Franklin Park & The Playstead Field
1 Pierpont Road, Boston, MA 02119
Formed in the 19th century by American landscape architect by Frederick Law Olmsted, Franklin Park is 527 acres, making it the largest park in the City of Boston. The park has six miles of roads and fifteen miles of pedestrian and bridle paths. Learn more at at the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.
The Playstead is a large and actively-used sports area originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1886. It was built for recreational purposes and was once quoted as “the finest playground ever set apart for children’s exclusive use in this country” by the Boston Herald Traveler. Since its construction, the Playstead has been used for many purposes including housing elephant exhibits for the Franklin Park Zoo and the planting of the victory gardens after World ar II.
Photo Courtesy of The Franklin Park Coalition
Photos courtesy of The Emerald Necklace Conservancy
Public transit is STRONGLY encouraged!
The MBTA website has schedules, maps and route planning help.
TRAIN – Orange Line to Glen Road Entrance in JP:
Orange Line to Green Street stop, exit out front doors of station and walk right on Green Street. Cross Amory Street at the light, stay straight, cross Washington Street at the light (Green becomes Glen Road), continue up the hill past houses till Glen Road dead ends in the park. Walk into the park along paved path – when it ends you can:
Bear to left for the Overlook stone ruins and further along White Stadium.
Bear to the right to go to the Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park, the back entrance of the Zoo, the Playstead for sports and the festivals, or Circuit Drive-the main park road.
From Circuit Drive you can walk to the right to reach Valley Gates Parking Lot and the Shattuck Hospital OR go to the left for the golf course walking loop that leads to the Golf Clubhouse.
BUS – along Circuit Drive (main road through the park):
The #16 bus runs between the Andrew T stop on the Red Line (through Uphams Corner and along Columbia Road) and Forest Hills Station on the Orange Line and stops at the main park entrance on Blue Hill Avenue (by the front of the Zoo and close to the Golf Clubhouse).
Inside the park it stops midway along the park road at Valley Gates Parking Lot (for Playhouse in the Park and park volunteer days) and the fork leading to the back entrance of the Zoo. It also stops across from the Shattuck Hospital.
Buses to Seaver Street & Humboldt Ave or Seaver & Elm Hill Ave Entrances:
Take commuter trains to Back Bay or North Station. From there take the Orange Line Subway Train to Forest Hills Station. Board the #16 bus (see above) Or, you may take a short cab ride from Forest Hills. (About 1 mile to the golf clubhouse by taxi.)
By Bike: Click here for detailed biking directions and map.
There are two Bluebikes stations located by the park:
@Franklin Park Zoo – Franklin Park Rd at Blue Hill Ave
@Seaver St at Humboldt Ave
You can “rent” a hubway bike in two Roxbury locations: Dudley Square and Roxbury Crossing T stop. It’s about a 20 minute ride to the park, along the Southwest Corridor bike path or through Roxbury’s historic neighborhoods.
Franklin Park’s bicycle paths are great places to learn to ride a bike with no traffic or automobile interference. Try the wide, flat Playstead Road behind the Zoo, next to the Stadium or the golf course loop path near American Legion Highway.
Bike Entrances From Dorchester
American Legion Highway across from Franklin Hill – this puts you on the 2.5 mile paved loop path around the golf course. If you ride to the right after entering, you’ll come to the Golf Clubhouse (where you’ll find the only bike racks in the park). The Clubhouse driveway leads to the main park road. There are newly painted bike lanes running the full length of the park road.
Corner of American Legion & Blue Hill Ave – a stone dust path leads you to the golf course loop path. A local carpenter who bikes this way has installed a small wooden bridge over the cobblestone gutter where the two paths meet for a smoother ride.
Bike Entrances From Grove Hall
Columbia Road & Blue Hill – you can ride in the main park road entrance which is more bicycle friendly with the new bike lanes on either side of the road.
Seaver Street and Elm Hill Ave or Humboldt Ave – Both entrances put you on paved paths and are a good way to reach the rear entrance of the Zoo, the Playstead ballfields, the old bear cages, basketball and tennis courts, and White Stadium.
Bike Entrances From Egleston Square
Seaver / Walnut / Columbus corner – there are stairs here, so ride down Walnut Ave with the park on your left and enter just before El Parquesito de Hermandad, the playground. You’ll be on a wide, paved path with White Stadium right in front of you.
Walnut Ave at the top of Montebello, Park Lane, and Peter Parley – the main Stadium entrance is here with a large parking lot and hopefully bike racks in the near future.
Bike Entrances From Jamaica Plain
Williams Street Entrance – it’s uphill from JP into the park, but this is the least steep route. If you’re on the Southwest Corridor, turn off at English High School, go left on McBride which becomes Williams Street after you cross Washington Street at Doyle’s pub. Stay straight on Williams and you’ll cross Forest Hills Street at the end and go into the park.
Glen Road Entrance – from the Green Street T station and SW Corridor park, turn onto Green (away from Centre St) and bike across Amory Street and Washington Street, stay straight and go up the steep hill, through a residential neighborhood, till you dead end in the park.
Bike Entrances From Forest Hills
Ride along the Arborway till you get to the traffic circle in front of the park. 2/3 of the way around you can enter the park on the main road. If you go further around the traffic circle and take the first right after the main park road, you can ride down to the Williams Street entrance – a much nicer experience than riding on the main road at this point.
There will NO parking available adjacent to the Playstead at the Giraffe Entrance to the Franklin Park Zoo.
Within the City of Boston
To the Blue Hill Avenue entrance (Zoo)
From Mattapan Square
Drive up Blue Hill Avenue (Rte 28) towards downtown, pass Franklin Field and Talbot Ave on your right. Go through light at edge of park (intersection with American Legion Highway) and stay on Blue Hill Ave. Next light at Columbia Road intersection, turn left into the park.
From Roxbury and Grove Hall
Take Blue Hill Avenue, through the light at Seaver Street. At next light turn right into the park.
To the Forest Hills entrance
From Roslindale & Hyde Park
Drive up Hyde Park Avenue towards downtown. Just past Forest Hills T stop, turn right onto the Arborway service road underneath the overpass. Go past courthouse, old stone church, and brick apartment buildings to the traffic circle… continued below
From Fenway & Jamaica Plain
Take the Riverway, Jamaicaway – past the Jamaica Pond boathouse, and stay straight as you go around two traffic circles. Pass the Arnold Arboretum on your right. Just past the Arboretum take left hand lane to be on the overpass. Stay straight and go into the traffic circle as you come down from the overpass. Go about 2/3 around the circle to the entrance of the park – marked with a large wooden sign – and turn right into the park onto Circuit Drive.
From the South
Take 203 and when it turns into Morton Street, you’ll come to a rotary; turn right at the Rotary (you’ll see signs for the park) and you’ll now be going up Circuit Drive, which runs through the park.
Outside the City of Boston
Directions to Franklin Park via Storrow Drive (Downtown):
Take the Fenway exit to Route 1 Jamaicaway South. Follow Route 1 to Route 203 East (look for signs to Franklin Park Zoo). Once you pass the Arnold Arboretum, keep left to go up on overpass and into the rotary, go two-thirds of the way around and turn right into Franklin Park.
From Route 128 North or South (Dedham):
Take exit 15A (Dedham Exit) to Route 1A. Stay on Route 1 (approximately 4 miles) until it becomes the VFW Parkway. Continue on the VFW Parkway, approximately 3 miles, until it ends. Take a left on Centre Street. At the rotary take 203 East onto the Arborway Once you pass the Arnold Arboretum, keep left to go up on overpass and into the rotary, go two-thirds of the way around and turn right into Franklin Park.
From 128 (Milton/Stoughton):
Take Exit 5B Route 28 North, Milton. Go 3.2 miles. At light go left, follow Route 28 North, Mattapan/Boston. Go 0.9 miles and then bear left onto Brook Road (still 28 North). Go 1.2 miles and enter Mattapan Square. Follow Blue Hill Avenue (still 28 North) and follow signs for the zoo. Go 2.6 miles and go left at lights into Franklin Park at the intersection of Blue Hill Avenue and Columbia Road (which is on the right side of the intersection).
From Route 9 (Newton):
Take Route 1 (Jamaicaway South). Follow Route 1 to Route 203 East. Once you pass the Arnold Arboretum, keep left to go up on overpass and into the rotary, go two-thirds of the way around and turn right into Franklin Park.
From Route 93 North or South (Southeast Expressway):
Take Exit 15 for Columbia Road. From 93 North turn left onto Columbia Road; from 93 South turn right onto Columbia Road. At third light bear left for 0.3 miles continuing on Columbia Road. Continue on Columbia Road for 1.9 miles. Go straight across Blue Hill Avenue and into Franklin Park.
Biking, walking, and transit are encouraged!
There is NO parking available adjacent to the Playstead at the Giraffe Entrance to the Franklin Park Zoo.
Park at your own risk along these suggested streets (be prepared to walk long distances):
Circuit Drive (adhere to parking sign restrictions)
Seaver Street (adhere to parking sign restrictions)
Blue Hill Avenue (adhere to parking sign restrictions)
Columbia Road (adhere to parking sign restrictions)