News & Events
Join the Friends of the Public Garden for this Mothers Day tradition that celebrates springtime in our most beloved parks! More information and the link to register can be found at our Duckling Day page.
Public Garden Tours “Untold Stories of the Public Garden”
Join our wonderful volunteers for a free guided walking tour of the Public Garden. Learn about the history, horticulture, and sculptures that make America’s first public botanical garden such a special place. Tuesday-Thursday 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Meet at the Make Way for Ducklings statues.
April to September
The Swan Boats are the enduring centerpiece of the Public Garden and the only boats of their kind in the world. They were launched in 1877 by shipbuilder Robert Paget, a lover of opera, who had been inspired by the finale of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin, when the hero crosses a river in a boat drawn by a swan. He designed a new boat, with a foot-propelled paddle mechanism enclosed by the figure of a giant swan.
Only a year after the Swan Boats began, Paget died at the age of 42, leaving his wife, Julia, and four children. The young widow assumed full management of the new enterprise, persevering despite the prejudice against women business owners. Her descendants, the fourth generation of Pagets, still operate the Swan Boats, continuing a cherished tradition.
Seven days a week, from early April to late September, the Swan Boats glide in a serpentine course around the lagoon. The fifteen-minute ride, at about two miles an hour, goes around the rocky island made famous in Make Way for Ducklings, under the bridge, and back to dry land. Many famous people have made the quaint voyage, including child actress Shirley Temple, singer Judy Collins, and U.S. presidents Calvin Coolidge and John Kennedy.
For schedules, fares, and more information, check out the Swan Boats website: www.swanboats.com.
The Frog Pond is the year-round heart of Boston Common. In summer, it provides an escape from the heat and a great spot for a picnic. Children splash in the spray pool, while grownups wade in or watch from the grassy slopes. Children also enjoy riding on the colorful carousel nearby. In winter, skaters of all ages stumble, glide, and twirl on the refrigerated ice as lively music fills the air. In spring and fall, the pond becomes a peaceful reflecting pool. The adjacent Tadpole Playground, installed in 2002, attracts a steady flow of youngsters, and the year-round café is a welcome respite no matter the temperature.
In 1995, after decades of decline throughout Boston’s parks, the city constructed a new skating rink and leased the facility to the Boston Common Frog Pond Foundation, created by Thomas Kershaw. Under governance of the Parks Department, the Foundation operated a winter skating program and managed other seasonal activities. This successful arrangement continues under a new operator, the Skating Club of Boston. Click here to learn more about Frog Pond activities.