might also be interested in A Nature Lover's Guide to Boston and Best Places To Enjoy A Picnic In Boston.
Paul Revere Mall
Also known as the Boston Prado, Paul Revere Mall features a large statue of, you guessed it, Paul Revere. Also along this stretch of pedestrian-only cobblestones are plaques along the walls that feature other notable and important people from Boston's and America's history such as Benjamin Franklin. The plaza runs between Old North Church and St. Stephen's Church.
North End, 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
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
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
Arnold Arboretum
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
Harborwalk
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
Planning a trip to Boston? You might also be interested in The Best Gardens in Boston and The Best Parks in Boston.
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
The Esplanade
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
Constitution Beach
Constitution Beach is a man-made beach in the HarborView part of East Boston. It has a swimming area, bathrooms, and a snack stand. There's also a large playground that's great for the kids as well as tennis courts. It's fun to watch the planes fly overhead from Logan Airport, or look for ships sailing by in the Boston Harbor.
0 Barnes Ave, East Boston, Boston, MA, 02128
Long Wharf
Long Wharf, home of the New England Aquarium and a variety of shops and restaurants, is located just to the east of Downtown and North End. In addition to the aquarium, visitors can find the Marriott hotel, Christopher Columbus park, whale watching cruises, trolley tours, and more. This is also a good spot to start your journey along either the Harborwalk along the water or the Rose Kennedy Greenway if you want to explore North End or go down to Chinatown. To get here, take the T to the "Aquarium" station.
296 State Street, Waterfront, 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
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 has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: The Best Places To People Watch In Boston and The Best Places to Run in Boston.
Fan Pier
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
Boston City Hall Plaza
Located adjacent to City Hall, this large, open space was opened in 1962 as part of the new building's inauguration. Boston's locals frequently gather here for some of the city's biggest events and festivals, including the Boston GreenFest, Boston Techjam, Puerto Rican Festival of Massachusetts and Boston Cycling Celebration. It was here that the Boston Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins paraded to their respective championship parades for nearly 20 years also.
1 City Hall Square, Boston, Massachusetts
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