6 Picks for a Perfect Fall Picnic on Boston Harbor

Reclaim your public right to access open space along the waterfront simply by packing a picnic.

Waterfront Park, Boston Seaport

Boston Harbor offers lots of great spots for a fall picnic. Simply getting out to enjoy our public spaces makes a statement that they belong to us all. Photo: Tim Briggs

When you think of fall in New England, apple picking and leaf peeping probably come to mind. But this year, we’re encouraging Bostonians to add a new tradition to your autumnal slate: a picnic on Boston Harbor.

Here’s why. Boston’s waterfront belongs to us all (that public right is even codified into law). But the spate of private development in recent years threatens to wall off the Harbor to all but the wealthy.

A 2019 CLF survey revealed that the Seaport area’s high costs and unreliable public transit hinder Bostonians’ ability to enjoy the Harbor – with a distinct racial disparity between Black and Latinx respondents and white respondents.

That speaks to the deeper effects of large-scale gentrification. While the revitalized Harbor is cleaner than ever, adjacent neighborhoods have grown whiter, wealthier, and more exclusive.

You can help reclaim our waterfront public spaces, however, simply by getting out and using them. And what better way to do that than a picnic packed with your favorite pumpkin-spiced treats shared with friends and family?

Here are our top spots for a crisp, waterfront picnic this fall.

1. Waterfront Park and Seaport Common – Seaport

In the shadow of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Waterfront Park boasts a larger-than-expected public green intersecting with the 47-mile Harborwalk. Throw a blanket down on the grass, get comfy on the large benches, or enjoy your meal at a metal table. Just across Northern Avenue, Seaport Common hosts art installations and regular events like fitness classes and plays. Take your pick of food from a myriad of fancy sit-down and quick bites available in the surrounding blocks before settling down for your picnic on Boston Harbor.

Transit Options: #4 Bus Line, World Trade Center Subway Stop (Silver Line)

2. Eastport Park and South Boston Maritime Park – Seaport

A little further down Seaport Avenue, the greenery of Eastport Park and South Boston Maritime Park split D Street. Plentiful tree cover and views out over Boston Fish Pier make this duo the perfect spot for a picnic, which you can enjoy from the grass among the sculptures or at a table under the three-season café’s pergola.

Transit Options: #4 Bus Line, Courthouse Subway Stop (Silver Line)

3. Fan Pier Park – Seaport

Fan Pier Park

Fan Pier Park offers an unparalleled view of Boston from its location at the meeting of Fort Point Channel and the Harbor. A wide section of the Harborwalk feeds manicured paths into the picnic-friendly grass under a canopy of trees. Off the grass, benches, tables, and firepits await, as well as a playground for younger picnickers – all in a thoughtfully designed urban park close enough to the water to feel its spray, with countless food and beverage options nearby.

Transit Options: #4 Bus Line, Courthouse Subway Stop (Silver Line)

4. LoPresti Park – East Boston

Picnic on Boston Harbor at LoPresti Park East Boston

Courts, pitches, and playgrounds are the main features of LoPresti in East Boston, but a quiet patch of grass serves as the perfect picnic area. You’ll find outstanding views of the North End and Financial District from a short wooden pier jutting into the Harbor. For amenities, dining options just a few blocks inland range from seafood bistros to quick takeout and casual local spots – perfect fare for a picnic on Boston Harbor.

Transit Options: Maverick Subway Stop (Blue Line)

5. Piers Park – East Boston

Piers Park East Boston

Piers Park could be considered the crown jewel of this list for its size alone, at 6.5 acres and with plans for expansion. Add to that its accessibility, detailed design and landscaping, and views from a reclaimed industrial pier, and you have a public space evocative of the Charles River Esplanade without nearly as many visitors. Pavilions, a playground, and plenty of parking make this a spot you can’t miss. And not only does the Harborwalk connect this park to most of the others on the list, but the East Boston Greenway Connector begins a few blocks down Marginal Street.

Transit Options: #120 Bus Line, Maverick Subway Stop (Blue Line)

6. Porzio Park and Navy Fuel Pier Airport Edge Buffer – East Boston

Porzio Park East Boston for a picnic on Boston Harbor

In a small corner of East Boston, between airport runways and rows of piers, Porzio Park hosts an expanse of green surrounded by a playground and tennis courts. A long segment of the Harborwalk runs along the water’s edge and the airport, yet the park still feels remarkably isolated. A short walk away, a former fueling pier used by the U.S. Navy during the 1940s now features paths, greenery, and historical interpretive signage. You can reach more buffer parks to the north via the Greenway. These pocket parks afford a slice of solitude in a quiet neighborhood long disrupted and altered by airport expansions.

Transit Options: #120 Bus Line, Maverick Subway Stop (Blue Line), Logan Airport Ferry Terminal

A simple picnic on Boston Harbor this fall can help reclaim the spaces that belong to us all. Together we can take back our Harbor.

Don’t forget to sign our pledge to protect Boston Harbor – the People’s Harbor.

Before you go... CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.