Best things to do along Boston's GreenwayRose Kennedy Greenway Activities, Food Trucks and Things to Do
The 17 acre green ribbon of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is a true treasure to the city of Boston. Born of the Big Dig that sank major highways beneath the city and named for the matriarch of the Kennedy political dynasty, the Greenway winds its way 1.5 miles through downtown Boston.
Along the Greenway, you'll find are well-known features like the carousel and the Rings Fountain. Then there are some easier-to-miss points of interest.
The winding pathways of the Greenway that lead visitors through Chinatown, the North End, and the Harborwalk are home to scenic views, beautifully maintained plantings, as well as rotating whimsical art - from sculpture and fountains, to murals and other points of interest.
Masterfully managed by the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, the nonprofit that manages and cares for the park, we present some of our favorite hidden gems.
Located in n Wharf Districts Park, across from the New England Aquarium, is a wonderful urban spray park, where you can cool off in the hot Summer days. Rings fountain on the Green way is a popular place to be in the Summer for kids of all ages. Rings Fountain has 64 nozzles that create circles of water, the fountain runs May through October, daily.
- The fountain park has free public WIFI.
- You can bring dogs as long as they are on a leash.
- The fountain creates and makes circles and unpredictable water patterns, the fountain is beautifully lit in the night.
- The park has paved paths for strolling and running at any time of the day. It has open lawn areas for children to play.
- The Wharf Districts Park gives nice views of the Boston skyline. It is a green little space in the middle of the buildings.
- Families can have a picnic in the park. The park has many benches and lighting structures.
- Food vendors operate in the park May through September. There are also many restaurants nearby.
- Families can come together and enjoy some water play in the rings fountain, toddlers, teens and children of all ages will enjoy getting drenched in water in the Summer.
photo courtesy of the Rose Kennedy Greenway
Another fun thing to do is visit the one-of-a-kind carousel located in the heart of Boston featuring 33 New England natiive animals. These unique carousel creatures were inspired by the drawings of Boston schoolchildren and brought to life by a local artist.
Entirely ADA accessible, and fun for all ages, take a spin on a sea turtle, a lobster, an owl, a whale and more!
The Greenway Carousel is located downtown, on the beautiful Rose Kennedy Greenway within the gardens of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove. It is easily accessible by public transportation, walking, and car.
Steps from Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Christopher Columbus Park, and the Boston Harbor Walk, (not to mention, the North End!) you’ll enjoy a cool ocean breeze with views of the City in every direction!
The Greenway Carousel is also a special outdoor event venue for private birthday parties, camp field trips, and school outings! Special discounted ticket pricing is available for large groups of 15 or more.
For birthdays, celebrate with family and friends in your reserved party area (tables,chairs, and umbrellas included!) with one of our incredible Party Hosts. Our fun-filled party package includes Unlimited Ride Wristbands for up to 16 participants who’ll each receive a Goody Bag.
And if you are hungry from riding the Carousel, experience some of The Greenway’s award-winning food and dessert trucks nearby!
This interactive installation in the Greenway’s Wharf District area, between the New England Aquarium and the Boston Harbor Hotel, is both a cooling fountain and a contemporary art piece.
Photo Credit: Don Kinsvatte
Harbor Fog emits a refreshing motion-activated mist and includes colorful LED lights as well as sounds of nearby Boston Harbor.
North End Swinging Benches
An example of innovative and interactive seating on the Greenway, the swinging benches are located under the pergolas along Cross Street.
The benches are a great place to sit and relax, just steps away from the North End. They face Boston's downtown area and there are a series of water jets across the walkway that you can play around and cool off in during the summer.
Armenian Heritage Park Zen Labyrinth and Abstract Sculpture
Armenian Heritage Park and sculpture are located on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The park celebrates the immigrant experience and contributions made to American life and culture, and the abstract sculpture is dedicated to the lives lost during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 and all genocides that have followed.
Photo courtesy of the Rose Kennedy Greenway
The abstract sculpture, a split dodecahedron, is mounted on a Reflecting Pool. Every early spring, a crane lifts and pulls apart the two halves of the steel-and-aluminum work to create a new sculptural shape.
“Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have offered hope and refuge for immigrants seeking to begin new lives.
The park is a gift to the people of the Commonwealth and the City of Boston from the Armenian-American community of Massachusetts. This sculpture is offered in honor of the one and one half million victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.
May it stand in remembrance of all genocides that have followed, and celebrate the diversity of the communities that have re-formed in the safety of these shores."
Codzilla - Looking for a bit of a thrill? Hold on to your hats. It's Codzilla! Located in the Harbor next to the Aquarium, Codzilla is Boston's first and only high-speed thrill boat ride featuring two turbo-charged diesel engines generating 2,800 horsepower. Get ready for more laughs and speed than you ever imagined in a boat as you zip across the ocean at up to 40 miles per hour with the wind roaring and the music blaring through a state of the art sound system.
If you aren't into thrill rides, you can also opt to take a short ferry ride over to Charlestown to visit Old Ironsides and the Bunker Hill Monument. Boston Harbor Whale watching tours also depart from this dock, so you really have a lot of fun excursions to choose from.
Elevated Highway Pillar (From before the Big Dig)
A quiet reminder of what was here before the Big Dig, this lone green, riveted pillar was one of many that supported an elevated highway that occupied the space where the Greenway now rests. This artifact, is located behind the Dewey Square mural.
Dewey Square Park
This park is located between Congress Street and Summer Street at Atlantic Avenue, and connects the major transportation hub of South Station to the Financial District.
It's most noticeable feature is a giant mural that changes annually, along with gardens, a rotating series of art sculpture, lawn areas, as well as the seasonally red adirondack chairs that are open for all to use during the summer. This section of the Greenway allows for locals and visitors alike some time to relax and revel in the sun.
Many events take place daily that attract both locals and tourists, including a seasonal farmers market, community gatherings and private events.
The Greenway, together with the Boston Calling Music Festival and the Downtown BID present weekly block parties Thursday evenings from 5-8 pm featuring music and beer and wine for sale through September.
The tables, chairs, and popular food trucks have made Dewey Square Park an active lunch destination. On weekdays, up to eight mobile food vendors serve breakfast and lunch. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from May through November, two food vendors are joined by up to 15 vendors for the Boston Public Market Farmer's Market.
City Winery also hosts a wine garden in Dewey Square, which is easily accessible by Commuter Rail from South Station or Red Line subway from South Station. The wine garden is a fun and friendly destination for all to gather, play and unwind.
Summer also conjures social gatherings at the Trillium Beer Garden. Trillium is a local beer producer grounded in the concept of a New England farmhouse brewery, using local ingredients whenever possible. It's a very popular spot to grab a brew during the summer.
Rotating Art Exhibits:
Neon Signs (2019)
Year of the Pig Sculptures (2019)
There were 8 in all, which makes this particular sculpture more of a scavenger hunt. They are all different colors and designs, and it's fun to try to find them all as you walk along the open spaces of the Greenway.
Annual art installations include lots of whimsical art that is great for photo ops, inspires conversation and is just pleasing to the eye. There is always something new to see and interact with on the Greenway.
You never know what you might come across. Is this the Wicked Witch of the West's house? Or just a yellow meeting house on it's side? Things that make you go hmm...
These signature light blades change color and add a really festive atmostphere to the central Greenway area. Before you visit, make sure you download this android app, which lets you change the colors of the Greenway’s 24-foot-tall “light blades” with just the touch of a button. Yes, indeed! You can control the colors of the blades and amaze your friends.
photo courtesy of The Greenway Conservancy
Essex Street Gate
The Essex Street Gate serves as the Greenway’s modern, contemporary counterpoint to the more traditional Chinatown gate at Beach Street.
The sampan sail sculpture represents the passage of Chinese immigrants to Boston, while the bold red gateway symbolizes good fortune. Each year, a new art installation inhabits this popular corner spot,
Uncle Frank & Auntie Kay Chin Park
A lovely oasis at the southern end of the Greenway, this one-acre linear park contains design elements drawn from Asian traditions and art work. The area contains a serpentine walkway edged by bamboo within bright red sculptural elements and a unique fountain that suggests a waterfall and shallow riverbed.
As you near the Chinatown Gate, you will find a brightly colored play structure and some benches to contemplate where to grab a bite to eat. Perhaps some dim sum, a Vietnamese sandwich, or a bowl of noodles and dumplings in one of the many nearby restaurants .
Boston’s Chinatown is the third largest Chinatown in the United States, coming in behind NYC and San Francisco.
At the very end (or beginning!) of the Greenway, you will pass through the traditional Boston Chinatown’s opening gate. It was designed to ward off evil using two foo lions on either side of the entrance gate.
You can celebrate many Chinese holidays throughout the year when you visit Boston’s Chinatown such as Lunar New Year, August Moon, and other festivals. There are also quite a few excellent Dim Sum Restaurants, among others, to enjoy.
In addition to the beautiful Greenway, the Charles River Esplanade, the Castle Island, and Piers Park are all wonderful spots to explore in the city, offering lots of open spaces and amazing views of the harbor and/or city skylines.
We encourage you to visit our guides to find more Things to Do in Boston with Kids, and Free Things to Do in Boston, to help you make the most of your visit to Boston and beyond.
Stacey Sao has been the Managing Director of the family-friendly events & activities website, BostonCentral for over 20 years. She continues to enjoy discovering and exploring new places to visit in the Greater Boston area.