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11 Secret Spots in Greater Boston for Cooling Off

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Well, they're no more secret than the key to happiness, which we'll reveal at 11:31 a.m., on the dot, on Monday. But these often little-noted spots are undoubtedly naturally cooler than where you are right now. They include beaches within Boston's city limits; a wildlife preserve where you have decent chance of spying porpoises; a fishing hole; several promenades; and a dog-friendly park in Mid-Cambridge.


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1. Castle Island Park

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2080 William J Day Boulevard
Boston, MA 02127

It dates from the mid-19th century, a 22-acre park connected to the mainland by both pedestrian and vehicular causeways. There’s also a “healthy heart” trail.

2. Fresh Pond Reservation

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200 Fresh Pond Parkway
Cambridge, MA 02138

The 155-acre lake here has been part of Cambridge’s reservoir system since the 1850s, and has 162 wooded acres surrounding it. These acres include a 2.25-mile perimeter road for jogging, biking, walking, sprinting, you get the picture. Serious bird-spotting available, too. Flowers, ditto. Serious.

3. Nathan Tufts Park

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43 Liberty Avenue
Somerville, MA 02144

The roots of Nathan Tufts Park near Powder House Square and Tufts’ campus go back four centuries. Its old Powder House stone tower was originally built as a windmill by European settlers.

4. Joan Lorentz Park

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449 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02138

This greensward in front of the high-tech main branch of the Cambridge Library is secretly quite dog and cat friendly (though who walks their cat?). Also has tennis courts and a playground for the kids.

5. Piers Park

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95 Marginal Street
Boston, MA 02128

Take the Blue Line to Maverick Square and walk a bit (or, someday, hop a ferry), and experience Piers Park’s 600-foot pedestrian promenade, which leads to two pavilions with killer skyline views. There’s also an amphitheater, an outdoor fitness system and a large playground.

6. Paul Revere Park

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Chelsea Street & North Washington Street
Boston, MA 02129

Wanna fish or watch people fish? This relatively new, 5-acre park (completed in 2007) includes a pier overlooking Boston Harbor with fish-cleaning stations that, according to the city, make it a “perfect spot for some friendly fishing.” It’s about a 10-minute walk from North Station.

7. Deer Island Park and Harborwalk

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290 Tafts Avenue, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
Winthrop, MA 02152

After you’ve done the 2.6-mile perimeter, with its sweeping Harbor views, why not visit the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant and learn about how that same Harbor got so clean? Why, indeed. Also a good vantage for watching planes taking off and landing at Logan. Is that the Dreamliner we see taking to the skies again?

8. Federal Reserve Lot

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Summer Street & East 1st Street
Boston, MA 02127

This is an unusual spot along the Harborwalk—a small, lush alcove owned by Federal Express on the South Boston waterfront. It’s got access to what the city calls “secluded” beaches and you can also take in the cruise ships docking at Black Falcon Terminal.

9. Carson Beach

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Columbia Road & William J Day Boulevard
Boston, MA 02127

So there you are on the Red Line thinking, "Good god, where's there a good beach in walking distance from one of my next stops?" It's here! Minutes from the JFK/UMass stop! It got new sand last year as well as new walkways, benches, lighting and shade shelters.

10. Constitution Beach

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Boardman Street
Boston, MA 02128

Take the Blue Line to the Orient Heights stop (or the bus, which stops at the Bennington Street entrance), and enjoy an open beach with lifeguards, a bathhouse (with concessions) and a big playground (and tennis courts).

11. Condor Street Urban Wild

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Glendon Street
Boston, MA 02128

Here be your best chance of spotting a porpoise within Boston city limits! This former marine industrial site was redeveloped into an urban wild with salt marshes, meadow grasses, walking paths, a boardwalk, sculptures, and a viewing platform overlooking Chelsea Creek. Take the Blue Line to Maverick.

1. Castle Island Park

2080 William J Day Boulevard, Boston, MA 02127

It dates from the mid-19th century, a 22-acre park connected to the mainland by both pedestrian and vehicular causeways. There’s also a “healthy heart” trail.

2080 William J Day Boulevard
Boston, MA 02127

2. Fresh Pond Reservation

200 Fresh Pond Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02138

The 155-acre lake here has been part of Cambridge’s reservoir system since the 1850s, and has 162 wooded acres surrounding it. These acres include a 2.25-mile perimeter road for jogging, biking, walking, sprinting, you get the picture. Serious bird-spotting available, too. Flowers, ditto. Serious.

200 Fresh Pond Parkway
Cambridge, MA 02138

3. Nathan Tufts Park

43 Liberty Avenue, Somerville, MA 02144

The roots of Nathan Tufts Park near Powder House Square and Tufts’ campus go back four centuries. Its old Powder House stone tower was originally built as a windmill by European settlers.

43 Liberty Avenue
Somerville, MA 02144

4. Joan Lorentz Park

449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138

This greensward in front of the high-tech main branch of the Cambridge Library is secretly quite dog and cat friendly (though who walks their cat?). Also has tennis courts and a playground for the kids.

449 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02138

5. Piers Park

95 Marginal Street, Boston, MA 02128

Take the Blue Line to Maverick Square and walk a bit (or, someday, hop a ferry), and experience Piers Park’s 600-foot pedestrian promenade, which leads to two pavilions with killer skyline views. There’s also an amphitheater, an outdoor fitness system and a large playground.

95 Marginal Street
Boston, MA 02128

6. Paul Revere Park

Chelsea Street & North Washington Street, Boston, MA 02129

Wanna fish or watch people fish? This relatively new, 5-acre park (completed in 2007) includes a pier overlooking Boston Harbor with fish-cleaning stations that, according to the city, make it a “perfect spot for some friendly fishing.” It’s about a 10-minute walk from North Station.

Chelsea Street & North Washington Street
Boston, MA 02129

7. Deer Island Park and Harborwalk

290 Tafts Avenue, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, Winthrop, MA 02152

After you’ve done the 2.6-mile perimeter, with its sweeping Harbor views, why not visit the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant and learn about how that same Harbor got so clean? Why, indeed. Also a good vantage for watching planes taking off and landing at Logan. Is that the Dreamliner we see taking to the skies again?

290 Tafts Avenue, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
Winthrop, MA 02152

8. Federal Reserve Lot

Summer Street & East 1st Street, Boston, MA 02127

This is an unusual spot along the Harborwalk—a small, lush alcove owned by Federal Express on the South Boston waterfront. It’s got access to what the city calls “secluded” beaches and you can also take in the cruise ships docking at Black Falcon Terminal.

Summer Street & East 1st Street
Boston, MA 02127

9. Carson Beach

Columbia Road & William J Day Boulevard, Boston, MA 02127

So there you are on the Red Line thinking, "Good god, where's there a good beach in walking distance from one of my next stops?" It's here! Minutes from the JFK/UMass stop! It got new sand last year as well as new walkways, benches, lighting and shade shelters.

Columbia Road & William J Day Boulevard
Boston, MA 02127

10. Constitution Beach

Boardman Street, Boston, MA 02128

Take the Blue Line to the Orient Heights stop (or the bus, which stops at the Bennington Street entrance), and enjoy an open beach with lifeguards, a bathhouse (with concessions) and a big playground (and tennis courts).

Boardman Street
Boston, MA 02128

11. Condor Street Urban Wild

Glendon Street, Boston, MA 02128

Here be your best chance of spotting a porpoise within Boston city limits! This former marine industrial site was redeveloped into an urban wild with salt marshes, meadow grasses, walking paths, a boardwalk, sculptures, and a viewing platform overlooking Chelsea Creek. Take the Blue Line to Maverick.

Glendon Street
Boston, MA 02128