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Boston is filled with great parks and natural spaces to enjoy. While any of the Boston parks will probably provide something you can enjoy, some are simply better than others.

Some of the incredible parks found in Boston you simply cannot find anywhere else. They are unique and historic with something everybody can enjoy. Here’s a look at the Emerald Necklace and the incredible parks it has to offer.

Emerald Necklace

The Emerald Necklace is actually a historic park system running from the heart of Boston all the way to Brookline. It’s the backyard for many residents and hosts over 1 million visitors every single year. Those living in the Back Bay and Dorchester neighborhoods will gain very easy access to this incredible park system.

The system of parks was designed by Frederic Law Olmsted, a famous landscape architect. He designed the system more than a century ago and there’s plenty of history found throughout the Emerald Necklace.

The six parks found within the system are managed by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and have plenty to offer. Some of what you will discover when you visit the Emerald Necklace park system include:

  • Back Bay Ferns
  • The Riverway
  • Olmsted Park
  • Jamaica Pond
  • Arnold Arboretum
  • Franklin Park
  • Forest Hills Cemetery

Within the park system, you can enjoy plenty of great activities, such as hiking, softball, sailing, golf, and much more. It’s even home to a zoo and an arboretum, which offered even for those living in nearby neighborhoods to enjoy regularly.

Arnold Arboretum

Found within the Emerald Necklace park system, the Arnold Arboretum is one of the most popular attractions in Boston. It’s found at Harvard University and was established by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1872.

The Arboretum is a National Historic Landmark with a unique blend of a public park and a research institution. It covers more than 280 acres of space and provides a living collection of shrubs, woody vines, and trees throughout. In addition, the Arboretum is home to a 43,000-square-foot research center and run by a staff of 75 full-time employees.

Visitors to the Arboretum can enjoy a guided tour with a theme. Every year, starting in April, guided tours begin with choices focused on health, birding, forestry, and more.

Forest Hills Cemetery

Forest Hills Cemetery

While it’s not exactly a park, the Forest Hill Cemetery is a great place to visit. It’s known as one of the best garden cemeteries in the entire country. The cemetery was founded in 1848 and provides a very park-like setting within the Emerald Necklace.

Covering more than 275 total acres of space, the cemetery is filled with incredible sculptures, art, architecture, and memorials. The natural beauty from the carefully cultivated plants, trees and buses also help to provide an incredible place to visit. The Forest Hills Cemetery was even named as one of the 1,000 Greatest Places in Massachusetts.

The cemetery is open for tours year-round. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful landscape and incredible art found throughout starting at 7am every day of the year. The gates close based on the season and there will be posted times on the Cemetery during each season.

Several tours are available including self-guided options. Seasonal tours are hosted by the Forest Hills Educational Trust from April through October and last about 90 minutes long. In addition, you can schedule a private walking tour with a local historian through the cemetery.

Franklin Park

One of the largest parks found within the Emerald Necklace, Franklin Park covers about 527 acres of space. It’s found within the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. Those living in Roslindale will also find the park not far away. In fact, it’s found right on the border of Roslindale near Morton Street.

Franklin Park was the last component of the Emerald Necklace created by Frederic Law Olmsted. It was neglected for many years before becoming the “crown jewel” of Olmsted’s work. It was once known as the West Roxbury Park before it was renamed to honor Benjamin Franklin.

The park includes the very popular Franklin Park Zoo, which was founded in 1912. This 72-acre zoo offers several exotic animals and even added a Tropical Forest in 1989. In addition, Franklin Park offers many other attractions including:

  • Long Crouch Woods
  • William J. Devine Memorial Golf Course
  • Tennis Courts
  • Baseball Fields
  • Basketball Courts
  • Playhouse in the Park
  • And More!

It’s a very popular spot for an open-air public performance, many activities and so much more.

Living on Boston offers access to plenty of history and unique attractions. The Emerald Necklace park system is one of those incredibly unique attractions. Whether you visit Franklin Park or you take a tour of the Arnold Arboretum, you won’t be disappointed.

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