A true seasonal change makes exploring Boston outdoors exciting year round. Activities transition with the seasons and fluctuations in temperatures make exploring all that Boston has to offer outdoors a year-long treat. But when winter ends and temperatures warm, you'll find more than the trees springing to life.
Boston Marathon Viewing
Photo courtesy of Boston Marathon/FacebookKicking off the spring, on the third Monday of April, the Boston Marathon offers a city-wide celebration that lasts all day. Drawing over 500,000 viewers annually, spectators flock to the streets along the 26.2 mile route to cheer on strangers or catch a glimpse of friends and family racing to Boylston Street and the finish line. The spirit of the Boston Marathon is contagious with strangers offering hydration and words of encouragement that provide inspiration to runners.
Prime viewing spots can be found throughout the course. Several popular locations bring a sense of community to the strangers who congregate there. If you’re looking for a little green space to spread out while you watch the runners race past try the ten mile mark in Natick Center. With a lush town green, you'll find excellent views in a packed but tame setting. Those who want to inspire racers should check out Brighton’s Cleveland Circle all the way through Brookline’s Coolidge Corner draw college students in mass. While the finish line on Boylston Street is the most crowded, lively and exciting as viewers cheer those who have completed their 26.2 and are truly Boston Strong. No matter where you watch, arrive early and park yourself for the day because these prime viewing areas are well known and quite crowded.
Boston Green Spaces
Time in Boston, April-October, is not complete without a game (or tour) at Fenway Park. This 100+ year old ballpark has more to offer visitors than a baseball game. The eight time World Series winning Red Sox are not the only draw as the idiosyncrasies of the park itself make for great viewing.
Photo courtesy of Rick Harris from CanadaAt the Boston Public Garden you'll be astonished when you look up from this expanse of green space in downtown Boston that feels worlds away from a big city. The Public Garden provides an ideal backdrop for photos and the perfect picnic spot. The footbridge crossing the pond gives those walking over a glimpse of the Swan Boats circling below. A ride on these seasonally operating, man powered vessels is a peaceful way to spend a few moments viewing the beauty of the Public Garden and the cityscape around it.
Just across Charles Street is the Boston Common. The oldest public park in the country, the Boston Common has been used for cattle grazing, a for campground for British troops, and a location for celebrity speeches. Today the Boston Common has ballfields, open spaces, a playground, carousel, and the Frog Pond, where winter skating turns into summer wading.
Photo courtesy of Jessica PolizzottiWhen spring begins to turn to summer you'll find Boston's waterfront adding to the plethora of outdoor activities. A short boat ride away from the shores of Boston are a collection of islands ready for exploration. The twelve Boston Harbor Islands that comprise this National Park system provide scenic city views as well as an unforgettable day. Visitors often make their way to Georges to look around the Civil War era fort. Spectacle Island gives guests a day of fun in the sun for hiking and swimming. Each island is unique and many have campgrounds that let you take an island vacation right off of Boston’s coastline.
Shopping in Boston
Shopping Boston specialty stores means skipping the malls and making your way outdoors along the streets of city neighborhoods. Independent retailers let you discover items you won't find on friends. Although popular Newbury Street is lined from end to end with stores of all types, it is not the only spot to shop. Wander the charming cobblestone streets of the North End where Italian imports and upscale boutiques make their home on the street level of the side by side buildings that bring character to the North End. While Beacon Hill's charm is enhanced by the small shops that live on Charles Street. And the trendy South End is ripe with funky finds for men, women and home with stores spread out on the main and side streets.
Photo courtesy of Harvard University/FacebookStep onto the grounds of Harvard University in Harvard Square and you can truthfully say you went to Harvard. Open to the public, you can picnic and play. Wander on your own or take a guided tour of the grounds then check out the surrounding stores and restaurants. Alive day and night, Harvard Square draws talented street performers who give passerby's a good show for no more than a donation.
The Franklin Park Zoo is 72 acres of wildlife in Boston’s historic Franklin Park. Packed with animals and enhanced by play spaces, and rides, a visit to Franklin Park Zoo is a full-day of fun. Hundreds of exotic animals call the Franklin Park Zoo home. The beauty of a tropical rainforest, the expanse of the Australian outback, or the splendor of the African savannah can be found at the Franklin Park Zoo.
Boston for Active Visitors
If you’re the active type who likes to incorporate exercise into your site seeing, a kayak or canoe rental for a cruise on the Charles is an opportunity to see the city from a special perspective. Rent from Charles River Canoe and Kayak then board your vessel and set off on the stretch of river-way that takes you from Brighton into Cambridge where you can turn around or disembark for the day. Relax and admire the views of Boston and Cambridge.
If you're so inclined, check out popular historic attractions like the Freedom Trail while bopping around Boston on a Hubway bike. Boston’s bike share system, a rental from Hubway allows you an inexpensive 29 minute ride. Getting you from site to site while working out. Pick up and return to any Hubway location as often as you need and make your short trips a bit more fun.