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Swan Boats: Guaranteed Happiness in Boston

Boston Swan Boats
The graceful Swan Boats glide through the lagoon

You know something’s a good activity when you go into it feeling more bitter than a Nuclear Sour Warhead Candy, but leave grinning with happiness… despite your best efforts to stay crabby! Boston’s famous Swan Boats in the center gem of the Emerald Necklace parks are just such a glorious attraction.

Boston Swan Boats
The swan’s stately, arched neck emerges from beneath the bridge

For the past three weeks, I have been teaching English at a lovely ESL school for college-aged and adult newcomers to America. It’s been awesome! Few things are better than a room full of motivated folks from Saudi Arabia, Korea, Venezuela, China, Colombia, Cape Verde, Bahrain, and beyond, each eager to learn more grammar and vocabulary than the day before!

Multicultural group
Our multicultural group walking through the Public Garden to the Swan Boats!

Anyway, last Friday we all trekked the two blocks down the street from the language school to the Public Garden (what a great location the school has!) for our monthly Friday field trip. To be honest, we were dragging a bit from the fatigue of the week and the broil of the sun. We paid our $2.75 each (BARGAIN!!!) and schlumped aboard the boats, reeking of sunscreen.

Public Garden
Few places are better for young kids to frolic than Boston’s Public Garden!

But, ‘lo! What energy through yonder tired body breaks? (That was a “Romeo and Juliet” allusion, by the way.) As our surly teenage Swan bicyclist pumped his legs to make the paddle move, and as the dark lagoon began to shimmer with our wake, and as the breeze rustled the thick trees, and as the ducks swimming by blew us kisses, well… we began to feel GREAT!

Laughter rang through the flower-scented air and camera flashes snapped every pose possible on the five-foot wide boat. Not a soul could resist the rising joy!

Boston swan boats
A sleepy swan bicyclist snoozes on her swan

Getting hungry now for some Swan Boat FACTS? Of course you are! Here goes:

These graceful boats were first launched over a hundred years ago, in 1877, because a certain Robert Paget loved a Medieval German story about a knight who crossed a river on a vessel pulled by a swan to save his luscious lady love, Elsa!

Each Swan Boat can fit about 18 people and weighs around 2,000 pounds.

No, the Swan Boats are not for sale to you, you greedy fool. (Yes, these are actual facts from the official Swan Boat Website… just worded differently.) No, you cannot have your wedding atop a Swan Boat. Yes, you may bring your raging party onto the Swan Boat for the official length of the ride, but you may NOT continue your carousing on the vessel after your fifteen minutes are up.

Want a job? Get some patience. Operating the bicycle paddle inside the Swan bellies is such a popular gig that there is often a year long waiting list for applicants.

And thus concludes our Swan Boat fact sheet for the day.

The moral of the story is this: If you find yourself in the fair city of Boston at any (non-Winter) point, please oh please DO mosey to the Public Garden and buy your ultra-cheap ticket to happiness!


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Triston Xie

Saturday 17th of March 2012

I have been on the swan boats. I saw the worker pedaling the boat. It is hard work. The boat was very heavy and it was summer time. The weather was very hot. I saw the man sweating and he looked tired. He managed to finish his job. The pond was very peaceful and it was very fun looking at the animals swimming in the pond. I will go again this summer.


Tuesday 3rd of May 2011

Boston Common is a amazing place I enjoy being there and everything part of the park is unique from the pond, to the boats. This was a great article.


Thursday 16th of December 2010

The Swan Boats are beautiful! I love walking around there, especially around the evening. There are gorgeous lights. When I see the Swan Boats and the combination of flowers, my day just brightens up! Boston is amazing. I can't imagine growing up anywhere else.


Sunday 26th of September 2010

i really miss my life in boston. beautiful , nice .happy~


Sunday 26th of September 2010

Aw, Liz, we miss you too, but you will end up loving New York!


Saturday 26th of June 2010

A great place is the path(s) along the river on both the Cambridge side and Boston side (Memorial Dr and Storrow Dr) Whether you are walking, jogging, skating or biking, it really does not get better than that.


Monday 28th of June 2010

Vicente: agreed! And I love how each part of the path is delicious in its own way, from the intellectual party beach atmosphere near Harvard to the narrow, forest-covered path further away from the city! A glorious day of biking right there.

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