Marathon Monday is a special day for the athletes and the spectators. Whether you’re cheering on a loved one or just want to have a good time, the 26.2-mile course has plenty of awesome places to catch the action.
There’s probably no single “best” place to watch the Boston Marathon. But in order to help readers make an informed decision about where to watch the race, we talked to Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) officials and polled Boston.com readers for their expertise.
Ahead, read more about some of the best places to watch the Boston Marathon, and check out our interactive map as well.
While you won’t get to see much of the race from the starting line, nowhere else on the course has a greater collection anticipation and possibility. If you’re going to watch the race from Hopkinton, be sure to get there early.
Pro tip: Drivers should park at Hopkinton State Park, then hop on the B.A.A. shuttle bus to the starting line.
If crowds aren’t your thing, Ashland is one of the easiest places to find a seat. The area is also a good place to watch the elite runners early in the race.
That said, it’s an almost one-mile walk to the course from the Ashland commuter rail stop, so if you’re looking to quickly travel down the course via rail, it may not be your best bet. While it won’t be crowded for spectators, it will be for racers, which also means it may be tough to spot your loved ones in the pack.
Framingham draws large crowds of enthusiastic revelers, and the Framingham commuter rail stop is easily accessible to the route. Framingham’s train depot also ranks among the most historic spots to catch the race, according to a statement provided by B.A.A. communications director Kendra Butters.
Per Butters: “Similar to Ashland, the Framingham Train Depot is a great spot to watch athletes pass by, then jump on the inbound Commuter Rail to Boston!”
The closer you get to the finish line, the larger the crowds in each town hub. The crowds in Natick Center around the 10-mile mark are a fun, rollicking bunch, while the West Natick rail stop is quieter and more remote, and will let you stand out more.
“Natick is a great spot to watch because it is pretty flat and runners are still in a pretty good mood, coming off the downhills earlier in the race,” said Boston.com reader Sarah, of Natick.
The Wellesley Square commuter rail stop drops you off in the center of town right next to the race. At just around the halfway point of the race, it’s a good place to send some encouragement before heading closer to the finish line. If you want to experience the famous Wellesley College scream tunnel, head about a mile west from the Wellesley Square stop.
According to Boston.com reader Ed M., Wellesley is the top spot to catch the Boston Marathon not only because it’s near the halfway point, but because it’s “easy to park, [there’s] space to spread out, and places to eat.”
If there’s one section of the course where racers need encouragement, it’s the Newton Hills, which begin around the 17-mile mark and end between miles 20 and 21, a bit before Boston College.
If you want to catch the start of the tough stretch, hop on the D branch of the Green Line and ride to the Woodland stop. Even better, if you walk a half mile to the east, you’ll find the Newton Fire Station, a great landmark to give runners a loud cheer of support as they start the hardest part of the course.
If you’re committed to checking out a steeper portion of the hills, you can ride the D branch of the Green Line to Newton Centre and walk 12 minutes to Commonwealth Avenue, but the more spectator-friendly spot is off of the Boston College stop on the B branch.
Not only will runners be relieved to have made it through Heartbreak Hill, but this stretch is the first part of the course with a high concentration of restaurants.
One advantage to Cleveland Circle and nearby stretches of Beacon Street is that the area is accessible from the B, C, and D branches of the Green Line. (The Cleveland Circle stop on the C branch brings you closest, but because fewer stops leave from downtown Boston, the D branch is recommended.)
Boston.com reader Eddie said that this area is his favorite, especially if you can find a spot at the popular restaurant The Abbey.
“We can watch the leaders on TV, then follow friends on the app and go out to the corner to cheer them when they get close,” Eddie said. “If you can get an outdoor seat at the Abbey, it’s all good.”
Just down the street is Washington Square Tavern, a Marathon Monday favorite of Boston.com reader Mark V.
“Gerry Finnegan throws a party like no other at Mile 23,” Mark said. “The Tavern hosts outdoor grilling and a truly fun all-day affair.”
Runners approaching Kenmore Square can see the Citgo sign looming larger, beckoning them forward. Once they’re there, the spirit from fans either heading to or departing from the Red Sox game makes Kenmore one big party.
“As a two-time finisher of the race, it was the best to see the rowdy crowds and familiar faces alike to power me to Boylston,” said Boston.com reader Amy. “It’s lively post-Sox game, and there’s a lot of restaurants/outdoor spaces to gather.”
If you’re set on watching the race’s final stretch along Boylston Street, be prepared for big crowds. If you can handle the crowds, it’s worth experiencing the sheer emotion of thousands of runners completing this incredible athletic feat at least once.
Also, don’t be fooled by your GPS: While the Copley Green Line stop would normally bring you right to the finish line, it’s closed on race day, meaning you should ride to the Hynes stop.
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