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Great Places to Enjoy Nature and Outdoors in Greater Boston

Boston is a city that you can celebrate all four seasons in. The Parks Dept. and the Trustees of Reservations feature an amazing array of parks to enjoy all year round. Boston area parks include landmarks like The Boston Common, and the Charles River Esplanade, as well as unique spots like Purgatory Chasm and Castle Island & Fort Independence. An annual Massachusetts ParksPass is a great way to save on parking fees.

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Rose Kennedy GreenwayBoston, Free
The Rose Kennedy Greenway encompasses gardens, plazas, and tree-lined promenades. Offering beautiful places for relaxation within the rhythm of the urban environment, the Greenway is a key feature of the modern...
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Arnold ArboretumJamaica Plain, Free
The Arnold Arboretum is one of the area's truly great places to get away during the spring, summer and fall. The two-mile-long main walking trail is paved and allows for leisurely stroller walks. Plant, flower and...
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Boston Harbor Islands National Park AreaBoston
The Boston Harbor Islands offer countless opportunities for visitors to tour historical sites, observe wildlife, and participate in recreational activities.
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Breakheart ReservationSaugus, Free
Breakheart Reservation is a 640-acre hardwood forest with an extensive trail system, year-round ranger programs, and summer fishing and swimming.
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Garden In The Woods: Native Plant TrustFramingham, $$
This ever-changing living museum — New England's premier wildflower garden — has more than 1600 kinds of plants, and beautiful walking trails.
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Massachusetts DCR State ParksMassachusetts, $
Start discovering all the beauty and adventure of DCR's Parks today. From hiking & camping to kayaking and fishing - you are sure to find something for everyone.
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Maudslay State ParkNewburyport, Free
An exquisite place for walking, biking, and informal picnics. Walk through fragrant evergreens and keep your eyes peeled for the wishing well and the pet cemetery, hidden in the magnificent rhododendron forest.
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New England Botanic Garden at Tower HillBoylston, $$
Stroll the gardens and grounds to explore nature, take a Contemplative break from work or share some quality time with your family. Check for special events.
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Purgatory Chasm State ReservationSutton, Free
This unique natural landmark, Purgatory Chasm is different than any other state park around. Instead of just walking through the woods, it's about climbing rocks big and small. Lots of free parking. Grills and picnic...
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Stage Fort Park BeachesGloucester, $$
The Park consists of Half Moon and Cressy's beaches. Half Moon is a lovely small beach ideal for families with children. Cressy's Beach is a rocky, more natural beach.
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The Charles River EsplanadeBoston, Free
One beautiful area of Boston is the 17-mile stretch of land along the banks of the Charles River. To many people, this area is known as the Esplanade, especially near the Hatch Shell.
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Walden Pond State ParkConcord, Free
Henry David Thoreau lived for two years at Walden Pond in the mid-nineteenth century and wrote of his experiences in the well-known book Walden. The area offers swimming, hiking, fishing, boating for car-top boats and...
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Appleton FarmsIpswich, Free
Wander among crop fields and livestock pastures, wetlands and forest, at America’s oldest, continuously operating farm. Family and dog friendly, easy hiking and cross-country skiing in a beautiful location.
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Boston CommonBoston, $
Boston Common is Boston, Massachusetts' most famous public park and the oldest city park in the United States, dating as far back as 1634. It includes 50 acres of open park space with sports fields, a spray fountain &...
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Boston Public GardenBoston, Free
The Boston Public Garden is the oldest public park in the country, with swan-boat rides in the park's lake, beautiful winding paths and impressive gardens. Lots of benches to sit and relax.
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Bradley Palmer State Park & Wading PoolTopsfield, $
The Bradley Palmer State Park Wading Pool is a large, shallow, pleasant place for little ones to get wet. There are lifeguards, bathrooms, a small climbing structure, and lots of shady lounging areas.
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Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center & Wildlife SanctuaryWorcester, $
Spend a summer afternoon canoeing at Green Hill Park. Canoes, paddles and basic instruction provided. Swim skills required. Under 18 requires accompanying adult.
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Castle Hill on the Crane EstateIpswich, $$
Castle Hill exemplifies the American Country Place Era with its farm and estate buildings, designed grounds and gardens, and diverse natural areas.
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3-story museum and park dedicated to learning about our natural world. Animal exhibits, hands-on exhibits, special programs, train ride & planetarium.
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Fruitlands MuseumHarvard, $$
One of the first outdoor museums in America, at Fruitlands visitors discover the stories, experiments and ideals of the Alcotts, Shakers, utopians, artists and Native peoples. Fruitlands four galleries, singular...
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Fruitlands Museum Walking TrailsHarvard, Free
Take a morning stroll over the land of Fruitlands Museum. Enjoy a peaceful walk through Fruitlands' varied landscapes on 3.2 miles of well-marked walking trails.
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World's EndHingham, $
World's End comprises four coastal drumlins -- Pine Hill, Planter's Hill, and the double drumlins of World's End proper -- all connected by over four miles of walking paths that offer dramatic views of the Weir River,...
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Acton ArboretumActon, Free
The Acton Arboretum, in the town’s center, consists of 64 acres of woods, meadows, swamp, ponds, old apple orchards, a glacial esker, and a bog.
Amesbury Town ParkAmesbury, Free
The Amesbury Town Park, located between Friend and Highland Streets, is expansive and modern, offering a place for children of all ages to play.
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Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & ArboretumRhode Island, $
Blithewold, located in Bristol, RI, is 33 acres of lawns, gardens, specimen trees, and historic stone structures. Blithewold provides a wide array of educational programs for adults and children.
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Blue Hills State ReservationMilton, Free
With its scenic views, varied terrain and 125 miles of trails, the Blue Hills Reservation offers year-round enjoyment for the outdoor enthusiast. Great trails for any level.
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Blue Hills Trailside MuseumMilton, $
The Blue Hills Trailside Museum is the interpretive center for the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation and is managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
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Blue Ocean Society for Marine ConservationNew Hampshire, Free
Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation is based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In the summer, they host a Marine Life Touch Tank in Portsmouth and the Sea Life Discovery Center in Salisbury Beach.
Boston Nature CenterMattapan, $$
This urban sanctuary, located on the grounds of the former Boston State Hospital, offers public programs year-round. Through its Boston Schools Initiative, the Boston Nature Center provides environmental education programs to Boston elementary schools weekly.
Callahan State ParkFramingham, Free
Callahan State Park is an 820-acre reserve area with 7 miles of marked trails for fishing, hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.
Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, $
Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge on Chappaquiddick Island (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts) owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations. The refuge consists of 516 acres and includes the 1893 Cape Poge Lighthouse.
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Cashman ParkNewburyport, Free
A waterfront park that has activities for everyone: a jungle gym, open fields, tennis and basketball courts, soccer and softball fields, and a public boat ramp!
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Charles River ParklandsMassachusetts, Free
The “ribbon of green and blue” of the Charles River parklands defines the center of Boston's metropolitan area, giving residents and visitors alike an enduring sense of place and a refuge for recreation, contemplation,...
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Christopher Columbus Waterfront ParkBoston, Free
The Columbus Waterfront Park has a great playground, free views of the waterfront, a pretty rose garden, and plenty of room for kids to run around and burn off
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Cochituate State ParkNatick
A popular day park featuring water based activities including boating, swimming, windsurfing, and fishing on its three large lakes.
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Community Recreation Spots In MassachusettsBoston
Rediscover the incredible public resources that are available all around Massachusetts, including facilities for canoeing, swimming, camping, hiking, walking and bike riding at Massachusetts Parks, and much more...
Dillaway-Thomas House at Roxbury Heritage State ParkRoxbury
The Dillaway-Thomas House was built in 1750 and served as headquarters for General John Thomas and the Continental Army during the siege of Boston in 1775.
Dinosaur FootprintsWestern Mass, Free
Dinosaur footprints, fossilized plants, and delicate ripple marks of a prehistoric pool are preserved in stone at this reservation. Since at least 1860, ichnologists have acclaimed the Connecticut River Valley for its abundance dinosaur tracks.
Dr. Suess National Memorial Sculpture GardenWestern Mass, Free
The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is now open at the Quadrangle in Springfield, MA, the city where Theodor Seuss Geisel was born.
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Duxbury Beach ParkDuxbury
Two beaches in one (Inner Beach and Outer Beach) as the beach is sort of a thin penninsula with a parking lot in the middle. Overall, the beach is a long thin stretch that is somewhat 'stoney' along the shore.
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Elm Bank at Mass Horticultural SocietyWellesley, $
Mass Hort’s 36-acre hands-on horticulture center offers adults and children the opportunity to experience, enjoy and learn about plants and the environment. Perfect for walking, running, hiking, playing, picnicking,...
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Emerald Necklace, Charles River & Boston HarborBoston
Emerald Necklace, The Charles River, and the Boston Harbor Islands - three of Boston's recreational gems! Discover these great parks and all they have to offer.
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Endicott ParkDanvers, $
Offers a large playground, animal farm and nature hiking path. Picnic tables are available throughout the grounds. Bathrooms and drink machines can be found in the main building.
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Francis William Bird ParkWalpole, Free
Over three miles of walking paths wind through the park, traversing streams via old granite bridges and passing through rolling, grassy meadows punctuated with mature shade trees, tree groves, and ponds.
Franklin ParkBoston, Free
Franklin Park is home to Boston's largest forest. It boasts an 18-hole public golf course, tennis courts, baseball fields, old stone ruins, and New England's largest Zoo.
Franklin Park PlaysteadDorchester, Free
Playing fields next to the rear entrance to the Franklin Park Zoo. Near the corner of Seaver Street and Elm Hill Ave. Enter the park by the main road from Blue Hill Avenue or the Arborway and turn on Pierpont Road across from the golf course.
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Great Brook Farm State ParkCarlisle, Free
The park is open year round from sunrise to sunset and is available to the public free of charge. The ice cream stand, and daily barn tours are available throug
Great Falls Discovery CenterCentral Mass, Free
Great Falls Discovery Center is an educational visitor center about the Connecticut River Watershed's rich natural, cultural and industrial history. Exhibits highlight various habitats found in the watershed. Timelines put perspective on today's view of the threats to...
Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge2 Locations, Free
Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is located just 20 miles west of Boston. Roughly 85 percent of the refuge's 3,600 acres is comprised of valuable freshwater wetlands stretching along 12 miles of the Concord and Sudbury Rivers. There is an easy walking loop less...
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Green Briar Nature Center & Jam KitchenSandwich, $
On the shores of Smiling Pool and next to the famous Briar Patch of Thornton Burgess’s stories, Green Briar offers interpreted nature trails and a spectacular wild flower garden. Look for year-round natural history...
Habitat Education Center & Wildlife SanctuaryBelmont, $
Just 6 miles from downtown Boston, Habitat is an 88-acre Mass. Audubon urban oasis devoted to environmental education. Over 2.5 miles of gentle trails wind through deciduous and evergreen forests, across meadows, around 2 ponds, and along a wetland containing a vernal pool.
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Halibut Point State ParkRockport
Halibut Point is made of sheets of 440 million year-old granite that now descend from rocky headland to the tidal pools below.
Hitchcock Center for the EnvironmentAmherst, $
The Hitchcock Center for the Environment on the Larch Hill Conservation Area in Amherst, Massachusetts offers natural history programs for people of all ages and backgrounds.
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Horn PondWoburn, Free
Horn Pond is a great area to visit for nature, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, sunset watching, birdwatching, dog walking, a place to take the kids, hill climbing or just relaxing. There is a large network of walking...
Ipswich River Wildlife SanctuaryTopsfield, $$
Ipswich River, Mass Audubon’s largest sanctuary, offers more than 10 miles of interconnecting trails that invite you to explore the forests, meadows, and wetlands.
Johnny Appleseed TrailCentral Mass, Free
Located along scenic Route 2 between the Freedom Trail and the Mohawk Trail, the Johnny Appleseed Trail of North Central Massachusetts offers a charming New England flavor and a wide range of beautiful foliage, unique getaways, and fall fairs and festivals.
Joppa Flats Education Center & Wildlife SanctuaryNewburyport, $
The Joppa Flats Education Center is located at the gateway to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and the Plum Island estuary. Come see and learn about the many species of birds that utilize the area’s extensive salt marshes, mudflats, rivers, bays, and coastal...
Lynn WoodsLynn, Free
Lynn Woods Reservation is the second largest municipal park in the greater Boston area. This 2,200 acre forest reserve consists of ponds, wetlands, streams, deciduous/evergreen forest and rocky ledge.
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Martin's Park PlaygroundBoston, Free
Adjacent to the Boston Children's Museum on the Smith Family Waterfront in the Seaport District, Boston Parks and Recreation Department has created an inclusive park and play space that is the first of its kind in the...
Massachusetts State ParksMassachusetts, $
Start discovering DCR's Parks today!
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Maudslay State Park - Theater in the OpenNewburyport, $$
Theater in the Open is an outdoor performance stage that transforms the magical tradition of storytelling into theater using puppetry, pageantry, music, movement, and acting.
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Middlesex Fells ReservationStoneham, Free
2,000 acres of trails, rocks, ponds & fields. Hike up to the stone tower that overlooks the Boston basin. See coyote, red fox, and white tail deer. Enjoy frequent nature events for the whole family.
Misery Islands, SalemSalem, Free
A system of trails provides access to most parts of The Trustees' Great Misery Island, including spectacular overlooks, stony beaches, and grassy fields. Little Misery Island is accessible from Great Misery Island by wading across a narrow, shallow channel at very low tide.
Moseley WoodsNewburyport, Free
A seasonal, shady, not-too-crowded park located right on the Merrimack River offers play areas for toddlers and older children.
Moswetuset HummockQuincy, Free
This wooded area located at the intersection of East Squantum St. and Quincy Shore Dr. was the seat of the Indian chief Chickatabot, who was visited by Captain Myles Standish and the Indian guide Squanto in 1621.
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NARA Park & PlaygroundActon, $
During the summer, the beach portion at NARA has a daily rate for swimming. Families can rent boats, use the playground, walk the trails, or take in a concert at the ampitheatre.
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New England Mountain Bike AssociationNew England, $
New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) is a recreational trails advocacy organization. Join in on many rides for adults and families.
New England Wildlife Center Education ProgramsWeymouth
The New England Wildlife Center (NEWC) is a twenty-two year-old humane, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving wildlife and the environment with a wildlife teaching hospital, education, advocacy and public health and habitat intervention. You can tour the center's...
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Odiorne Point State ParkNew Hampshire, $
Odiorne Point, the largest undeveloped stretch of shore on New Hampshire's 18-mile coast, offers lots of fun for nature-lovers: picknicking, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, nature walking, cross-country skiing, and...
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Old North BridgeConcord, Free
Site where the shot heard round the world was fired. Stroller friendly paths give passage to a serene park area with a view of the river.
Old North Church GardensBoston, Free
Surrounding Old North Church are some wonderful, relaxing gardens, including an 18th century garden, complete with rose arches, and terraces.
Parker River National Wildlife RefugeNewburyport, $
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge occupies in part, the southern 3/4ths of Plum Island, an 8 mile (12.9 kilometer) barrier island, and offers excellent wildlife-oriented recreational and educational opportunities with visitor facilities and programs provided to enhance...
Peaked MountainWestern Mass, Free
From the 1,227-foot summit of Peaked ('pea-kid') Mountain, a panoramic view unfolds taking in Connecticut's Shenipsit State Forest to the south, Mount Monadnock to the north, and Mount Wachusett to the northeast.
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Percy Rideout PlaygroundConcord, Free
Wonderful outdoor playground with a jungle gym, swings, and cedar grounds. Equipment is shaded for sunny days.
PhotoWalks Boston ToursVirtual/Online, $$$
Explore Boston with PhotoWalks, historical walking tours with a photographic edge. Learn how to capture Boston's natural beauty and charm in your photos.
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Piers ParkBoston, Free
Piers Park is a beautifully landscaped park providing direct access to the waterfront along with spectacular views of downtown Boston across the inner harbor.
Planet PlaygroundNew Hampshire, Free
A giant, wooden play structure in Exeter, NH, designed with the input of 1200 elementary age children, local artists, and representatives from the special needs community. Come to the playground 'for out of this galaxy fun!'
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Powisset FarmDover, Free
Powisset Farm features a classic old barn, pond, pigs “Tink” and “Molly,” chickens, 104 acres of fields, and more than a mile of new hiking trails. Come discover what makes this a special place for the community! ...
Ravenswood ParkGloucester, Free
Long treasured by residents of Gloucester and neighboring towns, Ravenswood Park offers a tranquil wooded setting for walking, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing along almost ten miles of trails and carriage paths.
Rock MeadowBelmont, Free
Lots of green fields, community gardents,and easy terrain trails in the woods lets you make believe that you have a little bit of the country nearby.
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Roger Williams ParkRhode Island, $
The award-winning Roger Williams Park, designed by Horace Cleveland in 1878, attracts more than 2 million visitors per year. Enjoy a covered Victorian carousel, boating, botanical gardens, zoo and natural history museum.
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Salem Willows ParkSalem, Free
Beautiful shaded seaside grounds, scenic ocean views, public pier, picnic areas, beaches, children's rides, activities and many eateries.
Slocum's River ReserveDartmouth, Free
Formerly known as Island View Farm, Slocum's River Reserve includes mature woodlands, agricultural fields, and pastures that slope down to the western bank of the Slocum's River.
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SMILE Sudbury PlaygroundSudbury, Free
This Sudbury Playground includes a Boundless Playground area designated for 5 – 12 year olds and a new 2 – 5 year old tot lot. Loads of unique climbers & slides to explore for children of all abilities.
Soule HomesteadMiddleboro, $
Soule Homestead Education Center provides hands-on learning opportunities including environmental programs, organic farming activities, traditional crafts, and cultural events.
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South Shore Natural Science CenterNorwell, $
The South Shore Natural Science Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the natural and cultural environments of the South Shore.
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Spring Brook Park Swim AreaBedford, $$
Beach, dock, playground, sprinkler park, volleyball, picnic area, grills, basketball court, concession. Daily rates & memberships available for Bedford residents only.
Squam Lakes Natural Science CenterNew Hampshire, $
Through spectacular live animal exhibits, natural science education programs, and lake cruises, the Science Center has educated and enlightened visitors for forty years about the importance of our natural world.
Sudbury Valley TrusteesMassachusetts, Free
Join SVT staff and volunteers in exploring the Concord, Assabet and Sudbury watershed in a variety of locations through a variety of land and water-based activities
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The Lawn on DBoston
The Lawn on D is a park and playground oasis for children and adults near the Boston convention center. The park features art installations, live music, very cool LED illuminated circular (think glowing) swings,...
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The Monoliths (formerly Agassiz Rocks)Manchester-by-the-Sea, Free
Ascend a small hill to where a massive granite monolith juts into the sky, then pass a swamp where another huge boulder has sat as silent witness for millennia. Big and Little Rocks are dramatic examples of giant...
The Russell Orchards PropertyIpswich, $
On the Road to Crane Beach is a 120-acre farm comprised of fields, gardens, orchards, and barns. Come visit many different types of animals, taste 25 varieties of apples, try some famous cider donuts, enjoy old-fashioned penny candy, visit the winery, and pick your own...
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Trustees of Reservations PropertiesMassachusetts, Free
The Trustees of Reservations preserves, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts.
Underground at Ink Block MuralsBoston, Free
Underground at Ink Block is the successful transformation of an 8-acre underpass located between Boston’s South End and South Boston neighborhoods into an active urban park, cultural attraction and parking amenity.
Waterplace ParkRhode Island, Free
Waterplace Park is a unique urban park and river walk in the heart of downtown Providence. Romantic Venetian-style footbridges, cobblestone walkways, and an amphitheater encircling a tidal pond set the tone at this 4-acre tract.
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Where to Fish in MassachusettsMassachusetts, Free
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) stocks rivers, lakes and ponds with trout for recreational fishing.
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Zoar OutdoorWestern Mass, $$
The Northeast's leader in outdoor adventure offers white water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, and biking adventures in the Berkshires! Take a course or sign up for a guided outing - just get out there and enjoy the...
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A day in the park - who could ask for more? There are so many to choose from in the Boston Metro area - a new adventure every week.