Your wedding or portrait location doesn't have to break the bank, especially if you're hoping to be in or around nature! Here are some of our favorite spots around Eastern Massachusetts that don't break the bank (and are COVID-friendly!).
Lars Anderson Park (Brookline, MA): this park has multiple areas including a small pond with a stone gazebo and small footbridges, a field with a stone mansion (auto museum), and walking paths throughout. Free parking available.
Christopher Columbus Park (Boston, MA): an open grassy park in the Boston Harbor Walk with gardens, a covered trellis with vines, steps leading to the Harbor Walk, and views of the marina. In the winter, the covered walkway lights up blue and is popular for proposals. Street parking available.
Fan Pier Park (Seaport, MA): Fan Pier Park is part of the Harbor Walk path with excellent views of the Boston skyline, Harbor, iconic bridges, and the marinas. Very "Bostonian" and stunning at sunrise and sunset. Very limited street parking in the Seaport, with a short walk to Fan Pier Park.
Arnold Arboretum (Jamaica Plain, MA): Large park with many walking trails, as well as a landscaped garden with stone wall, steps, and the Leventritt Vine and Shrub gardens. Some of the trails have hidden spots, like stone ruins, golden meadows, footbridges, and a creek. There is also a trellis and landscaped rose garden with several small ponds. Boston Skyline views from the top of Bussey Hill are pretty spectacular.
Thompson Island (Boston, MA): island in the Boston Harbor Islands that has beautiful views of the Boston skyline. There are several locations on the island to have weddings indoors and outdoors: https://thompsonisland.org/events/weddings.
Dorchester Shores Reservation/Dorchester Bay Pavillion (Dorchester, MA): public Harbor Walk with a gazebo/pavilion. The park stretches from Carson Beach around the JFK library, and ends at the Vietnam War Memorial. There are stunning views of the Boston Harbor with the look and feel of greenery by the ocean. The steps of the JFK library are also a beautiful location. Parking is available throughout Dorchester, depending on where you want to end up.
Boston Public Gardens (Boston, MA): landscaped park with fountains, statues, a shallow pond with willow trees and Swan Boats. Areas of the gardens can be reserved by contacting the Parks Dept: https://friendsofthepublicgarden.org/our-parks/visit/park-faq/. There are limitations on the time and logistics for wedding ceremonies. Metered/paid parking is available around the park.
Boston Common (Boston, MA): public park with landscaped fields and monuments, with views of historic Beacon Hill and other downtown Boston streets. There are grave sites, a Frog Pond (splash park in the summer, skating rink in the winter), and the Freedom Trail starts in the Boston Common. There is limited meter parking available around the Common. The Common is across the street from the Boston Public Gardens.
Blue Hills Reservation (Milton, MA): The Blue Hills have so many different areas with different attractions. There's an access road that leads to the observatory and beautiful overlooks. There are many
Neponset Reservation & Rail Trail (Quincy, MA): bicycle and walking trail that ends at the marshes in Quincy, overlooking the bay. Flat and marshlands, with several bridges and public playgrounds. Free parking at the Neponset River Reservation.
Charles River Esplanade (Boston, MA): The Esplanade is a large park with lagoons, access to the Charles River, many romantic spots with willow trees, views of the Cambridge and Boston skyline and the Mass Ave bridge. Parking is tricky (park in Back Bay, walk using the pedestrian bridges to get over Storrow Drive).
Historic Charlestown/Bunker Hill (Charlestown, MA): Historic buildings and monuments, with views of the Boston Skyline. Parking is limited, and is mainly resident parking. Great to walk around for portraits, and for weddings at the Bunker Hill Memorial.
Franklin Park (Dorchester, MA): huge urban park with walking trails, footbridges, a pond, a golf course, schoolhouse ruins, and a zoo. There are also ruins of the old bear cages, a stadium, and playgrounds. The zoo has an entrance cost, but the rest of the park does not. Plenty of free parking.
Brewster Gardens (Plymouth, MA): public park with trellis, a stream, footbridge, and gardens. To book the Brewster Gardens for a wedding or wedding photos, you need to contact the Town of Plymouth Parks Department at 508-830-4081 ext. 112 or 116. Unknown cost to have an event or park here.
Plymouth Beach (Plymouth, MA): a sandy, flat coastline beach. Parking is $20 per car.
Ellisville State Park (Plymouth, MA): secluded beach with frequent seal sightings. Trails to the beach are rocky/moderate difficulty. Trails include a bog, barrier beach, salt marshes, and meadows. Unknown parking availability/cost.
Oliver Mill Park (Middleborough, MA): stone bridges, an old mill, a creek, wooden footbridges, and a dam. No known cost to have an event or park here.
Ames Nowell State Park (Abington, MA): pond, trails in the woods. State Park parking costs apply (may need DCR pass).
World's End (Hingham, MA): park with rocky shorelines with views of the Boston skyline and hills. It's a peninsula, with a variety of bay/ocean views.
Bay Farm (Duxbury, MA): Trails to the wetlands and to the bay, large fields. Can be muddy (don't go after hard rains). Unknown parking costs.
Borderland State Park (Easton, MA): large mansion/castle-looking building, fields, steps, trails. Parking is $5 for MA residents.
The Knob (Falmouth, MA): small peninsula with spectacular views of Quissett Harbor and Buzzards Bay. Rocky coast/shoreline with some grasses. Very limited parking, unknown cost.
Ellisville State Park (Plymouth, MA): meadows, trails through pine forest, on the bay/beach. Sometimes, there are harbor seals! Free parking, no known cost to enter the park.
Roger Williams Park (Providence, RI): variety of activities, including a zoo, walking paths, landscaping and architecture, many ponds/lakes, monuments/sculptures, Swan Boats, boathouse, and a museum. Cost associated with entering zoo, but there are public spaces. The park also hosts indoor events in their buildings that you can call to inquire about: 401-680-7240 (https://rogerwilliamsparkevents.com/contact-us/).
Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA): historic village with a grist mill, plantation, reenactments, and the Mayflower II (when it's in her pier). Walking trails and nature. Park entrance and parking costs apply, and some elements are currently closed: https://www.plimoth.org/plan-your-visit-0.
War Memorial Park (West Bridgewater, MA): small waterfalls, a creek, walking trails, and great foliage in the fall. Unknown parking/cost.
Mayflower Beach (Dennis, MA): Gorgeous large beach with a short walk to the water. Very shallow at low tide, and a boardwalk. Parking available, unknown cost.
Lynch Park Rose Gardens (Beverly, MA): walking trails with a landscaped garden. Weddings require a booking with the Town of Beverly (firstname.lastname@example.org). Currently limited to residents of Beverly only, limited parking.
Nantasket Beach (Hull, MA): long, rocky beach on a long peninsula leading to Hull. The beach can get very packed in the summers, but is very picturesque because it's slightly curved, with hills on both sides of the long beach. The beach itself is roughly 2 miles long, and has many parking lots and access spots. Recommended for sunrise and sunset photos/celebrations. Parking my cost up to $20, but there are DCR lots at the southern beach access points.
Cape Cod: This is a pretty wide recommendation, but the entire Cape is lined with pretty epic beach locations. Mayflower Beach is described above, and there are so many more beauties! Most have free parking lots, and beautiful dunes, grasses, and rolling hills. Truro's beaches are larger, and you can find spots that have absolutely no other beach-goers for photos!
Ward Reservation (Andover, MA): 10 miles of trails, with wildflowers in the spring. Many meadows and clearings. Parking is $5 per car.
Revere Beach (Revere, MA): long public beach with views of Revere and Nahant Peninsula. The beach has several pavilions that can accommodate 2-8 people. Street parking is available, and there is no entrance cost to the beach. Beautiful and not packed at sunrise.
Nahant Beach (Nahant, MA): Stunning road/beach leading to the Nahant peninsula. The beach has white sand and cliffs to one side, making it very picturesque. Can get busy due to limited parking. Parking cost $10 for MA plate, or free with a DCR pass. The gates into the parking area are locked outside of open hours, but you can bike or walk in through a boardwalk walking path.
Phillips Beach (Swampscott, MA): beach with rocky cliffs to one side and dunes. More isolated than other public beaches. Very limited parking available on Ocean ave.
Breakheart Reservation (Saugus, MA): forest with hiking trails, a lake, and a river. One of the hiking trails leads to stone paths/boulders that offer beautiful skyline views. Parking available, unknown costs.
Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary (Marblehead, MA): part of the Mass Audubon Society, the sanctuary has a gorgeous, secluded beach, a wooden boardwalk, and walking trails through swamps, thickets, and woodlands. Free admission, parking available.
Salem Common (Salem, MA): public walking area with a pavilion and grassy fields. The Common is surrounded by historic homes, statues, and churches. Street parking available, area open to the public for ceremonies, but there may be restrictions for bringing chairs.
Dead Horse Beach (Salem, MA): secluded beach with views of the Rams Horn Channel and marina. Very rocky beach. Unknown parking availability, public access.
Halibut Point State Park (Rockport, MA): gorgeous views of the ocean with cliffs and rocky shorelines. Walking paths for greenery and several hills for overlooks. Parking available through DCR, unknown availability and cost.
Maudslay State Park (Newburyport, MA): landscaped gardens, fields, meadows, woods, with walking paths, as well as paths down to the Merrimack River. Parking available, unknown cost.
Great Brook Farm State Park (Carlisle, MA): walking paths and trails through fields and woods, surrounding a dairy farm with livestock. Several small ponds and meadows. Unknown parking and costs.
Walden Pond State Reservation (Lincoln, MA): historic pond with beaches and walking paths. Several coves have more private beaches that can be accessed via the Pond Path. Parking available for $10 for MA residents, unknown for non-MA residents). No other costs to enter.