Boston Marathon runners high fiveing child spectatorsHalf a million spectators will find their places along the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon route this Patriot’s Day. Whether you know someone running or simply want to be inspired by the 30,000 athletes, this 127-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! Here are the eight best marathon-watching spots for your viewing pleasure. Where will you cheer on the runners?

1. Hopkinton (start to mile 2)

Energy levels are at their peak, and there’s an air of excitement at the starting line in Hopkinton. Witnessing the massive throngs of runners before the speedier athletes have surged ahead is a truly unique experience. The entire first mile will be quite crowded, but if you wander past the first mile marker you’ll have great views and space to spread out.

2. Natick Center (miles 8 to 12)

The town green is about 10 miles in — a great milestone to celebrate! The route flattens out somewhat at this point, so runners may be reinvigorated here and very appreciative of the countless families lining the Natick Center sidewalks. Look forward to music blasting and a dozen mini trampolines set up for bouncing fun.

3. Heartbreak Hill (mile 20.5)

Most runners will tell you without hesitation that THIS is the most challenging part of the race — this means it’s a great spot to shout encouraging words to the weary marathoners. This area of the course is filled with families young and old, plus hard-partying Boston College students, and you’ll see everything here from bake sales to T-shirt sellers.

4. Cleveland Circle/Brighton (miles 21 to 23)

Watching the first wheelchairs zoom down Chestnut Hill Ave. as they turn onto Beacon Street is both terrifying and exhilarating. It’s also a great spot to watch the runners who have just finished Heartbreak Hill and are heading into their last five miles. This spot of the race is where the route enters the city, and the crowds are out in full force. If you’re lucky, you can score a seat on the second floor and dine al fresco at Cityside Tavern while you watch the race.

5. Coolidge Corner/Brookline (miles 23 to 24)

With ample shops and restaurants in the area, Brookline is a great place to spend the day. The crowds are thick here, but you’ll find plenty of spots to take the kids to the restroom, and you can venture to one of a few nearby playgrounds if they start to get antsy.

6. Kenmore Square to the big finish! (miles 25 to 26.2)

If you’re up for pure pandemonium — and want to greet your runner at the finish line — Kenmore Square to Boylston Street is the spot for you. You’ll want to secure your place early, as you’ll be competing with hundreds of others for a glimpse at the runners. This party in the street is unmatched, as is the thrill of watching the athletes cross the finish line.

7. From the T (C line branch of the Green line)

In my pre-kid days, I always had to work on Marathon Monday. I would schedule my commute to coincide with the marathon, and watching the runners up close from my comfy seat inside the above-ground Green Line train was the highlight of the day. I would jump on at Cleveland Circle, the first stop on the C line, which meant I was guaranteed a good seat. From there, the marathon runs right alongside the tracks. The trains will certainly become crowded as they travel downtown, but most people are in good spirits on this holiday!


8. From your couch

Baby needing to nap? Feeling under the weather? Turn on the TV or fire up your laptop! WBZ-TV and will broadcast the Boston Marathon live, with pre-race coverage beginning at 7 a.m. and race coverage at 9 a.m.

Ashley Dickson
Ashley is a Virginia native who moved to Boston — sight unseen — for a library science graduate degree she’s never exactly used. Within a year, she met her husband, a nerdy but handsome health economist. They planted roots in Arlington, MA, had three baby boys (2012, 2015, 2021), and entered the world of foster parenting in between. Ashley spends her days picking up Legos, freelance writing and editing, swimming at Walden Pond, and binge eating dark chocolate when her kids have their backs turned.