clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

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

View as Map

'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.


· Our Curbed Maps archive [Curbed Boston]

Read More

Castle Island

Copy Link

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.

Fresh Pond Reservation

Copy Link

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.

Nathan Tufts Park

Copy Link

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.

Joan Lorentz Park

Copy Link

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.

Piers Park

Copy Link

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.

Paul Revere Park

Copy Link

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.

Pope John Paul II Park

Copy Link

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.

Deer Island Treatment Plant

Copy Link

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?

Federal Reserve Lot

Copy Link

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.

Copp's Hill Terrace

Copy Link

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.

Constitution Beach

Copy Link

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).

John F. Kennedy Memorial Park

Copy Link

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.

Chestnut Hill Reservation

Copy Link

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.

Condor Street Urban Wild

Copy Link

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.

Arnold Arboretum

Copy Link

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.

Norman B. Leventhal Park

Copy Link

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.

Danehy Park

Copy Link

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

Harvard Yard

Copy Link

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.

Highland Park

Copy Link

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

Titus Sparrow Park

Copy Link

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

Horatio Harris Park

Copy Link

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.

Knyvet Square

Copy Link

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

John Harvard Mall

Copy Link

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.

Belle Isle Reservation

Copy Link

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.

Squantum Point Park

Copy Link

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.

Loading comments...

Castle Island

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.

Fresh Pond Reservation

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.

Nathan Tufts Park

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.

Joan Lorentz Park

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.

Piers Park

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.

Paul Revere Park

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.

Pope John Paul II Park

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.

Deer Island Treatment Plant

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?

Federal Reserve Lot

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.

Copp's Hill Terrace

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.

Constitution Beach

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).

John F. Kennedy Memorial Park

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.

Chestnut Hill Reservation

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.

Condor Street Urban Wild

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.

Arnold Arboretum

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.

Norman B. Leventhal Park

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.

Danehy Park

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

Harvard Yard

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.

Highland Park

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

Titus Sparrow Park

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

Horatio Harris Park

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.

Knyvet Square

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

John Harvard Mall

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.

Belle Isle Reservation

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.

Squantum Point Park

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.