I've had some great days along the Charles River. Once living on the edge of Boston, blocks from the Charles, I learned of one of Boston's best things to do–take advantage of the Sundays when Memorial Drive is closed to cars!
Starting the last Sunday in April and running through the second Sunday of November, from 11:00am-7:00pm, the DCR closes Memorial Drive between Western Avenue and Mount Auburn Street. This is a decent stretch of road where you can bike, blade, walk, scoot, push, pull, and play, all while enjoying not just the expansive walkway along the River's edge, but also the road. From infants to elderly, everyone has room to enjoy as they see fit.
Closed to Traffic, Open for Fun — Photo courtesy of frankh/flickr
I've enjoyed Memorial Drive in many ways over the years. Including biking alongside my husband, as part of a longer trip into the North End, or the Seaport District where we've stopped for lunch (his favorite is the Barking Crab for a bit of rustic style seafood served outside), relaxed a bit, then turned around and biked back (this is not for the faint of heart; other than the Memorial Drive stretch, the Esplanade can be quite crowded.) I've also been known to meet my brother at the end of Mount Auburn Street via bike to grab dinner and a drink on an otherwise lazy summer afternoon before biking home (sometimes we end up heading back after Memorial Drive reopens.)
Most recently I've done a family day on Memorial Drive, taking my son for a stroll along this scenic road. With no shortage of things to see, he was content to sit in his stroller and watch the world around him. The playground in this area offers a good stop for kids to let off some steam, and this could be one of the most perfect places to learn to ride a bike–well-paved, wide, and not too crazy, there is lots of room for error. Most of my excursions end with a detour to Harvard Square. Typically, I eat while there, and restaurants with a seat outside the Charles Hotel (Legal Seafood and Noir are two) allow for fun people watching after enjoying a little leisure time along the Charles. This detour also affords the opportunity to wander around the Square, check out the University and do a little sightseeing.
But the best part of this active day without the racket of cars whizzing by is the opportunity for a quiet look around. The scenery is breathtaking; views of Boston, rowers, and boats fill one side of the street, while the other is dotted with playgrounds and jaw dropping architecture, like beautifully built structures owned by Harvard University. Stop, sit and enjoy, because come Sunday night the road reopens until the next week. Rowers on the Charles — Photo courtesy of David Fox