Snowstorms, a broken MBTA, abominable snowmen – it was a long winter, but Boston survived. Now that all that snow – a record high! – has finally melted, it’s time to leave your house and reacquaint yourself with all of the greenery that Boston has to offer. In honor of summer, here’s a sampling of local parks, walks, and outdoor activities in and around the city that you may have forgotten about while you were trapped inside all February.
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
99 Warren St., Brookline
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Frederick Law Olmsted, the nineteenth-century architect who designed New York’s Central Park and – ahem – Boston’s own Emerald Necklace series of parks, amongst others, kept his headquarters out in Brookline. Today, the office has been transformed into a historic site and, while the flower-filled grounds are lovely on their own, the real treat lies in the various “walks and talks” that the park holds around the many Olmsted-designed sites of New England. Kick off your summer with a guided hike around Maine’s Blue Hills Reservation and Tradeside Museum on June 21, the first day of the new season.
Forest Hills Cemetery
95 Forest Hills Ave., Boston
Perhaps the idea of a cemetery walk seems morbid, but the lushly designed grounds of Forest Hills Cemetery, located alongside the Emerald Necklace, are too beautiful to ignore. Visitors are encouraged to grab one of several guidebooks from the cemetery’s front office and take themselves along a peaceful tour of the final resting places of local luminaries such as the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, the playwright Eugene O’Neill, and the poet Anne Sexton.
Walden Pond State Reservation
915 Walden St., Concord
Five minutes on the thin trail surrounding Walden Pond and you’ll understand why Thoreau hid from society here. Speaking of Thoreau, the state reservation offers guided talks and tours concerning Transcendentalism, his life and work, and the importance of nature conservatism, along with a replica of the one-roomed cabin he built. If all of this philosophy becomes too weighty for you, you can mosey down to the pond itself and take a break to swim deliberately.
Fresh Pond Reservation
250 Fresh Pond Parkway, Cambridge
Though Cambridge was named America’s Most Walkable City back in 2014, shrubs and greenery can be surprisingly hard to find outside of small patches of parks and miniature triple-decker backyards. That’s why the wooded expanse of the Fresh Pond Reservation, with its well-maintained walking trails and close proximity to the more urban parts of Cambridge and Somerville, is so unexpected: it’s a hidden gem for joggers, dog walkers, and anyone looking to get a breath of fresh air without leaving the city limits.
Armenian Heritage Park
Though not the largest or the most remote activity listed here, the pint-sized Armenian Heritage Park, located on the Rose Kennedy Fitzgerald Greenway, is both a thoughtfully designed and sobering monument to the Armenian genocide and the home of a meditative labyrinth pathway. Monthly labyrinth walks are held on the first Wednesday of every month beginning in June and ending in October, though visitors are also welcome to walk the labyrinth at any time. The labyrinth, the only path of its kind on public land in the Northeast, lies at the center of the park, itself a quick and convenient walk from Faneuil Hall and the rest of downtown Boston.