New England is one of the most popular U.S. Fall travel destinations, and for good reason: over the course of a few weeks from September to October, trees from Maine down to Connecticut turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red as the temperatures begin to cool.
While road tripping is a common way to go “leaf peeping,” Boston’s fall colors can easily be seen on foot or by public transportation. Here are a few places in and around the city where you can get your foliage fix.
Boston Public Garden
Kick off a day of fall sightseeing by taking a leisurely stroll through the 24-acre Public Garden, the first botanical garden in the U.S. The garden is meticulously landscaped with both seasonal and annual plants and flowers, and the garden’s lagoon provides stunning reflections of the many willow trees in their fall glory.
From the Public Garden, cross over Beacon St. and head down Charles St. to the Esplanade, one of Boston’s most popular parks for exercising and socializing. There, you’ll see plenty of color as you walk, jog or bike along the tree-lined path, which stretches for three miles along the Charles River from the Museum of Science to Boston University. For some of the best views of the Boston skyline, cross over one of the bridges to the Cambridge side.
Back Bay Fens
Back Bay Fens is part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a string of six parks designed by Frederick Law Olmstead that you can reach on foot walking west on Boylston St. from the Back Bay. Here you’ll find a peaceful oasis where you can enjoy the foliage while walking or jogging the 1.6-mile Emerald Necklace Loop Trail, and take in sights like a 17th-century Japanese temple bell and the last remaining World War II “victory” community garden.
Also part of the Emerald Necklace is tree-lined Jamaica Pond, which can be easily reached by taking the MBTA Orange Line to the Green Street Station. Walk or jog the 1.5-mile paved path that circles the pond to take in the changing leaves of the surrounding trees, or head out on the water for a 360-degree view – you can rent sailboats, row boats, and kayaks during daylight hours at the Boathouse through October.
Take the Orange Line one more stop to the Forest Hills Station to reach the “crown jewel” of the Emerald Necklace, Arnold Arboretum. This 281-acre preserve is home to one of the most extensive botanical collections in the world. With about 15,000 shrubs, vines and trees – including maples and crabapples from around the world – you’ll be treated to a brilliant bouquet of fall colors as you wander through the gardens or relax on the lawn.
Middlesex Fells Reservation
At the opposite end of the Orange Line is Middlesex Fells Reservation, 2,575 wooded acres spanning several towns north of Boston. When you exit the Oak Grove Station, it’s only a 10-minute or so walk to Gate 58, where you can access an extensive network of trails for the most impressive foliage views. It’s quite easy to get lost in the Fells, so be sure to download a trail map before you head out!
If you’re looking for an easy day trip out of Boston, few places offer more fall fun than Salem, where the trees’ vibrant colors provide the perfect backdrop for the town’s Haunted Happenings. Check out the Salem Burying Ground and Salem Common, or take a 30-minute walk out to Salem Willows Park. There, you’ll find dozens of white willows, along with sweeping ocean views. You can get to Salem in just under an hour by taking the high-speed ferry from Long Wharf or the commuter rail from North Station.
Historic Concord is another great day trip destination in the Fall – it’s only a 40-minute ride on the commuter rail from North Station. From Concord Station, walk through town to the heavily wooded Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where under the changing leaves you can pay your respects to literary greats like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott. You’ll also find great color at Concord’s Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau famously spent two years communing with nature – but you’ll likely want to hail an Uber or Lyft to make the two-mile trip there.