The Guide: Grilling in Boston’s Public Parks

Stuck in a high-rise with no backyard in which to host your summer barbecue? No problem. Just take your party to one of the area’s public grilling spaces.

boston grilling guide

Illustration by Sam Brewster

Christian A. Herter Park
Can bring gas grill

Named after former Massachusetts Governor Christian Herter, this park stretches along the banks of the Charles in Allston and Brighton. Its large open lawn welcomes games of volleyball and badminton, as well as outdoor barbecue parties—but you’ll have to bring your own gas grill.

Soldiers Field Road, Allston/Brighton, 617-608-1410,

Larz Anderson Park
Grills available for public use

This former estate, now Brookline’s largest public park, provides some 64 acres for outdoor romping, lounging, and grilling. Speaking of grilles, while you’re there, check out the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, which has the oldest car collection in the United States.

Newton Street and Goddard Avenue, Brookline, 617-879-5650,

Franklin Park
Can bring gas grill, can bring charcoal grill

There are no parks with permanent grills on mainland Boston, and Franklin Park is the only city-owned park where you can grill at all. Bring your own, but lest you incur the wrath of Smokey Bear, dispose your leftover hot coals in the designated red barrels at picnic sites.

Franklin Park Road, Boston, 617-442-4141,

Castle Island
Can bring gas grill, can bring charcoal grill

A picnickers’ paradise, a T-accessible seashore retreat, and a history lesson all at once, Castle Island offers 22 acres complete with beach access and a 19th-century fort. Not into lugging your Weber to Southie? Let the folks at Sullivan’s make the hot dogs for you.

Day Boulevard, South Boston, 617-727-5290,

Boston Harbor Islands
Can bring gas grill, can bring charcoal grill, grills available for public use

In addition to nature-hike opportunities, six of Boston Harbor’s 34 islands—Georges, Spectacle, Bumpkin, Grape, Lovells, and Peddocks—boast charcoal grills. You can also bring your own, should you feel like schlepping it on the ferry.



There’s more to city grilling than just firing up your hibachi—rules abound, with $50 fines per infraction, plus $50 per day if the violation persists. Here’s how to stay on the right side of the law.


  • Get your permanently installed natural gas grill permitted through the city’s Inspectional Services Department.
  • Store containers of liquefied petroleum gas outside your building, and make sure they hold less than 42 pounds of fuel.


  • Use portable charcoal or non-gas-fueled cooking grills on or within any building or structure (including balconies, decks, and porches).
  • Grill within 10 feet of any structure.
  • Use a fire pit.

Ask a Pro

Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn

boston fire


Why are there so many grilling regulations around here?

Boston is built to burn, you know? The Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the North End, and the South End are all difficult areas—it’s all wood-framed, packed-in row houses.

What do you have to say to the legions of rule-breakers who use portable grills on their decks and rooftops?

It’s illegal. If we see it, we will come out and abate the grill, and fines will be assessed.

How many fires have you personally responded to that were caused by illegal portable grill use?

Numerous. I’ve been fighting fires for over 30 years, so I couldn’t even quantify that.

Any summer safety tips for grilling?

As long as it’s outside and on the ground with no combustibles nearby and away from any structure, we shouldn’t have a problem.

What’s your favorite food to grill?