Need to add some quality time in nature to your life? Boston makes it easy with an abundance of options, whether you want to stroll within steps of downtown, sit on the edge of the water, stop and smell the flowers, or hike through the wilderness.
The Boston Common is America’s oldest park and has been a gathering place for Colonial militia to present day political rallies. With a gazebo, a fountain, baseball fields, and the Frog Pond – where you can ice skate in the winter – it provides a common ground for everyone in Boston to play.
Just across Charles Street from the Common is the Boston Public Garden which has a decidedly different vibe. Created 200 years after the Common as the first botanical garden in the US, the Public Garden places an emphasis on flowers in Victorian style. It is home to a lagoon where you can lounge on the banks while getting your daily dose of nature and watching the Swan Boats and actual swans glide by.
Rose Kennedy Greenway
Then end result of the 25-year “Big Dig” construction project, Rose Kennedy Greenway is a park system that stretches a mile and a half from Chinatown to the North End above Interstate 93.
The Greenway is filled with plants, from magnolias to milkweed, birches to bamboo. Many different soothing fountains are interspersed among the foliage, including a labyrinth and a stream. It’s also the perfect place for a lunch break downtown, so get your cannoli, dumplings or food truck fare to go and eat al fresco.
Charles River Esplanade
When a little water therapy is what you need, spend some time along the banks of the Charles River on the Esplanade.
Stretching 3 miles from the Museum of Science to the BU Bridge, the Esplanade provides 64 acres of green space separated from the city by Storrow Drive. After crossing one of eight pedestrian footbridges to enter the park, you can meander by the river, check out the Hatch Shell, hang out on the docks, bike down the path, or even head out onto the water in a kayak.
Back Bay Fens
Originally designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the Fens has undergone many changes since his original design, including the addition of the English-style Kelleher Rose Garden, and it continues to be a beautiful green space that is part of the Emerald Necklace (which also includes the Boston Common/Public Garden & Arnold Arboretum).
Part of the Fens, the Fenway Victory Gardens are the only remaining, continuously operating World War II Victory Gardens in the United States. Consisting of 500 plots over 7 acres, the Victory Gardens are maintained by individuals and organizations and is a wonderful place to appreciate the variety of plants that bring the community together.
Curated by Harvard University on land leased from the City of Boston, Arnold Arboretum is a gem in the Emerald Necklace. Frederick Olmsted designed the layout of the paths and roadways, and the Arboretum still mostly maintains the style of planting that he and Charles Sprague Sargent created in the garden.
Located in Jamaica Plain, the Arboretum consists of 281 acres of plant life, from conifers to crabapples. The trails in the Arboretum provide plenty of easy hikes and are open from sunrise to sunset every day.
One of the best times to visit Arnold Arboretum is in spring when the lilacs are blooming. There is even a special Lilac Sunday each May to celebrate these fragrant flowers.
Located across the Charles River from Boston in Cambridge, Fresh Pond Reservation is another open space influenced by Olmsted. Consisting of 162 acres of land including meadows, forests, and wetlands surrounding Fresh Pond Reservoir, this is a lovely park to explore for awhile.
A 2.25 mile trail circumnavigates the Reservoir, providing plenty of opportunity for walking, running or biking along the water. Fresh Pond is also a great place for bird watching.
Just north of Boston proper, you can easily escape to nature in Middlesex Fells. The Fells comprise 2,200 acres of wilderness, with hiking trails ranging from the easy 1 mile Spot Pond Brook Historic Trail to the 3.7 mile loop Rock Circuit Trail to the 6.9 mile loop Skyline Trail.
You can hop on your mountain bike or find rock climbing areas in the Fells as well. Dogs are also welcome to join you on your adventures, and Sheepfold Meadow is an off-leash area.
Blue Hills Reservation
On the southern end of the city is the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton. With 125 miles of trails on 7,000 acres, you can immerse yourself in nature in no time.
Explore Houghton’s Pond on an easy hike or challenge yourself on the 3.5 mile hike up to the summit of Buck Hill for a beautiful view of the reservation.
The Blue Hills also offers mountain biking trails and cross-country skiing trails in the winter.
Interested in getting out of Boston? Check out our cabins in Epsom, New Hampshire for a nature escape.