Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Safari #31: Exploring Boston's Emerald Necklace

I love Boston for the simple fact that you can just put on your shoes and head out of the door - many times with no destination in mind.

The next time you're up for a bit of exploring, check out the Emerald Necklace Park System.

Beginning on the Boston Common and ending in Franklin Park, the Necklace includes of some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces you'll see in Boston.

Landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead created the park system to offer residents a retreat from city life and the opportunity to gather together in open, picturesque spaces.  He wanted to encourage residents to enjoy the outdoors for both recreation and relaxation - and each park offers great spots for both.

Here are a few of my favorite gems:

  • Public Garden Swan Boats - Did you know that the same family has been offering Swan Boat rides since the 1870's?  These foot-pedal powered boats offer a quaint and relaxing view of the Public Garden as they pass shores flanked with sweeping, Weeping Willows.
  • The Riverway - running between Fenway Park, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Longwood Medical Area, the Riverway stretches along the banks of the Muddy River offering a great outdoor space for runners looking to log some serious miles. Over the course of our walk, we saw countless numbers of runners all looking for serenity, tree coverage, and flat to moderate trails.
  • Jamaica Pond - with a 1.5 mile trail, the pond is great for running, walking and the like.  With benches and a lovely shoreline, the pond is a great fishing spot.  Every spring, the city releases thousands of fish into the pond - marking a yearly festival where first-time fishers can learn the ropes.  The Pond House also offers boats and kayaks for rent along with conveniences such as restrooms and water fountains.   

Before You Go

  • All parks within the Emerald Necklace are free and open to the public.  Some conveniences, like kayak rentals at Jamaica Pond, do charge a fee.  The Frog Pond Visitor Center, Esplanade, Jamaica Pond Boat House, and Franklin Park all offer public restrooms.
  • The Emerald Necklace Conservancy website offers park history, maps, and events, including Summer Sundays in the Park featuring the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  The first one begins on Sunday, July 12th.
  • The volunteer center offers free tours on Tuesdays and Sundays.  Check their schedule of tours to find one right for you.
**Special thanks to Anulfo Baez (aka @EvolvingCritic) for allowing me to accompany him a journey to complete his Boston Bucket List.  I was happy to join you!  Thanks to you, I've already done Trinity Church and will soon check out the Lantern Festival in JP ;)

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