There are many beautiful gardens and green spaces around downtown Boston, but very few are true arboretums. An arboretum is a type of garden devoted mainly to trees rather than flowers and grass, which are found in more traditional gardens and parks. Arboretums are an important part of any urban area because they are a way for the residents to experience biodiversity, nature and even wildlife without traveling too far outside of the city. In addition, trees are a natural carbon sink, which can help combat climate change. And trees serve as natural air filters and thus help improve urban air quality. This is essential since urban areas have higher rates of asthma and other respiratory disorders.

Though Boston is not home to a significant number of arboretums, those in the city are some of the most beautiful in the Northeast. Even better, all of Boston’s arboretums are easily accessible via public transportation. Many of Boston’s gardens and arboretums were designed by the well-known landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted is widely considered the father of the field of landscape architecture and evidence of his work can be seen throughout Boston.

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Arnold Arboretum

Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum is home to approximately 1.3 million plants that span 281 acres in Jamaica Plain’s Forest Hills neighborhood. Though it is hard to imagine, this huge park is just a 10-minute walk from the Forest Hills T stop. The arboretum is free to the public and open every day, and often hosts educational programming for adults and children. The arboretum also has a library featuring many earth science reference materials and research.

Boston Public Garden

The most famous arboretum in Boston is undoubtedly the Boston Public Garden. Not to be confused with the Boston Common, the adjacent public garden is a beautifully designed area full of trees, flowers and grassy areas. The public garden is home to about 80 species of plants, which is wonderfully biodiverse for such a small area. Founded in 1634, the Boston Public Garden was the first botanical garden in the United States. 

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Emerald Necklace

The Emerald Necklace is a 1,100-acre series of parks that are connected throughout the city. In fact, the Arnold Arboretum is at the end of (and part of) the Emerald Necklace. The other five parks that make up the necklace include Back Bay FensThe RiverwayOlmsted ParkJamaica Pond and Franklin Park. In addition to arboretums and traditional parks and gardens, Franklin Park even boasts a zoo. Spend a few days (or more) exploring Boston’s Emerald Necklace and you are sure to learn more about nature and wildlife than you ever thought possible so close to the city.You May Also Be Interested In These Stories

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Cameron Bruns is the founder of and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on