Park FAQ2017-11-07T16:48:09+00:00

PARK FAQ

Accessibility
Many people in wheelchairs visit the Common, the Garden, and the Mall and find that navigating the paths is possible. There are some locations with stairs so we suggest you begin at the Visitor Information Center on Boston Common where a guide can review a map with you and identify accessible paths.

Bicycles
Riding a bicycle is not allowed in any of the three parks on any of the paths or walkways.

Dogs
Leashed dogs are welcome in all three parks. On Boston Common there are two specified off-leash areas. The Friends, in collaboration with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and dog owners from the community who formed into the Friends sub-group Common Canine, have two rotating designated off-leash lawn panels on the Common. Off leash dogs are not permitted in the Public Garden or on Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The designated areas are marked with sandwich boards.

Film & Photography
A permit and coordination with the City of Boston may be required. Learn more.

Food
Multiple food trucks are parked at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common spring, summer, and fall. The Frog Pond Boston Common café is open seasonally. There are a number small food and drink carts throughout the Common. No food is available in the Garden or the Mall.

Fountains and Irrigation
In the spring, plumbers from Boston Parks and Recreation turn on the water to ornamental and drinking fountains, and irrigation systems across the Parks. They are turned off in the winter. Friends of the Public Garden maintains the following fountains in the parks: Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common, the Ether Monument in the Public Garden, and the George Robert White Memorial fountain in the Public Garden. The Friends also maintain all the irrigation throughout the three parks. If you see an irrigation issue, please report to BOS:311.

Frog Pond
The Frog Pond on Boston Common is managed by The Skating Club of Boston. It is open all year and provides seasonal activities. The spray pool on Boston Common is open in the summer, with the Carousel open April through October. In winter, there is ice skating from November through March.

Groups, Organized Activities, Performances
If you want to have any organized activity or performance on Boston Common, OR if you would like to reserve a specific area in the park, you must apply for a special event permit with Boston Parks and Recreation. Permitting Division; 617-635-4505 or parks@boston.gov.

Weddings and wedding photography in the parks also require a permit from Boston Parks and Recreation.

Hours
The Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall are free and open to visitors 365 days a year. The parks open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 11:00 p.m., and are open to pedestrian access 24 hours a day.

Ice Skating
Learn more about winter ice skating at the Frog Pond on Boston Common. The Friends does not manage the ice skating. Skating is not allowed on the Public Garden lagoon.

Integrated Pest Management
In order to maintain the health of the Common, the Garden, and the Mall for over a million visitors each year, the Friends of the Public Garden management practices include Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Currently, the Friends use no chemical applications in any of their lawn programs and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department limits their use to an early spring pre-emergent program that is posted on all lawns treated.

Lawn Closures
The lawns on Boston Common and the Public Garden are open almost all days during spring, summer, and fall. To allow for routine maintenance and rest after inclement weather, the Friends will sometimes fence off a lawn for turf restoration.

Lost & Found
Please contact the Boston Park Rangers 617-635-7383 if you have lost something. Neither the Friends of the Public Garden nor Boston Parks and Recreation has a Lost and Found.

Park Lighting
Lights in the Parks are managed by the Department of Public Works, Streetlighting division. You can report light outage to BOS:311.

Parking
There is no parking on Boston Common, the Public Garden or Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Boston Common Garage in under the Common and accessible from Charles Street. Several other parking garages, as well as metered street parking are available nearby.

Press Inquiries
Members of the press can contact the Friends of the Public Garden about the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall at info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

A press kit is available.

For Boston Parks and Recreation media inquiries please contact Ryan Woods, Director of External Affairs, Boston Parks and Recreation, ryan.woods@boston.gov.

For film and photo requests, a permit and coordination with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and City of Boston may be required. Learn more.

Photography—Personal
You don’t need a permit to photograph on the Common, in the Garden or on the Mall if you’re using handheld equipment or a tripod. If you’re bringing other equipment — or if you have any other questions about photography in the Parks — please contact Boston Parks and Recreation Permitting Division at 617-635-4505.

Photography—Event
Thousands of requests to film and photograph in the three parks are submitted to the city each year, and each application receives personal attention to ensure projects can be completed without damaging landscapes or interfering with the experience enjoyed by more than 3 million annual visitors.

See Wedding section below for specific information about weddings and wedding photography.

In order to film on Boston Common, the Public Garden or Commonwealth Avenue Mall, you must apply for a  permit from the City of Boston.

Before planning any shoot in any of the three parks, please refer to How to Apply to Film in Boston to film on Boston Common, Public Garden, or Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Donations to Friends of the Public Garden are greatly appreciated. These funds help to restore and maintain the parks so they can continue to be enjoyed by all.

Photography—Drone
Currently, drone photography is not permitted in any of the three parks.

Restrooms
There are public restrooms at the Visitor Information Center on Boston Common. There are public restrooms at the Frog Pond, open seasonally.

Rules & Enforcement
Boston Parks and Recreation Department establishes rules and regulations for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Boston Police Department and Boston Park Rangers are responsible for enforcing all rules and regulations. Report problems directly to these agencies:

  • Park rules: Boston Park Rangers 617-635-7383
  • Law enforcement: Boston Police Department Precinct A-1, 617-343-4340
  • Wildlife issues (birds, fish, squirrels, turtles, etc.): Park Rangers, 617-635-7383
  • City of Boston: 311 — Bos:311 Citizens report pathway damage, garbage, and other issues using their mobile phones
  • Emergency: 911 — Citizens call 911 for any safety issues, not just life-threatening ones. 911 operators will route the call appropriately.

Support the Parks
Friends of the Public Garden spends an average of $1 million dollars annually on the care of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Private contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations make this vital work possible. Visit our Donate page for information on how to become a member or make a general donation to help care for the parks.

Swan Boats
The Swan Boats are a Boston Public Garden tradition since 1877. Enjoy a peaceful ride around the lagoon April through September.

Swans
There are two resident swans, Romeo and Juliet, who summer in the Public Garden lagoon. They winter in Franklin Park Zoo and the Mayor hosts the Return of the Swans ceremony each year in early May. They lay eggs every year, but since the swans are both female the eggs are infertile, do not hatch, and are removed after a period of time.

Tours
The Friends of the Public Garden offers free walking tours of the Public Garden, May through September. Learn more.

The Friends of the Public Garden has a free app to take a self-guided tour of the Public Garden. Stayed tuned for a new app launching Winter 2018.

Visit
Planning a trip to Boston Common, the Public Garden, or Commonwealth Avenue Mall?  Stop by the Visitor Center on Boston Common for more information. Friends of the Public Garden has information at our office at 69 Beacon Street.

Volunteering
Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community and support the Friends of the Public Garden. Learn more.

Weddings
Boston Parks Wedding & Photography Policy: The Public Garden offers space for small weddings and photographs. These events require a permit issued by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.

Although weddings and wedding photographs are private affairs, when held in a park, couples, attendants, guests, and photographers must strive to conduct their ceremony and photographs in a manner that does not impact or deter the general public’s enjoyment of our parks.

This policy is in accordance with Park Commission Rules, environmental protection, and sound management practices. To ensure park protection and little or no park disruption, the Department enforces a limit capacity and activities within the following guidelines.

General Guidelines: Couples must apply for a wedding ceremony or photographs by submitting a Special Event Permit Application and a cashier’s or bank check payable to the City of Boston at least 10 business days prior to the event.

City of Boston residents     $50.00

Non-Boston residents       $100.00

A site visit is strongly recommended. No rehearsals are permitted.

The Department does not offer alternate locations or rain dates to be used in case of bad weather. It is recommended to have a back-up plan.

The wedding party is responsible for cleaning the area used following the wedding ceremony or photographs. Any trash generated by your party must be removed prior to your departure.

Parking is limited at most parks; car-pooling is advised. Illegal parking is subject to tagging and towing at the owner’s expense.

No event or directional signs are allowed. It is suggested that you specify the exact location in your invitations and place an attendant at the nearest gate to guide your guests.

Permits will be issued under the following conditions:

  • Wedding activities are scheduled between April 1 – December 1
  • 60-minute maximum duration.
  • Wedding activities are scheduled:
  • Monday through Friday between 3:00 – 5:30 PM
  • Weekends between 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Wedding activities are not permitted on legal holidays.
  • Permit is issued for a maximum of 50 people including the wedding party
  • No vehicles permitted or parking on park property.
  • No tents, tables, chairs, altars, arbors, decorations, signs, rice, birdseed, confetti, glass, balloons, props, or animals.
  • No music or amplified sound.
  • No food or beverages.
  • Cannot restrict other park visitors from the park nor block pathways.
  • All trash and debris generated must be removed prior to departure.

Wildlife
Respect the wildlife in the three Parks. Please do not feed any of the birds or animals in the Parks.  Never feed or approach a wild, stray, or injured animal. For matters relating to wildlife in the Park, please contact the Animal Rescue League of Boston 617-426-9170, or the City of Boston: 311, during off hours please call Boston 311.

Wild animals who depend on people for food can cause injuries or spread disease. When wild animals gather for food handouts, it can cause crowding and competition. It can also increase the spread of diseases, some of which may be transmitted to pets and humans.