Boston Swan Boats

The Boston Swan Boats are an essential stop for any Boston tourist (or local with children).

Located in the heart of the Boston Public Garden, the Swan Boats were established in 1877 and bring a unique beauty to downtown Boston.

The Swan Boats at Boston's Public Garden The Swan Boats at Boston's Public GardenA duck swimming near the Swan Boats in Boston Bronze Make Way For Ducklings at the Public Garden Boston
The Swan Boats at Boston's Public Garden

The attraction is one of Boston’s most famous landmarks and appears in the well-known children’s book Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey.

FYI, the ducklings from the book are commemorated in a set of bronze statues near the public garden's entrance at the corner of Charles St. and Beacon St. (Note: The ducklings provide a great photo opp for families as kids love to sit on them!).

The Public Garden is a great place to bring children. As a young child, I would always get very excited about going to the Swan Boats and feeding the ducks and swans goldfish crackers or stale bread (unfortunately, they now discourage visitors from feeding animals in the garden).

The Boston Public Garden is also a wonderful place to take a walk, have a picnic lunch, relax and read a book or even sunbathe. I passed many students studying as well as people taking their lunch break from work in the Garden.

Each of the boats has 5 or 6 rows of seats, with a swan in the back. The boat moves by pedal power, just like a bicycle moves. The swan in the back was originally built to cover the mechanism, and although it still does, it is now just as much or more so an icon.

The ride takes about 15 minutes, during which you go in a circle around the lagoon, and pass a center “island” that in the spring often houses nests of baby ducklings and swans.

At the exit of the ride, you pass a stand where you can buy souvenirs, such as T-shirts, pictures, and stuffed animals. They range from about $5-$20, and proceeds benefit the preservation of the public garden.

Of course, you can also get the “Make Way for Ducklings” book, which takes place in the Public Garden.

Boston Swan Boats Video

In this video you will (1) see what the Swan Boats and Public Garden look like from the bridge over the lagoon, and (2) get a brief taste of what it's like right aboard the Swan Boat; You'll even see the ducks come right up to the boat!.

Boston Discount Cards for the Boston Swan Boats

You can go on the Swan Boat (as well as see several other Boston-area attractions) for less using the GoBoston discount card!

Click here to safely purchase your GoBoston Card and ride the Boston Swan Boats at a discount.

Read an all-in-one overview of Boston's discount card options.

Boston Swan Boats
Public Garden, Boston

T Stops:
Green Line to Arlington Station, go to the exit labeled Arlington St./ Public Garden. The garden entrance will be right across the road from there, and the large pond containing several Swan Boats is immediately visible. It is a few minutes walk to the boat ride’s entrance, but easy to get to as they are visible through much of the park.

  • Reservations not required
  • Seasonal- open mid-April through September
  • No restrooms on site
Thank you to Deborah Holzer for contributing article, photos and video.

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