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Verdant Boston Common has hosted auctions, cattle grazing, and public hangings over its 350-year history, in addition to festivals and the requisite frisbee tosses. The adjacent Public Garden, opened in 1839, was the USA’s first botanical garden. Its swan boats, weeping willows, and bridge are emblematic of Boston at its most enchanting. The French-style flowerbeds may only bloom in warmer months, but the garden exudes old-world charm year round.

  • Bounded by Beacon, Park, Tremont, Arlington, & Boylston streets

  • “T” station: Park Street (red/green line), Boylston, & Arlington stops (both green line)

  • Open 24 hours

Boston Common Visitors’ Center

  • 148 Tremont St

  • 617 426 3115

  • Open 8:30am–5pm Mon– Fri, 9am–5pm Sat & Sun

Boston Parks & Recreation

Swan boat rides

  • 617 522 1966

  • Mid-Apr– mid-Sep: usually 10am– 5pm daily

  • Adm: $2.75

  • www.swanboats.com


Emerald Necklace

Boston Common and Public Garden may seem like solitary urban oases, but they are two links in a greater chain of green space that stretches all the way through Boston to the suburb of Roxbury. The Emerald Necklace, as this chain is called, was completed in 1896 by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man behind New York’s Central Park.


Plan of Boston Common & Public Garden

Sign for Boston Common

Quick, food court-style bites can be had inside the Corner shopping center, at Washington and Summer streets.


The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company stages free performances during summer. Contact 617 482 9393 or www.freeshakespeare.org


Top 10 Attractions
  1. Shaw Memorial

    Augustus Saint Gaudens’ lifelike bronze pays homage to the “Fighting 54th” – one of the only entirely African-American regiments in the Civil War. Led by Boston native Robert Shaw, the 54th amassed an impressive battle record.

  2. Soldiers & Sailors Monument

    Over 25,000 Union Army veterans remembered their fallen Civil War comrades at the 1877 dedication of Martin Milmore’s impressive memorial. Bas-reliefs depict the soldiers’ and sailors’ departure to and return from war.

  3. Frog Pond

    During summer, children splash under the iridescent spray of the pond’s fountains. Come winter, kids of all ages lace up their skates and take to the ice. Skate rentals and hot chocolate are available at the nearby hut.

  4. Parkman Bandstand

    Built in 1912 to honor George Parkman, a benefactor of the park, the bandstand is modeled after Versailles’ Temple d’Amour. In summer it hosts everything from concerts to graduations.

  5. Make Way for Ducklings Statuettes

    Eight duckling statues have sprung from the pages of Robert McCloskey’s kids’ book and fallen in line behind their mother at the lagoon’s edge.

  6. Founders’ Memorial

    William Blaxton, Boston’s first white settler, is depicted greeting John Winthrop in John F Paramino’s 1930 bronze. Note the word “Shawmut” – the Native American name for the land that would become Boston.

  7. Lagoon Bridge

    This elegant 1869 span over the lagoon is often mistaken for a suspension bridge, a tribute to the architect’s clever design. It is a favorite spot for wedding pictures.

  8. Swan Boats

    Summer hasn’t officially arrived in Boston until the swan boats emerge from hibernation and glide onto the Public Garden pond. With their gracefully arching necks and brilliantly painted bills, each distinctive swan boat can accommodate up to 20 people.

  9. Bronze of George Washington

    The nation’s first president cuts a stately figure at the western end of the Public Garden. Thomas Ball’s 1869 bronze was the first to depict George Washington astride a horse.

  10. Ether Monument

    This 1868 statue commemorates the first etherized operation, which took place at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846. Controversial from the outset, this is the West’s only monument to the powers of a drug.

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