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Arnold Arboretum, Boston, park
Photograph: ShutterstockArnold Arboretum

The 8 best picnic spots in Boston

Pack a blanket and don't forget the food! These peaceful picnic spots in Boston offer a break from reality.

Olivia Vanni
Written by
Olivia Vanni
&
Eric Grossman
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Here in Boston, we don't have too many months of favorable weather, which is why we never take a beautiful day for granted. While the city boasts plenty of great restaurants with outdoor seating, there's something wonderfully old school about going on a picnic. The best part? You don't need a reservation—just grab a blanket, pack up some food or order takeout, 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 of cultural landmarks and along the waterfront. The fresh air and city views are on the house!

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

Note: Not all public spaces are currently open. Check ahead before you go and stay safe by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

Enjoy some of the best bites in the city under open skies

  • Restaurants
  • Fenway/Kenmore

Like some variety when you go out to eat? Time Out Market Boston has you covered. Boston's first contemporary culinary hub boasts a tantalizing variety of curated food offerings, two top-notch bars and lots more — and everything's available to go. There are enhanced safety measures and a 6,000 sq ft, sun-splashed patio, but if you want the full-on picnic experience, you can plop down on The Green at 401 Park, the comfy lawn out in front of the Market, or just take your treats on a short walk to the Back Bay Fens or Comm Ave Mall.

The best picnic spots in Boston

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Boston Common

It doesn't get any more scenic than the Boston Common and Public Garden—the USA’s first public park and first botanical garden, respectively. Latter-day uses of these lush areas include festivals and rallies, concerts and fairs. Stop by any number of quality eating spots nearby to grab provisions, e.g. chef-curated sandwiches from the Parish Cafe or gourmet Italian treats from Eataly.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Downtown

This verdant, mile-long ribbon of grassy parks invites the weary traveler (or office warrior) to stop and take a moment to appreciate the citys fleeting sunshine. A variety of eating and drinking spots—some seasonal and transient—keep visitors satiated. 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
  • Jamaica Plain

One of the world’s leading centers for plant study, as well as a lovely place to take a stroll on a nice day, the Arboretum was established in 1872 and is part of Harvard University. Frederick Law Olmsted helped plan and design the 281-acre park and, as a National Historic Landmark, it's one of Olmsted's best preserved landscapes. Open to the public, this extensive collection of trees, shrubs and woody vines is recognized as one of the most comprehensive and best documented of its kind in the world. Stop by any number of JP eateries—perhaps Ula Cafe or El Oriental de Cuba—and enjoy a calming bite in surrounded by the greenery.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Back Bay

Part of the Emerald Necklace that connects the Public Garden to the Back Bay Fens, this peaceful stretch of park is flanked by giant old trees, which provide a shaded sanctuary during the summer heat. This is where the city's most posh 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 tartines from Tatte before making the short walk over to enjoy the Comm Ave Mall. 

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • South Boston

When the people of South Boston want a break from their West Broadway shenanigans, they can always head to Castle Island for a leisurely picnic. This 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. Stock up on sandwiches, artisanal cheeses and charcuterie at American Provisions before heading to your peninsula picnic destination, or simply hit up Sullivan’s for some hotdogs and lobster rolls once you get there.  

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • The Esplanade

Technically, the Esplanade stretches for three miles along the Boston side of the Charles River, between the Museum of Science and the BU Bridge. But when locals refer to the Esplanade, they're likely talking about the popular pedestrian part between Beacon Hill and the Back Bay. This location attracts a lot of athletes—from runners to crew teams—but it's perfectly acceptable to walk leisurely by the river and sit down to watch the boats bob in the water. Grab some lobster rolls from Saltie Girl or a pizza from Sonsie, and camp out along The Charles. 

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Waterfront

It might be small, but this harborside park is a focal point along the waterfront. Designated in 1974, Christopher Columbus Park is one of the most picturesque green spaces in the area, complete with a lovely trellised avenue and a lively playground. The park holds a commanding spot overlooking the harbor, running alongside Atlantic Avenue as it leads to the North End. Several nearby bars and restaurants make it a popular thoroughfare. Pick up a pie from Pizzeria Regina or some savory tortas from Tenoch, and watch the boats come in from the park.

  • 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. Bring a few Insta-worthy sandos from BISq or a savory umami bomb from Nu Burger.

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