Boston is blessed with the so-called “Emerald Necklace” of nine major and 200 lesser parks, all of which make great spots for picnicking. Almost every Bostonian is within easy walking distance of a green space or beach, or can at least get there without too much of a hassle. Here are just five of the best of those where couples and families can enjoy a picnic in Boston.
There are over 2,300 acres of parkland in Boston, half of which are park of the Emerlad Necklace designed by the legendary Frederick Law Olmstead (the same fellow who created New York City’s famed Central Park). Boston Common is the signature jewel in that necklace, and for nearly four centuries it has been a gathering place for political assemblies, militia drills and public celebrations. It is also where the people of Boston, as Shakespeare put in it Julius Caesar go to “recreate themselves.” In the spring and summer especially that recreation takes the form of picnicking. There are times around noon or in the early evening when the number of blankets and picnic baskets so abound especially on the gentle rises of the Common that a person can hardly walk let alone play without stepping on or tripping over them. The Common is the heart and lungs of the city, and was the first and is still the most popular place for Bostonians to picnic.
Boston was first and still is a major port, and its people eagerly take advantage of its waterways, beaches and islands to frolic and get away from the urban crush. Castle Island in South Boston is one of the most popular of such getaways, and is an easy drive out Day Boulevard. Once a key defense point to protect the harbor, it is the site of a grand stone fort – which gave the island its name. There are lush lawns all about and sandy beaches on three sides. The view is grand – and the sight of shipping in the harbor and the sight and sound of jets heading to and from Logan Airport make for a lively and entertaining day out. Even pets are welcome.
Bostonians love a beach – even if many don’t put even a toe in the cold water. Constitution Beach is one of the most accessible for sun worshippers, brave bathers and happy picknickers who just like to sit in the sand with a sandwich and watch the tide roll in and out. There are also shaded areas in the picnic grounds where those who want to get out of the sun but still want the view can enjoy their meals. There are also sporting grounds at the beach for those who want to bat around a tennis ball or have a game before or after their picnic.
Having a picnic in the heart of or one the fringes of the city is always fun, but for those who want to get away from civilization without going too far there is Belle Isle Marsh Reservation. The 350 acre salt marsh is a protected home for innumerable birds, fish and animals, and there are miles of nature trails to walk. The reservation has many areas suitable for a quiet picnic, as well as an observation tower with a stunning view. The reservation does close at dusk, but for a noontime or early evening picnic, it is indeed a romantic and magical place for a picnic.
The Charles River defines Boston, and touches almost every important part and landmark in the city. It is also a popular place to walk, jog or run beside on the Esplanade, a three-mile path punctuated with playgrounds, boat houses and picnic spots. There are pedestrian bridges to cross, a pool to wade in, courts to play tennis and fields for sport. There are also many benches where people can just sit and enjoy the peaceful flow of the Charles, and where those who are not comfortable on blanket spread across a lawn can still sit and enjoy a picnic meal.