The Top 10 Parks in Massachusetts

When the weather allows you to soak in all of the beauty and splendor Massachusetts has to offer, you want to be armed with information on the ultimate outdoor destinations. These breathtaking parks each have their own distinct personalities and will provide a gorgeous backdrop while you make lasting family memories.


The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

The first public arboretum in North America is home to a stunning landscape of lush trees and plants. The park has plenty for families to do, including printable Wildlife Bingo cards to make finding critters even more fun, as well as free-to-borrow Science Lab Backpacks to use while you explore the grounds. For more information click here.  


The Esplanade

With approximately 64 acres of land to enjoy, visitors must enter the park using one of its eight footbridges as parking is not allowed on the Esplanade.  The state-of-the-art Esplanade Playspace is a child’s dream come true with zip lining, climbing structures and plenty of props for spinning and swinging. Hang out on one of the five docks, picnic or take advantage of the Esplanade’s Exercise Course. For more information click here.  


Boston Common

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include the country’s oldest park, Boston Common, with its sprawling 50 acres of historical beauty. Sightsee along the famous Freedom Trail or, depending on which the weather permits, wade in the Frog Pond or skate around the ice rink. The wading pool typically opens on the last day in June and is closed after Labor Day. The rink traditionally operates from November to April but it’s recommended to call ahead to make sure it’s all systems go early or late in the season. For more information click here.  


Larz Anderson Park

Located in Brookline, Larz Anderson Park has it all: a hilltop outdoor ice skating rink, picnic areas with grills, athletic fields, a playground and a robust community garden. The Carriage House, which acts as home to the Museum of Transportation, can also be found on the grounds. For more information click here.  


Robbins Farm Park

Arlington’s Robbins Farm Park boasts many events throughout the year, including Spring and Fall Cleanups, an Independence Day Celebration, a classical concert and a yearly field day (held in October) featuring old-fashioned family games such as an egg-on-the-spoon race. But the real treasure here is the park’s sweeping views of Boston. For more information click here


Franklin Park

There’s so much to do at Franklin Park you may want to set aside a full day to enjoy all it has to offer, like the Franklin Park Zoo, a woodland preserve and The Playstead, a section designated specifically for sports and play, obviously. There are picnicking areas aplenty and a golf course for the aspiring Arnold Palmer. For more information click here


Halibut Point State Park

A different kind of park, Halibut Point is a coastal seascape made up of sheets of 440 million (yes, million) year old granite. Situated in Cape Ann, Sea Rocks, Halibut Point’s adjoining land, boasts rocky ledges that are prime for picnicking plus there are plenty of trails to explore and tidepools to discover. For more information click here.  


Walden Pond State Reservation

When you visit Walden Pond, it’s easy to understand why Henry David Thoreau chose to live here for two years between 1845 and 1847. As tranquil as it is stunning, the Reservation features a 102-foot deep glacial kettle-hole pond and 2680 acres of undeveloped woods. Summertime finds visitors escaping to the Reservation for swimming fun, while hiking trails provide plenty of exercise throughout the rest of the year. Looking for a bit of history? Check out the replica of Thoreau’s one-room cabin housed on site. For more information click here.  


Minute Man National Historical Park

Get outdoors, get some exercise and get an education in our nation’s history at Minute Man National Historical Park which offers guided tours of its most notable sites. You can find the Battle Road Trail, Hartwell Tavern and North Bridge, where the “shot heard ’round the world” was fired, here. The park also regularly hosts family-friendly events meant to educate while bringing families together. For more information click here.  


Nickerson State Park

Brewster’s Nickerson State Park has so much to offer, you almost never have to leave. With tons of camping space, hiking trails, an eight-mile bike path, ponds perfect for swimming and canoeing, as well as an amphitheater, this place has it all. During the winter, cross-country skiing is an option and there are horseback riding trails as well. For more information click here.  

Kelly Bryant is associate editor of Boston Parents Paper.

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25 Mar 2015

By Kelly Bryant