date published: May 4, 2009

9 best bets for enjoying spring in the Hub
by Josh B. Wardrop

waddle this way
Boston’s been the setting for a lot of notable pieces of literature, but perhaps none so as enduring and beloved by families as Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings. On May 10, Boston Common acts as the setting for the popular annual Duckling Day Parade, in which youngsters and their families get to play the part of ducklings and retrace the steps of the Mallard family through the park, all led by the Harvard University Marching Band. It’s a tradition that generations of Boston children have enjoyed, and a true harbinger of spring’s full glory here in the Hub. Refer to special events listing.

tour boston on two wheels
They say that “once you learn how, you never forget,” and there’s no better time than springtime to remember the joy of riding around on a bicycle—all the while taking in the most beautiful sights Boston has to offer. Fans of pedal power can check out Boston Bike Tours (617-308-5902, who offer daily tours of Beacon Hill and Harvard Square, as well as weekend jaunts through other area neighborhoods; or Urban Adventours (refer to sightseeing listing), a company that leads bike tours from one end of the city to the other—including evening Fenway neighborhood tours that let you soak up pre-Red Sox game excitement—and even delivers rental bikes to you, anywhere in the city, on their eco-friendly BioBus.

a party for mother earth
Earth Day may have been in April, but it’s never too late to celebrate our glorious planet. Local FM station WBOS, in conjunction with Whole Foods Market, hosts the 16th annual Earthfest at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade on May 30 from noon–5 p.m. In addition to performances by a slew of 1990s alt-rock favorites like Soul Asylum, Massachusetts’ own Lemonheads, Seven Mary Three and Shawn Mullins, the event features Kids’ Planet—an interactive family area boasting musical acts, entertainment and enviornmental/ educational activities for all ages—as well as exhibits and displays by local and national eco-friendly orgnaizations and non-profits, intended to help raise awareness about how we can all help preserve the world we live in. For more information, visit

the heck with hibernating
Franklin Park Zoo, founded in 1911, is home to more than 200 species of animals—including gorillas, lions, tigers and giraffes. And spring is the time of the year when a number of the animals who spend the winter in hiding make their debut to the delight of crowds of families and animal lovers. Visitors to Franklin Park this spring can see two of the Zoo’s newer arrivals—Ramon, an ocelot kitten, and an as-yet-unnamed barn owl chick—as well as all their furry and feathered friends. Refer to wildlife listing.

stop to smell the flowers
The Arnold Arboretum is one of Boston’s most popular spots in the springtime for nature lovers, with nearly 7,000 varieties of trees and flowers spread out over 265 acres. But when the second Sunday of May rolls around, there’s really only one blossom at the Arboretum that’s on everyone’s mind—the lilac. That’s because it’s the annual Lilac Sunday, being celebrated for the 101st time at the Arborteum on May 10. In addition to the beautiful blossoms, Lilac Sunday also boasts live entertainment and is the only day of the year in which guests are allowed to picnic on the Arboretum grounds. So, pack a lunch, pack the family and come out to Jamaica Plain to sample the lilac life. Refer to sightseeing listing.

rocking out
A sure sign of spring is the sight of pale, squinting rock ‘n’ roll fans emerging from a long winter of nothing but indoor shows in darkened clubs. Beginning this month, outdoor concert spots like the Bank of America Pavilion on the waterfont, the Comcast Center in suburban Mansfield and even venerable Fenway Park lure music lovers out into the sun for outdoor shows by British balladeers Keane (May 11 at the Pavilion), the annual KISS 108-FM radio show starring Black Eyed Peas, The All-American Rejects, Ciara and others (May 17 at the Tweeter), and Dave Matthews Band (May 29 & 30 at Fenway Park). Refer to music listings.

secret gardens...revealed!
Boston in bloom is a beautiful thing indeed, but the only thing better than enjoying the city’s bountiful parks and greenspaces is getting a chance to appreciate some natural beauty that few others get to see. That’s why the annual Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill tour, sponsored by the Beacon Hill Garden Club, is such an especially anticipated event by greenthumbs and flower fanatics of all designations. On May 21, participants receive maps to a dozen private gardens secreted away in the venerable old Beacon Hill neighborhood—lush and peaceful spots situated right in the heart of the city but hidden away from the hustle and bustle of it all. See how city folk manage to keep their gardens growing and enjoy a day of tranquility and beauty where you’d least expect to find it. Refer to special events listing.

ride The swan boats
Perhaps the most beloved fixtures in the Public Garden are the world-famous Swan Boats. Owned and operated by the Paget family since 1877, the stately paddle wheel-propelled vehicles take passengers on short jaunts around the central Lagoon. The trip, one of the best bargains for visitors in town (only $2.75 for adults, $1.50 for kids), is unquestionably the most relaxing way to take in the Garden and the surrounding skyline. Refer to sightseeing listing.

journey to the art of the city
Some folks mistakenly believe that appreciating fine art can only be done within the confines of musty old museums. This month, enjoy beautiful works by some of the city’s top artistic talents while strolling the streets of two of Boston’s most picturesque neighborhoods. Stroll by the waterfront during the ninth annual Fort Point Art Walk on May 8 & 9, visiting open studios by 75 artists in one of Boston’s oldest artist communities. Then, on May 16 & 17, visit the lovely South End neighborhood for the SoWa (South of Washington Street) Art Walk and Open Studios. Whatever your artistic tastes, you’re bound to find beautiful items to lend a touch of springlike beauty to your home. Visit or for more information.

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