Charles River Esplanade

Top choice in Back Bay

The southern bank of the Charles River Basin is an enticing urban escape, with grassy knolls and cooling waterways, all designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It stretches almost 3 miles along the Boston shore of the Charles River, from the Museum of Science to Boston University Bridge. The park is dotted with public art, including an oversized bust of Arthur Fiedler, longtime conductor of the Boston Pops. Paths along the river are ideal for bicycling, jogging or walking.

There are several children's playgrounds along the Esplanade, including the Charlesbank Playground, near the Museum of Science, and the Stoneman Playground, near Massachusetts Ave.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Back Bay attractions

1. Gibson House Museum

0.23 MILES

Catherine Hammond Gibson was considered quite the pioneer when she moved to this Italian Renaissance row house in 1860 (that she was a female homeowner in…

2. Gallery Naga

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Inside the Gothic digs of the Church of the Covenant, Gallery Naga exhibits contemporary painters, featuring many highly regarded local and regional…

3. Ether Monument

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On the northwest side of the lagoon in the Public Garden, the Ether Monument commemorates the first use of anesthesia (in Boston) for medical purposes.

4. Copley Society of Art

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Dating to 1879, CoSo is the country's oldest nonprofit art association, with more than 500 members. The showings in the three exhibit spaces are rich and…

5. Guild of Boston Artists

0.35 MILES

This is a long-standing artistic cooperative, dating to 1914. Due to its emphasis on representational painting and sculpture, it's a bit stodgy compared…

6. Statue of George Washington

0.38 MILES

At the main (Arlington St) entrance to the Public Garden, visitors are met by a statue of George Washington mounted nobly on his horse.

7. New Old South Church

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This magnificent puddingstone Venetian Gothic church on Copley Square is called the ‘new’ Old South because up until 1875 the congregation worshipped in…

8. Krakow Witkin Gallery

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After years of fruitful cooperation, Barbara Krakow and Andrew Witkin finally renamed their venerable gallery – previously the Barbara Krakow Gallery – to…