A 3 miles trek, mainly outside,  to stroll along the Charles river,  explore a park or two in Boston center, have a chance to board a gondola or a swan boat, and visit the Museum of African American history.

In summer, bring your swimsuit to sunbath on pontoons along the river. In winter, bring your ice skates and enjoy the ring in the Boston Common (details and photos under the map)

Highlights: the Charles river esplanade, the Hatch Shell, the Gondolia Di Venezia, the Boston Public Garden, Swan boats, “Make Way for Ducklings” statues, Boston Common Frog Pond,  the Museum of African American History, the African Meeting House.

A: Your trek starts at Charles/MGH T.stop and you want to find on your left the pedestrian bridge that cross Storrow Drive and will bring you to the river banks.

Note: there is construction going on at this time, so it’s a bit confusing. When the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project will be done, around 2017, it will be much better. Be patient!

Once you’re on the Charles River Esplanade, the city seems far away. You have the view of the river with, most likely, small sailing boats coming and going (the Community Boating Inc is just there), and Cambridge on the other side. People are jogging, walking their dogs, sitting on benches, and generally speaking, having a much slower pace than a few blocks away.

B: After walking on the Esplanade for a while, you’ll reach the Hatch Shell, a semi-circular venue used for outdoor concerts, and especially the Fourth of July’s with the Boston Pops Orchestra. There are many other free concerts most weekends and weeknights in summer, but bring a chair or a blanket if you do not want to sit directly on the grass.

Next to it, you’ll find a bistro if you need a drink or a sandwich (in season only)

A bit further on your right, you’ll see a small bridge. Cross it and tour the island, with Fiedler Field in the middle to  sit on the grass, or go to one of the pontoons to enjoy the sun. On your way, you’ll surely have noticed the Gondolia Di Venezia pontoon, with authentic Venetian gondolas built and shipped from Venice! Any tour you book will be on the Charles river, but certainly romantic too!

C: Once you’ve tour the island, take the Arthur Fiedler footbridge to exit the Esplanade and go back to the city. You’ll be able to admire a façade covered with vines, or to reflect on the traffic on Storrow Drive, then you’ll take Arlington Street in front of you.

D: On your right, Commonwealth Avenue is tempting with its central pathway lined by trees, but today, you’ll go on your left to enter the Boston Garden, pass the George Washington Statue, and go to the bridge crossing the lagoon. If you did not tour the Charles on a gondola, you can now tour the lagoon on a swan boat, a landmark in Boston, at least in summer. Otherwise, just admire the scenery, the skyscrapers in the distance, the old willow trees, and the people relaxing.

E: Once ready, find a path on your left. You’ll soon reach another landmark, the “Make Way For Ducklings” statues. There are always toddlers sitting on one of the ducks for a photo, so if you want the statues only, it could take you a while, but it’s charming anyway.

F: Next, cross Charles Street and enter the Boston Common in front of you. This part of the park is bare, but a good place to play balls (in fact, there is a parking garage below the grass). If you follow a path going toward downtown Boston, you’ll soon see a reflective pool in summer, or an ice skating ring in winter, or sometimes just an empty basin. It’s the Frog Pond with, on the other side, the Tadpole Playground and, of course, frog statues in front of it.

G: Once you have explored the park, its benches, its motley population, its squirrels, exit it on your left to find Joy Street and Beacon Hill.

Follow Joy Street for a while, up then down, and you’ll find the museum of African American History and the African Meeting House when you reach Smith Court on your left. Both places will tell you what it meant to be an African American in New England from the colonial period to the 19th century. They are part of a larger set of houses, all on Beacon Hill, related to the history of the black community in the neighborhood before they left it to go to the South End and Roxbury, replaced by the newly arriving Jewish community. The African Meeting House even became a synagogue for a while before being bought back by the Museum of African American History in 1972, and adapted as a museum.

H: When you exit the Meeting House, go to the end of Smith Court, and you’ll find on your left a small no name alley, like in an old European town. Follow it, it will lead you to S.Russel Street (it’s not what the map tells you  because this alley is not on the map!). Turn right, and a few yards later on your right, you’ll find a tiny and peaceful garden where you can sit.

I: Then follow S. Russel Street until Cambridge Street, turn left and you’ll reach your starting point, the Charles/MGH T. stop.

If you want to explore Beacon Hill in more details, you can now take the Beacon Hill trek, and in fact, don’t even go to the T.stop, but enter the Museum of Medecine on your left, the first stop on this trek

Good to know: You’ll find plenty of benches on your walk, but restrooms are scare, except at the museum; if in need, go to the Boston Visitor Center, 148 Tremont Street, on the edge of Boston Common ! Food options are limited too, except on Cambridge Street at the end of your trek.

T.stop: Charles/MGH (start and end)

Tips for the guide: they are welcome but as we live in a virtual world, it will be easier to follow the suggestions at the bottom of the page. Thanks in advance!

2 comments on “Beacon Hill & Parks trek

    • It’s pretty anytime of the year but after the long winter we had this year, it’s even better to see the trees and flower blooming and people coming back to the piers to sunbath along the river. Thanks for your comment, Ryan.

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