4 excellent places to go leaf peeping around Boston this fall

"The colors are beautiful against the backdrop of the city."

The Arnold Arboretum in the fall. Jim Harrison / The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

You don’t have to travel far from Boston to view incredible fall colors. In fact, you don’t have to leave the city at all.

“I don’t know that you can go wrong, as long as you get outside and open your eyes and enjoy the views,” said Keiko Matsudo Orrall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.

Orrall and Jim Salge, fall foliage expert for Yankee magazine, recommend the following Boston-area spots for viewing spectacular foliage.

1. Boston Common

Boston Common, “the gem of the region,” as Salge calls it, offers spectacular colors in the fall. You just have to wait for them.


That’s because America’s oldest public park is among the last in the region to change colors due to factors like elevation, proximity to water, and how the city cools, he said.

“Everybody else is done leaf-peeping all over New England — and sometimes the mountains even have snow — before Boston Common turns,” he said.

But there’s something extra special about the foliage once it arrives, he said.

“The colors are beautiful against the backdrop of the city,” Salge said.

2. Emerald Necklace

The Emerald Necklace, the 1,100-acre chain of urban parks that links more than a dozen city neighborhoods stretching from the Back Bay to Dorchester, is well worth visiting during the fall season, Orrall said.

“It’s a great way to enjoy the foliage in the city of Boston,” she said. “It’s a very heavily treed area that has been preserved. There are great opportunities for walking and enjoying the mature trees.”

You can explore on your own or take part in organized activities such as guided bike tours and educational walks when they are available. Here is an Emerald Necklace map.

Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Boston from the 62-foot granite Washington Tower at Mount Auburn Cemetery. The tower was completed in 1854. Kristi Palma / – Kristi Palma / staff

3. Mount Auburn Cemetery

Have you considered spending time in a cemetery this fall? Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, America’s first garden cemetery, is an especially beautiful place when the leaves change, Salge said.


“There’s a great diversity of trees in the arboretum,” he said. “There’s a lot of oak, which turns this beautiful flame-orange, flame-red. You just get this beautiful view over the city.”

Visitors can also enjoy panoramic views of Boston from the 62-foot granite Washington Tower at the cemetery.

4. Blue Hills Reservation

Finally, the Blue Hills Reservation just outside of Boston is an excellent place to admire foliage, Salge said.

“There’s miles of hiking, great views, and opportunities to be a little more remote,” he said.

Stretching across parts of Milton, Quincy, Braintree, Canton, Randolph, and Dedham, Blue Hills boasts 125 miles of hikes for all skill levels. Visitors can view the changing trees from the 635-foot summit of Great Blue Hill, the highest of the 22 hills on the 7,000-acre reservation.


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