Your Destination Guide to Boston

Destination Guide Boston - Your Destination Guide to Boston, MA

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Charles River Esplanade

Charles River Esplanade
Charles River Esplanade

© Jim Twitchell

One of the most peaceful places in Boston is along the banks of the Charles River, on a long strip of park land known as the Esplanade. Sailboats drift by gently, brushed along by the wind like tranquil swans. Runners jog quietly, lost in the sounds of their iPods; their sneakers kicking up small tufts of dust. The wind rustles through willow trees and soft strains of music can sometimes be heard from the Hatch Shell, home of the Boston Pops and Fourth of July fireworks. Visit at night and you may find an empty dock to sit on and dip your feet in the water. Here, at the riverside, you can gaze out toward Cambridge's skyline and experience the city lights and muted sounds that echo off the water. It's like being inside a bubble, seeing the city at its best and most serene. Located smack in the middle of Boston, but not by any accident, the Esplanade has been carefully planned and crafted over the years.

The Charles River has had its struggles throughout Boston history, since it flowed long before the city had reliable sewage and waste systems. The banks of the Charles used to be a horrific site, with banks that ebbed and flowed about ten feet to reveal trash, the occasional dead horse, and a smell which was overpowering. It took several decades and the city's best land architects and most devoted patrons and politicians to create today's Esplanade. The Esplanade Association now in place is responsible for many of the fun and free activities along the new and improved Charles' riverside.

There are countless things to do on the Esplanade, from fishing and sailing to galas, concerts and fireworks displays every 4th of July. There are Free Friday Flicks every Friday night throughout the summer at the Hatch Shell, screening everything from the classic The Wizard of Oz to recent blockbusters like Star Trek. Come prepared for a drive-in movie theater atmosphere, substituting a blanket for your car. If movies aren't your thing, then try the Esplanade's Dancing Under The Stars, for free lessons taught by volunteers in the many styles of dance. Or you can be like hundreds of Bostonians and just walk along the Esplanade whenever you have a free moment.

Attraction Information

  • Subway Stop:
  • Take the Red Line to Charles/MGH Station, or take the Green Line to Kenmore, Copley or Arlington Stations.
  • Contact:
  • Phone: 617-227-0365
  • Website:
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