Seeking Sanctuary in a City

By Sophia Blair

Graphic by Madison Mercado


Our mental health is inherently intertwined with our connection to nature.

People who spend more time in nature are said to be happier, being in nature is one of the leading coping mechanisms throughout the pandemic. Nature is a key component in supporting our emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. Human beings are a part of nature, but we also find ourselves apart from nature, as industrialization allows us to live completely immersed in urbanization and technology.


Integrating nature into your life can be hard when you live in a city, but it is even more important given the negative effects urbanization can have on mental health. Not only has industrialization affected our connection to nature, ourselves, and overall mental health, but modern day technology augments the issue. Now, it’s rarer than ever for people to take time to “disconnect”, in both a figurative and literal sense. To acknowledge our growing disconnect from nature is the first step to intentionally reconnecting with it.


Here are a few spots in Boston to fulfill your nature fix for free:


Charles River Esplanade

  • 2 minute walk from Marsh Plaza (13 minutes for docks)

The esplanade is a three mile long stretch along the Charles River next to BU with grass and a path that welcomes pedestrians and bikers. The esplanade boasts billowing trees and further east down the path, docks owned by BU offer a picturesque view of the Boston skyline.


Fenway Victory Gardens

  • 24 minute walk from Marsh Plaza, 15 minute walk from Fenway Campus

The Fenway Victory Gardens was founded in 1942, and is run by a non-profit called The Fenway Garden Society Inc. They maintain over 500 serene gardens spanning 7.5 acres, and host monthly community participation events.


James P. Kelleher Rose Garden

  • 25 minute walk from Marsh Plaza, 15 minute walk from Fenway Campus

James P. Kelleher Rose Garden is a quaint outdoor park within the Back Bay Fens. It opened in 1931, and has over 1,500 roses, statues, and a fountain, providing a charming sanctuary in the midst of a neighborhood.


The Arnold Arboretum

  • 1 hr 17 minute walk from Marsh Plaza, 14 minute drive, 25 minute bike ride, MBTA bus 39 outbound to Forest Hills exit at South St. & Bardwell St.

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is a beautiful 150 year-old, 281-acre preserve, consisting of some of the most well-documented and comprehensive living collections of temperate woody plants, an herbarium, and a library.


Symphony Road Community Garden

  • 29 minute walk from Marsh Plaza, 21 minute walk from Fenway Campus

The Symphony Road Community Garden is a community of “neighbors gardening together” located in East Fenway on Symphony Road. The tranquil garden is composed of various plots abundant with agriculture grown by local residents.


Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary

  • 2 hour walk from Marsh Plaza, 24 minute drive, 35 minute bike ride, MBTA bus 47 inbound to broadway → bus 14 outbound to Roslindale Sq.

This 2 mile, 67 acre urban sanctuary is home to over 150 species of birds, 40 species of butterflies, and more than 350 species of plants. The Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Massachusetts Audubon Society, hosts year long programs to promote an appreciation for nature.