The Best Thing to do in Boston: Walking the Charles River Esplanade

Spring has finally sprung in Boston!

…Well, at least for a few days out of the week. But for those few days of 60-degree weather and light breezes, comes my favorite activity to do in the city: take miles long walks on the Charles River Esplanade.

admittedly, this photo is not from the spring time yet, as most of the photos in this post will not be, but it’s my appreciation and hope for the leaves to come back that makes it worth sharing)

As I’m writing this earlier in the week, the freezing temperatures have returned and so has my snow coat from the closet, which is a shame, really. I was so excited for the borderline summer weather when I got to wear a dress a couple Fridays ago and wasn’t cold when I went on a walk.

Speaking of, walking on the Esplanade is one of the easiest things I can do in the city while soaking in a glimpse of city life at the same time.

Before moving here, I didn’t really understand the scope of the river and the fact that there was a trail beside it that I could walk on for miles. And once I got outside and walked both directions from campus, I knew that this was the best part of the city that I had access to. All it takes is a good podcast or playlist and I’m on my merry way walking next to runners, bikers, dogs and their walkers, and so many geese.

I haven’t decided if the reason I like walking on the Esplanade so much is because it’s therapeutic to have an hour to myself just moving along a path or if it’s because I’m tricking myself into thinking the walking is enough exercise or if it’s because I just like being outdoors that much. My first instinct about why I like it is my need to be moving because I get really restless in my dorm room all the time or even just staying on campus for too long. And even though the trail is parallel to campus, it feels like an entirely different area because the people I’m walking beside are not exclusively students.

Walking on the Esplanade also allows me time (arguably too much) to think about anything happening in my life, good or bad. It puts me in my head to reflect on the decisions I’ve made and the actions that I’m taking moving forward in whatever aspect of life I’m likely struggling through that day. It’s a moment to catch up with myself and debrief on the positive and negative emotions I’m feeling, which can’t be done as easily when I’m sitting stationary in my room. Then, if the thoughts ever get too negative or turn into something I’m trying to move on from, I have the river or people watching to distract me.

Aside from being in my own thoughts, admiring the trail and the river beside it makes it such a great area to walk on. I like being in this in-between of nature and access to the city being just over a footbridge. I think it’s the mixture of the look of water and the city skyline that make it an interesting walk. Sure, the freeway next to the trail makes it a little noisy, but I’ve learned to ignore it when I have earbuds in. The area is also just pretty enough to make up for it.

Walking across the Harvard Bridge is such a beautiful stop to see the city from the middle of the river, and the area where the Hatch Memorial Shell and playground sit always feel cozy for whatever reason. I like how you can walk across to Cambridge and be on the opposite side’s trail to mix up the routine too. It adds extra steps but when you’re just listening to your favorite playlist or podcast, time moves a lot faster and you don’t think about how your legs will likely be a bit sore because you don’t stretch when you get home (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything…).

Wherever I live after graduation if it’s not staying in Boston, I hope there’s a place like this because it’s the best thing I’ve discovered that I like to give me just enough time to soak in the fact that I have the privilege to live in such a beautiful city without walking somewhere that makes me feel like whatever activity I do costs too much.

Next step, travel to the Massachusetts state parks to get the same dose of nature without the city feel and see if I like it the same (which I likely will based off the fact that I like hiking and have become that Washingtonian to think so lol).

To finish us off, here are some of my favorite photos I’ve taken on my phone from my many walks since last fall, and while I praised the spring in this entire post, I think my favorite pictures were the ones taken after the blizzard in January with the perfect coat of snow over the trail.