This Boston Memorial Day tour takes you to the 3 best areas in the city to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, participate in the fun events going on this weekend, and perhaps most important, pay tribute to those who gave their lives to defend our country.
Do this tour in 1 day - or spread it over the 3-day Memorial Day weekend.
The 3 Boston areas where you'll find the liveliest Memorial Day weekend activities include: - Boston Common and the Public Garden
- Fenway Park
- Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the Waterfront
Use this Memorial Day itinerary to explore and enjoy all three - or just one or two.
You'll find plenty of family-friendly activities along the way.
For fullest enjoyment, put on sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes, and bring a water bottle, frisbee, Red Sox tickets, and of course, your camera. (Check out BDG's tips for the best places to get Sox tickets ahead of time or on the day of the game.)
I took most of the photos on this page last year on Memorial Day Weekend (except for Fenway photos taken in April) while enjoying the sunshine, bright blue sky, and beginning of summer in Boston.
Our Memorial Day itinerary starts at Boston Common, which along with the Public Garden across Charles Street forms the heart of the city.
On the Common, a display of 30,000 American flags dominates the landscape. This Garden of Flags - put in place by Massachusetts Military Heroes honors the memory of the Massachusetts service members who have given their lives to defend the United States and our freedom.
Both the Common and Public Garden attract large numbers of people who visit the Garden of Flags, take their children to the playground or carousel, lie on the grass and soak up the sun, and stroll around and admire the flowers. Listen to the musicians scattered throughout both spaces, go for a Swan Boat ride, and relax!
Boston Common and Public Garden photos, from left to right:
1) Garden of Flags on Boston Common - 20,000 flags put in place by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund for Memorial Day weekend to honor our local men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan
2) The Boston Common Carousel
3) Tadpole Playground on Boston Common
4) Reproduction of ancient fish weir on Boston Common, with frisbee game in the background
5) Roses in full bloom in the Boston Public Garden
6) Swan Boat on the Lagoon in the Boston Public Garden
You can easily walk from Boston Common to Fenway Park - just head down Beacon Street (runs along the north side of the Common and Public Garden) for about a mile and a half until you get to Brookline Ave, turn left, and follow the crowds for 2 very short blocks to Fenway Park.
Or take the T (Boston's subway) to Kenmore Square - Brookline Ave is across from the station.
When you see the size of the crowds surging toward Fenway Park, you'll think that everyone in Boston is here. On warm sunny days of the type that we often get on Memorial Day weekend, Fenway is simply a perfect place to be, and the quintessential Boston experience.
Fenway Park and Red Sox photos, from left to right:
1) Crowds walking down Lansdowne Street to Fenway Park
2) Fenway Park, with the Red Sox playing the Tampa Bay Rays
3) For this game played on April 12, 2012, all players on both teams wore "42" jerseys to honor Jackie Robinson, 6-time All Star legend and Baseball Hall of Fame member who was the first black player to break Major League Baseball's 50+ year color barrier, when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947
4) Adrian Gonzalez on the mound, with Kevin Youkilis to the left
5) Kevin Youkilis tossing the ball
6) High fives after winning this game
The biggest crowds of Boston Memorial Day visitors cluster around Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the Downtown Waterfront, where numerous activities keep everyone busy - even if you just lie on the grass and bask in the warmth of the sun.
So the third part of this Boston Memorial Day itinerary means heading to this oldest part of the city - which also feels new and modern after all of the post-Big Dig improvements.
Getting here from Boston Common is easy. Walk over to the Massachusetts State House (you can't miss the golden dome!) on Beacon Street, and walk down Beacon Street toward the waterfront (i.e., away from the Common). Beacon Street morphs into School Street. Turn left on Washington Street, walk 2 blocks, and turn right on State Street. Walk another block, and turn left on Congress Street. One more block, and you'll see Faneuil Hall on your right.
From Boston Common, the distance to the waterfront is about 1 mile - so slightly less to Faneuil Marketplace. The distance feels even shorter when you're walking because there's lots to see along the way.
To get to the water from Faneuil Market, simply walk across the Greenway toward the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, and you're there.
Faneuil Marketplace and Boston waterfront photos, from left to right:
1) Quincy Market in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, just one of many spots throughout the area where street performers entertain crowds
2) Faneuil Hall Marketplace gateway to the Rose Kennedy Greenway and waterfront; in addition to the regular stores, pushcarts filled with specialty items like the one in the bottom right of the photo add to the shopping opportunities
3) Just across the Greenway, between the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel and the waterfront is Christopher Columbus Park, gateway to the North End, where you'll find plenty of grassy spots perfect for enjoying the great summer weather
4) Along the waterfront in Christopher Columbus park, you can often hear talented street musicians giving concerts; a local favorite is Brazilian guitarist Tupahn (Ronaldo Tupahn Carneiro Da Silva), who plays here a lot during the summer and is shown in the photo; if you're lucky enough to get to hear him, leave a nice tip or hand over a few more dollars to get one of his CDs - it could be your best Boston souvenir, a lasting memory of your wonderful Memorial Day weekend in Boston
5) In a shady corner of Christopher Columbus Park close to the water is the circular granite Massachusetts Beirut Memorial, dedicated to the 9 Massachusetts Marines who lost their lives in Lebanon on October 23, 1983 - another reminder of what Memorial Day is really about
6) Boston waterfront near the New England Aquarium - another popular Memorial Day Weekend destination
Victory Gardens and Kelleher Rose Garden - Stunningly beautiful during May and June
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