Bostoners: If you’re itching to get outdoors, look no further than your own backyard. Established in the late 1800s, the Emerald Necklace is a series of nine downtown parks connected via a system of biking and walking paths. The chain winds about 7 miles from the historic heart of downtown Boston to the neighboring city of Brookline, providing a cumulative 1,100 acres of public space that’s easily accessible from much of south and central Boston. Whether you’re looking for a quiet moment on the waterfront, a long walk, or a scenic bike commute, the Emerald Necklace has you covered. Check out the following favorite activities to do in the parks.
Learn Some Boston History
The Emerald Necklace was the work of 19th-century visionary Frederick Law Olmsted—the same landscape architect who designed New York City’s Central Park. While a few of the Necklace’s parks, like the colonial-era Boston Common, had already been established, Olmsted did much to improve and expand the park system.
The Emerald Necklace was officially completed in 1895. Today, it includes (from downtown, north to southwest) Boston Common, the Public Gardens, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Back Bay Fens, the Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park.
Fish for Trout
The best place to cast a line along the Emerald Necklace is Jamaica Pond. Glaciers formed this 65-acre kettle pond during the last ice age, carving out a trough 51 feet deep. The pond is stocked each spring and fall with trout and salmon, but anglers commonly reel in chain pickerel, yellow perch, and bluegill, as well. For the best access, park on Perkins Street to the west of the pond and approach the shore from there.
Note: Private boats are not allowed on the water, so you’ll have to cast from shore or rent a boat (see tips below). A Massachusetts fishing license is required.