The Emerald Necklace (www.emeraldnecklace.org) is an evocative name for a series of parks and green spaces that weave some 7 miles through Boston, from the Boston Common to Franklin Park. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 19th century, the Emerald Necklace treats city residents to fresh air, green grass and flowing water, right within the city limits. It’s well suited for cycling, so hop on a bike and go for the green.
At its northern end, the Boston Common and the Public Garden anchor the green chain. From here, the Commonwealth Ave mall stretches west to Fenway. The Back Bay Fens follows the muddy river as it winds its way south. The Fens features well-cared-for community gardens, the elegant Kelleher Rose Garden, and plenty of space to toss a Frisbee, play pick-up basketball or lie in the sun.
Olmsted Park features a paved path that hugs the banks of Leverett Pond and Ward's Pond in Jamaica Plain. The idyllic spring-fed Jamaica Pond, on the west side of the Jamaicaway, is more than 50ft deep and great for boating, fishing, jogging and picnicking. Beautifully landscaped and wonderfully serene, the Arnold Arboretum will appeal not only to green thumbs and plant lovers, but also to anyone who can take time to smell the roses. Check the website to see what’s blooming when you’re visiting.
Franklin Park, at 500-plus acres, is an underutilized resource, partly because it is so huge. Still, on weekend afternoons the park is full of families from the nearby neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain, Dorchester and Roxbury. Take the orange line to Stony Brook, Green St or Forest Hills and walk about a half-mile east to the park's edge. Franklin Park Zoo is also contained within the park.
There's a good reason why Boston is called the birthplace of the American Revolution. Here, the Sons of Liberty railed against British policies of taxation without representation, the conflict's first blood was shed and the 'shot heard around the world' launched a war that would spawn a nation.
Follow this 2.5-mile walking trail from the Boston Common to Bunker Hill to see where history unfolded – where protests were staged, battles were fought and heroes were lain to rest.
Boston Tea Party Ships
Protesting an unfair tax on tea, an angry mob of colonists dumped 342 crates of tea into the Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum recall the catalytic event, inviting visitors to participate in the protest and witness its aftermath.
On April 19, 1775, rebellious Minutemen stood up to British Regulars and sparked the first battles of the revolution. Celebrated on the third Monday in April, Patriots' Day commemorates the event with historic reenactments and parades (not to mention the Boston Marathon).
Lexington & Concord
The Minutemen first faced the Regulars at Lexington Common (now called Battle Green), and then later at the Old North Bridge in Concord. These sites and the surrounding countryside constitute the Minute Man National Historic Park – still peppered with contemporary buildings and packed with historic significance.