Boston's Public Parks

Boston's Most Famous Parks

10 Spectacular Parks for You to Visit

Want to enjoy gorgeous spring flowers or colorful fall foliage, throw a frisbee or kick a soccer ball around a grassy field, or experience nature while strolling along winding paths and countless statues and monuments?  Or maybe just soak up some sun while sitting on a bench overlooking the water?

Boston's parks give you plenty of space to do that - and lots more.  Our parks cover about 20% of the city - and that's just the ones on land. 

As you no doubt know, Boston is a waterfront city. 

So along with all the lush green spaces within the city itself, there are even larger "blue spaces" for you to explore. 

For example, you might picnic on one of the islands in the marine recreational area in Boston Harbor.  All you have to do is hop on a ferry from a downtown wharf, and you'll be setting foot on the closest island in only about 14 minutes.


Or for a truly memorable experience that many Boston visitors say is the highpoint of their trip, cruise out to a truly special marine sanctuary just beyond the Harbor and watch whales, dolphins, sea birds - it's a whole different world.  Best of all, you can hop on a boat

This article highlights 10 of Boston's most spectacular parks on land and water for you to explore, whether you live in the area or are just visiting.  In addition to giving you beautiful spots to enjoy nature, they also include some popular attractionscarousels, Make Way for Ducklings and other statues, seasonal beer gardens, occasional concerts and movies, festivals, tours, and cruises.

And once you get your fill of Boston's most famous parks (which will probably take quite awhile), there's lots more to discover outdoors:  Boston also has lots of "secret" gardens and parks and city beaches - undiscovered by most visitors and little-known even to many locals, but well worth exploring.

Top Photo:  Golden tulips blooming in Boston's Public Garden in early May

Boston's Most Famous Parks on Land & Water

1.  Boston Common

Relaxing on Boston Common in June
Relaxing on Boston Common in June - Massachusetts State House in background

Not only is Boston Common the country's oldest park, but it's the heart and pulse of the city - a true "people's park," as it's sometimes called.

The Common is packed with attractions, entertainment, and events - plus plenty of benches where you can sit and relax, grassy areas for picnics or naps, and even a dog park.  Here are highlights of what to do and see on the Common:

2.  The Public Garden

Fall color near the suspension bridge over the lagoon in Boston's Public Garden
Fall color near the suspension bridge over the lagoon in Boston's Public Garden

Just across Charles Street from Boston Common is the Victorian-era Public Garden, known for its formal plantings that change with the seasons, a picturesque lagoon, and perhaps the city's top children's attraction. 

Top attractions include:

More about Boston's Public Garden

3.  Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Whales breaching in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Whales breaching in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Unlike most other Boston parks, the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is blue, not green. 

Most of it will be invisible to you but whale watching cruises provide the best way to explore this special park and glimpse the fascinating marine life. 

Many Boston visitors consider these whale watching cruises out to Stellwagen Bank to be the highlight of their trip. 

More about whale watching cruises departing from Boston

4.  Rose Kennedy Greenway

Picnic tables and splash fountains on Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway
Picnic tables and splash fountains on Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway

The Rose Kennedy Greenway stretches like a ribbon from the North End down to Chinatown, punctuated by beautiful gardens and splash fountains, entertainment areas, revolving art displays, a carousel and grassy lawns for picnics and frisbee, food trucks and farmers markets, and even a seasonal beer garden. 

Find out more:

More Ways to Explore Boston

You'll see or visit parks on some of these tours:

5.  Fenway Park

Fenway Park
Fenway Park

OK, Fenway Park is not a typical "park" - but ever since it opened in 1912 as home field for the Red Sox, it's been the city's most popular sports park and is well worth visiting! 

Three fun ways to experience Fenway Park:

More about Fenway Park

6.  The Esplanade

Boston's Esplanade in November
Boston's Esplanade in November

Boston's Esplanade stretches along the Charles River, offering spectacular views and plenty of recreation. 

This is where you can watch the popular Free Friday Flicks film series throughout the summer, the world-famous Boston Pops July 4th concerts and fireworks, and concerts throughout the summer at the Hatch Shell.

But the Esplanade is also a favorite place to walk, run, ride your bike, picnic, and even go sailing and kayaking.

Find out more about what to enjoy on the Esplanade & how to get there on foot

Check our events calendars for June, July, and August for concert dates and other activities

7.  Boston Harbor Islands

Boston Harbor Islands at sunset
Boston Harbor Islands at sunset

You can reach the closest of the Boston Harbor Islands in just 15 minutes - hop on a ferry departing from downtown, and you'll be whisked to Boston's largest park. 

Wade in tidal pools, go for a swim or a hike, explore historic Fort Warren, enjoy skyline views of Boston, go fishing.  Or just read a book and listen to the birds sing. 

More about the Harbor Islands

8.  Christopher Columbus Park

Picnic in Christopher Columbus Park overlooking Boston Harbor
Picnic in Christopher Columbus Park overlooking Boston Harbor

A huge vine-covered arbor anchors this gateway to Boston's North End but that's just the beginning of what's special about this park. 

Located next to the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel overlooking Boston Harbor, the park features a beautiful fountain, the Rose Kennedy Rose Garden, the Massachusetts Beirut War Memorial, and some of Boston's best free concerts on the waterfront.  Kids love the small playground next to the Beirut Memorial.

9.  Harborwalk

Giant sculptures along Harborwalk near the InterContinental Hotel
Giant sculptures along Harborwalk near the InterContinental Hotel

Harborwalk winds along the waterfront from Charlestown to South Boston, opening up a panorama of harbor views. 

Along the way, you'll find pocket gardens, benches for sitting, massive sculptures, the site of the Boston Tea Party, top attractions such as the New England Aquarium, and wharfs where you can take a Harbor cruise.

10.  Copley Square

Reflecting pool in Copley Square near Trinity Church and the Hancock Tower
Reflecting pool in Copley Square near Trinity Church and the Hancock Tower

Copley Square, located at the heart of the Back Bay neighborhood, is anchored on one side by Trinity Church and the Hancock Tower, and on the other by the art-filled Boston Public Library.  The luxurious Copley Plaza Hotel overlooks the square from the south, and the Boston Marathon Finish Line crosses Boylston Street on the north.

The small plaza offers you a little of everything - a reflecting pool for cooling your feet on steamy summer days, a seasonal farmer's market, plenty of places to sit, and occasional concerts and festivals. 

More Parks to Explore:  Boston's "Insider Secret" Parks

Ramler Park - a hidden oasis just a few blocks from Fenway Park
Ramler Park - a hidden oasis just a few blocks from Fenway Park

From the famous Fenway Victory Gardens to small pocket gardens known only to locals, Boston is filled with "secret" parks and gardens just waiting for you to discover. 

You won't find most, if any of them mentioned in travel guides - but we'll tell you where to find them and why you'll enjoy a visit.

Find Boston's secret parks and gardens

How to Save on Boston Hotels

Check out all our tips on how to find discounts, deals, and promo codes for Boston hotels.  Whether you're looking for bargain accommodations or want to pay less for luxury, we'll show you How to Save on Hotels in Boston. 

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