Escaping Boston to Explore its Green Surroundings

After living in Boston for almost a decade, we finally decided to get out of the house this past summer and go explore Arnold Arboretum.

Even though, I have always heard great things about this cherished park, my dread for South Boston’s traffic and my feeble laziness have kept us from visiting.

The Arboretum is located in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood 7 miles from downtown Boston. You can either drive or take the metro Orange Line which stops right next to the park.

Funded through a partnership between the city of Boston and Harvard University, Arnold Arboretum’s entire 280 acres serve as a research institution as well as a public park.

It is part of an extensive system of public parks bringing a green space to various neighborhoods of Boston which extends from Back Bay to Dorchester. The system, called Emerald Necklace, was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted which is known for smaller projects such as NYC’s Central Park and Niagara Reservation.

The Arboretum has a vast collection of trees and plants as well as numerous forested paths. On our first visit, we thought we were going to spend a short time in the park, but instead spent close to three hours.

If you enjoy learning about trees, you may want to trail its southern part where you can walk amongst several trees collected from around the world. Consider visiting the Arboretum during springtime when it is highly regarded for its blooming flowers.

Seeking a Sanctuary in Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

When we first visited in early August, the yellow lotuses were just blooming and they consumed almost the entire wetlands contained within this 12 mile conservation area. Their contrast with the plentiful purple loosestrife and the bright sunlight of the day were just right for a Monet painting.

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is located a 5 minute drive from the historical town of Concord, past a small hidden residential street. The refuge is comprised of mainly wetlands and it is a habitat for a variety of wildlife including migratory birds, plants and reptiles.

Once you leave your car and take a short walk down a narrow trail, you'll find yourself in an open field of waterways offering wide ranging views of the entire refuge.

Coolidge Place LR SIGNATURE small.jpg

The refuge is well known as one of the best places for bird watching in the state and contains watching towers for bird seekers. There are various observation points that visitors can sit down and appreciate the migratory birds and natural plants.

Going Back in Time in Steven’s Coolidge Place

Located just 40 minutes from Boston, this garden and historic home was a former farm and summer home of John Gardner Coolidge and his wife in the mid 1900’s. Helen Coolidge dedicated herself to make their farm an elegant agricultural estate and hired a renowned architect to transform its landscape.

The couple’s late Federal Period farmhouses were remodeled and remain on the property today. A great feature of the farm is its location: right next to the historical downtown of North Andover, which itself is a perfect place for a stroll. The estate is located on Andover Street and easy to find since it is very well marked.

You can enter the grounds for free, stroll through its carefully arranged gardens and explore its remarkably large fields. Unfortunately, tours of the house are not available, but if you enjoy gardens and landscapes a leisurely stroll through its peaceful grounds will make for a wonderful afternoon!