Best Places to Watch the Boston Marathon: 10 Top Spots for Spectators

Spectators at the Boston Marathon are looking for the best place to watch the runners

The Boston Marathon draws thousands of runners and spectators to the city each year. The key to a great viewing experience is finding the right spot.

This article explores the best places to watch the Boston Marathon and highlights what makes each location special. There’s a spot for everyone from the bustling city to scenic parks.

The Boston Marathon is a famous 26.2-mile race held in Boston, Massachusetts, and is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathons.

Where to Watch the Boston Marathon – 10 Best Places

Are you looking for a great spot to watch the Boston Marathon as a spectator?

A few of the most famous spots include the Wellesley scream tunnel just before halfway, Heartbreak Hill around Boston College, and Boylston Street at the end.

Here are 10 of the best places from start to finish for this famous race:

1. Starting Line – Hopkinton (0 – 2 miles): Be there as the race begins! As far back as 1924, Hopkinton has been the start of the race. Beware, it is crowded, and you won’t see much of the race there. But where else can you feel the anticipation of the runners?

It will be less crowded if you walk a mile down the route. Once all of the runners have gone, enjoy some food and fun at the nearby park.

2. Ashland (2 – 5 miles): 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 rail line is the best way to reach Ashland. As it is quite close to the start, it may be hard to spot your friend or loved one among the runners.

3. Framingham (5 – 7,5 miles): Framingham is a great spot to watch the Boston Marathon, located just 5-7.5 miles from the start line. The number of spectators in Framingham is much higher than that in Ashland.

It’s a great place to get an early glimpse of the runners as they make their way through the course. The best way to get in and out of Framingham is by train. If you want to see the runners again, you can go to another spot on the train.

The town has plenty of restaurants and bars that offer prime viewing spots for spectators, so you can grab a bite to eat while cheering on your favorite runner. 

4. Natick (8 to 12 miles): Natick is a great place to watch the Boston Marathon and offers two great spots for spectators.

The first spot is Natick Center (Central street), which is located at the 10-mile mark of the race. This spot is usually quite crowded.

The second spot is the West Natick rail stop. This spot is usually less crowded. It offers a great view of the runners as they make their way through this section of the course.

The rail stop provides easy access for those returning to Boston after watching the race. Natick is sure to be a popular spot on race day.

5. Wellesley (12 – 16 miles): This is one of the best places to watch the Boston Marathon. Located along the marathon route, Wellesley College provides a unique atmosphere for spectators to cheer on their runners.

The college’s iconic “Scream Tunnel” is a popular spot for runners and spectators alike. Thousands of students line up along the course to cheer on the athletes.

Wellesley Square commuter rail stop is close by. In Wellesley Hills, Washington Street is a good option if you find the Wellesley College area too crowded.

6. Newton (16-21 miles): From Boston College to the infamous Heartbreak Hill, watching the marathon from one (or more!) of Newton’s numerous hills is another great way to cheer on runners.

Here they need to make their way through one of the more challenging sections of the course. Be sure to get here early if you want a great spot.

7. Cleveland Circle (22 miles): Cleveland Circle, close to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, is where the race really enters the urban streets. The crowds from here are huge.

Cleveland Circle is easily accessible to spectators by public transportation.

8. Brookline (22.5 – 24.5 miles): Brookline is a great place to watch the Boston Marathon. You’ll get to see some of the most exciting moments of the race as runners make their way to the finish line.

You can find plenty of places to watch along Beacon Street and Harvard Street, including restaurants and pubs with outdoor seating that offer a great view of the race.

There are also plenty of spots to watch along Commonwealth Avenue, including the Boston University Bridge and Kenmore Square.

9. Kenmore Square (25 miles): The city is buzzing here, and crowds grow even thicker. In nearby Fenway Park, the Red Sox play a home game on Marathon Day.

Following the game, the spectators rush out of Fenway Park into Kenmore Square. The remaining runners are cheered on loudly by baseball fans as they attempt to finish the final mile.

10. Finish Line (26.2 miles): For the race’s final stretch at Boylston Street, be prepared for big crowds.

A lively atmosphere awaits you in downtown Boston with giant screens on street corners providing live marathon updates.

The race finishes on Boylston Street near Copley Square.

Boston Marathon Route

The 26.2-mile course starts on Main Street in Hopkinton, a rural New England town. The route then follows route 135 through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, and Wellesley to Route 16.

After passing through Newton Lower Falls, it turns right onto route 30 (Commonwealth Avenue).

Then it follows Commonwealth Avenue through the Newton Hills. At the reservoir, it bears right onto Chestnut Hill Avenue and Cleveland Circle.

Via Beacon Street on the left, it continues through Brookline and Kenmore Square. Then it leads under Massachusetts Avenue.

The course bears right onto Hereford Street against the normal traffic direction. Boylston Street comes on the left, and the route finishes near the Boston Public Library in Copley Square.

Boston Marathon Race Day Schedule

  • Wheelchair Men: 9:02 a.m. (estimated finish time 10:22 a.m.)
  • Wheelchair Women: 9:05 a.m. (estimated finish time 10:35 a.m.)
  • Pro Men: 9:37 a.m. (estimated finish time 11:45 a.m.)
  • Pro Women: 9:45 a.m. (estimated finish time 12:08 p.m.)
  • Wave 1: 10:00 a.m.
  • Wave 2: 10:25 a.m.
  • Wave 3: 10:50 a.m.
  • Wave 4: 11:15 a.m.

Boston Marathon App

The free Boston Marathon app gives you participant tracking, live leaderboards, results, race information, course map, etc.

Within the app, you can receive alerts as your favorite participants reach checkpoints from start to finish.

You can download the B.A.A. Racing App from your mobile app store.

Traffic and Security

Roads near the course will begin to close around 6:15 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., depending on the location. Traffic will be heavy, so give yourself plenty of time for travel and plan ahead. There are a lot of parking restrictions, and street parking is limited during race week.

Spectators may be asked to pass through security checkpoints. Security personnel may ask to inspect bags and other items.

After completing the Boston Marathon, runners receive a space blanket, a thin sheet of heat-reflective plastic. Read more about why marathon runners wear space blankets after the finish.

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