The Boston Marathon is one of the most iconic and historic races in the world, attracting runners and spectators from around the globe.
Whether you know someone running or simply want to be inspired by the 30,000 athletes, this 128-year tradition is a must for Bostonians and tourists alike!
If you’re wondering where to watch the Boston Marathon with your family, we’ve got you covered!
We’ve compiled a list of the best spots to watch the race and show your support for the runners:
- Hopkinton: Start to Mile 2
- Ashland: Mile 3-5
- Framingham: Mile 6.6
- Natick Center: Miles 8 to 12
- Wellesley: Mile 13.1
- Heartbreak Hill: Miles 17 to 21
- Cleveland Circle: Miles 22 to 23
- Coolidge Corner: Miles 23-24
- Kenmore Square: Miles 24-25
- Final Stretch at Boylston Street
The Top 10 Spots To Cheer At The Boston Marathon
We have selected ten spectator spots for the Boston Marathon based on their unique energy and accessibility via public transit.
As the runners make their way from Hopkinton to Boylston, they pass through eight different neighborhoods, each with its distinct vibe.
With our selected spots, you can witness the race at multiple stages and experience the energy of each neighborhood.
Hopkinton: Start The Race With The Runners
The starting line in Hopkinton is electric with excitement, and the energy levels are at their peak.
It’s a truly unique experience to witness the massive throngs of runners before the faster athletes surge ahead.
While the first mile will be crowded, wandering past the first-mile marker will give you great views and space to spread out.
If you’re planning on watching the start of the race, here’s what you need to know:
How to Get To Hopkinton
The best way to get to Hopkinton is by car. There are several parking lots available for spectators, but they can fill up quickly, so arrive early.
Tips For Watching The Start Of The Boston Marathon
Remember to pack a blanket or chairs to sit on, as there may be a lot of standing around before the race. It’s also important to bring snacks and water, as options may be limited early in the morning.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that it can be very cold before the race, so be sure to dress appropriately and pack extra layers to stay warm.
What To Expect As a Spectator At The Boston Marathon
The atmosphere at the starting line is electric, as runners prepare to embark on a 26.2-mile journey. The crowds will be cheering and the energy will be palpable.
Ashland: Miles 2 – 5
Ashland was the starting point of the Boston Marathon until 1924. Due to its proximity to a train line, it was chosen as a starting point.
The town is known for its enthusiastic crowd support and festive atmosphere, setting the tone for the entire marathon.
How to Get To Ashland
To get to Ashland, you can take the commuter rail from Boston to Ashland Station, but keep in mind that it’s a fairly long walk from there to the starting line.
Alternatively, you can consider taking a shuttle bus from designated locations near the race course to get closer to the start line
Tips For Watching At Ashland
The best places to watch in Ashland are near the starting line and along Front Street, which is the first section of the course. From here, you can see the excitement of the start and watch as the runners make their way through town.
What To Expect At Ashland Along The Boston Marathon Route
The town comes alive with music, cheering, and cowbells as runners pass by.
Families set up lawn chairs and picnic blankets along the route, creating a community feel that’s hard to match anywhere else.
Framingham: Miles 5 – 7
Framingham, located between 5 to 7 miles of the Boston Marathon route, is known for its tradition of “scream tunnel lite” where students from Framingham State University and local high schools come out to cheer on the runners.
How To Get To Framingham
To get to Framingham, take the commuter rail to the Framingham station, which is a short walk from the marathon route. Alternatively, you can drive and park in one of the many designated parking areas nearby.
Tips For Watching At Framingham
The best places to watch at this spot are on Hollis Street, where you can get up close to the runners and feel the energy of the crowd.
If you prefer a quieter spot, head to Concord Street, where you can get a great view of the runners from a distance.
What To Expect At Framingham Along The Boston Marathon Route
This spot is truly electrifying, with students cheering on the runners by ringing cowbells and waving signs.
If you find yourself in Framingham, take a stroll through the town center and explore the historic buildings and quaint shops. You can also visit the Danforth Art Museum or catch a show at the Amazing Things Arts Center.
Natick Center: Miles 8 to 12
As runners reach the 10-mile mark, they will hit the town green in Natick Center.
The route flattens out here, giving runners a boost of energy, and the sidewalks are packed with families and spectators cheering them on. It’s an excellent spot to witness the determination and perseverance of the runners.
How To Get To Natick Centre
If you’re planning to watch the race at Natick Center, the best way to get there is by taking the commuter rail to the Natick Center station. You can also drive, but parking may be limited.
Tips For Watching At Natick Center
To get the best views, position yourself along the sidewalks of the town green, where you can see the runners up close.
One of the best places is at the intersection of Main Street and Central Street, where you’ll have a great view of the runners as they pass by.
Another great spot is in front of the Natick Town Common, where you can watch the runners go by while enjoying the scenic surroundings.
What To Expect At Natick Center
Expect a lively atmosphere in Natick with music blasting and mini trampolines set up for bouncing fun.
The area is filled with excitement as the runners pass through, accompanied by live music, banners, and flags.
It’s also a great spot to catch a glimpse of the elite runners who often pass through this stretch of the course at a fast pace. The crowds here usually get quite lively, making it a fun and easily accessible spot for spectators.
Wellesley College: Cheer On The Runners At The Scream Tunnel
At the halfway point of the marathon, runners are met with the deafening cheers of the Wellesley Scream Tunnel.
This iconic and energetic spot is a must-visit for spectators looking to support their favorite runner.
Here’s what you need to know about watching the marathon at Wellesley College:
How To Get To Wellesley College
Take the commuter rail to Wellesley Square station. From there, it’s a short walk to the college.
The only downside is that parking can be difficult to find, but visitors can take a stroll around the stunning campus or Lake Waban after the race.
If parking in the downtown area is scarce, try the College Club parking lot or overflow parking.
Tips For Watching At Wellesley College
Bring earplugs if you’re sensitive to loud noise, as the Scream Tunnel can get very loud. Also, consider making signs or bringing cowbells to cheer on the runners.
What To Expect At Wellesley College
The Scream Tunnel is a tradition at Wellesley College, where students line the street and scream as the runners pass by. The energy and excitement are contagious, and it’s an experience you won’t forget.
The Wellesley students go all out, providing high-fives and displaying creative and humorous posters for the runners.
If all the excitement has inspired you to take on the next Boston Marathon, then guarantee your success with this training plan!
Heartbreak Hill: Witness the Ultimate Challenge of the Marathon
Heartbreak Hill is notorious for challenging runners with a steep incline.
Despite the difficulty, Heartbreak Hill is one of the most iconic and beloved spots along the marathon route, known for its enthusiastic crowds and supportive atmosphere.
Spectators line the streets, cheering and offering encouragement to the tired athletes. The atmosphere is electric, and the determination of both the runners and the spectators is truly inspiring.
How To Get To Heartbreak Hill
Getting to Heartbreak Hill can be a bit of a challenge, as it is located in a residential area with limited parking.
The best way to get there is to take the Train to the Boston College stop and walk from there.
Alternatively, you can try to find a parking spot in the surrounding neighborhoods, but be prepared for a bit of a walk.
Tips For Watching At Heartbreak Hill
The best places to watch are at the top of the hill, where you can see the runners cresting the summit, or at the bottom of the hill, where you can cheer them on as they power up the incline.
What To Expect At Heartbreak Hill
When you arrive at Heartbreak Hill, expect to see a sea of spectators, many of whom have been camping out for hours to secure their spot.
Cleveland Circle: Miles 22 – 23
Cleveland Circle is a lively and festive spot along the Boston Marathon route, located between miles 22 and 23.
It’s known for its tradition of lively crowds and a party-like atmosphere, making it a popular destination for spectators.
How to Get To Cleveland Circle
The easiest way to get to Cleveland Circle is by taking the T to the Cleveland Circle stop on the green line of the MBTA subway.
Tips For Watching At Cleveland Circle
Cleveland Circle offers a variety of great spots to watch the marathon. Many people like to gather near the intersection of Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue to see the runners as they pass by.
Other popular spots include the reservoir on the Boston College campus and the Boston Marathon statue at the corner of Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Road.
What To Expect At Cleveland Circle
When watching the marathon at Cleveland Circle, expect to be surrounded by a lively and enthusiastic crowd of spectators.
You’ll also see plenty of runners pushing themselves to the limit as they near the end of the race.
The atmosphere is festive, with lots of cheering, music, and vendors selling snacks and refreshments.
Coolidge Corner: Miles 23-24
Coolidge Corner is a family-friendly spot located between miles 23 and 24.
This area is known for its festive atmosphere, with live music, food vendors, and enthusiastic crowds cheering on the runners. The energy here is contagious, making it a great spot to bring kids and friends.
How To Get To Coolidge Corner
Take the Train to Coolidge Corner Station on the Green Line. Limited street parking is available, but it’s recommended to take public transportation.
Tips For Watching The Boston Marathon From Coolidge Corner
The corner of Beacon Street and Harvard Street is the best spot to watch runners. The wide sidewalks provide ample space for spectators, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby where you can grab a bite to eat or drink.
As the runners make their way through the neighborhood, the crowds lining the streets are cheering and providing a boost of energy for the marathoners.
Spectators can enjoy a variety of local businesses and restaurants, many of which offer special deals and promotions on marathon day.
The area is also known for its historic architecture and charming atmosphere, making it a great spot to explore before or after watching the race.
Kenmore Square: Miles 24-25
Kenmore Square is another popular spot for spectators, located between miles 24 and 25.
One of the main draws of Kenmore Square is the iconic Citgo sign, which runners pass just before entering the final mile of the race.
The intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street is known as “The Heartbreak Hill of Kenmore Square,” where runners face a steep incline, making for an exhilarating and challenging part of the race to watch.
Take the Train to Kenmore Station on the Green Line.
If driving, there are several parking garages nearby but expect heavy traffic and limited availability on race day.
The intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street is the best spot to watch runners as they conquer the hill.
The bleachers at the base of the hill provide a great view of the runners as they approach the incline.
The crowds here are loud and enthusiastic, cheering on runners as they make their final push toward the finish line.
Finish Line Of The Boston Marathon At Boylston Street
The finish line at Boylston Street is the most iconic and anticipated spot to watch the Boston Marathon, located between miles 26 and 26.2.
It’s the culmination of months of training and dedication for the runners, and the finish line is where they’ll finally achieve their goal.
The energy here is electric as runners complete the grueling 26.2-mile course and cross the finish line. The crowds are cheering, the music is playing, and the atmosphere is unforgettable.
However, be prepared for large crowds and possible road closures. It’s also important to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot.
Tips For Watching The Boston Marathon At Boylston Street
The best viewing spots at the finish line are near the bleachers or at the grandstands, but these areas may require a ticket or reservation.
The finish line is where the genuine excitement and emotion of the marathon are on full display.
You’ll see runners from all walks of life and all levels of ability crossing the finish line, often with tears of joy and relief in their eyes.
The crowds will be cheering and ringing cowbells, and you’ll feel a palpable sense of pride and excitement in the air.
It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to witness the finish line of the Boston Marathon.