Where to Go Running in Boston

Posted July 22, 2013 by Emily Mahlman in Downtown Crossing
Charles River

Now that the summer is in full swing and we have survived several sweltering weeks, it’s finally the right time to get out and enjoy some summer running in Boston. Whether you are starting out from home or the office, you may be surprised to learn just what a great location downtown Boston is to start (and not to mention end) a run. Whether you are looking for a quick 30-minute jog or to log some serious mileage, here are a few great scenic running routes that start in the hub of the Hub.

The 3.29 Mile Route

The 3.29 mile route. Courtesy of Google Maps and MapMyRun.com


Downtown Crossing to Esplanade and back (3.29 miles): When running in a city, I like to find as much open and green space as possible. This route (which is just over 5 kilometers, for those of you training for a 5k) hugs tightly to parks and trees. You can start anywhere in Downtown Crossing, head up Park Street, and then run down Beacon Street along the perimeter of the Common. When you get to Arlington, take the Arthur Fiedler Foot Bridge over Storrow Drive to the Esplanade and head toward the West End while enjoying views of the Charles. After you pass the ball fields (formally known as Lederman Park), you come to a spot to turn around and head back the exact way you came: along the Charles, across the footbridge, along the perimeter of the Public Garden and the Common, and down Park Street into Downtown Crossing. This is a great run if you’re pressed for time before or after work.

7.1 Run Mile Map

The 7.1 mile run route. Courtesy of Google Maps and MapMyRun.com

Downtown to Castle Island and back (roughly 7.1 miles): Don’t think the only place to get water views when running in Boston is along the Charles. While it may not be top-of-mind, a run through Southie provides beautiful scenery that may be new to you, which I always like. That helps me from getting bored. Start out anywhere in downtown Boston, either your home, office, or (my favorite) the gym—so you can ditch your work clothes without going all the way home.

You can pick up this route anywhere along Summer Street headed toward South Station (depending on where you start from, this route is between 6.7 and 7 miles). I love this run because you are not turning every five minutes; Summer Street is your main route, taking you nearly the whole way to Castle Island. Run past South Station on Summer, cross Fort Point Channel, and head into the Seaport District. Stay on Summer as it passes into South Boston. Once in Southie, Summer turns into L Street. Take a right turn onto East Broadway and follow that until it dead-ends into the path along Pleasure Bay. The 1.75-mile circular path will take you out to Castle Island and back. The way back is super easy: Head right on Farragut Road and take a left on First Street, which intersects with Summer and will take you back through the Seaport toward downtown Boston. If you have more than seven miles in you, try two laps around Castle Island. The views are worth enjoying twice.

The 13 Mile Run Route

The 13 mile run route. Courtesy of Google Maps and MapMyRun.com

Downtown to Harvard Square and back (13 miles): For longer runs, you can’t beat the Charles. It’s safe, beautiful, and, best of all, easy! Are you sensing a pattern yet? I do some of my best thinking while I run, and I don’t like my deep thoughts interrupted by a need to navigate. This route is perfect for those who are training for a fall half or full marathon.

Start off anywhere in Downtown Crossing. Head through the Common to Beacon Street. Follow Beacon to Arlington and take the Arthur Fiedler Foot Bridge (or, if you’re me, “that terra-cotta bridge”) across Storrow Drive to the Esplanade. Then you get to just run and not think! You can head in either direction, but I like to head east past the Hatch Shell (toward the West End) and cross over into Cambridge via the Science Museum Bridge. Once in Cambridge, I follow Memorial Drive six miles past MIT and some of the best views of the Boston skyline. Eventually, you’ll pass Harvard Square. Cross back over the Charles into Allston via the Eliot Bridge. You’ll see Harvard Stadium as you head back along the river, with Soldier’s Field Road on your right. After another six miles of gorgeous views of rowers and sailboats, you will stumble upon the same terra-cotta colored footbridge. Take that back across Storrow, back down Beacon to the Common, and into Downtown Crossing.

These are just a few great runs that can originate in Downtown Crossing. In addition to the three above, there are tons of websites and apps that can help you find and create other routes. One of my favorites is MapMyRun.com. Or you can lace up your running shoes, head out there, and just explore. One of the many great things about Boston, especially downtown, is that it is pretty hard to get lost. So go, run like the wind, and have fun!



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