The smaller sister of the more famous Boston Common, the Public Garden is far more relaxing and beautiful. Where the Common is a largely unstructured space, the Public Garden is landscaped with flower beds, trees and paths, and decorated with statues. The centre piece is a "swan" lake crossed by an elegant suspension bridge.
It was America's first Botanical garden, and the architect responsible was a one Frederick Law Olmsted, the genius landscape architect behind Central Park in New York and the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. I'd recently read about him in the excellent book Devil in the White City, a quote from which says a lot about his work:
"I have all my life been considering distant effects and always sacrificing immediate success and applause to that of the future,"
The Public Garden has certainly passed the test of time.
Today the Garden is popular with walkers, sun lovers and parents. The grand roots of the varied tree fauna provide lots of photo ops for small children, and the backdrop of the lake and Boston skyline are perfect for all sizes. The lake area also attracts, on sunny weekends, a colourful character called Ramblin Dan. He's a warm faced one-man band that children love...
...well except mine who found him a bit scary.
One of the things you'll see as you walk around the gardens are the beautiful Swanboats. They have been part of the garden for a long time. Take a ride on one of these graceful boats and glide along the pond. It will sure to bring a smile on the face of any one.
Prices are as follows Adults $2.75
Children $1.25 (age 2 to 15 years)
Hours of operation:
Spring (April to June 20) 10 am to 4 pm
Summer (June 21 to Labor Day) 10 am to 5 pm
Fall (After Labor Day) 12 pm to 4 pm Weekdays
10 am to 4 pm Weekends
The Boston Gardens is a haeven for the city life with its many fountains and gardens. If you find yourself in the gardens on a beautiful spring or summer day you will most definitely see the famous "Swan Boats" located in the lagoon. The sculpture of "Make way for Ducklings" is also located in the garden. According to what I've been told, you will find the world's smallest suspension bridge here as well.
A big favorite among local children is the sculpture of a duck and eight ducklings in the northwest corner of the Public Garden. The scene is from a popular children's story, "Make Way For Ducklings," written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey in 1941. The story follows Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings named Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack, and Quack (no word on the whereabouts of cousins Rack, Sack, Tack, Uack, Vack, Wack, Xack, Yack, or Zack) as they find a home in the Public Garden (after a squad of policemen stop traffic to keep the little quackers from being run over). A favorite family activity is to have the kids climb all over Mrs. Mallard and ducklings. Minifrosch was no exception, and had a fine time sitting on top of the various sculptures.
A long-time favorite activity for the children of Boston is to take the Swan Boats in the Public Garden. Since 1877, pedal-powered boats have made their way around the garden's lagoon, making the approximately 15-minute course around the body of water and allowing passengers to admire the plant and bird life along the water's edge. A convenient bridge spans the lagoon, allowing family members a fine vantage point to take pictures. The shore right below the bridge also works well for ground-level views.
Fare is $2.75 for adults, $1.50 for children over the age of 2, $2 for senior citizens over the age of 65. The Swan Boats run from mid-April to Mid-September, 10AM - 5PM June 21-Labor Day, shorter hours off-season.
On a beautiful spring or summer day, what could be better than to ride in a swan boat in Boston’s Public Garden! Made famous in the children’s books Make Way for Ducklings and Trumpet of the Swan the swan boats have been entertaining young and old since 1870 (very interesting history of the boats on their website below!).
The boats are paddle driven – pedaled by the driver who sits in the back of the boat inside the swan.
Today, children of all ages can ride the boats from April to September. The costs are $2.75 for adults and $1.50 for children for a 15 minute ride – purchase tickets at the boats as there are no advance reservations.
Travel details: The Swan Boats are located in the Boston Public Garden - by Arlington, Boylston, Charles and Beacon Streets. The MBTA Green Line Arlington Station is the closest "T" stop. From this stop, it is approximately a four minute walk through the Public Garden. Boston Common Underground Parking Garage on Charles Street is the closest parking garage. Parking meters are available on the surrounding streets.
Hands down my favorite children’s book of all time! Make Way for Duckings is about the adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their eight ducklings - Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack – as they parade through Boston to their home in the Public Garden.
How fitting that the State of Massachusetts decided to make the book by Robert McCloskey its official children’s book of Massachusetts! The Caldecott Award winning book has been sold to children of all ages since 1942.
In the book, the ducks make their home in the Public Garden near the swan boats. These same swan boats (also found in the book Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White) are currently in the Public Garden and visitors can take a ride in them.
Today, the book is memorialized by nine little statues in the Public Garden near the swan boats – a statue each of Mrs. Mallard and her little ducklings (not sure where Mr. Mallard is). These statues are low to the ground and a favorite spot for young children to sit on. On the day we were there, a bride and groom had their wedding photos taken while sitting on Mrs. Mallard.
This is just a fun spot in Boston to visit. On a nice day, stroll through the Boston Commons heading south to the Public Gardens. As you near the swan boats, look for all the children – there you will find the Make Way for Ducklings statues.
If you are not familiar with the book, I found this video online which is someone reading the story and shows the pages of the book. The book has wonderful line drawings (done by the author) in it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0fQpliJJQI
On the last day of my time in Boston, I decided to take a short walk and ended up in Boston Public Gardens near Boston Common. Scattered throughout the park are beautiful plants, walking paths, and a large lagoon in the middle of the park. Wafting through the middle of the lagoon are the famous Swan Boats, which for a few bucks, can take you on a peaceful 15 minute ride through the Garden.
The Public Garden claims to be the first botanical garden in the US. The large bronze statue of George Washington is definitely a highlight.
And for those who like a little popular culture as well, Cheers lies just to the north of the Garden.
A trip to the Boston Public Garden just wouldn't be complete without a ride on its ever famous swan boats. Children and adults alike will love the ride around the pond. Be sure to bring some old bread or crackers to feed to the ducks and swans that are bound to be following the boat around.
The Swan Boats will open on Saturday April 19th for the 2008 season and closing on Sunday September 21st for the 2008 season. . Until then hours of operation are 12-4 during the week and 10-4 on the weekends.
The cost per adult is $2.75, $1.55 for children 2-15, and $2.00 for seniors.
Here's a little bit of trivia for you, the swan boats have been floating visitors around the Public Garden pond since 1877, that over 120 years.
This tip is entirely related to the The Common, as both parks are separated by the racing traffic of Charles Street and little else.
The Public Garden has a bit of a different feel than The Common. This park is patrician, dainty, downright British and not pleased should you trod upon it's beautifully manicured lawns. Want that? Cross Charles Street!
Few public parks in the United States are as charming and enchanting as The Public Garden. From it's pedestrian bridges to its skate pond, Swan boats to its flower beds, The Public Garden is a gorgeous respite in the heart of Boston and possibly the most visited site in the city.
For good reason.
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