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Boston’s Arnold Arboretum is a Must-See Attraction

Want to know the best place to see autumn in Boston?

Want to know the best place to see autumn in Boston?

Ever heard of “Forest Bathing?” Maybe you’ve done it already without realizing! Known as Shinrin-Yoku in Japan (where the practice is wildly popular), Forest Bathing is the act of wandering the woods to lift your spirits.

In other words, it’s nature therapy. Want to know the perfect place and time to do that in Boston, Massachusetts? The epically beautiful Arnold Arboretum during autumn!

Boston's Arboretum has a fascinating and famous history.

Boston’s Arboretum has a fascinating and famous history.

The Arboretum is a treasure. In fact, the park was North America’s first public arboretum, and is now a National Historic Landmark. It spans 281 lush, natural acres that are 100% free to the public!

Too few visitors to Boston realize the Arboretum exists, even though it’s just a short drive from Downtown. The park is also easy to reach via public transportation at the Orange Line’s Forest Hills stop (convenient from the most affordable hotel in Boston), or on the 39 bus (which boards beside this beloved Copley Square hotel).

It takes a lot of work to keep all that grass looking spiffy.

It takes a lot of work to keep all that grass looking spiffy.

Who owns and maintains all this pretty land? Why, Harvard University does, ever since 1872 when wealthy whaling merchant James Arnold donated his estate. In 1882, the land was deeded to the City of Boston, but the city granted it to Harvard for a 1,000-year (wow!) lease.

The university pays the seven million dollar yearly operating budget out of its famed endowment, and we citizens of Boston are extremely thankful to Harvard for doing all the work that goes into maintaining the park’s 15,000 plants.

See the tiny man with his baby under that riotous foliage?

See the tiny man with his baby under that riotous foliage?

As you might guess from the emerald green grass in these photos, the Arnold Arboretum is part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace: the 1,100-acre chain of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted that forms a 7-mile-long green ribbon through our city.

Other “gems” in this necklace include nearby Jamaica Pond and Franklin Park, so if you’re feeling extra energetic, pop over to one of those parks after the Arboretum… preferably with a brief stop on Centre Street for tasty treats first!

There's a pond 15 minutes from the Arboretum's main entrance.

This sweet pond is a 15-minute stroll from the Arboretum’s main entrance.

Have you gotten the picture yet from these photos of why the Arboretum is a must-see spot for fall foliage? Every color is represented! I took these photos between mid-October and mid-November, so you should be able to catch a good mix of autumn leaves during that time range.

Like a symphony with different instruments coming in as time unfolds, there were new colors joining the rainbow party each week I visited.

Boom: Bright red tree.

Boom: Bright red tree.

Though autumn is spectacular in the Arboretum, any time of year is delicious to wander the park. For photographic evidence, drink in these photos of the flowers there in spring (Mother’s Day is the “Lilac Sunday” celebration), and these magical scenes of the Arboretum under 6 feet of snow during one of our craziest winters. For an updated list of the seasonal events and tours in the park, check out its official site.

The bench beckons you.

The bench beckons you.

Throughout the Arboretum there are both paved paths and super-natural (er, very natural, not alien-eque) unpaved trails through wooded areas, so any mode of movement is possible, from stroller-pushing, to biking, to jogging. Dogs are allowed, too, as long as they’re safely on a leash. Woof woof!

Every color represented.

Every color is represented and celebrated in fall.

There are numerous walking routes to take through the park, but my favorite to undertake with baby and stroller is to enter through the gate by the Hunnewell Visitor Center, walk to Peters Hill and around that loop, then return to the main entrance for a total of two healthy miles. My parents-in-law, in contrast, are most partial to the spiral trail that winds up Peters Hill and affords a sweet view of Boston.

A golden orb of autumn illuminated by the sun.

A golden orb of autumn illuminated by the sun.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this cyber “Forest Bath” of the Arnold Arboretum in autumn, and I hope it’s achieved the desired magic of lifting your spirits! May these images also stir your lust to venture out and visit a real forest soon… perhaps even this this one! Click this link to see all my other Emerald Necklace articles.

If you’d like to save this article on Pinterest, click here. Do leave your thoughts in the box below if you’ve visited the Arboretum before, or would like to. I always love reading your comments!

The Arnold Arboretum invites you to visit soon!

The Arnold Arboretum invites you to visit soon!

Traveling? Save time with hotels convenient to the Arboretum:

Luminous trees like stained glass.

Luminous trees like stained glass.

Visiting other Boston attractions? Save money and time:


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