The Best Activities Along the Charles River Esplanade

By Sara Goldman

The Charles River Esplanade is arguably one of the best areas in Boston. It provides the most amazing views, events, and a way to embrace nature. It’s especially nice to experience the outside world when you’re consumed with the hustle and bustle of living in a metropolitan city. The Charles River Esplanade was originally dedicated as the Boston Embankment in 1910, but its area expanded from 1928-1936. The Hatch Shell – home of the Boston Pops – was built in 1941, which has provided entertainment to the citizens of Boston since it was built.

Currently, the Esplanade is one of the best ways to take a break from the craziness of Boston. Running along the Esplanade is an incredible way to relieve stress. The views of the water are amazing, there are copious amounts of cute dogs, and the people-watching is a source of endless entertainment. Additionally, running across the Harvard Bridge to Cambridge is another enjoyable way to explore all that Boston has to offer. Central Square is home to Toscanini’s, an ice-cream parlor with over 30 different ice cream flavors to choose from – ranging from vanilla to miso flavored ice cream. While in Cambridge you can explore MIT or go to Flour Bakery and Café for their amazing oatmeal.

Experiencing Boston from the Charles River gives a new perspective on the city.  Kayaks can be rented at a reasonable rate from Cambridge; one can go solo or with a friend for an hour and you can spend the day kayaking the Charles. Be sure to bring sunscreen! Also, The Hatch Shell, which was established over 70 years ago, is home to many different festivals and concerts. During the Fourth of July at the Boston Pops play, fireworks are set off – it’s incredible to be able to celebrate our country’s independence at an elaborate event that was crucial to its establishment.

Another amazing event along the Charles River is the Head of the Charles Regatta, which takes place each October. Established in 1965, rowing teams from all over the country, including 11,000 athletes, come to compete in the world’s largest two-day rowing event. Most people watch the regatta between the Anderson and Weeks bridges, but there are many different boathouses that the race can also be viewed from.

Of course, the way to experience Boston like a true local is to hang out at the docks. They’re found sporadically along the river, and they’re arguably one of the best ways to experience the grandeur of the Esplanade. On the docks, you can have a picnic, sunbathe or dip into the river. However, experts recommend that people do not swim in the river within 48 hours of precipitation due to pollution.

Another unique way to relieve stress from a rigorous class schedule is to walk to class along the Esplanade instead of along Commonwealth Avenue. The serenity of the river will alleviate stress from chemistry.


Overall, the Charles River Esplanade is a pillar of experiencing life in Boston and is not something to be missed, whether you’re a student in one of Boston’s colleges, a local, a working professional or a tourist here for a quick getaway!