Boston Common

The oldest public park in the United States has been the stage for centuries of drama. These days it’s the perfect place to unwind.

Boston Common is the place where locals and tourists alike come to picnic, enjoy musical performances and play. It’s also the start of the Freedom Trail, and is often buzzing with eager tourists ready to begin their exploration of Boston’s Revolutionary-era landmarks. But before you hit the trail, don’t forget to spend a little time in this fabulous 50-acre (20-hectare) public park.

Each springtime the famous Swan Boats come out to glide the waters of the common, just as they have for over 130 years. Take your sweetheart for a cruise, and admire the gardens and the historic buildings in the skyline peeping above the trees.

In summer, sit and cool off by the elegant Brewer Fountain. Or head for the Frog Pond where children can splash in the spray pool. In winter the Frog Pond is transformed into an enchanting ice-skating rink. Whether you can skate or not, the Skating Academy offers a wide variety of lessons. You’ll be twirling, and maybe even cutting figure eights, in no time.

Climb the slight rise to Flagstaff Hill to the large, white granite Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The hill is a great photographic vantage point and a popular tobogganing run in winter. One of the parks most visited monuments is the bronze relief sculpture that commemorates the bravery of Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War.

Boston Common had its beginnings as a cow pasture (“common”) in 1634. It was an encampment for British Red Coats prior to the American War of Independence, and was used for public hangings until 1817 and was a recruitment point during the Civil War. Stroll through the park’s historic Central Burying Ground, on the Boylston side of the park, and examine the hundreds of fascinating gravestones from the 1700s and 1800s. The Common has also served as a historic rallying point for protests, from anti-slavery meetings to anti-war gatherings.

Boston Common and the neighboring Public Garden are located in the heart of the city. They serve as two of the links in Boston’s network of parks and gardens known as the Emerald Necklace. The Boston Common Visitor Information Center is located on the Tremont Street side of the park near the start of the Freedom Trail. It’s open daily, and admission is free.