From the brick sidewalks of Beacon Hill to the wide boulevards of Back Bay, Boston, Mass., has always been a walkable city. Now that the Rose Kennedy Greenway is open, there are walkable stretches from the North End to South Station—along land once occupied by highway. With the significant progress being made on the 47-mile HarborWalk, new areas of the city are becoming more pedestrian-friendly.
In most cities the waterfront is one of its most alluring destinations, but before Boston’s Big Dig, the massive roadwork project that removed the elevated Central Artery and replaced it with a tunnel, Boston’s harbor front was effectively cut off from prime tourist spots like Faneuil Hall. Now it’s a pleasant stroll from the popular marketplace to destinations like Long Wharf, where boats depart for cruises of the harbor and afternoon whale-watching tours, and the waterfront restaurant of the South End’s newly opened Liberty Wharf. By the end of June there will be another new waterfront destination: two new replicas of the Boston Tea Party ships and a technologically advanced, interactive museum to go along with them.
With the opening of a new Harbor Islands visitors center on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, it’s easier than ever to get to Georges or Spectacle islands, part of the group of 34 islands and peninsulas that make up the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreational Area. Spectacle Island has a swimming beach, five miles of walking trails and a café. The main attraction on Georges Island, aside from the wildlife and natural scenery, is a Civil War-era fort that offers costumed interpretation and living history demonstrations. From Georges you can take another ferry to several more rustic islands.
Late spring and summer are the best seasons for enjoying historic green spaces like Boston Common, the oldest park in the country and once a place to graze cattle, and the 24-acre Public Garden, home to the swan boats that have been operating for more than 130 years—under the same family’s ownership.
Another favorite, Fenway Park, celebrates its centennial this year. Guided tours of the beloved Red Sox ballpark and its famous Green Monster are offered daily.
Summer’s also a great time to walk the Freedom Trail, the 2.5-mile path marked by a red stripe that connects 16 stopping points related to the Revolutionary War, including the Old North Church of Paul Revere fame. In recent years Boston’s most famous walking tour has been joined by a host of other guided tours, including a Pirates and Patriots maritime history tour of the waterfront and food tours of city neighborhoods like the North End’s Little Italy.
Boston has another picturesque waterfront as well—the Charles River Esplanade, a three-mile-long park along the river. It’s the perfect place to take a picnic dinner and catch one of the free concerts that are offered throughout the summer at the park’s outdoor performance stage, the Hatch Shell. (BostonUSA.com.)