Best Boston Parks for Parks and Recreation Month

A pond in the public garden with a large Swan Boat floating in the water. In the background are city buildings and trees
Swan Boat in the Public Garden, Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

July is National Parks and Recreation Month! Located in the heart of Boston, Emerson is walking distance from many great parks and outdoor activities. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite Boston parks and summer programs!

The Boston Common and Public Garden

At the center of downtown life is the Boston Common, a lovely greenspace. As the nation’s first public park, the Commons has plenty of open grass for a picnic, multiple tennis courts, and even a wading pool for kids called the Frog Pond

Just across the street from the Commons lies the Public Garden. One of the most iconic parts of the Public Garden is the Make Way for Ducklings statue, built to commemorate the classic children’s book by Robert McCloskey set in the Garden. Also in the Public Garden are ponds with live swans and manicured flower beds, perfect for an afternoon stroll. 

Sculpture in the Public Garden depicting the mother duck and eight ducklings from Robert McCloskey's "Make Way for Ducklings" book
Make Way for Ducklings statue, Photo by David Trinks on Unsplash

Dog Parks

Another great way to celebrate Parks and Recreation Month is to take your furry friend to one of Boston’s dog parks. Downtown offers Peters Park, home to a fenced dog run where you can let your dog off leash. 

In Southie, you can find the South Boston Bark Park. The Bark Park is located right next to Carson Beach, where you’ll get a lovely view of the ocean. 

If you’re in East Boston, stop by Bremen Street Park, a lovely greenspace with a fenced dog run. No matter what part of the city you frequent, Boston has a convenient dog park tucked away nearby.

Boston Esplanade, Photo by Vanessa Sezini on Unsplash

Walk the Esplanade

Looking for a break from the bustle of the city? Watch the sailboats in the Charles River as you stroll down the Boston Esplanade. An excellent place for a jog or meditative walk, the Esplanade runs for three miles along the river from the Boston University bridge to the Museum of Science. 

In addition to a great walking path, the Esplanade offers a plethora of activities for the summer. If you’re looking to build a new hobby, you might take boating lessons at Community Boating or rent a kayak at the Boston University Sailing Pavilion. The Esplanade also offers an exercise court and multiple fields where you can picnic or play a pick-up game with friends. Regardless of what outdoor activities you’re looking for, the Boston Esplanade is a great place to get some fresh air. 

Rose Kennedy Greenway

Just a short walk from Emerson’s campus, the Rose Kennedy Greenway is another one of many lovely Boston parks. Running from the North End to Chinatown, the Greenway spans 1.5 miles through the heart of the city. Full of benches, comfortable chairs, and even some porch swings, the park is a great place to sit and relax. Plus, they have free wifi along the Greenway, so you can get some work done in the great outdoors. The Greenway also offers beer gardens, splash fountains, a carousel, and plenty of food trucks for a fun summer day with friends. Or, if you’re looking for something to do in the evenings, check out the Greenway’s calendar for fun events. 

The Emerald Necklace

With over 1,000 acres of beautiful greenspace, the Emerald Necklace is a series of parks in the greater Boston area. The Emerald Necklace is a lovely way to get to know Boston, with parks in Back Bay, Brookline, Jamaica Plains, and Dorchester. You can sign up for walking or biking tours, or just hike through one of the breathtaking parks at your own pace. 

Arnold Arboretum

Part of the Emerald Necklace, Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum is one of the highlights of the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. The nation’s first arboretum, the Arnold Arboretum is free and open to the public. With 281 acres of land, the arboretum is home to some of the most diverse plant life in the country. 

If you’re not sure where to start in this vast park, you can always try one of the arboretum’s self-guided tours. The Introductory Tour is a half-mile introduction to the arboretum, its history, and its guiding mission. You could also complete the Explorers Garden Tour, which will highlight the arboretum’s history of collecting plants from around the world. Or, just meander through the park’s many paths and see where you end up!

A dirt path surrounded by trees and greenery in the Arnold Arboretum
A path in the Arnold Arboretum, Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

Located in the heart of Boston, Emerson is near all these parks and more. Be sure to leave a comment below to let us know what your favorite Boston parks are! For more information about the parks of Boston, be sure to check out the Parks and Recreation website.

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Olivia is a second-year student in Emerson's Communication Disorders MS program. Originally from Ohio, she is loving Emerson and city life. When she's not writing for the Grad Life blog, she loves to read, bake, and crochet.

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