The Official Simmons Guide to Boston: Outdoor Edition

Boston is truly a city that has something for everyone — no matter what the weather or circumstance. With that in mind, we compiled a list of some of our favorite outdoor things to do in Boston that allow you to see our beautiful city and all it has to offer. Be sure to visit each location's website for current health and safety guidelines.

The city of Boston

Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

The arboretum is a 281-acre landscape and is the oldest public arboretum in North America. It serves as a botanical research institution and a museum of trees and other plants. It is a great location to walk around and enjoy the outdoors.

Travel Time: 35 minutes on the 39 bus line.

Boston Common & Public Garden

The Boston Public Garden and the pond with a swan boat
The swan boats are a popular attraction in the Public Garden

The Boston Common was officially founded in 1634 and is now a park that includes ballfields, a playground and the Frog Pond, which provides skating in winter, and a spray pool in the summer.

The Public Garden is the first public botanical garden in America and is adjacent to the Boston Common. One of Boston's greatest attractions, it features a pond with swan boats as well as many permanently planted flowers and trees.

The Garden is the setting for Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings; the ducklings are memorialized in statue on a cobblestone pathway. The Garden is also recognizable for its swan boats, which you can ride for $5.

Travel Time: 25 minutes on the Green Line to North Station.

Trails that start in Boston Common

Black Heritage Trail

The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6 mile walking tour that begins at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in the Boston Common and leads to 14 historic sites — the largest collection of historic sites relating to life within a free Black community prior to the Civil War.

The front door of the home of fugitive slave, Lewis Hayden, a meeting place of abolitionists and station on the Underground Railroad.
The home of fugitive slave, Lewis Hayden, a meeting place of abolitionists and station on the Underground Railroad. Photo credit: Adriana Arguijo Gutierrez

The trail features buildings associated with the Black community along the north slope of Beacon Hill. While private residences are not open to the public, guests can enter the Abiel Smith School and the African Meeting House.

The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path starting in the Boston Common leading to 16 nationally significant historic sites from the American Revolution and beyond. Boston has a rich history and you can see any or all of the collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, a ship, and historic markers.

Boston Women's Memorial

The Boston Women's Memorial

The Boston Women's Memorial is a trio of sculptures on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall commemorating notable Boston women Phillis Wheatley, Abigail Adams, and Lucy Stone. There are also many other statues featured along the Mall's 32 acres and it's a perfect location to walk outdoors.

Travel Time: 20 minutes on the Green Line to Hynes Convention Center Station.

Boston Women's Heritage Trail

Take the tour by walking from the Boston Women’s Memorial across Boston, to see where Phillis Wheatley, Abigail Adams, and Lucy Stone lived and worked, and where else they are honored in Boston. Step right out and enjoy yourself!

Charles River Esplanade

Flowering trees along a portion of the Charles River Esplanade

The Charles River Esplanade is a walking path along the Charles River between the Museum of Science and the Boston University bridge. It is a great place to simply enjoy the outdoors and great views of the city. There are also a number of historical sites and art installations to visit along the way.

Travel Time: 15 minute walk or 30 minutes on the 39 bus line.

Community Gardens

Lovers of the outdoors may relish East Boston’s public parks and community gardens, including the Bremen Street Community Garden. Eastie Farm welcomes members of the community to learn about gardening, rainwater conservation, and related eco-conscious practices.

Travel time: First take the Green Line (B branch) from Fenway to Government Center. Then transfer to the Blue Line toward Wonderland. From campus, this trip takes around 49 minutes.

Franklin Park Zoo

The Franklin Park Zoo makes up the northeast portion of Franklin Park in the Boston's Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Dorchester neighborhoods. The zoo features a wide variety of exhibits to explore. Be sure to visit the Franklin Park Zoo tickets page for more information on reserving tickets.

Travel Time: 30 minutes on the 22 bus line.


A section of the Boston Harborwalk
A section of the Boston Harborwalk

The Harborwalk is a near-continuous 43-mile park along Boston's shoreline. There are 9 public beaches, 40 parks, and a dozen museums along the HarborWalk.

Travel Time: 30 minutes on the Green Line to Waterfront.

Jamaica Pond

Jamaica Pond is a 1.5 mile pond that is the largest standing body in the Emerald Necklace, which is a chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston and Brookline. There are also fields above the Sugar Bowl where visitors can spend time and hang out.

Travel Time: 18 minutes on the 39 bus line.

Larz Anderson Park

Located in Brookline, Larz Anderson Park has ponds, playgrounds, picnic areas, and more.

Travel Time: 30 minutes on the Green Line to Coolidge Corner.

Rose Kennedy Greenway

A young woman enjoying the Rose Kennedy Greenway
Photo credit: Adriana Arguijo Gutierrez

Along the 1.5 mile Greenway, you'll find some scenic Boston views in addition to some fun activities, like the Greenway Carousel and the Rings Fountain. As you wind through the 17 acres, you'll travel the well-known neighborhoods of Chinatown, the North End, and intersect with the Boston Harborwalk. Don't miss the rotating art exhibits, specifically the giant mural that changes annually in Dewey Square Park.

Travel Time: 30 minutes on the Orange Line to State.