Here’s How You Should Spend the First Day of Summer

A man took advantage of the sunshine along the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, Massachusetts.
A man took advantage of the sunshine along the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, Massachusetts. –JESSICA RINALDI/ GLOBE

Today marks the Summer Solstice, or the longest day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

Bostonians can look forward to a sunny 75 degree day, and we’ve compiled some ways for you to enjoy it outside.

1. The Charles River Esplanade

According to The Esplanade Association, the beautiful riverside park that runs north of the West End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and Kenmore Square neighborhoods, has been around (as we know it today) since the 1930s. Funny enough, what is now a lush, tree-lined path you can bike, run, walk or picnic along, was once described as an “unholy mess’’ when it was under construction in 1931.


Lucky for you, the roughly three-mile Esplanade now features plenty of places to soak up the sun, catch up on some summer reading, or enjoy an icy lemonade. There are plenty of benches and docks to lounge on if you start your walk by the Museum of Science (Monsignor O’Brien Highway and Storrow Drive), and head west toward the Boston University Bridge.

(Spending the day with an adventurous spirit? Rent a two-person kayak or a paddleboat and glide along the Charles River.)

2. The Boston Harborwalk

Whether you’re in East Boston, the boardwalks of Charlestown, the wharves of the North End and Downtown, or the Fort Point Channel in South Boston, there’s no excuse not to put on some comfortable sneakers and go for a stroll along Boston Harbor.

If you’re enjoying the day on your own, download this free MP3 audio walking tour of Downtown and learn about local characters, famous shipwrecks, and where to get the best lobster roll in town as you amble along the wharves of the Harbor.

(Have a dog with you? That’s fine: Most of the parks and beaches along the Harborwalk are pooch-friendly, as long as you bring a leash.)


3. The Arnold Arboretum

The free outdoor tree and plant museum at Harvard University, located at 125 Arborway, Boston, is always a gorgeous place to walk through a variety of shrubs, trees and flowers. But today, there’s even more to do. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., visitors can attend “In the Groves: A Summer Solstice Journey,’’ featuring “tree myths, songs and Summer Solstice legends’’ for $25.

(Feeling competitive? Print out a “Wildlife of the Arboretum’’ bingo card and keep track of all of the birds, mammals, and insects you see. The first in your group to check off four in a row, wins.)

4. Southwest Corridor Park (Tennis courts)

This 4.7-mile park stretches from the Back Bay to Forest Hills and links The South End, Back Bay, Roxbury and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods. If you’re looking to break a sweat, there are five tennis courts to choose from to swing the ol’ racket with a friend. If you’re with some non-athletic pals, they can easily find a different way to pass the time, as there are plenty of open tree-lined pathways to stroll or bike along. The Headquarters address is 38 New Heath St., Jamaica Plain, but you can take the Orange Line to any stop between Back Bay and Forest Hills to get there.

(Have afternoon plans? No worries, the courts are open until 10 p.m.)

5. The Boston Public Garden (Swan Boats)

They may seem cliché, but the Swan Boats are just so darn cute! In honor of the first day of summer, take part in a 130-year-old Boston tradition and take a ride with your friends or significant other that you won’t forget any time soon. The Public Garden has never looked so beautiful, so you might as well view the flowers and all that green space from the comfort of your bird-shaped boat. Tickets for adults are just $3 and it’s $1.50 for kids. The quickest way to get there is to take the Green Line to Arlington Station and walk four minutes to the Garden.


(Feeling a little lazy? You’re in luck, because the Swan Boats are driven for you.)

6. The Shipyard (KO Pies)

The Shipyard (256 Marginal Street, East Boston) is an underrated outdoor gem in Boston. The marina facility has incredible views of Boston’s skyline, so we recommend you go there for an outdoor dinner at KO Pies before the sun sets and the city lights up spectacularly. KO Pies, which features Australian-inspired meat and vegetarian pies, has picnic tables outside where you can watch the ships go by and feel a light breeze.

(Have an artistic eye? The Shipyard Gallery has an outdoor collection of 30 contemporary artworks that is open to the public, free of charge. We particularly like “The Cod,’’ a 40-foot metal sculpture of, you guessed it, a codfish. What’s more Boston than that?)

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