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Being a sports fan in Boston isn’t like being a sports fan anywhere else. There’s a sense of obligation to the home team, especially to the Red Sox. And while the offering is spirited and plentiful for spectator sports, Boston also has many opportunities for participatory play as well, from skiing and ice-skating in winter to bicycling, boating, and golfing in warmer months.
Boston Red Sox. Hide your Yankees cap and practice pronouncing "Fenway Pahk." Boston is a baseball town, where the crucible of media scrutiny burns hot, fans regard myth and superstition as seriously as player statistics, and grudges are never forgotten. The Boston Red Sox made history in 2004, crushing the Yankees in the American League Championship after a three-game deficit and then sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series for the team's first title since 1918; they did it again in 2007, this time sweeping the Colorado Rockies; and, they showed that the third time's a charm, as they cinched the championship from their home field in 2013, against the Cardinals. The Red Sox ownership has committed to staying in the once-threatened Fenway Park for the long haul, so you can still watch a game in the country's oldest active ballpark, where you can see (or, for a premium price, get a seat on top of) the fabled "Green Monster" (the park's 37-foot-high left-field wall) and one of the last hand-operated scoreboards in the major leagues. Baseball season runs from early April to early October. The playoffs continue several more weeks, and postseason buzz about contracts, trades, and injuries lasts all winter long. Fenway Park, The Fenway, Boston, MA, 02215. 877/733–7699 tickets; 617/226–6666 tours. www.bostonredsox.com.
Boston Celtics. One of the most storied franchises in the National Basketball Association, the Boston Celtics have won the NBA championship 17 times since 1957, more than any other team in the league. The last title came in 2008, after a solid defeat of longtime rivals (the LA Lakers) ended an 18-year championship dry spell. Basketball season runs from late October to April, and playoffs last until mid-June. TD Garden, Old West End, Boston, MA, 02114. 866/423–5849; 617/931–2222 Ticketmaster. www.celtics.com.
Department of Conservation & Recreation. For other path locations, consult the Department of Conservation & Recreation Web site. www.mass.gov/dcr.
Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. This advocacy group works to improve conditions for area cyclists, has information on organized rides, and sells good bike maps of Boston and the state. Thanks to MassBike's lobbying efforts, the MBTA now allows bicycles on subway and commuter-rail trains during nonpeak hours. 171 Milk St., Suite 33, Downtown, Boston, MA, 02109. 617/542–2453. www.massbike.org.
Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path. This 17-mile long path follows both banks of the Charles River as it winds from Watertown Square to the Museum of Science. Watertown, MA.
Back Bay Bicycles. Road bikes rent here for $65 per day (weekly rates are also available)—cash only. 362 Commonwealth Ave., Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02115. 617/247–2336. www.backbaybicycles.com.
Community Bicycle Supply. This South End place rents cycles from April through October. 496 Tremont St., at E. Berkeley St., South End, Boston, MA, 02116. 617/542–8623. www.communitybicycle.com. Back Back.
Urban AdvenTours. A variety of themed excursions run throughout Boston and Cambridge, with most covering about 10 to 12 miles. They leave from Urban AdvenTours Atlantic Avenue headquarters and are offered almost every day; in winter, the tours depend on the weather—call to confirm. The main tours cost $50 per person, and tickets are available for purchase through the website. You bring the adrenaline, Urban AdvenTours bring the bikes, helmets, and water. 103 Atlantic Ave., Downtown, Boston, MA, 02110. 617/670–0637. www.urbanadventours.com. Aquarium Station.
Except when frozen over, the waterways coursing through the city serve as a playground for boaters of all stripes. All types of pleasure craft, with the exception of inflatables, are allowed from the Charles River and Inner Harbor to North Washington Street on the waters of Boston Harbor, Dorchester inner and outer bays, and the Neponset River from the Granite Avenue Bridge to Dorchester Bay.
Charles River Watershed Association. This association publishes detailed boating information on its Web site. 781/788–0007. www.charlesriver.org.
Boat Drop Sites. There are several boat drop sites along the Charles. Clarendon Street (Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02116. Copley, Arlington.). Hatch Shell (Embankment Rd., Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02114. Arlington, Boylston, Charles/MGH.). Pinckney Street Landing (Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02114. Charles/MGH.). Brooks Street (Nonantum Rd., Brighton, Boston, MA.). Richard T. Artesani Playground (Off Soldiers Field Rd., Brighton, Boston, MA, 02135.). Charles River Dam, Museum of Science (Cambridge, MA, 02114. Science Park Station.). Watertown Square (Charles River Rd., Watertown, MA, 02472.).
Head of the Charles Regatta. In mid-October about 300,000 spectators turn out to cheer the more than 7,500 male and female athletes who come from all over the world to compete in the annual Head of the Charles Regatta, which in 2014 marks its 50th anniversary. Crowds line the banks of the Charles River with blankets and beer (although the police disapprove of the latter), cheering on their favorite teams and generally using the weekend as an excuse to party. Limited free parking is available, but the chances of finding an open space close to the race route are slim; take public transportation if you can. During the event, free shuttles run between the start and end point of the race route on both sides of the river. Banks of the Charles River, Cambridge, MA. 617/868–6200. www.hocr.org.
Boston University. From May to October, Boston University offers beginner to advanced rowing and sailing programs. Dewolfe Boathouse, 619 Memorial Dr., Cambridge, MA, 02134. 617/353–9307 boathouse. www.bu.edu/fitrec. Boston University Central, Boston University East.
Charles River Canoe & Kayak Center. From May through mid-November you can rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboat, rowboat, or rowing shell from Charles River Canoe & Kayak Center. The center also offers a variety of canoeing and kayaking classes for all skill levels as well as organized group outings and tours. 2401 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, MA, 02466. 617/965–5110. www.paddleboston.com. Charles River Canoe & Kayak Center's kiosk. From this kiosk you can rent canoes and kayaks on weekends in mid-April and Thursday through Sunday from May through mid-October. The kiosk is open weekdays only for group appointments. Soldiers' Field Rd. near Eliot Bridge, 1071 Soldiers Field Rd., Allston, Boston, 02134. 617/965–5110. www.paddleboston.com/boston.php.
Community Boating. Near the Charles Street footbridge on the Esplanade, Community Boating is the host of America's oldest public sailing program. From April through October, $99 nets you a 30-day introductory membership, beginner-level classes, and use of sailboats and kayaks. Full memberships grant unlimited use of all facilities; splash around for 60 days for $209 or all season long for $269. Experienced sailors short on time can opt for a one-day sailboat rental for $79; kayaks rent for $40 per day. 21 David Mugar Way, Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02114. 617/523–1038. www.community-boating.org. Charles/MGH.
Community Rowing. This organization teaches rowing courses from introductory to competitive adult and youth levels. Private lessons are also available. Daly Memorial Skating Rink, 20 Nonantum Rd., Brighton, Boston, MA, 02135. 617/779–8267. www.communityrowing.org.
Jamaica Pond Boat House. From April to October, Courageous Sailing operates out of the Jamaica Pond Boat House and provides lessons and equipment for rowing and sailing on the pond, except when youth classes are in session; call ahead to confirm. One-hour kayak rentals are $12; rowboats $10; and sailboats $15. Jamaica Way and Pond St., Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA, 02130. 617/522–5061. www.courageoussailing.org/jamaicapond. Stony Brook, Green.
Efforts to clean up the city’s waterways have heightened the popularity of recreational fishing in and around Boston.
MassWildlife Boston Office. Nonresidents can purchase a three-day Massachusetts fishing license for $23.50 at the Wildlife Boston Office, Brookline Town Hall, and some sporting-goods stores around the city. You can also buy one online at MassFishHunt. 251 Causeway St., North End, Boston, MA, 02114. 866/703–1925. www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/licensing. North Station.
Blue Hills Reservation. Houghton's Pond in Blue Hills Reservation is an excellent place to freshwater fish. Off Rte. 128, 840 Hillside St., Milton, Boston, MA, 02186. 617/698–1802.
Jamaica Pond. You can freshwater fish in Jamaica Pond. The pond is stocked each year by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Jamaica Way and Pond St., Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA, 02130. www.jamaicapond.com. Stony Brook, Green.
Middlesex Fells Reservation. You can fish at Dark Hollow Pond in Middlesex Fells Reservation. Off Rte. 93, Main St., Boston, MA, 02180. www.fells.org/Visit-Info.html. Oak Grove Station, Washington.
Stony Brook Reservation. Turtle Pond in Stony Brook Reservation has excellent fishing. Turtle Pond Pkwy., Hyde Park, Boston, MA, 02136. Hyde Park, Forest Hills Station.
Locals who want to try saltwater fishing cast their lines from the John J. McCorkle Fishing Pier on Castle Island off Day Boulevard in South Boston and Tenean Beach and Victory Road Park off Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester.
Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area. This recreational area is known for great fishing, although no public piers are available. Reach the islands by ferry. Boston, MA. 617/223–8666. www.bostonislands.com.
Boston College Eagles. With the only Division 1A football program in town, the Boston College Eagles play against some of the top teams in the country. Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Boston, MA, 02467. 617/552–4622. www.bceagles.com. Boston College.
Harvard University Crimson. Built in 1903, Harvard Stadium is the oldest concrete stadium in the country and the home of the Harvard University Crimson. The tongue-in-cheek halftime shows of the Harvard band make any game worth the trip. Harvard Stadium, N. Harvard St. and Soldiers Field Rd., Allston, Boston, MA, 02163. 617/495–2211. www.gocrimson.com. Harvard Square.
New England Patriots. Boston has been building a football dynasty over the past decade, starting with the New England Patriots come-from-behind victory against the favored St. Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl. Coach Bill Belichick and heartthrob quarterback Tom Brady then brought the team two more championship rings in 2004 and 2005, and have made Patriots fans as zealous as their baseball counterparts. Exhibition football games begin in August, and the season runs through the playoffs in January. The state-of-the-art Gillette Stadium is in Foxborough, 30 mi southwest of Boston. Gillette Stadium, Rte. 1, off I–95 Exit 9, Foxborough, MA, 02035. 800/745–3000 Ticketmaster. www.patriots.com. Gillette Stadium.
Massachusetts Golf Association. This association represents 400 clubs in the state and has information on courses that are open to the public. 300 Arnold Palmer Blvd., Norton, MA, 02766. 774/430–9100. www.mgalinks.org.
Although you’ll need to know someone who knows someone who is someone to play at Chestnut Hill’s Country Club (which is actually called the Country Club), one of the nation’s top-rated private courses, anyone can use the public courses in Boston, which are among the best in the country.
George Wright Golf Course. This hilly course is more challenging than the other Donald Ross–designed course at Franklin Park. It opens for the season starting in April each year. Tee times are necessary on weekends. 420 West St., Hyde Park, Boston, MA, 02136. From Forest Hills station, take the #50 bus, which goes right by the course. 617/364–2300. www.cityofbostongolf.com. 18 holes. 6600 yards. Par 70. Green Fee: weekends, $45 ($39 for residents); weekdays, $40 ($35 for residents). Forest Hills. Facilities: Putting green, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, lessons, restaurant, bar.
William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park. Donald Ross crafted this course in early 1896. It's open year-round, weather permitting. If you want to play 9 holes instead of 18, you can do so only after 1 pm on weekends. Charges for a golf cart tend to run about $11 to $20 extra per person. The course is part of delightful Franklin Park, which also has picnic facilities and jogging courses. Festivals and other outdoor activities take place all year. 1 Circuit Dr., Dorchester, Boston, MA, 02121. 617/265–4084. www.cityofbostongolf.com. 18 holes. 6009 yards. Par 70. Green fee: $40, weekdays; $45, weekends. Forest Hills. Facilities: Golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, lessons, restaurant.
With the Appalachian Trail just two hours’ drive from Downtown and thousands of acres of parkland and trails encircling the city, hikers will not have a lack of options in and around Boston.
Blue Hills Reservation. A 20-minute drive south of Boston, the Blue Hills Reservation encompasses 7,000 acres of woodland with about 125 miles of trails, some ideal for cross-country skiing in winter, some designated for mountain biking the rest of the year. Although only 635 feet high, Great Blue Hill, the tallest hill in the reservation, has a spectacular view of the entire Boston metro area. It's open daily, and maps are available for purchase at the reservation headquarters or the Blue Hills Trailside Museum. To get there, take Route 93 South to Exit 3, Houghton's Pond. 695 Hillside St., Milton, Boston, MA, 02186. 617/698–1802. www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-south/blue-hills-reservation.html.
Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area. Easily accessible from downtown Boston, the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area is seldom crowded. The park maintains walking trails through diverse terrain and ecosystems. MA. www.bostonharborislands.org.
Middlesex Fells Reservation. Just a few miles north of Boston, the 2,575-acre Middlesex Fells Reservation has well-maintained hiking trails that pass over rocky hills, across meadows, and through wetland areas. Trails range from the quarter-mile Bear Hill Trail to the 6.9-mile Skyline Trail. Mountain bikers can ride along the reservation's fire roads and on a designated loop trail. This sprawling reservation covers area in Malden, Medford, Stoneham, Melrose, and Winchester. To get to the western side of the reservation from Boston, take Route 93 North to Exit 33, and then take South Border Road off the rotary. MA. 617/727–5380. www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/metroboston/fells.htm.
Stony Brook Reservation. Excellent hiking footpaths crisscross the 475-acre Stony Brook Reservation, which spans Hyde Park and West Roxbury. Turtle Pond Pkwy., Boston, MA, 02132. 617/333–7404. www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/metroboston/stony.htm.
Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Blue Hills Trailside Museum organizes hikes and nature walks. Open Thursday through Sunday and Monday holidays from 10 to 5, the museum has natural-history exhibits and live animals. Admission is $3. The trails are open daily dawn to dusk and are free to explore. Take Route 93 South to Exit 2B and Route 138 North. 1904 Canton Ave., Milton, Boston, MA, 02186. 617/333–0690. www.massaudubon.org.
Boston Parks & Recreation Department. Rangers with the Boston Parks & Recreation Department lead walks through the Emerald Necklace parks. 1010 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA, 02118. 617/635–4505. www.cityofboston.gov/parks/parkrangers.
Boston hockey fans are informed, vocal, and extremely loyal. The stands are packed at Bruins games—especially since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011—despite high ticket prices. Local college hockey teams tend to give spectators plenty to celebrate at a much more reasonable price.
Beanpot Hockey Tournament. Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, and Northeastern teams face off every February in the Beanpot Hockey Tournament at the TD Garden. The colleges in this fiercely contested tournament traditionally yield some of the finest squads in the country. TD Garden, Boston, MA. www.beanpothockey.com. North Station.
Boston Bruins. Beantown's hockey team is on the ice from September until April, frequently on Thursday and Saturday evenings. Playoffs last through early June. TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, Old West End, Boston, MA, 02114. 617/624–2327. www.bostonbruins.com. North Station.
Boston Common Frog Pond. Thanks to a refrigerated surface, the Boston Common Frog Pond transforms into a skating park from November to mid-March, complete with a warming hut and concession stand. Admission is $5 for adults; kids 13 and younger skate for free. Skate rentals cost $9 for adults and $5 for kids; lockers are $2. Frog Pond hours are Monday 10 to 4, Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday 10 to 9, and Friday and Saturday 10 to 10. With the gold dome of the State House in the background, it's a spectacular setting. Boston Common, enter near Beacon and Walnut Sts., Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02108. 617/635–2120. www.bostonfrogpond.com. Park St., Boylston.
Boston Public Garden. Skaters like to head to the frozen waters of the lagoon at Boston Public Garden, but in 2012 the city posted signs asking people not to skate since it's not regulated; many, however, have ignored the warnings. 69 Beacon St., Back Bay, Boston, MA. www.cityofboston.gov/parks/emerald/public_garden.asp. Arlington, Boylston.
Larz Anderson Park. Outside the city, try the skating rink in Larz Anderson Park, at the top of a wooded hill. Admission for Brookline residents is $5; nonresidents pay $8. Skate rentals are $6. The rink is open from December through early March. 23 Newton St., Brookline, MA, 02446. From the Forest Hills T station, take the 51 bus toward Cleveland Circle and get off at Clyde and Whitney streets. The park is a five-minute walk away. 617/739–7518. www.brooklinema.gov. Forest Hills.
Public Ice-skating Rinks. The Department of Conservation & Recreation operates more than 20 public ice-skating rinks; hours and season vary by location. Call for a complete list of rinks and their hours of operation. 617/626–1250. www.mass.gov/dcr.
Beacon Hill Skate Shop. In business for more than 30 years, Beacon Hill Skate Shop rents skates for use in the Frog Pond and Public Garden. A credit card is required; call in advance and they'll have the skates sharpened and ready for you. 135 Charles St. South, off Tremont St., near Citi Performing Arts Center, South End, Boston, MA, 02116. 617/482–7400. www.beaconhillskateshop.com. Tufts Medical Center.
Boston’s parks and riverside pathways almost never lack for joggers, even in the worst weather. Paths on both sides of the Charles River are the most crowded and best maintained, particularly along the Esplanade. Watch out for in-line skaters and bikers. At Castle Island in South Boston, skaters and joggers zip past strolling lovebirds and parents pushing jogging strollers. The tranquil, wooded 1½-mile-long loop around idyllic Jamaica Pond is a slightly less crowded option.
Boston Marathon. Every Patriots' Day (the third Monday in April), fans gather along the Hopkinton–to–Boston route of the Boston Marathon to cheer on more than 25,000 runners from all over the world. The race ends near Copley Square in the Back Bay. Copley Square, Back Bay, MA. www.baa.org. Copley, Arlington. Boston Athletic Association. For information, call the Boston Athletic Association. 617/236–1652. www.bostonmarathon.org.
Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women. In October, women runners take the spotlight on Columbus Day for the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women, which attracts about 7,000 participants and 20,000 spectators. Four American records have been set at this race since it began in 1977. There's also a Kids 1K fun run at Boston Common and other family-friendly activities. Boston Common, MA. 888/767–7223 Registration. www.tufts-healthplan.com/tufts10k. Park, Boylston.
Weston Ski Track. From mid-December to March, the Weston Ski Track provides cross-country skiers and snowshoers with 15 miles of groomed, natural trails and a snowmaking area with a lighted 2-mile ski track. Rentals and basic instruction are available. 200 Park Rd., Weston, MA, 02493. 617/891–6575. www.skiboston.com.
Berkshires. The Berkshires region in western Massachusetts offers a little bit of Aspen on the East Coast, with tony ski resorts, fine dining, and an upscale atmosphere for those able to take a daylong or weekend ski trip. For details on the various resorts in the Berkshires, go to www.berkshireskiing.com. 135 mi west of Boston along I–90 and Rte. 2, Adams, MA. berkshires.org.
Department of Conservation & Recreation. The Department of Conservation & Recreation maintains more than 25 public tennis courts throughout the greater Boston area. These operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Lighted courts are open from dawn to 10 pm; other courts are open from dawn to dusk. 617/626–1250. www.mass.gov/dcr. Charlesbank Park. Some of Boston's most popular lighted courts are those at Charlesbank Park. Storrow Dr. opposite Charles St., Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02114. Science Park. Marine Park. A popular place to play tennis, Marine Park has lighted courts. 25 Farragut Rd., South Boston, Boston, MA, 02127. From the Andrew T station, take the 10 bus toward City Point via South Bay and get off at Farragut Rd. Andrew. Weider Playground. The courts here are lighted. Dale St., Hyde Park, Boston, MA, 02136. From the Forest Hills T station, take the 32 bus toward Cleary Square via Hyde Park Ave. and get off at West St. Walk down West to Gwinnet St. and take a right to go to the park. www.bostonnatural.org. Forest Hills.