Family Vacations: Boston's Public Gardens

For Bostonians, spring officially begins when the city’s famous swan boats appear on the lagoon in Boston’s Public Gardens.

The biggest celebrities in Boston's Public Gardens are characters from children's literature. In Robert McCloskey's beloved Make Way for Ducklings, a family of ducks travels from Boston's Charles River, with the help of local police officers, to the Public Gardens, where they decide to live. The charming scene of Mrs. Mallard and her eight little ducklings all in a row waddling across the street is immortalized in one of the garden's most popular statues. In E. B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan, Louis the mute swan makes a name for himself by playing his trumpet as he swims alongside the swan boats on the pond. He, too, has a statue devoted to him.

The pond is famous for its swan boats, which have been making leisurely pedal-powered cruises around the water in warmer months since 1877. Children can feed the many ducks, geese, and swans that congregate on the banks of the pond near the oldest botanical garden in the United States. Established in 1837, it has more than 600 varieties of trees and ever-changing flower displays.


Boston’s Public Gardens Information

Address: Arlington St. and Beacon St., Boston, MA

Telephone: 617/723-8144


To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Boston City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit the friendliest walking city in the country.



Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.