Spread out your blanket or just put your derriere in the dirt; we've got the Hub's most scenic sites for summer's most relaxed meal.
At nearly 50 acres, this is Boston's central park and is easily accessible from a number of surrounding neighborhoods. Today, there are fountains, a bandstand, a carousel and a wading pool for tots, but 200 years ago sights ranged from grazing cattle to public hangings. Ouch!
The Public Garden
America's first public botanical garden certainly has a Victorian flourish. Find a seat on a park bench by a glade of seasonal flowers, under an unusual tree or around the lagoon and watch the Swan Boats glide by.
Banks of Charles River
As the Seine divides Paris, so does the Charles River for Boston and Cambridge. On the Boston side, cross Storrow Drive via the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge to gain access to the Hatch Memorial Shell and its lawn, as well as grassy expanses along the shoreline, known as the Charles River Esplanade. In Cambridge, find a nice spot just outside Harvard Square at JFK Park; note that it is nearby Harvard's Weld and Newall boathouses so collegiate crew teams are a frequent vision.
Rose Kennedy Greenway
Boston's "newest" park used to be interstate highway. Today, the Greenway provides a lush, quiet and enjoyable escape among the Financial District's skyscrapers. Plus, chairs and tables, benches and shady knolls offer great stops for meals on the go.
Buy your lunch on the mainland and then catch the ferry for Georges Island, the hub of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. At meal time, set up on the interior side of pentagonal Fort Warren's bastions—open-air grassy grounds—and then explore the granite structure that was once a prison for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.
Southie residents flock here on the weekends. The former-island-now-peninsula juts into Boston Harbor and boasts seaside breezes and scenic views. A large playground, sandy beaches and lots of walking paths make this a must for dog-owners and families.
Bostonians can thank Frederick Law Olmsted for planning out this sculpted, landscaped yet pastoral chain of connected parks that run from the heart of the city out to Dorchester. Close to town, we like the Back Bay Fens. If you're up for an adventure, bring lunch to the expansive Arnold Arboretum.
For picnickers who want to absorb the intellect of Cambridge's scholarly culture, head to school. Acting as the main campus of Harvard University, Harvard Yard is a low-key place to spend some time amid brick walls, whether on the ground, on the steps of Widener Library, or on the artful chairs placed between crisscrossing footpaths. Up Church Street and along Brattle, find the smaller and lesser-traveled Radcliffe Yard, set with sculptures and benches.