Forest Hills Cemetery
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:95 Forest Hills Avenue, Jamaica Plain, MA
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:; 617-524-0128

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

A cemetery may seem an unlikely place for a walk with kids, but the Forest Hills Cemetery has beautiful paths and art to enjoy in a peaceful city setting.

Modern sculptures dot the landscape at the Forest Hills Cemetery.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

Some people may think it odd to include a cemetery in a book about exploring the outdoors with kids, but they will understand once they have been to Forest Hills Cemetery, which is so much more than a burial site. The 275-acre green space was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Founded in 1848, the cemetery features Victorian landscape design with shady paths, a lake, a fountain, a waterfall, and scenic vistas. You can find works by important sculptors throughout the cemetery, and you can pick up a fantastic visitors guide and map at the main entrance. It’s interesting to note that in its early days, the cemetery was actually a place where the public went for art openings—the Museum of Fine Arts wasn’t founded until 1870.

In that spirit, the Forest Hills Educational Trust—which offers walking tours, exhibitions, special events, concerts, and poetry readings throughout exhibits. The artworks are listed in the guide and are found throughout the cemetery. Many famous people are buried here, including abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, suffragist Lucy Stone, poet E. E. Cummings, and playwright Eugene O’Neill.

For a nice loop walk, use the map from the visitors guide to find your way to the center of the cemetery, where you'll find lovely Lake Hibiscus. Circle the lake, and then wander along lanes and avenues on your way back to the main entrance. If you need a theme for your walk, have kids look for all the memorials and monuments that feature animals, a popular motif during Victorian times. The most famous one is the 1854 Barnard Monument, which features a life-size sculpture of a dog.

Remember: Forest Hills is still an active burial ground, so remind kids to be respectful of people who may be there to mourn loved ones. Keep your dog on a leash and clean up after it.

Plan B:

The Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary (Trip 14) is a short walk south and has exhibits inside as well as trails to explore.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Jamaica Plain and nearby Roslindale Village have restaurants galore, ranging from gourmet to casual.


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