16 of Greater Boston’s Best Off-the-Beaten-Path-Parks

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014, by Tom Acitelli

[Photo via Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation]

‘Tis finally non-horrid weather and what better way to kick back than inside one of our region’s bucolic wonderlands? And we’re not talking the Boston Common (or the Cambridge Common, for that matter, or any common) or the Public Garden. We’re talking the Hub’s lesser-known urban oases, such as Danehy Park in Cambridge or John Paul II Park in Dorchester (pictured) or Leventhal Park in the Financial District. Those parks, those places.

It dates from the mid-19th century, a 22-acre park connected to the mainland by both pedestrian and vehicular causeways. There’s also a “healthy heart” trail.
CASTLE ISLAND, BOSTON, MA 02127
The 155-acre lake here has been part of Cambridge’s reservoir system since the 1850s, and has 162 wooded acres surrounding it. These acres include a 2.25-mile perimeter road for jogging, biking, walking, etc.
250 FRESH POND PARKWAY, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138
The roots of Nathan Tufts Park near Powder House Square and Tufts’ campus go back four centuries. Its old Powder House stone tower was originally built as a windmill by European settlers.
43 LIBERTY AVENUE, SOMERVILLE, MA 02144
JOAN LORENTZ PARK
This greensward in front of the high-tech main branch of the Cambridge Library is secretly pet friendly. Also has tennis courts and a playground.
449 BROADWAY, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138
Take the Blue Line to Maverick Square and walk a bit, and experience Piers Park’s 600-foot pedestrian promenade, which leads to two pavilions with killer skyline views. There’s also an amphitheater, an outdoor fitness system and a large playground.
95 MARGINAL STREET, BOSTON, MA 02128
PAUL REVERE PARK
This relatively new, 5-acre park (completed in 2007) includes a pier overlooking Boston Harbor with fish-cleaning stations that, according to the city, make it a “perfect spot for some friendly fishing.” It’s about a 10-minute walk from North Station.
CHARLESTOWN, MA 02129
DEER ISLAND TREATMENT PLANT
After you’ve done the 2.6-mile perimeter, with its sweeping Harbor views, why not visit the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant and learn about how that same Harbor got so clean? Why, indeed. Also a good vantage for watching planes taking off and landing at Logan. Is that the Dreamliner we see taking to the skies again?
290 TAFTS AVENUE, WINTHROP, MA 02152
FEDERAL RESERVE LOT
A small, lush alcove owned by Federal Express on the South Boston waterfront, along the Harbor Walk. It’s got access to what the city calls “secluded” beaches and you can also take in the cruise ships docking at Black Falcon Terminal.
SUMMER STREET & EAST 1ST STREET, BOSTON, MA 02127
CONSTITUTION BEACH
Take the Blue Line to the Orient Heights stop (or the bus, which stops at the Bennington Street entrance), and enjoy an open beach with lifeguards, a bathhouse (with concessions) and a big playground (and tennis courts).
HOMER STREET, BOSTON, MA 02128
CONDOR STREET URBAN WILD
This former marine industrial site was redeveloped into an urban wild with salt marshes, meadow grasses, walking paths, a boardwalk, sculptures, and a viewing platform overlooking Chelsea Creek. Take the Blue Line to Maverick.
BOSTON, MA 02128
Town slams into gown at this spot across Memorial Drive from the Charles River. Plenty of benches and romping space, it’s a popular spot for college students and those who wish they were in weather like this.
MEMORIAL DRIVE, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138
CHESTNUT HILL RESERVATION
This parkland offers plenty of recreation, including tennis courts and the Cassidy Playground. The adjoining reservoir has 1.6-mile loop for jogging, striding, etc.
BEACON STREET, BRIGHTON, MA 02135
ARNOLD ARBORETUM
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame, this 281-acre spread welcomes all comers: joggers, cyclists, walkers, loungers. However! Picnickers are only allowed the second Sunday of every May. Tick your calendar.
125 ARBORWAY, JAMAICA PLAIN, MA 02130
(617) 524-1718
NORMAN B. LEVENTHAL PARK
Yup, Post Office Square can be beautiful. The private park features a green oasis in the rough-and-tumble Financial District as well as a music series during the summer.
GEORGE THORNDIKE ANGELL MEMORIAL SQUARE, BOSTON, MA 02109
DANEHY PARK
The park on a former landfill (recycling!) includes three soccer fields, three playgrounds and one running track.
DANEHY PARK, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02140
POPE JOHN PAUL II PARK
Bang on the Neponset River, the 65-acre park includes walking and biking trails, and allows fishing as well. Also, check out the restored salt marsh. You might learn something.
HALLET STREET, DORCHESTER, MA 02122