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Boston’s historic Swan Boats return for 2024 season

Save the date: the iconic swan boats will return for season on Saturday, April 13 at 10 a.m.

The Swan Boats were dedicated as a Boston landmark in 2011. | Photo by @littlerandomhappiness

The Swan Boats were dedicated as a Boston landmark in 2011.

Photo by @littlerandomhappiness

One of our favorite signs that the seasons are changing and spring has arrived is the return of the Swan Boats to the Boston Public Garden lagoon. These floating beauties date back to the 1870s and have seen many changes over the years, however the same family continues the summer pastime for all Bostonians.

The Paget family began this rowing business when Robert Paget was granted a boat license and started with a small boat in the Public Garden lagoon. Later in the decade, Robert drew inspiration from a catamaran-style boat designed to sit atop two pontoons, which allowed passengers to sit on benches in front of the captain like we see today.

Where did the swans come from?
To move the early version of this boat around, the conductor used a foot-propelled device (think: a bicycle attached to a paddle wheel). To cover this contraption from view, Robert designed a swan after attending the opera Lohengrin in New York City.


This year marks the 147th season for the Swan Boats.

Photo by @_shutterart_

In 1914, the boats were expanded in size to five benches that would accommodate 20 passengers per boat. The current fleet includes boats built between 1910 and 1992 and features oak benches + signature ornamental brass.

They are pretty famous, and not just to Bostonians. The swan boats are mentioned in Robert McCloskey’s children’s picture book “Make Way for Ducklings.”

Today, the swan boats are open from early April to late September and is run by fourth generation members of the Paget family. Guests can purchase tickets for 15-minute rides seven days a week around the lagoon. The trip around the pond is about one-quarter mile and in one day a driver can navigate 7+ miles.

Save the date: the first ride of the season will take off on Saturday, April 13 at 10 a.m.

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