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Many residents and visitors of Boston call it a walking city. That's partly because driving here is nearly impossible, and partly because Boston is better seen on foot.
Walking is a great way to experience this beautiful town full of culture, history, and delicious food. So whether you’re sightseeing, looking to grab a snack, or break a sweat, here are thirteen walking paths to check out!
Boston does green spaces and nature better than most. Need proof? Check out The Esplanade, complete with a river, single-track trails, open spaces, playgrounds, and geese. Okay, maybe avoid the geese. But everything else makes the Charles River Esplanade a great place to walk, relax, play, and explore. The Esplanade extends from the BU Bridge to the Museum of Science, giving you plenty to see along your river walk.
Ross Kennedy Greenway is a mile-and-a-half long string of contemporary parks that runs from the North End to South Station. Tucked between two busy roads and Boston’s skyscrapers, these parks brighten our downtown. Each park in The Greenway is different from the last, showcasing gardens, fountains, and even a carousel. If you start at the North End, you can reward yourself for the not-so-grueling walk with a food truck smorgasbord – they're always plenty parked at South Station.
This path is a hidden gem in Boston. Many people have walked unknowingly along the last half mile, which lies in the beautiful South End. Yet few realize that the path actually extends 4.7 miles, all the way out to Forrest Hills. It’s a popular trail for commuters on foot and bikes alike. There are several places along the trail to stop off for lunch, or just to explore the South End, Mission Hill, or Jamaica Plain.
You’d better block off the entire day for this one — exploring the Emerald Necklace will take at least that long. This system of parks extends over seven miles and includes so many Boston must-sees. The trail starts in the Fens in Back Bay and extends along the Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, and Arnold Arboretum before ending in Franklin Park. The Emerald Necklace includes everything from beautiful scenery to places to fish and sail, not to mention the awesome zoo.
Sure, this spot might be a tourist destination, but it's popular for a reason. Newbury Street is one of the most well-known places in Boston for dining out, shopping, and people-watching. The walk itself is short, totaling maybe a mile in all. But you could easily spend hours shopping in stores and exploring what Newbury Street has to offer. This is definitely the kind of place you have to visit at least once.
Running parallel to Newbury Street, this is a quieter, less hectic option for a nice stroll through the city. The Commonwealth Ave Mall was designed to look like a French boulevard and is lined with trees and dotted with different statues along the way. Like Newbury Street, it is only about a mile long, but you will probably want to stop, sit, and relax for a while on one of the many park benches. Make sure to check out the luxurious brownstones lining either side of the promenade, and just enjoy the beauty of our city while you’re there.
You can’t visit Boston without strolling through the Public Garden, aka the first public botanical garden in America. To this day, it still maintains its Victorian feel. From the monuments and different plants to the swan boats, there is so much beauty to be seen walking through the Public Garden.
Like with the Public Garden, the Boston Common was the first of its kind. In 1634, when it was first created, the Common became America’s first public park. This spot is arguably the center of Boston—it’s surrounded on all sides by Tremont, Park, Beacon, Charles, and Boylston Street. It isn’t very large (especially if you compare it to Central Park in NYC), but it is one of Boston’s favorite open spaces. On any given walk through the Common, you might see Emerson students playing Quidditch or stumble upon a festival or rally. No matter when you visit, you will definitely get a good view of the State House and its famous golden dome.
To most, this neighborhood represents Boston best. Beacon Hill has all the history, culture, and cobblestone streets that you would expect of our city. And, as the name suggests, it’s quite hilly. You can enjoy the beauty of the neighborhood while getting in one heck of a resistance workout. At times, it might even feel more like hiking than walking. But if you persist, you can explore the different streets, look for John Kerry’s house, and eat along Charles Street. If you aren’t too tired, check out the State House before you leave!
If you like history, then this is the walking tour for you. This is a popular walk amongst tourists, as it takes you past sixteen different historically significant locations in Boston. You can hire a tour guide (they generally dress up in old-time costumes), or walk the 2.5-mile path on your own by following the red-line that marks the trail throughout downtown Boston and some surrounding areas. The trail starts in the Common, ends at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, and is loaded with history in between. This is a history buff’s dream come true.
This walk extends from the Waterfront in the North End to the Seaport District. Along the way, you’ll pass interesting museums, restaurants, and an aquarium. You can watch the seals playing at the New England Aquarium before checking out the Children’s Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art. Between soaking up some of Boston’s culture, stop in at one of the restaurants in the Seaport. Hit the Barking Crab or the Daily Catch to enjoy some famous New England seafood.
Like with the rest of Boston, there is boundless history and culture to be found in our own Little Italy. You can see Paul Revere’s house or catch a show at the Improv Asylum. But if we’re being honest, the best reason to explore the North End is for the food. You’ll find some of the best Italian eats, dessert spots, coffee shops, seafood restaurants, and novelty food shops in all of Boston. Luckily, exploring the North End on foot will burn off at least a few of the calories you'll inevitably consume while you’re there.
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