Though Jamaica Plain is part of the city of Boston, the parks, urban wilds, playgrounds and community gardens, many supported by the city and state, allow an escape from an overdose of urban life. JP is bordered on three sides by green space, including several jewels of the Emerald Necklace, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. With hundreds of acres of parks, squares and gardens, JP has plenty of places to spend the day. Here are some favorites:
Arnold Arboretum at 225 Arborway: This beautifully landscaped, 265-acre botanical garden contains over 14,000 woody plants, flowers and trees. The Arboretum is now a national historic landmark administered by Harvard University and the Boston Parks Department. It is free and open to the public. The Arboretum offers classes, exhibits, walks and other activities. Info: 617-524-1718 or arboretum.harvard.edu.
Boston Nature Center, owned and managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, is at 500 Walk Hill St., on the JP/Mattapan/Roslindale border. The 67 acres of the former Boston State Hospital Property have been converted into a wildlife sanctuary and outdoor classroom. The site features 30 acres of freshwater wetlands, the largest community gardens in Boston, and such wildlife as red-tailed hawks, deer, pheasants and wild turkeys. Low-cost environmental and science programs are offered year-round for adults, children and families. More than two miles of trails and boardwalks. Info: 617-983-8500 or massaudubon.org.
Jamaica Pond Park lies between Perkins Street, Park Drive and Prince Street along the Jamaicaway. This natural “kettle hole” pond once hosted a reservoir and commercial ice-cutting, and its banks held the country estates of prominent Bostonians. Today this is one of Boston’s most popular parks for strolling, running, biking and to see and be seen. Rowboats and sailboats are available to rent at the boathouse in season.
Forest Hills Cemetery at 95 Forest Hills Ave. is considered to be one of the most beautiful spots in Boston, with sculpture by famous artists. It was designed after a European burial park, with an artificial lake. Interesting and famous people laid to rest there include Boston Celtics star Reggie Lewis, poet E.E. Cummings, abolitionists and some Massachusetts governors. Tours are sponsored by the Forest Hills Educational Trust. Info: 617-524-0128 or foresthillscemetery.com.
Franklin Park and Zoo. The park extends south from Seaver and Walnut Streets to Forest Hills and is the largest gem in the Emerald Necklace. The 527-acre park offers hiking, picnicking and an 18-hole public golf course. Info: Franklin Park Zoo, 617-541-5466 or zoonewengland.org; Franklin Park Coalition, 617-442-4141 or franklinparkcoalition.org.
Olmsted Park extends along the Jamaicaway between Huntington Avenue and Perkins Street. It includes Leverett Pond and Daisy Field. It is also a part of the Emerald Necklace.
Southwest Corridor Park is a linear park from downtown Boston to Forest Hills running alongside the MBTA’s Orange Line. Twenty-seven out of the 52 acres that make up this park are found in Jamaica Plain. There are basketball courts, bike paths, tennis courts and tot lots. The temporary home of Kelly ice skating rink is near Stony Brook T Station.