Best Places to Picnic & Play around Boston

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We’re in the thick of spring, and with summer just ahead, it’s time to start planning impromptu adventures like picnics and playdates with the kids. So pack up your picnic basket, and gather your gear, these Boston parks offer plenty of grassy spots (some shade too) and kids play areas. You plan the menu, and we’ll map out the places that will keep your kids busy for at least an afternoon. Head to one of the best Boston picnic spots on the next sunny day.

Boston Public Garden
It’s no surprise that the first public botanical garden in the country tops our list. What better place to bring your blanket, basket and sense of play than to the Public Garden on a warm spring day. After you’ve had your fill of picnicable goodies, you’ll find plenty of ways to play with the kids. The Public Garden monument walking tour gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs and kids the chance to run around a bit. A ride on the swan boats is always a thrill, equal only to riding the carousel at the Boston Common, just across the way.

Langone Park
This north end park got a facelift last year, and the brand new playground equipment, picnic tables and bocce ball courts make it a great place to eat and play in Boston. Bring your basket full of goodies, and enjoy the water views while you fill your bellies. Be on the lookout for the USS Constitution across the harbor (and maybe walk over to take a tour while you’re at it). It’s also a great spot to teach your kids a bit about the great molasses disaster of 1919. When all is said and done, play basketball or just let the kids run around to get those wiggles out.

Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park
Another patch of green in the dense city, Christopher Columbus Park has unbeatable views on a sunny day thanks to its prime location. You can pack your own lunch or grab something quick to eat from one of the many restaurants in the area. When all is said and done, head to the playground with the kids to burn off some of that after lunch energy. Be sure to smell the sweet roses at the rose garden and make a wish in the fountain before heading home.

Rose Kennedy Greenway
One of the best spots in Boston to have an impromptu picnic (check out the food truck schedule to see what’s cooking), families will find more than a patch of green at this city park. Kids can take a spin on the Greenway Carousel (open daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.), splash in a fountain during the summertime or enjoy community events year-round. Plan your picnic around one of the SaturPLAY sessions or when your favorite cornhole team is playing.

Arnold Arboretum
With over 280 acres to explore, you could stay all day at this vast garden refuge. Free and open to the public year-round, Arnold Arboretum is an oasis to everyone that visits. Pull up a grassy spot anywhere you please to enjoy your lunch. Then it’s time to let the kids explore. They can read a book outside, play wildlife bingo or go on a photo hunt. Once the Visitor Center re-opens, families can one again check out the Discovery Packs and Engineering backpacks that unlock kids imaginations as they experience the garden.

Larz Anderson Park
Expand your picnic plans with grillables and head to Larz Anderson Park in Brookline. The city’s largest park, it’s got all the room your family needs to spread out, play and eat. When the snow flies, it’s a popular sledding spot. But now that spring is here, your kids will enjoy kite flying and hill rolls on the slopes. There’s a playground to occupy little ones, and a pond too. And the nearby Larz Anderson Auto Museum offers up alternative play when you need a change of scenery. This is definitely a destination park for Boston families.

The Esplanade
Another waterfront park, this Charles River gem has something for everyone. While you can definitely enjoy an afternoon snack at Fiedler Field, taking a seat on the floating docks will give your picnic a different twist. But before you sit down, let the kids explore one of the three playgrounds found here. Balance bikes or scooters are a must, and locals know the Esplanade is also where you’ll find concerts at the Shell and guided tours that give you the inside scoop on the park’s history, art and more.

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