Top Ten Lists

Beautiful Parks

Although Massachusetts is the 3rd most densely populated state in the country, it also is one of the most heavily forested (#15), meaning there are ample opportunities for natural recreation outside of the wonderful historic cities.

No matter which section of the state you decide to visit, you will find gorgeous parks and wildlife refuges just a short drive away. Because there are so many parks, they never get overcrowded, so you will always have a peaceful experience. Massachusetts' four season climate is perfect for year-round visits (from hiking in the summer, to fall leaf peeping, to snowshoeing in the winter).

Surprisingly, the Boston Metro area is home to a number of fantastic parks; you really do not have to travel that far outside the city to find a little bit of nature. You would be surprised at the shear number of hiking opportunities available to you within a 30 minute drive of the city. In addition, many other areas around the state have their own unique parks to check out.

Featured below is a list of 10 great parks to check out on your next visit to Massachusetts. Each of these beautiful parks offer great photo opportunities, a chance to get in some daily exercise, and above all, a peaceful little refuge from the city.
  • 1. Myles Standish State Forest
    Myles Standish State Forest
    194 Cranberry Road, , 02366
    Myles Standish is one of the standout parks in Massachusetts. It happens to be the largest recreation area in Southeast Massachusetts, covering large sections of both Plymouth and Carver, and offering 13 miles of hiking trails, 15 miles of biking trails, and 35 miles of equestrian trails.

    But that's not all! Wintertime is perfect for cross country skiing and snowshoeing adventures. There are so many wonderful sights to see (ponds, forests, cranberry bogs) in this 13,000+ acre forest, no matter what season you visit. Other activities to be enjoyed at the park include kayaking, fishing, picnicking, and camping.
  • 2. Blue Hills Reservation
    Blue Hills Reservation
    1904 Canton Ave., , 02816
    Blue Hills is a massive recreational oasis located just 20 minutes or so outside of Boston. At Blue Hills, you will find an endless diversity of trails (125 miles in total!), ranging from easy to difficult, hour long hikes to day long adventures, all offering an opportunity to enjoy the diverse natural landscapes of the area.

    It's hard to believe that this fantastic rural escape is so close to the city. The must-do hike here is the Skyline Trail, which leads you to the Elliot Tower lookout (fantastic views of Boston) and the Blue Hills Weather Observatory (the oldest in the US). This peaceful escape is perfect for those looking for a little bit of rustic fun outside of the city.

    In addition to hiking, you will be able to enjoy a range of diverse activities here including downhill skiing at Blue Hill Ski area (a great alternative to the 4 hour plus drive to Vermont and New Hampshire), camping, horseback riding, rock climbing, and scenic fall foliage chair lift rides during the month of October.
  • 3. Middlesex Fells Reservation
    Middlesex Fells Reservation
    S Border Rd, , 02155
    Middlesex Fells, located just north of the city, is another beautiful hiking destination in the Boston metro area. Like Blue Hills, the park features a scenic overlook looking out upon the Boston skyline. There are so many diverse trails here, ranging from short, relaxing hikes to adventurous, challenging full day hikes.

    It's not quite as large as Blue Hills, but still offers over 100 miles of great trails, including the magnificent Skyline Trail, a challenging 7 mile trail featuring many uphill climbs and great views. No matter which trail you choose, you will appreciate the natural beauty of this city escape. So close to the city, yet so far away!

    Other fun activities at Middlesex include mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and cross country skiing.
  • 4. Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Refuge
    Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Refuge
    298 Cohannet Street, , 02780
    Every town and city in the state is loaded with gorgeous parks. In Taunton lies a little known escape called Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Refuge. The space is small, yet very scenic with picturesque views of the Three Mile River.

    A winter visit is an ideal time for those seeking a quiet refuge, as this time of year the park is completely desolate. The combination of barren trees and solitude cast a mysterious, interesting vibe over the area. The experience of having this great space to yourself can't be beat. The photo opportunities are wonderful and wildlife sightings are common. In addition to the riverfront hiking trails, you have a wetlands boardwalk trail, fishing opportunities, and picnic tables.
  • 5. Boston Common & Boston Public Garden
    Boston Common & Boston Public Garden
    Tremont Street, , 02116
    A trip to Boston wouldn't quite be complete without visiting America's First Park, Boston Common. Boston Common is centrally located nearby many of the city's top attractions, including the starting point of the historic Freedom Trail.

    Beautiful architecture surrounds you at every angle at this beautiful urban park. Gorgeous trees and flowers in the spring, fall foliage in September and October, and holiday lights in the winter always give you something new to look forward to throughout the course of the year. Frog Pond, the centerpiece, transforms into a beautiful ice rink during the winter season. What's more festive than skating while surrounded by beautifully lit Christmas trees and charming historic architecture?

    Boston Public Garden, adjacent to the Common, is another wonderful city park space. During the warmer months, the garden is alive with beautiful trees and flowers. A swan boat ride during the summer months is the perfect way to take in all the beautiful views of the city. The difference in winter is striking, with almost no crowds and a certain barren, icy charm.
  • 6. Great Neck Wildlife Refuge
    Great Neck Wildlife Refuge
    Stockton Shortcut Road, , 02571
    This small refuge in Wareham is well worth a visit for the quiet atmosphere and beautiful views. The trails are easy with no major hills, making it a great place when you want to get in a little exercise, but not a full out exhausting workout. Take some time to relax and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the wooded surroundings. At the end of your trek, you will be treated to great views of a marsh.

    Great Neck is an excellent year-round nature oasis for anyone seeking a little solitude. Snowshoeing is fun during the winter season as the trails are pretty flat. Be sure to bring with your camera as lots of birds and deer call the refuge home.
  • 7. Caratunk Wildlife Refuge
    Caratunk Wildlife Refuge
    301 Brown Avenue, , 02771
    Seekonk, Massachusetts is a popular shopping and dining destination for residents of surrounding towns in both Southeast Massachusetts and the Providence metro area. Amongst the businesses, you will find a fantastic little natural park called Caratunk Wildlife Refuge.

    Here you'll be able to pick amongst a few short trails, each packed with towering trees and beautiful streams. Caratunk is a welcome shopping alternative for those looking to get outside in the fresh air for an hour or 2.
  • 8. Breakheart Reservation
    Breakheart Reservation
    177 Forest St, , 01906
    Breakheart is yet another great escape in the Boston area. This popular hiking area in Saugus, just 20 minutes from Boston, provides miles of trails, many with great views of Boston and the surrounding wooded landscapes. It is not as desolate as other parks on this list, however, it is convenient to the city and offers a few challenging hikes with beautiful panoramic views of the area.

    In addition, 2 lakes within the reservation are open for fishing and summer swimming. Winter visits are not off limits as the miles of trails double as snowshoeing and cross country skiing trails!
  • 9. Copicut Woods
    Copicut Woods
    Indian Town Road, , 02790
    Fall River is a very densely populated old city, part of the Providence, Rhode Island metro area. The city is most well-known for being home to Battleship Cove (the world's largest collection of naval ships) and the Lizzie Borden House (from the infamous murder case of the late 1800's).

    Escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a relaxing walk through forests, swamps, and streams at Copicut Woods. The 5 miles of hiking trails are perfect for year-round use, from summer hiking to winter cross country skiing. The stone walls along the way give the trails a really old and creepy feeling.

    Copicut Woods is a great choice for hikers looking for total isolation as you are more than likely going to be completely alone on your hike. The woods here feel very eerie due to the secluded atmosphere, so if you are looking to get lost in nature, this is definitely the place to do so!
  • 10. Massasoit State Park
    Massasoit State Park
    Massasiot Park Rd, , 02718
    Massasoit State Park, an East Taunton recreational area, offers numerous activities to engage in year-round. Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, and winter cross country skiing are the most popular park activities. The park is very wooded, leading to some spectacular scenery during fall foliage season.

    Trails are easy and scenic with nice views of forests, wetlands, ponds, and cranberry bogs during the fall season.