Families who want a little nature in the city flock here. Part of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Emerald Necklace, the 265-acre arboretum is owned by Harvard University and is free and open to the public. Crisscrossed with wide, wide paths that wend around the facility’s collection of trees, shrubs, and vines, this is a fabulous place to enjoy the seasons. For the most part, the paths are flat and easy but note that there are some steeper inclines as you go farther in. And, dads and moms will tell you, that while there aren’t any playgrounds here on sunny days it won’t be hard for kids to meet new friends to run around with. The arboretum is accessible by public transportation, and there is a fair amount of street parking. However, traffic on the Arborway can be heavy, and it tends to move very fast so it can be tricky when loading and unloading cars and vans.
Boston Common and Public Garden
Without a doubt, this is a favorite of many families. Easily accessible and easy to get around with generous walkways and flat terrain. There are plenty of grassy areas to run around and while the Common and Public Garden are tourist favorites the paths seldom seem cramped. Besides the history and natural beauty there, moms and nannies love that there is so much to do. Rose Machado of Taunton agrees. Machado, who makes the trip regularly with her 10-month-old daughter, Aubee, said, “There are so many different things to do, you can keep a baby busy just with the sights and sounds for a couple of hours.’’ On the Common, parents and kids head to Frog Pond where there is ice skating in winter and a spray pool — which just closed for the season — in the summer. Nearby there is a carousel and the Tadpole Playground, which is scaled for younger children. At the Public Garden, kids can ride swan boats and on the corner of Beacon and Charles streets sits a series of bronze ducklings inspired by Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings.’’ Before you go read the book; and when you’re there be sure to snap some pictures. Getting here by public transportation is easy. There’s not much in the way of street parking, but there are a number of public lots around, including one underneath Boston Common.