Grand and picturesque, the Central branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square is central to our readers’ hearts. Featuring numerous cafes and tea rooms, a grand reading room, art galleries, and a sun-soaked courtyard, there’s sure to be a spot to read that will suit everyone’s taste.
700 Boylston St., Boston. Open Mon.-Thurs. 9 am-8 pm, Fri.-Sat. 9 am-5 pm and Sun. 11 am-5 pm bpl.org.
2. Boston College Campus
Spanning roughly 375 acres in the suburbs of Boston, this sprawling campus has countless nooks and crannies to curl up in, both indoors and outside. Readers specifically mention the nearby Chestnut Hill Reservoir, with benches scattered along a footpath circling the water.
Boston College: 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill. hours vary. bc.edu
Chestnut Hill Reservoir: 355 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton. Open 6 am-7 pm mass.gov
3. Charles River Esplanade
A classic Bostonian picnic spot, the esplanade is a great place to stop and blow through a few books on the Goodreads queue. Bring a blanket to settle on the grass, or snag a bench facing out towards the Charles River. In the summertime, you can also sample some IPAs from the Night Shift Owl’s Nest pop-up beer garden.
Charles River, Esplanade, Boston. Open 6 am-8 pm esplanade.org
4. The Brookline Reservoir
Lush and tree-filled, this park in the heart of Brookline offers a wide selection of reading spots, and spectacular views no matter the season. “You can see traffic but it feels a million miles away,” one reader reported. Come by yourself for a serene afternoon under a row of Sargent Cherry trees, or pack a picnic and bring some friends along. Don’t be afraid to bring a bottle of water or some lemonade — the park is newly equipped with restrooms for visitors.
674 Boylston St., Brookline. Open 6 am-7 pm brooklinema.gov
5. The Rose Kennedy Greenway
Winding through downtown Boston, the Rose Kennedy Greenway comes equipped with countless options for seating: benches, swings, and wide stretches of grass that are perfectly suited to some literary leisure. Adorned with a variety of sculptures, murals, and occasional cultural events and activities, this series of parks delights.
Atlantic Ave., Boston. Open 7 am-11 pm rosekennedygreenway.org
6. Institute of Contemporary Art
While the inside of the ICA is nothing to sneeze at, the museum’s picturesque surroundings are also worth exploring. Perched right on one of Seaport’s many shorelines, it’s the perfect place to get some sun on your face and feel the wind in your hair. Readers specifically recommend the shaded steps behind the museum that overlook the ocean, but there’s no shortage of perches to choose from.
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston. Open Tues.-Wed. and Sat.-Sun. 10 am-5 pm, and Thurs.-Fri. 10 am-9 pm icaboston.org
7. Boston Athenaeum
Located at the mysterious locale 10½ Beacon St. in Downtown, this curated library specializing in local history, fine arts, and literature also offers numerous art galleries and ornate architectural views. Arches, floor-to-ceiling windows, and balconies abound, complete with a terrace on the 5th floor that looks out over Granary Burying Ground.
10½ Beacon St., Boston. Open Mon.-Thurs. 9 am-8 pm, and Fri.-Sat. 9 am-5 pm bostonathenaeum.org
8. Boston University Beach
Though lacking in sand, this grassy knoll overlooking Storrow Drive nevertheless provides the perfect place for a beach read, with the sound of cars rushing past easily mistaken for waves crashing onto the shore. With a smattering of benches and a view of the Charles River, the green space, once a parking lot, has provided generations of BU students with a spot to kick back and relax while reading for school or for leisure.
270 Bay State Road, Boston. Open 24/7. bu.edu
9. Custom House Block
This building on Long Wharf dates back to 1848, and stands as a relic of Boston’s heyday as a leading spot for national and international maritime trade. These days, the wharf offers some quiet benches and scenic views of Boston’s ferries and the Seaport district in the distance. Visitors can grab a pastry and read with the wind in their hair. Just make sure to keep your snacks safe from stealthy seagulls.
66 Long Wharf, Boston.
10. Norman B. Leventhal Park
Tucked in the heart of the Financial District, this little square provides a welcome splash of greenery among the towering glass buildings that surround it. Benches border curving brick-lined paths offer both sun and shade, and a nearby fountain provides some soothing white noise. Grab a coffee and a pastry from nearby Sip Cafe and sit under the vine-covered trellis to read in true tranquility.
130 Congress St., Boston. Open 6 am-11:30 pm normanbleventhalpark.org
Here’s the full list of the best places to read in Greater Boston:
- Boston Public Library
- Boston College Campus
- Chestnut Hill Reservoir
- Charles River Esplanade
- The Brookline Reservoir
- The Rose Kennedy Greenway
- By a window in the most comfortable seat in the house
- Nantasket Beach
- At home.
- The Institute of Contemporary Art
- The Boston Athenaeum
- Custom House Wharf
- Norman B. Leventhal Park
- The Emerald Necklace
- Fort Independence at Castle Island
- my bathtub
- The Boston Common
- North Point Park
- Prospect Hill Park
- BU Beach
- The Public Garden
Maya Homan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MayaHoman.