Sep 252016
 
Jamaica Pond is one of the best spots in Boston.

Jamaica Pond is one of the best spots in Boston.

Tourists flock to Boston from around the world, yet almost none of them know about one of our city’s most beautiful spots to visit: Jamaica Pond. I must let you in on the secret, as Boston is my favorite city ever, and seeing photos of this pond may just spur you to book your ticket here!

Stroll the tranquil path around the pond or rent a rowboat!

Stroll the tranquil path around the pond or rent a rowboat.

Jamaica Pond is located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, just a few stops from any Copley Square hotel on the 39 bus, or a 20-minute drive southwest from the top-rated downtown Boston hotel. Most tourists never venture beyond Back Bay and Downtown, so don’t miss out like them!

Don't forget to look up when the sun sets!

Remember to look up when the sun sets…

The pond is ringed by a tree-canopied walking path that is both wheelchair and stroller accessible. The loop is 1.5 miles around, making for a dreamy 30-minute stroll, but you can still enjoy the pond with only a few steps, as benches and picnic lawns line the banks. Bonus mission: Can you find the two-backed bench shaped like a “U?” My toddler likes to climb in and pretend we’re in a canoe.

How beautiful and calming is this pond?

How beautiful and calming is this pond?

If you’re meeting someone at the pond, the classic starting landmark is the Boathouse. Yes, boats are available to rent to see the glory of the pond up close, though swimming isn’t allowed. This cluster of small buildings also offers bathrooms, a water fountain, and a raised terrace bandstand that is sometimes graced by impromptu dance parties or Bluegrass band jam sessions.

The water in Jamaica Pond can be smooth and reflective as a mirror.

The water in Jamaica Pond can be smooth and reflective as a mirror.

Though most tourists don’t know about Jamaica pond, locals sure do. Smiling Bostonians from all backgrounds and ages walk, jog, and play there every day, and good people-watching is guaranteed. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the man who circles the pond with a bright green parrot on his shoulder!

Cloudy days turn the water shimmering silver.

Cloudy days turn the water shimmering silver.

In addition to people-watching, there’s delicious nature-watching. At the far end of the pond from the Boathouse, a mysterious, tiny island (pictured above) beckons, promising fairy towns or gnome cafes on its wee emerald shores. If you see a cluster of people gathered on that side of the pond and pointing, they’ve likely found the long tree branch where a family of turtles likes to sunbathe.

Sunsets at the pond can't be beat.

Sunsets at the pond can’t be beat.

When timing your visit, I’d strongly suggest staying for the sunset. Every side of the pond boasts a different take on the sky’s beauty, so bring your camera and move around to get the best view. After the heavens’ light show, just walk from the Boathouse down Pond Street to grab a delicious dinner at any of the many restaurants on Centre Street. That Jamaica Plain thoroughfare offers cuisines for all budgets and tastes, and trust me, I’ve tasted them all. Yumminess abounds.

The paths around the pond are so serene.

The paths around the pond are so serene.

So what about the history of this magical place? Where did Jamaica Pond come from, anyway? In fact, the pond is a natural kettle hole created by an ancient glacier. At 53 feet deep and a mile and a half around, it is the largest standing body of water in the city of Boston, and used to supply the city with much of its ice. The pond feeds into the Charles River, separating Boston from Cambridge (you know — Harvard’s home), via the Muddy River, and is a central jewel of Boston’s Emerald Necklace Parks system created by Fredrick Law Olmsted in the late 1800s. The Arnold Arboretum, just south of Jamaica Pond, is another gem of the necklace. Thank you, dearest Olmsted, for the gifts of green-space that you gave humanity!

Jamaica Pond sometimes looks like a Monet painting!

Jamaica Pond sometimes looks like a Monet painting.

Today, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, an awesome local nonprofit, works with the city to maintain the pond’s perfection. Every month there are events and attractions at Jamaica Pond, from the public piano art project pictured below (my toddler was confused about why the rhinestones didn’t make music when slapped), to outdoor concerts and movies, to October’s colorful Lantern Festival. You can also make your own event by bringing a picnic and eating in the fresh air with loved ones.

Public art like this rainbow piano is a Jamaica Pond staple.

Public art like this rainbow piano is a Jamaica Pond staple.

So, where to stay in Boston if you want to be near Jamaica Pond? This lovely B&B (click for rates and availability) is a 2-minute walk away from both the pond and the yummy eateries of Centre Street. Slightly further (a 5 minute drive or 20 minute walk) is this Longwood-area hotel or this Brookline hotel. While it’s exciting to stay right in Downtown Boston or Back Bay, there’s something to be said for the calmer feel of lodging a mile or two further south of the city center, so pick the location that works best for your style.

Jamaica Pond is totally free, but a good money-saving tip for Boston adventures is to get a CityPass or GoCard. These are bundled entrance passes which provide up to half-off admission ticket prices to beloved Boston attractions like the Aquarium or Museum of Fine Arts.

Jamaica Pond is one of the best places to visit in Boston, MA, yet most visitors and tourists don't know it exists!

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So what about you? Does Jamaica Pond seem like a spot worth adding to your Boston itinerary? If you’ve been there, how was your experience, and what tips would you add? Do share!

Links in this article save you money and support this site at no cost to you. Happy travels! 

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  17 Responses to “Jamaica Pond: Boston’s Best Place Tourists Don’t Know”

  1. A good city always has great parks and lakes, and this one in Boston surely looks a perfect place to hang out with family and friends or run. Cities in developing countries, like Jakarta where I currently live, need to learn about the importance of having such green parks for the health and sanity of their people.

  2. Wow, those colors are unbelievable! Beautiful nature!

  3. This place looks amazing and so are the sunsets! Thanks for sharing your secret spot!

  4. I love the colours, both of the sky and that crazy piano! As and when I make it to Boston, I’ll definitely take a walk around Jamaica Pond (although it looks more like a lake??)

  5. Why are sunsets on the water so incredible. Jamaica Pond is no exception I see!

  6. i really like this . i might go there because of this . yay! my teachers are amazing .

  7. Thanks for this intro to Jamaica Pond. My sister-in-law lives in Cambridge. I’ll be asking to visit here the next time we visit her. I’ve seen (swam in) some kettle ponds on Cape Cod, but I didn’t realize there was one in the Boston area. Do they allow dogs on the path?

    • Awesome! There are lots of dogs on the path (just keep them on a leash) and they’re one of my toddler’s favorite things to observe!

  8. Jamaica Pond looks beautiful! I’ll definitely have to take my kids when we visit Boston, hopefully, next Spring.

  9. Beautiful! I have been to Boston several times and totally agree about the CityPass. However, I didn’t hear about Jamaica Pond before. Will need to add to the list of places to visit for when I visit Boston next.

  10. Such a beautiful and peaceful place – and fantastic photos!

    • Thank you! I walk around the pond at least twice a week, and take photos almost every time, so I had hundreds of photos on my phone to choose from for this article!

  11. Such gorgeous colors! And I had no idea it was formed by an ancient glacier – so cool 🙂

  12. Wow! Those sunsets looked amazing! Love the history of the pond as well so cool that it was from a Glacier and that way back in the 1800’s Fredrick Law Olmsted was smart enough to protect the pond so people could enjoy it today.

  13. Thanks for the intro to Jamaica Pond! I had no idea this was part of Boston. You photos are stunning, it looks like a really wonderful and tranquil place to escape 🙂

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