Francis William Bird Park
GOOD FOR: Ages 0-4

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:Washington Street and Polley Lane, Walpole, MA
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:; 508-668-6136

Bathrooms: Portable toilets by the playground (spring and summer only)
Water/Snacks: None

Stone bridges, ponds, a playground, and paved paths make this park a family favorite, especially for those pushing strollers.

This park was designed for city dwellers to have a peaceful retreat.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

This park was created in 1925 to be a breathing space for the community. Industrialist Charles Sumner Bird Sr. and his wife, Anna, commissioned it in memory of their oldest son, Francis William Bird, who died during the influenza epidemic of 1918, at the age of 37.

The couple hired John Nolen, a disciple of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who believed landscape design could be a tool for societal improvement. While your kids might not be thinking about its history, the park is a fine example of the trend at the time to make sure urban areas offered outdoor opportunities to enjoy nature.

Today, you’ll find a tot lot, tennis courts, a basketball backboard, and plenty of places to sit in the shade or enjoy a picnic. Most of the 3 miles of walking paths are paved, and are good for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Remember: You can pick up the pamphlet titled “Over the Bridge and Through the Years Quest” next to the tot lot. Clues and a map lead to a hidden treasure box, where you can sign your name or get a stamp. Keep your dog on a leash and clean up after it.

Plan B:

Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (Trip 55) is less than 4 miles to the south if you’d like to experience more varied, vigorous trails.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Head to Washington Street, which forms one boundary of the park, to find restaurants.


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