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Swan Boats: a Summer Treat

Quintessential Boston stop not just for tourists


What says summer in Boston better than a ride on the Public Garden’s world-famous Swan Boats?

The 15-minute pedal-powered boat ride takes riders on a leisurely tour around the garden’s lagoon, giving a unique glimpse of its 24 acres of blooming flowers and lush lawns.

As well as enjoying nature, passengers are supporting a long-standing family business. Robert Paget launched the first Swan Boats in 1877. Lore has it that he was inspired by the Richard Wagner opera Lohengrin, where a knight crosses a river in a boat drawn by a swan. While the design of the fleet of boats (there are six) has evolved through the decades, they continue to be operated by the Paget family.

The Swan Boats are not just a Boston institution. They are featured in Robert McCloskey’s beloved classic children’s picture book Make Way for Ducklings, which won a Caldecott Medal and has never been out of print since it was first published in 1941. The book has sold over two million copies and has made the Swan Boats famous to readers across the globe.

So hop in line, buy a ticket (no reservations necessary), and find out, or reacquaint yourself with, why thousands of people are drawn to the Public Garden every summer.

The Swan Boats are at the Boston Public Garden, a four-minute walk from the MBTA Green Line Arlington stop, and are open seven days a week from mid-April through September 18. Tickets can be purchased at the dock and are $3.50 for adults, $2 for children ages 2 to 15, and $3 for seniors. The Swan Boats do not operate on rainy, windy, or extremely hot days. More information on seasonal hours is available here.

This story was originally published on June 25, 2013; it has been updated to include current information.

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