Boston Stories and Tips

Make Way for Ducklings: A Visit to the Boston Public Gardens

The Boston Public Gardens has been a budget traveller's activity since it was established in 1837, the first public botanical garden in the US. The park consists of 24 acres bound by Arlington, Boylston, Charles and Beacon Streets, and is nearby the Boston Commons.

A swanboat ride is a delightful budget activity. The swanboats are peddled like a bicycle by the boat's captain while visitors sit in open-air rows. A huge swan sculpture hides the captain, creating the appearance of large swans gliding on the water. While many other tours in Boston are outrageously expensive, the traditional swan boats only cost between $1 to $2.50. They operate from April to mid-September. The Swanboats are closest to the Arlington T-stop. Call 617-522-1966 for more information.

Ducks, swans, and geese swim in the manmade pond. Do Not Feed the Ducks. Although the book shows people feeding peanuts to the ducks, actually feeding the birds causes many ecological problems. The birds do not learn to provide their own food and sometimes do not migrate south for the winter. It also pollutes the water and contributes to over-population. There are signs to this effect in the gardens, but they are widely ignored. Please realize that by feeding the ducks, you are harming them.

Wander around and you are sure to find the bronze duck family, memorializing Robert McCloskey's famous children's book, Make Way for Ducklings. The story tells a tale of a family of ducklings who finally find the perfect home in Boston's Public Gardens.

Please note that skateboarding and rollerblading is not welcome in the public garden. It is a lovely place for a stroll or a jog. Walking in the park reveals many surprises, from hidden fountains and statues.

The public gardens are so well-shaded that I sometimes will walk through here rather than on the nearby streets to get from one part of downtown Boston to another.

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