Running Boston's Charles River Loop: Where Are the Water Fountains?
Q & A: Should I Bring My Own Water?
I would like to go for a run around the Charles River when I am in Boston for business, and am wondering if there are water fountains in the area or do I need to plan on carrying water along?
I am planning on running from the Science Museum to Arsenal Street.
Palo Alto, California
No need to bring your own water!
The Charles River Loop, as this popular route along the Boston and Cambridge sides of the river's bank is called locally, is a wonderful place to run. You'll also see lots of cyclists, joggers, and walkers, occasional skaters, and in winter, a few cross country skiers.
The distance from the Museum of Science in Boston to Arsenal Street in Watertown and back is about 12 miles, assuming you run on one side of the river going and the other side coming back. Thanks to the numerous bridges along the way, you can easily do a shorter loop if you want.
How Many Water Fountains are Along the Charles River Loop?
You will find about a dozen water fountains available for the public scattered along both sides of the river. So, since this is a 12-mile loop, that sounds like one fountain per mile - but with only four on the Cambridge side, the distribution is lopsided.
I'm saying "about a dozen" because you can't necessarily count on all of them being operational at any one time, especially during the winter months. Although drinking fountains are techically available in a few more places such as the Museum of Science and a couple of the boathouses, they're not readily accessible to anyone running, biking, or walking along the Charles River - so no point in counting on them.
The highest single concentration of water fountains is along the Boston Esplanade stretch near the Hatch Shell where you can find four located fairly close to each other - probably for the convenience of concert goers at the Hatch Shell and families at the playgrounds.
Other parts of the loop do not have a ready water supply, so you'll probably want to bring a bottle - especially if you're running on a hot day.
Map Showing Drinking Fountains Along the Charles River Loop
This map shows locations of the drinking fountains along the Charles River Loop:
Locations of Water Fountains along the Charles River Loop
If you start your run near at the Museum of Science (close to where you see the "B" on the map and run on the Boston side first, you'll pass water fountains in these locations:
Lederman Park - Look for the fountain near the baseball field
Community Boating Boathouse - Near the running path
Hatch Shell - On the path between the Hatch Shell and the Lagoon
Hatch Shell vicinity - Next to the Snack Bar
Children's Playground - On the other side of the Fiedler Footbridge - not far from the Snack Bar and the Hatch Shell - look for the bright blue tube slide nearby (see above photo)
Esplanade - Close to the public restrooms and several statues
Boston University vicinity - Next to the path closest to Storrow Drive
Artesani Playground - Not far from the wading pool
Cambridge Boating Club, on the Cambridge side of the Charles River - Look for the fountain in front of the clubhouse
Magazine Beach, Cambridge - Look for it near the pedestrian footbridge, near the soccer field
Boston University DeWolfe Boathouse, also on the Cambridge side - In front of the boathouse
MIT Sailing Pavilion - Next to the running path (see top photo)
Obviously, if you run on the Cambridge side first, just start at the bottom of the list and go up.
As you can see, the longest stretches with no water fountains are between the MIT Sailing Pavilion and BU Boathouse, Magazine Beach and the Cambridge Boat Club, and Artisani Playground and the BU vicinity fountain.
Other Beverage Options along the Charles River Loop
Right before you reach Magazine Beach on the Cambridge side, you'll see a small shopping center with a Trader Joe's and a Starbucks in case you want to stop for something other than water.
Also, a couple of seasonal beer gardens pop up most years along the Esplanade on the Boston side and serve a variety of cold beverages - perhaps better as a reward after your run rather than during it!
Hope this helps. Enjoy your run!
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