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Public Parks in the Charles River Basin

Boston Common

With several cleanup and beautification projects completed, the Charles River Basin in Boston, Massachusetts has undergone a significant transformation process. And while favorite parks within the area are still well-maintained and frequently visited by locals, a few new parks have been created to offer unique experiences for the city’s growing population as well. To enjoy the natural scenery of Massachusetts in one of these peaceful grounds, here are a few public parks to visit on your next trip to the Charles River Basin.

Public Garden

The Boston Public Garden is a formal and meticulously groomed park. As the first public botanical garden in the United States, the grounds cover 24-acres from late spring to mid-fall with greenery from Victorian inspired gardens of trees and flowers. While it’s not located directly on the banks of the Charles River, a winding pond flows through the area and offers swan boat rides in the summertime for $3.50 per rental. Visitors can also enjoy strolling through the lawns, picnicking in the grass, or exploring the 40-minute self-guided tour that the garden provides.

Rent a boat from the Boston Common launch on a sunny day.

Boston Common

Directly across the street from the Public Garden is the Boston Common, which is the oldest public park in the United States. It was founded in 1634 and is steeped in the history and struggle of the civil rights movement. Transformed from a civil gathering venue into a well-designed plaza with tree-lined malls, Victorian gardens, and fountains, the Common is a great spot to spend a relaxing afternoon away from the city. The grounds are open and free to the public, and a visitor’s center located on Tremont Street contains detailed information on the many historical gatherings and events that the park has held in the past.

Christian A. Herter Park

Herter Park is the largest section of open land on the Charles River Basin and can be accessed by Soldiers Field Road. Located directly on the Charles River, the park boasts of ample greenery and plenty of paved areas for inline skating and cycling. There are also picnic tables, volleyball courts, riverside meadows, and canoe rentals that are perfect for outdoor weekend fun. And with the new Artesani Playground installation for children to enjoy, it’s an ideal park for families.

Picnic

North Point Park

This new park on the Charles River is located on the Cambridge side of the basin. With a series of small islands that are connected by bridges and waterways, North Point is perfect for kayaking and canoeing. With its winding streams, the park is uniquely designed with curving elements to complement the river and give the grounds a less urban feel. It’s also landscaped with indigenous plants, sweeping lawn areas, a fountain with a spray pool, a large playground, and many paved paths. You can access North Point from Monsignor O’Brien Highway or by walking from the Museum of Science or pedestrian access from Cambridge.

Parks Keep Boston Moving

While the frigid temps keep most of us bundled up inside for the winter months, Boston’s moderate temperatures the rest of the year allow for plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy these beautiful park spaces. Whether you enjoy running the trails of the Public Garden, splashing down at the Artesani Playground, or launching a kayak at North Point, the Charles River Basin offers Boston residents abundant ways to get moving and stay in shape.

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Things to Do on the Charles River

Boston Harbor

Whether you’ve been living in the city of Boston for years or are just in the area for a visit, the beautiful Charles River is one of the best places to explore. The river stretches over a whopping 80-miles, and has many fun activities and relaxing locations that are perfect for discovering what Boston has to offer.For those looking to spend an afternoon taking in the city’s sights and sounds, here are some of our top picks for things to do on the Charles River.

River Tours

See the city from a whole new perspective by taking a relaxing boat tour. The Boston Duck Tours are a fun way to explore Boston with family and include an 80-minute guided tour along streets, highlighting the intriguing parts of Cambridge that are usually hidden. The Charles Riverboat Tours are also not to be missed, as they feature beautiful sights along the Esplanade, Beacon Hill, and Black Bay neighborhoods. Passengers will also get to see the prestigious city colleges, including Harvard, MIT, and Boston University during this river cruise. Make sure to visit the websites for each of these tours to book your spot in advance!

Esplanade Activities

The Charles River Esplanade is a three-mile leafy park on the Boston side of the Charles River. With an easy walking path that weaves along the river, it’s a perfect way to get some fresh air while enjoying the views of Boston. You can start at the Museum of Science, located at Monsignor O’Brien Highway and Storrow Drive, and head towards the Boston University Bridge. The museum is home to an IMAX theater, a planetarium, and interesting exhibitions on electricity and human life, and is great for the whole family.

Rent a few kayaks on the Esplanade and enjoy the city views from the river.

As you near the Boston University Bridge, you’ll pass by marshes, playgrounds, and excellent places to rent sailboats and buy lemonade. Community Boating is ideal for renting fishing or sailboats, and you can check out the Charles River Canoe & Kayak for paddleboat and canoe rentals. From the water, you’ll be able to see the city skyline, the MIT dome, and even have a chance to go on a five-mile voyage from Kendall Square up to CRCK’s Allston location.

University Sights

For those who are looking for an academic vibe, Harvard Square and Harvard Stadium are both fun places to explore the city of Boston. The Square is home to many specialty boutiques, delicious restaurants, and museums that charming to discover, as well as the impressive Harvard University buildings. It’s also a hub for traditional food festivals, concerts, and other exciting events. The Stadium is a historical arena that was constructed in 1903 and was the first stadium that held American collegiate athletics. It’s a beautiful sight to see with its close location to the Charles River and is great for sports fans and history buffs alike.

We are always looking for sponsorship from local businesses who love our city and who want to play an active role in preserving our beautiful Charles River. Many thanks to Cheap Boston Movers for partnering with us for today’s post. This local Boston moving & storage company offers budget-friendly rates on local and interstate residential and commercial moving services. Leave the heavy lifting to Cheap Boston Movers and take the headache out of your move!

If your business would like to partner with us for a future post, please contact Melody at community@charlesriverconservancy.org.

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Notable Landmarks Along the Charles River

Charles River

The city of Boston is full of beautiful architecture, famous landmarks, and busy wildlife habitats that are perfect for sightseeing year-round. With a beautiful skyline and bridges that arch over the area’s waterways, the city draws in visitors from around the country with its historic streets and charm. One of Boston’s most popular attractions is the Charles River, which runs between Boston and Cambridge, and contains many noteworthy points of interest along its shores. Besides boating and sailing, the riverfront is home to many interesting city districts as well. If you’re planning a trip to the city of Boston, here are a few notable landmarks along the Charles River that are a lot of fun to explore.

Beacon Hill

The historic district of Beacon Hill sits between the Harvard Bridge and Longfellow Bridge and takes visitors back in time to the 19th century. With gas lamps and buildings trimmed with ironwork, the area has a quaint and quiet atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy the shade of elm trees and a stroll down brick sidewalks as they check out historical homes on the famous Mount Vernon Street. Here, you can take a tour of the impressive Massachusetts State House (where Paul Revere installed the original copper dome), the Nichols House Museum (built in 1804), or the Sunflower House, which is an arts-and-crafts style house on the corner of Charles Street.

Take a tour of the impressive Massachusetts State House when visiting Beacon Hill.

Esplanade Park

For those who love the great outdoors, the three-mile Esplanade is an ideal place to spend the day in Boston. Located between the Boston Museum of Science and the Boston University Bridge, the park is perfect for walking, jogging, or biking within its peaceful landscape. The park also offers fitness classes, tennis, and winter sports (such as show shoeing and cross-country skiing), as well as water activities that include paddle boarding, canoe and kayak rentals, and sailing. For even more family fun, there are three playgrounds located within the park and visitors can even take a ride on the river in an authentic gondola.

Back Bay Neighborhood

Another great district to explore on the Charles River is Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. With many different boutiques and art galleries, this area is great for those who love to shop. For a touch of Victorian culture, visitors can also tour the exquisite Gibson House, which has four levels of interesting information about the city’s past.

Other historic landmarks in the Back Bay include the First Baptist Church and the Boston Public Library. And after you’ve explored the area, you can relax at one of Black Bay’s many delicious dining options. We recommend to dine at The Capital Grille and order their juicy steak dinner!

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