By Susanne Beck
It may not have the glamour or the height of California’s Griffith Observatory. Or enjoy as provocative a name as the Kissing Bridges of Parke County, Indiana. But according to the December 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure, Boston’s own Public Garden ranks as one of the most romantic destinations, by state, in the country.
The magazine describes Beacon Hill’s beloved urban oasis as a place to “see swans (both literal and in sculpted paddleboat form) and plenty of scenery.” Those who take the time to meander along its crisscrossing paths on 24 acres also know it as a tastefully curated landscape of various trees, bushes, and in warmer months, an explosion of colorful flowers and buds. Travel and Leisure claims the garden is “the perfect place for a…bike ride, or picnic” which is not true. Picnicking is fine, biking is not.
Yet for those who feel the sting of Cupid’s arrows as they wander along, marriage proposals, wedding ceremonies, and wedding pictures (the last two with special permits) are welcome. Friends of the Public Garden President, Elizabeth (Liz) Vizza says, by way of the Boston Parks Department, that 143 couples were wed in the Garden in 2023 with an unknown number more professing love and a long-term formal commitment whether on bended knee or not.
The Boston Public Garden was established in 1837 as the first public botanical garden in the U.S. A stand-alone organization, Friends of the Public Garden (“Friends”), was formed in 1970, as deplorable conditions and insufficient funding from the City led to low expectations by residents, neglect, and vandalism. Since then, Friends has partnered with the city in caring for, enhancing, and advocating for the Garden as well as the Boston Common and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. It remains one of the oldest public-private partnerships in the nation thanks in large part to financial support from 3,000 members from more than 131 communities across Massachusetts and 31 states.
So, when feelings of romance suddenly strike as you walk through the Garden on any given day, thank those who have been smitten enough to show their love in the form of a check.