“Do you like apples?”
“Cause I got her numbah. How yah like them apples??”
If you plan on visiting Boston, you might want to prepare by catching up on some iconic Boston-centered cinema before you go. I would recommend starting with Mystic River, The Departed, or our personal favorite, Legally Blonde. But honestly, the best quotes come from Good Will Hunting (see above). You’ll be quoting it for days in the thickest Boston accent you can muster…
“My boy [Boogie] is wicked smart!”
But what to do when you actually get to Beantown? And if you happen to be bringing your furry friend along for the ride? And after you “paak the caa in Haavaad Yaad?” (sorry, last one).
Thankfully, there are plenty of dog-friendly activities that don’t involve illegal gambling or the mafia, or pretending you go to Harvard (but of course, no judgements, except for maybe the mafia stuff).
For something not ripped straight from the movies, check out these 15 dog-friendly things to do in Boston.
15 Dog-Friendly Boston Things to Do
1. Boston Common
This public park in downtown Boston is the oldest urban park in the United States. Its 50 acres date all the way back to 1634. For reference, that’s about the same square footage as 38 football fields! Make Way for Ducklings? More like Make Way for Zoomies!
Today, Boston Commons is a sprawling, beautiful park where all are welcome. Grab a coffee and take a stroll through green lawns and crisscrossing pathways.
Dogs on leash are welcome all throughout the park, and off-leash dogs are available in designated off-leash areas. There are areas where dogs gather to play, so be on the look out.
Besides these areas, there’s also a visitors’ center, carousel, ballfields and a pond.
Location: 139 Tremont Street
2. Walk the Freedom Trail
The best way to orient yourself in a new city while learning all about it is to take a walking tour. And in a city so rich in history like Boston, a tour is a must.
Luckily, the city offers one of the most famous trails in the world: The Freedom Trail.
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston that passes by 16 locations that are critical to the history and establishment of the United States. The landmarks include churches, meeting houses, burial grounds and more.
This American Revolutionary War blast from-the-past can be walked solo or as part of an official tour.
If you want a little more structure and guidance, Boston By Foot, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization, welcomes well-behaved dogs on their Freedom Trail tours. Their tours are led by knowledgeable local volunteers who like to share their love for Boston.
If it’s a photo opportunity you’re looking for, check out PhotoWalks tours, a company that offers tours of Boston and shares where and how to get the best shots. Do it for the ‘gram.
As always, you should give the tour company a heads up if you plan to bring your pup along.
3. Explore Beacon Hill
Want a slice of quintessential New England? Then head to Beacon Hill.
This quaint and charming neighborhood is one of Boston’s oldest. With cobblestone streets and picturesque architecture, it’s a great area to explore.
As the name implies, Beacon Hill is in fact on a hill, so wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to get your steps in.
A few must-hit spots include:
Acorn Street – Pictured above and referred to as the most beautiful street in America, this narrow, cobblestoned lane is lined with row houses and is full of old Boston charm. It’s the best place for a photo opportunity, so have your phone or camera ready.
Shop on Charles Street – Walk around Beacon Hill and you’ll notice that it’s dotted with cute boutiques and tiny shops. Charles Street is especially known for their independent shops and antique stores. Many of them are dog-friendly, and might even call you over to offer your pup a dog biscuit and a bowl of fresh water.
Liberty Hotel – If you’re in town on a Monday or Wednesday between the months of May and October, head to the Liberty Hotel for Yappier Hour. This canine mix-and-mingle serves up delicious cocktails and puptails from 5:30pm to 8:00pm in The Yard, The Liberty’s private outdoor courtyard. There are also fun events, fundraisers and plenty of dog treats.
4. Visit the Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden is America’s first botanical garden! And it’s a must-see for a few sniffs and a leg lift.
Designed in the style of an English landscape garden, the garden features several statues, an abundance of trees and flowers, and a four acre pond with swan boats.
Free walking tours of the Public Garden are available from May through September, or you can take a self-guided tour via the Boston Public Garden app.
The park is located adjacent to Boston Common. Dogs are welcome on leash.
Location: 4 Charles Street.
5. Walk the Greenway
The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a 15 acre and 1.5 miles park that stretches through the heart of the city, from the North End to Chinatown. It’s a great way to get from one part of Boston to the next.
This fun park is home to a variety of food trucks, a carousel, art murals, interactive installations and seven different water fountains. There’s also a seasonal beer and wine garden worth checking out.
Leashed dogs are welcome to visit and explore.
For more information, click here.
6. Spend time on the Charles
The Charles River is an 80-mile-long beast of a waterway that makes its way through 23 cities and towns before reaching Boston and the Atlantic Ocean. It buzzes with activity during the warmer months, during which time it’s used for rowing, sculling, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, dragonboating and sailing, You and your furry friend can explore the Charles too, by water, bike or foot!
Dog-friendly Water Options
Paddle Boston rents kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards to both two and four legged water goers alike. You can go solo or book one of their tours, like the Boston Harbor Tour or the Sunset and City Lights Kayak Tour. They have seven locations in the Greater Boston area, with one in Boston and another in Cambridge.
Boston Harbor Cruises also welcomes dogs. They offer a variety of harbor cruises, ferries, and even whale watching excursions. For seeing the sights, check out their Historic Sightseeing tour or Sea the Stars cruise. If you’re on a budget, try their ferry line, which runs between places like the Charlestown Navy Yard and Long Wharf in downtown Boston for only $3.50 each way. There’s also a seasonal Salem Ferry, a Provincetown Ferry and water taxis.
If you’re planning to spend time on the water, don’t forget to bring a doggy lifejacket. Better safe than sorry. Here are a few to choose from:
Dog-friendly Bike Options
The Charles River Bike Path runs 23 miles along the banks of the Charles and is great for bike riding and running. Hop on the path to head to lunch, or do a loop and enjoy the views. Your dog can run beside you or enjoy the scenery from a bike basket.
Dog-friendly Foot Options
What Central Park is to New York, the Esplanade is to Boston. The Charles River Esplanade is a 17-mile stretch of park along the banks of Boston’s Charles River. It has cafes, plenty of greenery, beautiful bridges, and lots of space to walk, run and people watch. It’s not to be missed on a sunny day. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
7. Shop Local at SoWa Open Market
Located in the South End of Boston, the SoWa Open Market is a street festival featuring over 200 artisans and vendors. It’s got the best of New England food, art and music.
You can find everything here from handmade apparel, jewelry, produce, and even baked goods and sweets. There’s a farmers’ market, food truck bazaar, and beer barn, which make it a great spot to spend the day shopping and eating. Several vendors offer pet-related products, so your furry friend can indulge in a bit of retail therapy too.
The market runs every Sunday from May through October.
Other dog-friendly markets in Boston that you might consider checking out include the Somerville Flea in Davis Square, and Somerville’s Union Square Farmers’ Market.
Location: 460 Harrison Ave.
8. Go to the Beach
Beach season for dogs begins after Labor Day when the crowds thin out and the sand isn’t hot enough to burn your paws off. Bring your pack to take a dip and run in the sand.
Check out South Boston’s Carson Beach and Castle Island, who welcome leashed dogs starting September 16. It’s free, fun and right in the city.
9. Play at the Dog Park
Play at one of Boston’s dog parks and meet some local pups. As we’ve said before, dog parks are the best places to sniff out the local scoop on dog happenings.
Accessible from Prince Street through the Defilippino Playground and the intersection of Snow Hill and Hull Street.
❷ Carleton Court Dog Park
SW Corridor Park (between Dartmouth and W Newton St).
❸ Richmond Street RUFF Dog Park
Richmond Street between North and Fulton Streets.
❹ The Underground Dog Park
S Bay Harbor Trail – under the highway.
❺ South Boston Bark Park
1280 Columbia Road
❻ Peters Park Dog Park
1205 Washington St.
❼ East 1st Dog Park
768-764 E 1st St.
❽ Playground Dog Park
135-141 A St.
9. Get a Sweet Treat
After you’ve stuffed your face with lobster and clam chowder, wash it all down with a pint of Boston lager and move on to dessert.
Local Ice cream parlor J.P. Licks is known for their signature flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurt, plus their house-roasted coffee. They first opened in 1981 in the Jamaica Plain (hence, “J.P.”) neighborhood of Boston, and can now be found all throughout the city.
In addition to traditional flavors, they offer fun seasonal options too, like Gingersnap Molasses and The Grinch’s Candy Cane in the winter, and Apple Crisp during the Fall. There are also oat milk-based vegan options for those not into dairy. Dogs are welcome to enjoy a lick or two in their outdoor seating area. Heads up: they sell dog bandanas!
If your dog is in the mood for a special treat (other than ice cream), then check out online dog bakery Dog Eat Cake. This Boston small business makes delicious dog-friendly baked goods, like doghnuts, petzels, and pupcakes. They offer local pick up or delivery.
10. Go to a Dog-Friendly Event
Besides local yappy hours and adoption events, Boston is also home to bigger and bolder canine happenings.
Canine Promenade – This annual Halloween parade of costumed people and pets happens every year on the Charles River Esplanade.
Info: esplanadeassociation.org. Spectators free, fee for parade participants.
Carnival of Dogs – In early September, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway transforms into a dog carnival, complete with a kissing booth and a dog caricature artist. Sounds magical!
Info: rosekennedygreenway.org. Free.
Somerville Dog Festival – Shortly after the Carnival of Dogs comes the Somerville Dog Festival, a canine festival jam packed with dog fun. There’s a disc dog demonstration, best-dressed contest, paw painting and dog-friendly ice cream. While you snack on food truck munchies, your pup can fill their belly at the kibble quest.
Info: somdogfest.org. Admission free, some events ticketed.
Pet Rock Festival – This feel good annual event is held on the Sunday after Labor Day weekend. It features live music, vendors, food, contests, and most importantly, more than 200 animal organizations broadcasting their causes. It’s not to be missed!
Info: petrockfest.org. $12 adults, $5 kids.
11. Ride the T
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, better known as the T, offers subway, bus, trolley car and boat services to just about everywhere in the Greater Boston area and beyond. It’ll take you from Harvard to the Harbor, and for only a few dollars. It’s the easiest – and cheapest – option for getting around the city.
To ride the T, you need to purchase a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket. Dogs ride free!
The T welcomes service animals at all hours, and non-service dogs are allowed at all times except during rush hours. However, during off-peak hours, T operators may not allow non-service dogs, so take your chances!
Dogs should be on leash and cannot take up a seat (ignore the cuteness that you see above). Also, make sure your well-behaved dog is quiet and calm when riding (like all commuters should be!).
12. Grab a Beer
Boston is known for their famous Sam Adams lager, but the city is also home to a variety of other beers. Many of the craft breweries in the area open their doors to well-behaved pups. Here are a few favorites in and around Boston:
❶ Dorchester Brewing Company
1250 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA
They have a monthly Yappy Hour!
❷ Night Shift Brewing
87 Santilli Hwy, Everett, MA
Heads up: their Everett location is dog-friendly, but their Boston location is not! Look out for their weekly Paws + Pints events.
❸ Mighty Squirrel
411 Waverley Oaks Rd, Waltham, MA
Dogs are allowed on their two large patios, but not inside the taproom.
❹ Remnant Brewing
2 Bow Market Way, Somerville, MA
They have a dog-friendly patio.
❺ Harpoon Brewery
306 Northern Ave, Boston, MA
Dogs are allowed in outdoor seating.
❻ Cambridge Brewing Company
1 Kendall Sq, Bldg 100, Cambridge, Boston, MA
For other boozy opportunities, check out the Dogs & Drafts events at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel, or the Yappier Hour at Beacon Hill’s Liberty Hotel.
Remember to drink responsibly (and no beer for dogs!).
13. Go to a Ball Game
Every year, the Red Sox host “Dog Day at Fenway,” a fun filled evening where fans are invited to bring their dogs to the ballpark to watch the game and enjoy a walk around the track. There are photo opportunities and a “dog park” is set up with water bowls and activities.
The event usually takes place in June.
14. Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
I know, I know, Harvard University is in Cambridge, not Boston. But the Arnold Arboretum is located in Boston, in the Jamaica Plain and Roslindale neighborhoods.
Harvard University’s free outdoor tree and plant museum includes 281 acres of greenery. It’s a great place to walk your dog and smell the flowers. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds. If you’re visiting Boston in the fall, it’s a great place to see New England’s famous foliage.
The Arnold Arboretum is open free of charge to the public from sunrise to sunset, 365 days of the year.
Location: 125 Arborway.
15. Walk over the bridge to Cambridge
Just across the Charles river from Boston you’ll find Cambridge, a quirky college town (hey Harvard and MIT!) that’s definitely worth exploring with your pup. You can get there on foot, on the T, or via water taxi.
Notable dog-friendly things to do in Cambridge:
Cosmic Moose and Grizzly Bear’s Ville – In the 1980’s, Cambridge resident Peter Valentine decided to turn his home into a message board for all of his cosmic musings on life and the universe. Deep, right? He built an irregular fence, painted it purple, and began writing bits of wisdom on it. Today, the fence is a living, constantly evolving piece of art that is still added to. It’s worth a visit, and a read!
Location: 37 Brookline St (at the intersection of Brookline and Franklin Street).
Fresh Pond Reservation – This lovely reservation features dog-friendly lawns, paved roads, and two ponds where dogs are allowed to swim. It’s a great place to socialize and meet other dogs. While only dogs with Cambridge dog licenses are allowed off leash, rules are relaxed and well-behaved dogs are usually welcome to join the pack.
Location: 180-220 Fresh Pond Pkwy.
Alive & Kicking Lobsters – No visit to New England is complete without chowing down on some delicious seafood. This no frills seafood joint offers fresh seafood, picnic tables and cold drinks. There’s no lobster rolls here, but you will find their famous lobster sandwich, a treasured specialty, on the menu.
Location: 269 Putnam Ave.
Have you visited Boston with a dog? Let us know in the comments.
Get more Boston dog-friendly tips here.
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