The Best Way to See Boston & the Public Garden is by Trolley
The USA is such a mass of history, style, personality, gastronomy – the works. Its visage changes with each State border, bringing visitors new vantage points of inhabited lands. It is a nation that changes with every border, leaving you unable to compare. You just can’t. They each have what l call “Stately Shticks.” And Boston was no different. A New England city of historical events, inspired architecture, modern gastronomic excellence, and preserved traditions that withstand the test of time. Plus it is possible to enjoy the city not only by car or bus, but also an old fashioned trolley.
The Historic Tours of America run a hop-on hop-off narrated trolley tour taking guests through the main core and harbour of this beautiful colonial city. I loved this option over a traditional bus or walking tour as the old fashioned trolley that begins your journey with a fun chorus of Judy Garland’s “Trolley Song” seemed to suit the city’s historic ambiance. I mean, you’re talking events dating back to the 1600’s for heaven sake!
The tour brings travellers to the important places and those not-so-famous landmarks in the city. It is the perfect itinerary for the sightseeing traveller wanting to fit as much history, nostalgia, and cityscapes in a holiday as possible. As we got so much out of our experience, we are going to take you our readers on a virtual trolley tour in this Boston series to give you the city’s highlights mapped out perfectly.
And so we begin with the Public Garden & Boston Common.
This was one of my favourite places in all of Boston. Located in the middle of the city, the trolley brings you here sharing fun facts about the history and sites within it. This is the oldest botanical garden in the USA dating all the way back to 1837! An incredible legacy, this garden has withstood the test of time with gorgeous trees, plants, foliage, flowers, and more. Gardeners and designers have been contracted through the years to ensure these gardens are of an aesthetic standard with Victorian influences, horticultural excellence, and conservation efforts.
Grab a picnic, bring your family and stroll through the landscaped ground admiring everything this peaceful place has to offer. The park is dog-friendly; just ensure they are on leads. As well, if you time your visit right, you may see the two resident swans enjoying a swim in the pond. These two beautiful birds affectionately named Romeo and Juliet entertain visitors year round making them famous celebrities in Boston.
The Public Garden not only has its age to thank for its popularity, but it also is an ideal setting for events, weddings, films and, back in the day, battles. As you stroll through, make sure you stop and check out the incredibly detailed and stately George Washington statue standing proudly surrounded by rose bushes, shrubs, and impatiens.
Make Way For Ducklings
Enjoy children’s stories or are a bookworm? Make sure you stop at the Make Way for Ducklings statue tribute to the famous story of the same name written by author Robert McCloskey in 1941. The tale is about two mallards with their eight ducklings making a trip from the Charles River to the Boston Public Garden.
In the park, a bronze sculpture was designed by Nancy Schön and erected in 1987 to recognize Boston’s #1 Children’s tale featuring the mother duck with her eight children Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. The children’s names were chosen specifically to teach kids the alphabet as their names go from the letter J to Q in order.
This story is so popular and renowned here in Boston that it is read publicly every Mother’s Day around the statue. Mothers and children gather around and listen to the beautiful words narrated for them. Truly a heartwarming tradition.
The Graceful Swan Boats
So this was one of my absolute favourite experiences in Boston. It made my heart happy to enjoy something that has been a tradition to this city for 141 years and is still run by the founding family – The Pagets.
These beautiful boats take you on a leisurely ride around the pond inside the Public Garden. It is run with pedals, costs a reasonable $3.50 and will definitely add a touch of romance to your holiday. What I love most about this attraction is that it has not suffered from modernization with technological advancements or lack of interest. It has withstood the test of time and brings a classic experience that once brought couples dressed in suits to the jetty for a blissful ride. From the beginning to present day it serves as a focal point in many a romantic rendez-vous and continues to be a popular choice for first dates. Once docked, why not browse their little shop of magnets, pictures, postcards, books, and unique artifacts? Learn more about this incredible family and how their business has succeeded for more than a century.
Looking for other ways to enjoy your romantic date in Boston? Our friend Amy knows quite a few great experiences for couples in Boston. Check out her romantic ideas and couple them with the swan boats on your next trip!
The Boston Common
So, as you are enjoying the beauty of the oldest botanical garden in the USA, keep strolling through and you will make your way into the Boston Common.
The Boston Common, created two centuries earlier in 1634 as the first public park in the United States, has a brilliant history within its grounds. It is the actual spot where the Revolution commenced by the Colonial Militia in 1768.
It was here on these grounds that the notables (2 former presidents to boot) George Washington, John Adams, and General Lafayette celebrated the first Independence Day, Civil war enlistment took place in 1860, and WWI anti-slavery discussions deliberated.
Boston Common to this day is a favourite venue for public assemblies and staged reenactments of these historical events. Other momentous events of the past that have occurred here include:
- Rallies for WWII
- Events led by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Charles Lindbergh’s aviation presentations
- Organized Civil Rights Demonstrations
- Mass conducted by Pope John Paul II
The Common is also the home of the famous Frog Pond. Back in the day you would see thousands of these green amphibians (a few princes perhaps!?) hopping freely within the waters. Sadly the population of these guys has diminished significantly over the years and therefore the pond was converted to a swim area for the kid in all of us. You can still see the odd frog now and then, but not nearly as many as in previous decades.
Boston is a treasure trove of sites and landmarks for any jam-packed getaway. There is a ton for the historian, horticulture for the gardener and florist, famous sites for the typical tourist who enjoys seeing the main attractions, and the touch of romance with the gracefully blissful swan boats. With all of this to see and more, it is no wonder the Historic Tours of America included the Boston Common and Public Garden as part of their comprehensive tour of the city. You cannot leave Boston without at least setting foot in these beautifully manicured grounds. The trolley guides give such thorough detail on the significance of this land and certainly demonstrate impressive knowledge. It certainly won my historic and horticultural side over!
More to come on our Boston series including Bostonian favourites to pull at your nostalgic, historical, gastronomic, and shopper heartstrings. Thank you to the Historic Tours of America for educating us on this glorious part of Boston.
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Fill My Passport were a guest of Historic Tours of America in Boston on our recent trip. All opinions in this post and upcoming content in our Boston Virtual Trolley tour series are our own and were not influenced in any way.
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