Six ideas for first day walks and urban hikes in Boston
The First Day Hikes campaign originated here in Massachusetts in 1992 as a way to get people outside during the winter. It’s sponsored each year by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
For an urban twist on the First Day concept, visit a walking loop in your neighborhood park. Some of our favorites are Franklin Park, Millennium Park, Jamaica Pond, and Boston’s Urban Wilds. Snap a New Year’s Day 2021 selfie at an iconic Boston spot, or discover an instagrammable popup — like the ice sculptures on the Harbor. We invite you to share your adventure on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Tag @BostonParksDept and #MAFirstWeekHikes to join the fun!
- Boston shines bright
Take a walk downtown to see the lights on Boston’s parks and landmarks. Clockwise from top left: Faneuil Hall, Parkman Bandstand, Boston Common Trees, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Christopher Columbus Park Trellis, and Boston Public Garden.
- Boston Harbor ice sculpture stroll
Visit 12 outdoor locations spread across four of Boston’s waterfront neighborhoods, including East Boston, the North End, Downtown, and the Seaport, to see hand-carved ice sculptures celebrating the season.
- Boston Black Heritage Trail
Immerse yourself in the history of Black Boston by downloading the audio tour app or printable map, then visit the Partnership to Renew the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial website to learn more about the contributions and legacy of Black Bostonians.
- Walks for all ages and abilities from the Boston Age Strong Commission
Outdoor walks are considered "age-friendly" because paths are smooth, free of stairs, and parking is nearby. These walks are great for people of any age, especially children, older adults, families using strollers, and those with mobility needs. Try getting outside for fresh air and movement right where you live.
- Franklin Park Wonder Walk
Join our self-guided walk and observe the park’s beauty, learn fun facts, and take part in suggested activities at each stop marked with a park symbol. Then tell us about your enchanting experience! With the onset of winter, we are no longer providing printed maps on site, but you can still download the Wonder Walk app or print the map at home.
- Explore the Emerald Necklace
The Emerald Necklace Conservancy provides an app with walking tours of the Olmsted-designed 1,100-acre park system. Fun fact: the park system gets its name from the way the planned chain appears to hang from the "neck" of the Boston peninsula. The Conservancy's website also has individual park maps of Franklin Park, the Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Pond, Olmsted Park, the Riverway, the Back Bay Fens, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall / Public Garden / Boston Common.
Hungry for more? WalkBoston’s maps feature places that are wonderful to walk, easy to navigate, and convenient to get around. Each self-guided walk has a detailed route as well as distances and descriptions of sights and scenes. Boston Public Library’s research librarians keep an up-to-date guide to walking tours of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville.
To keep everyone safe during the pandemic, the Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced important changes to this New Year’s Day tradition, including extending the traditional one-day hike to any day during First Week 2021 to prevent overcrowding due to COVID-19. Pick a park near you to keep it safe and local, and to avoid the need to use shared amenities such as public restrooms or overloaded parking areas. Be sure to bring adequate water, even in winter. Wear a face covering and stay home if you feel sick. Only use parks when you have the ability to remain six feet away from others. If you find a park to be crowded, or the parking lot full, choose a less busy time or find another park. For the most up-to-date health guidance, visit our COVID-19 website.