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Arnold Arboretum, Boston, park
Photograph: ShutterstockArnold Arboretum

The 9 best picnic spots in Boston

Pack a blanket and don't forget the food!

Olivia Vanni
Tanya Edwards
Edited by
Olivia Vanni
Written by
Tanya Edwards
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Boston in the spring and summer can be pure bliss, and we know we should never take a beautiful day for granted. What better way to take advantage of the warmer weather than to head outdoors for a city picnic. The best part? You don't need a reservation—just grab a blanket, pack up your meal (and maybe a sneaky bottle of wine) and find your way to one of the most peaceful picnic spots in Boston. You'll find them hiding in Boston parks and gardens, outside cultural landmarks and along the waterfront. Looking for more fresh air finds? Check out our lists of the best patio bars and best outdoor restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

Time Out Market Boston

The best picnic spots in Boston

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Boston Common

One of the finest spots in the citydare we say all of New Englandthe Boston Common and Public Garden offer a lush oasis where anyone can enjoy a serene city picnic. Soak in the history at the country's first public park and first botanical garden, respectively. If you don’t have anything at home to pack, it’s easy to grab provisions, like gourmet Italian treats from Eataly.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Downtown

A mile-long ribbon of grassy, fun-filled park that winds through the city, this verdant strip is inviting to tourists and locals alike. With water features and benches aplenty, this swath of green space gives a moment of respite from the bustle of the city. There are also periodic festivals, events and parades located either on or near the park. Grab treats from the North End, like pizza from Galleria Umberto or provisions from Bova's Bakery.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Back Bay

Part of the Emerald Necklacea 1,100-acre chain of parks stretching from Boston to Brooklinethis Back Bay green space is flanked by giant old trees, which provide a shaded sanctuary during the summer heat. This is where the city's poshest pooches accompany their owners on their daily walks, and where the beautiful people frequenting Newbury Street’s boutiques stroll with shopping bags in hand. Grab some gyros from GRECO or a gelato from Amorino before making the short walk over to enjoy the Comm Ave Mall.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • South Boston

A not-so-hidden South Boston gem, Castle Island is the ideal spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of West Broadway. The waterfront area features both beach and parkland, giving you options when you’re looking to lay down a blanket and keep it lowkey for the day. With Fort Independence towering over this site, you can add a little history to your outing and take a tour. Be sure to hit up Sullivan’s for some hotdogs and lobster rolls once you get there. 

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • The Esplanade

When locals are referring to the Esplanade, they’re usually talking about the pedestrian refuge following the bank of the Charles River between Beacon Hill and the Back Bay. You’ll see runners and crew teams getting in their workouts, but it’s also a lovely place to enjoy a cool breeze while snacking on some takeout lobster rolls from Saltie Girl or a pizza from Sonsie. After your picnic, pop into Night Shade Brewing’s beer garden for a cold beer, on Saturdays and Sundays in the summer months.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Waterfront

Small but picturesque, Christopher Columbus Park sits on the edge of the North End and runs along the waterfront. There’s a lovely trellised avenue and a lively playground. The park holds a commanding spot overlooking the harbor, running alongside Atlantic Avenue. Several nearby bars and restaurants make it a popular thoroughfare. Pick up a pie from Quattro or a sandwich from Bricco, enjoy the breeze in your hair and watch the boats come in from the park.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Fenway/Kenmore

This pretty park is a reminder of the very thing that gave the Fenway its name: the wetlands. It’s hard to believe that this area was once covered in saltwater marshland leading to the Atlantic Ocean. But, as part of the massive landfill operation that created the Back Bay, it was cut off from the sea. As part of the Emerald Necklace development, Frederick Law Olmsted created a fresh water lagoon amongst the park’s shrubbery and trees. There are formal gardens, like the Kelleher Rose Garden, where spring blooms bring color and fragrance. Go all in with your picnic by getting some best-of-the-city treats from Time Out Market Boston.

A hidden gem in Dorchester, Pope John Paul II Park Reservation, also known as Pope Park, is a 66-acre Massachusetts state park bordering the Neponset River. With easy walking trails, picnic tables and waterviews, you’ll enjoy a relaxing picnic in this quiet corner. After a picnic, follow the Neponset Trail under the bridge, walk through Joseph Finegan park and enjoy a tasting or cocktail at the Boston Harbor Distillery (Saturdays only).

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The Quincy Quarries produced granite for over a century, and became popular for cliff-jumping after they were abandoned in the 1960s. The quarries were filled in for safety reasons during the Big Dig and have become a popular spot for hikes, rock climbing and creative murals. Pack a lunch, explore the art and take an easy climb for stellar views of the city.

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