Seven Tucked Away Parks around Boston to Visit While Social Distancing
Bumping into passerby at your usual green spaces? Pay a visit to these off-the-beaten-path outdoor areas.
Living in the city at the moment, you may be thinking to yourself, why have I done this? All of the restaurants and shops that make going out so fun have closed, our subways with all of their fingerprinted poles look less appetizing than ever, and the spacious yards of the suburbs we typically turn our noses up at suddenly seem pretty nice. Last year’s study showing that Boston ranks among the nation’s lowest for green space per capita certainly isn’t helping things, now that we’re trapped inside and our indoor plants just aren’t cutting it. The good news is that the city’s Parks and Rec department actually maintains an impressive 217 parks, playgrounds, and fields, and most of us have probably paid a visit to a small fraction of those.
If your favorite green space is a little too crowded for comfort, or if you’ve been to the Boston Common every day and just need a change of scenery, make your way to one of these hidden gems—solo, with your social distancing companions, or within six feet of a running partner. Spring is on the way, so get out there and trigger those seasonal allergies!
Forest Hills Cemetery
If you know Forest Hills only as the last stop on the Orange Line, now’s the time to venture out there. Not only is this garden cemetery a National Historic Place, it’s also a 172-year-old burial ground where you can find the gravestones for late notables, such as poets Anne Sexton and E. E. Cummings. Victorian mausoleums, sculptures, and even a lovely lake populate the 275-acre arboretum—an excellent alternative to the popular Arnold Arboretum. It’s still open for the moment, but check their website for updates before heading over.
Looking for a Brighton spot that isn’t ringed with runners like Chestnut Hill Reservoir? Sequestered somewhere between St. Elizabeth’s and Oak Square, this pool was excavated by horticulturist William C. Strong to serve as a giant ice box, long before the days of refrigeration. Today, you can quickly freeze ice into any shape and size, but the man-made pond remains an underrated spot to sit on the grass by the water, and look across at the castle-like seminary and the cute Brighton homes perched on the perimeter. There is a short path, but mostly, the best thing to do here is take a seat and enjoy the fresh air.
Kendall Center Rooftop Garden
Everyone knows secret gardens are the speakeasies of nature. And if that garden happens to be on a rooftop? Even cooler. Just across from the Kendall T station, find the elevator in the parking garage next to the Marriott—big green letters spelling out “Kendall Square Roof Garden” will help point you in the right direction. Be very careful about either not touching the elevator buttons with your fingers, or cleaning your hands very thoroughly afterwards. Once up there, you can enjoy a picnic at one of the tables (be sure to pack hand sanitizer), and enjoy the building-top views. The garden is open for now, though it wouldn’t hurt to give Kendall Center a call to confirm before filling your picnic basket.
Just down the street from Coolidge Corner, this outdoor area is a block away from Beacon, off Amory Street, and features a varied landscape with plenty to explore. The park is filled with tennis courts and baseball fields that are likely free of team sports or spectators at the moment, and are very open for wandering around with your dog (or hey, well-behaved cat). The grounds join with Amory Woods and Hall’s Pond Sanctuary, and a handicapped accessible path winds under a gazebo, through wooded wetlands, and connects with a boardwalk to pass over Hall’s Pond (take a peek at the path map here). There’s even a small parking lot on site.
The Back Bay Fens
Starting at the Boston Common and looping around the neck of the peninsula to Franklin Park, walking along Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace is a stunning way to see several Boston neighborhoods and pass a sunny afternoon. Google Maps estimates that if you start at the northern gem and end in Roxbury, making sure to hit all of the green jewels along the way, it should take about three hours and 17 minutes to cover the 9.6 miles—not accounting for time to pause and ogle at nature along the way. If you don’t have quite so much time, though, go straight to the Fens, where you can stroll through the Kelleher Rose Garden and one of the only remaining Victory Gardens left from WWII.
Spring may be on its way, but it’s not quite warm enough to break out bathing suits yet—and that’s precisely the reason why going to the beach is a genius move right now. There’s plenty of room to stay far away from any other ocean admirers, you can pick virtually any spot to lay down your towel, and now’s your chance to finally build the boundless sandcastle of your dreams, without worrying about some other kid crashing through it. Live closer to a different beach? The same logic applies—go take that romantic seaside saunter a flirty six feet away from your date.
Neponset River Reservation
You may not be able to grab a bite from Yellow Door Taqueria’s Dorchester brick and mortar for the time being—though you can have their mouthwatering tacos delivered to your door—but if you’re already in Lower Mills, you shouldn’t miss the chance to hop on a bike and glide along the Neponset River Greenway, which is about five miles from end to end. Separating Boston from Quincy and Milton, and connecting Boston Harbor to Blue Hills Reservation, the waterway’s paved path is the perfect way to get out of the city.