If you’re looking for the perfect spot to spend a summer afternoon, Boston Globe readers have you covered.
We asked readers to share their favorite parks in the Boston area, and they sang praises for fan favorites and some spaces you may not have heard of.
Whether you prefer walking trails, grassy fields, or riverside views, there’s a park nearby for you. Make the most of the warm weather by exploring one of the many public spaces our readers recommend, especially for lifting their spirits through the worst of the pandemic.
Here’s a list of their picks.
The Charles River Esplanade
Thomas J. Griffin writes of the Esplanade, “My wife and I live in the West End and we were able to take walks every day. With social distancing and face coverings, we were able to get out safely, see other people, and get exercise. The Esplanade is so well maintained and with most everyone respecting each other by wearing masks, it was a great resource during COVID!”
Globe reader Jim Duane also showered some love on the park. “From 1979 until 2002 we lived in 10 Emerson Place in Charles River Park in the West End. The Esplanade, and especially what are now Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields, was our front yard. My wife, Michelle, and I and our three children spent many happy hours there playing baseball, soccer, and touch football, and having picnics in a beautiful setting. The Esplanade contributed greatly to our happiness as we raised a family in the city.”
Training Field/Winthrop Square
“The Training Field in Charlestown (a.k.a. Winthrop Square) is our favorite public space in our community,” writes Patrick Osborne. “It serves as a front yard for playing street hockey and riding scooters, a gathering spot after school to get ice cream from Mitch’s Truck as summer approaches, celebrating holidays with Easter egg hunts, and watching the Bunker Hill Day Parade. During the pandemic, it was our go-to outdoor spot to social distance and gather with Grammy, Mimi, and Grandpa.”
Pope John Paul II Park
This park is large and “well kept,” writes Taylor Ahearn. “I enjoy taking my dog there or walking alone while I listen to my favorite podcasts.”
Betty Doyle writes, “Even though it’s next to the Southeast Expressway and the Red Line overpass bridge to Quincy, it’s a salt marsh oasis. The natural landscape design blends in beautifully with the natural surroundings, and wildflowers bloom seasonally. I love the juxtaposition between the modern and natural world. One is surrounded by singing birds, kids playing soccer, dog walkers, and families flying kites. It’s also frequented by the diverse communities that [make up] Dorchester. Eliminate the compulsion of a few who litter and don’t pick up after their dogs, the park is close to perfection.”
“There is something for everyone, from beautiful harbor and downtown views, to playground and workout equipment, to open spaces for local fitness classes and just relaxing,” writes Jessica Kirkland. “It shows the seasons beautifully as the snow covers large grassy areas in the winter and the trees bloom in the summer. It has been a lifesaver during the pandemic, allowing us to get out and walk, meet friends safely, and attend socially distanced fitness classes.”
“It is super convenient and offers a wide array of activities five minutes from our home,” writes Nick Maloney. “In the last year our family has regularly used the park for the following activities: attended softball games for my daughter at the athletic fields, played tennis on the courts, walked the dogs along the trails (that connect to miles of Newton trail systems), jogged on the paved pathways, trail running on the network of paths, snowshoeing through the network of trails, kayaked on the Charles by way of the Millennium canoe launch, flew a drone on the upper fields.”
“Arnold Arboretum is a truly special place in Jamaica Plain,” writes Jorge Pages. “When you add it to the greenway that leads to it from Jamaica Pond, you have a pretty magical outdoor experience that no other neighborhood in Boston can match.”
The Arnold Arboretum has too many memories to count for me.— Jim Flatley (@JimFlats74) May 11, 2021
From hanging out after school in the 90’s at “The Arbs”, to meeting @pgammo and his dog Bonnie, to @NewToTheBurbs falling in love with me while patching me up after a brawl, that place will always be dear to my heart. pic.twitter.com/Hjns8GZ1oK
NORTH OF BOSTON
Mary Cummings Park
“It’s five minutes from Lahey Hospital & Medical Center and was my oasis during the pandemic,” writes Mary Leach. “I would go there to feel the earth under my feet and just breathe. Every season has a different view and it is always calming.”
David S. Lynch Memorial Park
Thomas Scully writes, “I grew up over the hill from here and spent a lot of time here. It features two small beaches, Woodbury Beach on the west side, and Lynch Beach on the east side, a sledding hill, a carriage house with a function room overlooking the harbor, the Italian [Rose] Garden available for weddings. The park hosts the annual Homecoming Festival with Lobster Festival in August, and [features a] performance stage and playgrounds. There are picnic benches and benches to just sit and enjoy the ocean view. Always a beautiful place to visit any time of the year. It was the former summer estate of Robert and Marie Antoinette Evans. It was also the site of President William Howard Taft’s summer White House.”
WEST OF BOSTON
Cat Rock Park
“I have a 1- and a 3-year-old and neither one likes to be cooped up,” writes Paul DiBona. “During the pandemic it was crucial to everyone’s sanity that we find a spot where they can play. Cat Rock Park is always beautifully maintained and includes a gorgeous pond. There are lots of friendly pups that the kids love to see and enough space (and parking) to keep things safe. Big thanks to Weston Parks Department, this place rocks!”
Cutler Park Reservation
Needham (also bordering Dedham, Newton, and West Roxbury)
Maurice Laurence writes, “It is a space of water and woods that forms a buffer between the Charles River and Route 128. The banks of the river once were a place where straw was harvested for brooms. The park and the river are a great place for photography.”
Cushing Memorial Park
“[The park] offers a beautifully landscaped walking trail (about 1.5 miles around) and a playground for children,” writes Esta Montano. “It has benches for stopping to chat or have a snack, as well as lots of land and trees for picnics. Moreover, there are lovely memorials to Framingham residents located all around the park. Centrally located, Cushing attracts members from all around the community — young and old, and of many diverse language and ethnic groups. It is undoubtedly the jewel of Framingham. During the pandemic, walking at Cushing kept me grounded.”
Mary Memmott writes, “You will easily hear three to four different languages spoken on a typical day — if you pay attention probably many more.”
Beaver Brook North
“It has everything,” Adam Crossman writes. “Playground, baseball field on the south side, a river running through it, nice trails for a decent hike or mountain bike, some historical artifacts from the time it was part of Fernald [Developmental Center], plus easy access to Mighty Squirrel [brewery].”
SOUTH OF BOSTON
Norwood Town Common
“Norwood’s Town Common has always been a special place,” writes Sarah Bouchard, Norwood’s assistant town planner. “Anchored by its historic Town Hall at one end, sounds of the Walter F. Tilton Memorial Carillon chiming overhead (it’s the seventh largest in the United States!), Norwood Theatre’s distinctive marquee announcing a sense of place, the Common offers a well-kept public space for residents to enjoy summer concerts, coffee with friends, holiday events, and more. As a resident, I’ve taken stroller fitness classes offered by the Recreation Department on the Common, watched Santa and Mrs. Claus herald in the holiday season, crossed the 4th of July 5K finish line, and danced with my toddler at summer children’s concerts sponsored by the Junior Women’s Club. Last year, as the pandemic’s first surge began to wane, the town decided to close a block of Central Street to car traffic and expand public space for residents. We found our Town Common newly expanded with grass carpet, picnic tables, umbrellas, hand sanitizer stations, flowers, twinkle lights, piped-in music, and free Wi-Fi. After months of isolation, it was a joy to have a safe outdoor space to socialize with friends and family and support local businesses with takeout. The best public spaces provide access and enjoyment to residents across all demographics, and that is certainly true of Norwood’s Town Common, where seniors pitch lawn chairs for book clubs, kids and grownups enjoy ice cream cones, and teenagers gather with friends for a bite.”
Webb Memorial State Park
“It’s a beautiful park with beaches, grassy areas, and wonderful views of Boston Harbor and the city skyline,” writes Evan O’Brien. “It’s perfect for walking the dog, fishing, swimming, a picnic, or a stroll with family and friends. In the morning or evenings, there are often deer walking along the shore, or munching on leaves in the central area of the park. In spring, the entire park is in bloom, bringing in huge varieties of birds. The park is really beautiful in any season — even winter. As someone with a dog, I usually make visiting the park part of my routine and pay a visit almost every day. There’s plenty of parking, it’s easy to get to, and I strongly recommend a visit!”
“One of the oldest town cemeteries in Walpole, it sits on a prominence overlooking the Neponset River Valley,” writes Michael Amaral. “In an adjacent wooded area bordering the cemetery, local crows roost. Here lies one of Walpole’s noted Civil War veterans: Sgt. George H. Morse, Massachusetts 56th Veteran Infantry . . . also buried here is Dr. Silas E. Stone, former assistant surgeon of the Massachusetts 23rd Regiment . . . The spot is particularly beautiful to walk in, especially in the early morning when the rising sun once again washes over the stone markers of some of Walpole’s best. I find great solitude here.”
“Sixteen miles of hiking trails, volleyball courts, community garden, butterfly garden, and pavilion,” writes Alan Marshall. “Great place to bike, hike, walk the dog, stargaze, picnic!”
Did we miss your favorite park? Tell us about it in the comments.