Tucked away on the East Coast, Boston is known for many things; its Victorian-style buildings, Revolutionary-era history and rich culture are just a few of its unforgettable offerings. What most people notice when they visit, though, is the abundance of parks scattered across the city. From tree-lined boulevards to sprawling, verdant spaces, parks in Boston are all part of the aptly named Emerald Park System and are sure to add a magical element to any Boston city break.
Whether you’re taking a break from the bustle of city life or exploring history along each grassy path, the best parks in Boston can transport you to the warm and inviting soul of the city in just a few moments. With the modern skyline and classic brownstones offering a unique backdrop to these beautiful parks, it’s easy to see why Boston is so popular among visitors and locals alike. With Old Town Trolley Boston stopping near some of these stunning park locations, you’ll be able to tick each of these Boston parks off your list in as little or as much time as you please.
There’s no better way to kick off your tour of the best parks in Boston than at the Public Garden. Located right in the heart of the city, it is the first-ever public botanical garden in the United States — and easily one of the most beautiful. Established in 1837, it was created purely with beauty in mind. With pathways designed for ambling along and Victorian-inspired flower beds showcasing an array of local and exotic plants, it’s a vibrant spot that comes to life in spring. Interspersed between the color, you’ll find fountains, monuments and Swan Boats, making this both one of many Boston parks perfect for a romantic day out and one of the stops on any Old Town Trolley Boston tour.
Parks in Boston are known for their prime locations, and the Rose Kennedy Fitzgerald Greenway is no exception. Located across several parts of Downtown Boston, it stretches from Chinatown through the North End and was created as part of the city’s famous Big Dig project. Covering over a mile, or 17 acres, of parkland, you’ll find plazas, pristine gardens, and even food trucks filling up this unique city space. Like many Boston parks, it comes into its own during the summer season and is widely considered to be one of the best parks in Boston. Head here for an afternoon to have an urban adventure or take a break from the buzzing streets of the city whenever you need.
Resting on the banks of the Charles River, you won’t just find the now glittery waterfront of Back Bay. Stretching for three miles, you’ll find the Esplanade hard to miss with its broccoli trees and picturesque riverside spots. Boasting one of the best views in the city, it’s one of the Boston parks that holds a special place in many visitors’ hearts. Another romantic location, there’s never a bad time to visit the Esplanade, although springtime is a great time to see the cherry blossoms flowering along the riverbank. Fall is also a beautiful time to come, as this is when the leaves turn a vibrant rainbow of oranges, yellows and reds. Whenever you plan your trip, Old Town Trolley Boston will transport you to this magical hotspot in the most scenic of ways.
Not all of the best parks in Boston are located within the city limits. A mere 4-mile drive west, you’ll find Mount Auburn Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark and America’s first landscaped cemetery. It’s a more thoughtful place for an afternoon stroll than your usual park. When you need a break from Boston’s buzz, visit to take in some of the state’s history in a lush, green setting. As you wind down the paths, you’ll find the graves of many notable Boston Brahmins. You might also stop and catch sight of some of the local birdlife; the cemetery is known among locals as being a great place for birdwatching.
Of all the parks in Boston, Harvard University is home to one of the best. Free to the public, it’s the oldest public arboretum in the United States and covers a sprawling 281 acres. What makes Arnold Arboretum so special is that it’s coined as a museum of trees. As a botanical research garden, it is an ideal spot to learn all about plants on an educational day out. In fact, displays, art shows, tours and interactive events mean families of all ages will love coming to see what the park has to offer. Accessible from the Jamaica Plain and Roslindale neighborhoods, it’s easily accessible from Boston. You can even grab a bite to eat at the eco-friendly restaurants on-site, which serve an array of delicious local and organic dishes.
Parks in Boston all have one thing in common: excellent city views — and Christopher Columbus Park is no exception. Resting on the waterfront, you’ll easily find it at the top of the North End thanks to one very unique feature: the 260-foot long trellis. With flowers woven through in spring, and special light displays helping it light up over the holiday season, it’s a beautiful sight to see any time of the year. Though a welcome burst of greenery in the heart of the city, of all Boston parks, this one is known more for its ambiance. Movies are often shown in summer, and there are plenty of activities for children to enjoy. Visit after dark in the cooler months to experience the park in a whole new way.
The best parks in Boston come in small packages. At least, they do when it comes to Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Situated in the middle of the Back Bay neighborhood, this Parisian-inspired boulevard makes for a stunning quick walk at any time of the year. Its size makes it an easy must-see sight, and we recommend making time to sit on one of the many benches to take in the beauty of your surroundings. Catch blooming trees in spring and summer, rich leaf color in fall and sparkling tree lights in winter — no matter when you go, it’s surely one of the most romantic parks in Boston.
Not all of the parks in Boston are lush and green — and that’s certainly not a bad thing with Castle Island Park. Reachable in just 15 minutes from Boston, it looks out over Dorchester Bay for some unbeatable seaside views. There is far more to do here, though. As the perfect family day out, there is a host of family-friendly activities to enjoy, from letting loose at the playground to swimming at Castle Island beach. History buffs will also love taking in the historic sights as they loop around the Harborwalk, while tourists and locals alike can take in the calming ocean views. In summer, sample Sully’s fried clams and ice cream for the ultimate Castle Island experience.
The best parks in Boston aren’t always what you’d expect. Harking back to before the city’s Revolutionary history, all the way to the 17th century, Fort Independence earmarks a crucial part of not just Boston’s history, but the country’s. Located on Castle Island, the fort has been rebuilt numerous times and now stands as an impressive structure overlooking the peninsula. Take a stroll around the green to see it up close and personal, where you can also catch the best views of the sea in all of Castle Island. If you visit in warmer months, you can even take part in one of the many free tours and learn all about this historical landmark.
When people think of parks in Boston, the image usually conjured up is of Back Bay Fens. The poster child for breathtaking fall leaf color, pictures of the trees here have graced many a travel blog. Affectionately known by locals as The Fens, it’s one of the few urban wilds in a major city in the United States. This means it’s existed for longer than much of Boston has, lending it a knowing and ancient air that makes it a truly magical park to visit. Though there are some picturesque paths to explore, you’ll also see landscaped gardens, statues and historical monuments scattered throughout the grounds. It’s also one of the best parks in Boston to catch a view of the cityscape from! Like many Boston parks, The Fens are great to visit all year round, but watching the sunset go down in fall is a highlight for many visitors and locals alike.
Saving one of the best parks in Boston until last, Boston Common is unlike any other of the Boston parks. The oldest city park in the whole of the United States, it holds a deep and winding history that dates back to 1634. While it is a beautiful place to come for a green walk amid the daily grind, it’s a haven for history buffs; it has often been called living history, having been a key stomping ground for various historical figures. Marking the southern end of the Freedom Trail, Boston Common is easily accessible through Beacon Hill and Old Town Trolley Boston. As a home to many significant statues and the Central Burying Ground, there is so much to see here. Thanks to its importance, it is one of the parks in Boston we recommend exploring over a whole day before heading out to explore the rest of the city by night.