The Public Garden is a lush, meticulously maintained botanical garden space of nearly 4 acres, with enormous trees that are hundreds of years old shading wonderful walking paths. Historic statues and fountains adorn the greenery and the illustrious swan boats float peacefully by on the middle pond.
Although the Boston Public Garden is often lumped together with Boston Common, they are indeed two separate entities with a distinct boundary between them at Charles Street.
Things to See & Do
- The pond has been famous since 1877 for its foot pedal-powered (but wheelchair-accessible) Swan Boats, which make leisurely cruises during warm months. They were invented by one Robert Paget, who was inspired by the swan-drawn boat that carries Lohengrin in the Wagner opera of the same name. (Paget descendants still run the boats.)
- The pond is favored by ducks and pairs of swans, and for the modest price of a few boat rides you can amuse children here for an hour or more. Near the Swan Boat dock is what has been described as the world's smallest suspension bridge, designed in 1867 to cross the pond at its narrowest point.
- The Public Garden has the finest formal plantings in central Boston. The beds along the main walkways are replanted for spring and summer. The tulips during the first two weeks of May are especially colorful, and there's a sampling of native and European tree species.
- The dominant work among the park's statuary is Thomas Ball's equestrian George Washington (1869), which faces the head of Commonwealth Avenue at the Arlington Street gate.
- The park also contains a special delight for the young at heart; follow the children quack-quacking along the pathway between the pond and the park entrance at Charles and Beacon streets to the Make Way for Ducklings bronzes sculpted by Nancy Schön, a tribute to the 1941 classic children's story by Robert McCloskey.
- Find lots more ideas on fun things to do with the family in Boston.
Boston Public Garden Insider Tips
- Boston Parks and Recreation Department grows all the plants used in bedding-out the Public Garden in their greenhouses. Over 80 species of plants are cultivated there for future plantings in the Garden and more than 50 other locations around the city. Due to the wide variety of plants and its romantic setting, the Garden attracts many weddings.
- Permanent flower plantings in the garden include numerous varieties of roses, bulbs, and flowering shrubs. The beds flanking the central pathway are replanted on a rotating schedule throughout the year, with different flowers for each season from mid-spring through early autumn. Plantings are supplied from 14 greenhouses the city operates at Franklin Park for the purpose.
- The current pair of swans that seasonally reside in the Swan Boat Lagoon are mute swans named Romeo and Juliet after the Shakespearian couple, however, it was found later that both swans are actually female.
- The Public Garden is easily accessible from the MBTA Green Line's Arlington Station. Other nearby subway stops include the Green Line's Boylston Station and the Red Line's Park Street Station. Public parking is located underneath Charles Street.