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16 of Greater Boston's Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Parks

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'Tis finally non-horrid weather and what better way to kick back than inside one of our region's bucolic wonderlands? And we're not talking the Boston Common (or the Cambridge Common, for that matter, or any common) or the Public Garden. We're talking the Hub's lesser-known urban oases, such as Danehy Park in Cambridge or John Paul II Park in Dorchester (pictured) or Leventhal Park in the Financial District. Those parks, those places. Get.


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1. Castle Island

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Castle Island
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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250 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, etc.

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 pet friendly. Also has tennis courts and a playground.

5. Piers Park

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95 Marginal Street
Boston, MA 02128

Take the Blue Line to Maverick Square and walk a bit, 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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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. Pope John Paul II Park

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Hallet Street
Dorchester, MA 02122

Bang on the Neponset River, the 65-acre park includes walking and biking trails, and allows fishing as well. Also, check out the restored salt marsh. You might learn something.

8. Deer Island Treatment Plant

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290 Tafts Avenue
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?

9. Federal Reserve Lot

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Summer Street & East 1st Street
Boston, MA 02127

A small, lush alcove owned by Federal Express on the South Boston waterfront, along the Harbor Walk. 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.

10. Copp's Hill Terrace

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77 Charter Street
Boston, MA 02113

The park, noted for its granite steps and banisters with cast-iron parapets, dates from the 1890s and has vus of the mouth of the Mystic River.

11. Constitution Beach

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Homer 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).

12. John F. Kennedy Memorial Park

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Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02138

Town slams into gown at this spot across Memorial Drive from the Charles River. Plenty of benches and romping space, it's a popular spot for college students and those who wish they were in weather like this.

13. Chestnut Hill Reservation

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Beacon Street
Brighton, MA 02135

This parkland offers plenty of recreation, including tennis courts and the Cassidy Playground. The adjoining reservoir has 1.6-mile loop for jogging, striding, etc.

14. Condor Street Urban Wild

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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.

15. Arnold Arboretum

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125 Arborway
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 524-1718

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame, this 281-acre spread welcomes all comers: joggers, cyclists, walkers, loungers. However! Picnickers are only allowed the second Sunday of every May. Tick your calendar.

16. Norman B. Leventhal Park

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George Thorndike Angell Memorial Square
Boston, MA 02109

Yup, Post Office Square can be beautiful. The private park features a green oasis in the rough-and-tumble Financial District as well as a music series during the summer.

17. Danehy Park

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Danehy Park
Cambridge, MA 02140

The park on a former landfill (recycling!) includes three soccer fields, three playgrounds and one running track.

18. Harvard Yard

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1 Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA 02138

The brightly colored Luxembourg chairs are out in full summer force on the Ivy League campus' main grassy knoll. Open to the public and surrounded by dining option to boot.

19. Highland Park

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20 Fort Avenue
Boston, MA 02119

The Cochichuate Water Company tower, built in 1869, dominates the skyline of this park, which Frederick Law Olmsted designed.

20. Titus Sparrow Park

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Titus Sparrow Park
Boston, MA

The 1.5-acre park dating from the early 1960s has a tennis court, a basketball court, gardens and events year-round.

21. Horatio Harris Park

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Walnut Avenue & Munroe Street
Boston, MA 02119

The park dates from the 1850s and is famed for its big, big rocks and big, big trees. It faces a group of a rowhouses commissioned in the late 19th century by the heirs of the park's namesake.

22. Knyvet Square

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35 Thatcher Street
Brookline, MA 02446

A nice, quiet strolling option just south of Boston University.

23. John Harvard Mall

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18 Main Street
Charlestown, MA 02129

The park, which has a playground with newish equipment, was originally built by Harvard in the 1940s and is now run by the city. Light on grass and heavy on benches, it's breezy and nearly empty most days.

24. Belle Isle Reservation

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Bennington Street
East Boston, MA 02151

The 241-acre park is Boston's last remaining salt marsh. It's open year-round, and 28 acres of it include an observation tower, benches and paths.

25. Squantum Point Park

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Behold the Boston skyline from this former Navy airfield and shipyard. Dozens of species of wild bird also inhabit the park, if that's your thing.

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1. Castle Island

Castle Island, 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.

Castle Island
Boston, MA 02127

2. Fresh Pond Reservation

250 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, etc.

250 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 pet friendly. Also has tennis courts and a playground.

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, 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

Charlestown, MA 02129

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. Pope John Paul II Park

Hallet Street, Dorchester, MA 02122

Bang on the Neponset River, the 65-acre park includes walking and biking trails, and allows fishing as well. Also, check out the restored salt marsh. You might learn something.

Hallet Street
Dorchester, MA 02122

8. Deer Island Treatment Plant

290 Tafts Avenue, 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
Winthrop, MA 02152

9. Federal Reserve Lot

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

A small, lush alcove owned by Federal Express on the South Boston waterfront, along the Harbor Walk. 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

10. Copp's Hill Terrace

77 Charter Street, Boston, MA 02113

The park, noted for its granite steps and banisters with cast-iron parapets, dates from the 1890s and has vus of the mouth of the Mystic River.

77 Charter Street
Boston, MA 02113

11. Constitution Beach

Homer 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).

Homer Street
Boston, MA 02128

12. John F. Kennedy Memorial Park

Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02138

Town slams into gown at this spot across Memorial Drive from the Charles River. Plenty of benches and romping space, it's a popular spot for college students and those who wish they were in weather like this.

Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02138

13. Chestnut Hill Reservation

Beacon Street, Brighton, MA 02135

This parkland offers plenty of recreation, including tennis courts and the Cassidy Playground. The adjoining reservoir has 1.6-mile loop for jogging, striding, etc.

Beacon Street
Brighton, MA 02135

14. Condor Street Urban Wild

Boston, MA 02128

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.

15. Arnold Arboretum

125 Arborway, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame, this 281-acre spread welcomes all comers: joggers, cyclists, walkers, loungers. However! Picnickers are only allowed the second Sunday of every May. Tick your calendar.

125 Arborway
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

16. Norman B. Leventhal Park

George Thorndike Angell Memorial Square, Boston, MA 02109

Yup, Post Office Square can be beautiful. The private park features a green oasis in the rough-and-tumble Financial District as well as a music series during the summer.

George Thorndike Angell Memorial Square
Boston, MA 02109

17. Danehy Park

Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA 02140

The park on a former landfill (recycling!) includes three soccer fields, three playgrounds and one running track.

Danehy Park
Cambridge, MA 02140

18. Harvard Yard

1 Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA 02138

The brightly colored Luxembourg chairs are out in full summer force on the Ivy League campus' main grassy knoll. Open to the public and surrounded by dining option to boot.

1 Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA 02138

19. Highland Park

20 Fort Avenue, Boston, MA 02119

The Cochichuate Water Company tower, built in 1869, dominates the skyline of this park, which Frederick Law Olmsted designed.

20 Fort Avenue
Boston, MA 02119

20. Titus Sparrow Park

Titus Sparrow Park, Boston, MA

The 1.5-acre park dating from the early 1960s has a tennis court, a basketball court, gardens and events year-round.

Titus Sparrow Park
Boston, MA

21. Horatio Harris Park

Walnut Avenue & Munroe Street, Boston, MA 02119

The park dates from the 1850s and is famed for its big, big rocks and big, big trees. It faces a group of a rowhouses commissioned in the late 19th century by the heirs of the park's namesake.

Walnut Avenue & Munroe Street
Boston, MA 02119

22. Knyvet Square

35 Thatcher Street, Brookline, MA 02446

A nice, quiet strolling option just south of Boston University.

35 Thatcher Street
Brookline, MA 02446

23. John Harvard Mall

18 Main Street, Charlestown, MA 02129

The park, which has a playground with newish equipment, was originally built by Harvard in the 1940s and is now run by the city. Light on grass and heavy on benches, it's breezy and nearly empty most days.

18 Main Street
Charlestown, MA 02129

24. Belle Isle Reservation

Bennington Street, East Boston, MA 02151

The 241-acre park is Boston's last remaining salt marsh. It's open year-round, and 28 acres of it include an observation tower, benches and paths.

Bennington Street
East Boston, MA 02151

25. Squantum Point Park

Quincy, MA 02171

Behold the Boston skyline from this former Navy airfield and shipyard. Dozens of species of wild bird also inhabit the park, if that's your thing.