Boston’s Best: Arnold Arboretum

So far this summer we’ve been lucky in Boston – the heat has been manageable and the weekends have been gorgeous. Seems like all the humidity and rain have happened during the week, which is fine by me since I’m cooped up in my office anyway!

A few weekends back, on one of said beautiful days, John and I wanted to take a long walk, somewhere outdoors/naturey, but paved and nearby. The Arnold Arboretum popped into my head immediately!

Arnold Arboretum is located in Jamaica Plain, about 10 miles from our house and 7 miles from downtown Boston. The Arboretum was established in 1872 as a public-private partnership between the City of Boston and Harvard University. It is a unique blend of respected research institution and beloved public park in Boston’s Emerald Necklace.


The Hunnewell Building sits at the front of the Arboretum and houses the Visitor’s Center and administrative offices.



The Visitor’s Center has interactive exhibits, historical information, lots of hands on activities, and a full diorama of the Arboretum.


My favorite thing in the Visitor’s Center is the high-tech microscope that you can use to check out plants and samples up close and personal.


The Arboretum covers 281 acres and the paths/trails are about 4 miles in total.


We strolled and just took in the surroundings. It’s so lush and peaceful here; I really felt a sense of life slowing down while we were here.


The Arboretum holds over 15,000 living individual plants (which are all searchable, by the way). Most are also tagged with additional information like country of origin, lineage, and when they came to the Arboretum.


Harvard faculty and students, Arboretum scholars, and visiting scientists from around the world come to the Arboretum for research and education on many different areas having to do with plant diversity, organismic evolution, ecosystem perspectives, and much more.



The Leventritt Shurb & Vine Garden is a must see – there are almost 700 shrubs, vines, and dwarf conifers. The set up of the garden is perfect, you can really get a great view of each plant as you go through the open pavilion style space.




My favorite part of the whole Arboretum though is the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection.


There are 35 masterfully curated bonsai plants in this collection – all from Japan – and some up to 275 years old.


It’s so hard to pick a favorite spot in a place as lovely as the Arboretum – but the bonsai collection is unlike any I have ever seen before. It, alone, is worth the visit!


The Arboretum is so much more than just plants though. It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle. It really does force you to slow down and appreciate being present. It’s paved, it’s safe, and it’s easily accessible. It’s also free to visit too! For all of those reasons, it’s a perfect place to visit for any age, any time of year. And also why it is truly one of Boston’s Best!

Author: Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.

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