Rose Kennedy Greenway 
Walking Tour of Boston

From the North End to Chinatown - On Foot!

Greenway Walking Tour includes Wharf District Parks, shown in photo

Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway is made for walking - as you'll quickly discover on this self-guided Greenway walking tour.

The Greenway's ribbon-like park curves for slightly more than a mile from the historic North End neighborhood to Chinatown, hugging the waterfront to the east and downtown Boston on the west.

Close to the Greenway beckon many top attractions and fascinating detours

You can explore iconic Freedom Trail sites, the lively Faneuil Marketplace, the most historic sections of the old city, and of course the busy wharfs where you can hop on board a Boston Harbor cruise if you want a change of scenery. 

If you walk the length of the Greenway, you'll happen upon five distinct park areas.  Each celebrates the Boston neighborhoods that flank it and resonates with details about the city's history.

 

Greenway Walking Tour Map

This walking tour of the Greenway starts at the northern tip in the North End Parks, and concludes at the south end in the Chinatown Parks. 

Don't worry if you can't tell where each series of parks ends and the next begins, as one flows into another.  Only the Chinatown Parks mark their start and finish with distinctive gates.

Want to walk from south to north?  No problem - just do the Greenway walking tour in reverse order.

Here's a Greenway map to give you the big picture:


 

Hotels near Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway

Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston MA Intercontinental Hotel Boston  Harborside Inn, Boston MA Millennium Bostonian Hotel near Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway

 

North End Parks

The Greenway's North End Parks fill the area between New Sudbury Street past Hanover Street and almost all the way down to Christopher Columbus Park, reuniting the North End with Downtown Boston.

Photo of Rose Kennedy Greenway North End Park
Grassy lawn and steel pergolas in the North End Park

Flat railings line the walkways near Hanover Street.  Take a closer look at their flat top surfaces - you can barely see them in this photo - and you'll see a fascinating Boston history timeline with quotes from North End residents. 

A massive 200 foot long, 50 ton steel pergola lines the grassy expanses of the North End Parks, framing the mellow brick buildings of the North End neighborhood on one side and expansive flower-filled plantings along the city side. 

Numerous benches, tables, and places to sit echo the many cafes and restaurants of the North End. 

When the weather is good, you'll see kids running and playing in the wide open spaces, parents with babies in strollers, and groups of friends enjoying the sun.

Photo of places to sit along Boston's Greenway
Seating in the North End Parks along the Greenway

Design elements feature lots of granite, echoing the favorite North End paving stone.  Some of the granite paving has a kind of wavy pattern - not so great if you're trying to walk on it, but it's supposed to evoke the nearby North End waterfront. 

Rose Kennedy Greenway - North End Park

Tourists stroll across the Greenway as they follow the Freedom Trail between Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the North End sites.

If you want to make a small detour for food, cross over to the North End along Hanover Street and pop into one of the nearby shops for a loaf of freshly baked bread, cheese, and olives for an impromptu picnic. 

Return to Top - Greenway Walking Tour

 

Wharf District Park

Continue walking south along the Rose Kennedy Greenway past Christopher Columbus Park, and you will be in the Wharf District Park along Boston's Downtown Waterfront.  

The most striking feature is Rings Fountain, a splashing pool for kids by day and the centerpiece of a light show at night.

Photo of Ring Fountain at Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston

A unique carousel designed for the Greenway features local sea creatures and animals that go up and down, along with a few stationary seats and benches.  Quite honestly, it's really fantastic - be sure to go for a ride!  Open seasonally, the carousel delights young and old alike.

Photo of Ring Fountain at Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston
Don't pass up your chance for a carousel ride on the Greenway!

Throughout the Wharf Park section of the Greenway, you'll see plenty of design motifs representing Boston's maritime history, rocky coastline, and even ships bringing immigrants. 

Photo of Wharf District Garden in Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston

Best of all, you'll also find plenty of pleasant places to sit and for your kids to play in the Greenway's open spaces.

 

Fort Point Channel Parks

The Fort Point Channel Parks include some of the Greenway's most lushly planted flower beds, making a gorgeous floral display from spring through late fall.  These gardens are among the most popular Greenway Walking Tour destinations.

Fort Point Channel is the body of water running along this section of the Greenway - it's literally a channel.  On the other side is the Fort Point neighborhood, known for the large number of artists who live and work there.

Fort Point is also home to the Boston Children's Museum, which you can easily reach with just a small detour from the Greenway.

Photo of Fort Channel Parks - Rose Kennedy Greenway
Peonies in full bloom in early June in this Fort Point Channel Garden

In keeping with the Fort Point neighborhood's many artist galleries and studios, these parks contain a variety of permanent and temporary sculpture displays, along with plenty of seating for viewing.  If seeing the sculptures in the park make you want to see more, pop over to the Fort Point Open Studios event held during October each year.

Photo of sculpture and seating on the Rose Kennedy Greenway
These giant squash in this Fort Point Channel garden are actually sculptures

 

Dewey Square Parks

Continuing south along the Greenway, you'll reach the Dewey Square area where the Greenway intersects with Summer Street, near South Station. 

Lush plantings and perfect picnic spots define the Dewey Square area of Boston's Greenway
Lush plantings and perfect picnic spots define the Dewey Square area of Boston's Greenway

Hardy perennials and other plantings provide a pleasant oasis in an urban landscape.  

A seasonal farmers' market takes place twice a week on the plaza in the Dewey Square area across from South Station.

To the east, across the channel, is the trendy South Boston Waterfront neighborhood - if you're hungry, head over and try one of the many great restaurants.

Photo of lush flowers in the Greenway's Dewey Square area
Lush plantings in the Greenway's Dewey Square area

 

Chinatown Park

Continue past Dewey Square and South Station, and you'll reach the southern anchor of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the Chinatown Parks, united thematically by Chinese and other Asian motifs and plant choices.

Photo of gateway to Chinatown Parks on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston
Greenway Walking Tour:  Entrance to the Chinatown Parks

As you walk through the huge red gate to the first garden, the straight path develops curves.   Continue strolling along the now-winding path, and you’ll forget that you’re in the middle of Boston. 

Turn another corner as the path bends, and you’ll first hear the sound of water—and then you'll see the waterfall running into a pool and then a stream along your path. 

Boston Chinatown section of the Rose Kennedy Greenway

In contrast to all of this undulating green, large red steel frames evoke bamboo scaffolding seen everywhere in China while echoing both the linear designs of adjacent buildings as well as the still-distant Chinatown Gate at Essex Street. 

Rhodendrons, red steel frames, and bamboo in Chinatown section of Greenway
Rhododendrons blooming in Chinatown section of Greenway, with red steel frames
and bamboo in the background

Tall ornamental grasses wave gently in the breeze, while bamboo rustles.  If you visit in late May or early June, you can enjoy the blooms of peonies and rhododendrons, plants ubiquitous in both China’s and Boston’s landscapes. 

Other elements such as a structure echoing the shape of the sail on a Chinese boat symbolize the passage of the Chinese to Boston.

Places to sit in the Greenway's Chinatown section in Boston
Seating in the Greenway's Chinatown section
(what my photo doesn't show are all the many other tables with green umbrellas)

Ahead, the path widens into a plaza facing the Chinatown Gate.

You'll pass plenty of benches where you can sit quietly and read a book.

Gate to Boston's Chinatown, at the south end of the Greenway
Gate to Boston's Chinatown, at the south end of the Greenway

Walk through the gate and you're in Chinatown, where you'll find plenty of wonderful restaurants where you can go for a delicious meal or dim sum.

Did you know . . .

 . . . the Greenway, named in honor of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, beloved matriarch of the Boston family that produced the late President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Senator Edward Kennedy, opened in late 2007. 

It covers the swath of land where the Central Artery, an ugly elevated highway that slashed through the central core of Boston, once dominated the landscape.  Boston's "Big Dig" project sank the highway below ground and now, trees, parks, paths, and lushly flowering plants transform the space.

More about the Rose Kennedy Greenway


 

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More places to visit near the Greenway

Historic Downtown Boston Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston Durgin Park in Boston

 

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