About Boston Nature Center

Butterfly Garden at the Boston Nature Center

Located just outside of downtown Boston, on the former grounds of the Boston State Hospital, the Boston Nature Center (BNC) is a community-based urban sanctuary.

Trails and boardwalks traverse meadows and wetlands, home to over 150 species of birds, 40 species of butterflies, and more than 350 species of plants. Year-round programs help foster an appreciation for nature and the environment.

→ For your safety and to avoid conflicts with wildlife, please follow our sanctuary guidelines during your visit.


500 Walk Hill Street, Mattapan, MA 02126
Get directions or contact us >


Face masks are required indoors

  • Nature Center: Closed
  • Trails: Open every day from dawn to dusk
  • Indoor Restrooms: Available Monday-Friday, 9:00 am–5:00 pm | Saturdays, Sundays, & most holidays, 10:00 am–4:00 pm


Free, donations appreciated

As a way to give even more people access to nature and to thank active military for their service, we are proud to offer:

EBT Participants: Free for up to 4 people when you show your EBT card
ConnectorCare Card to Culture Participants: Free for up to 4 people when you show your ConnectorCare card
Wonderfund Access: Free for up to 4 people when you show your Wonderfund card
Active-Duty Military: Free for up to 5 people with a valid military ID card





2 miles (universally accessible: 1 mile) Details >

Sanctuary Highlights

  • Public programs offered at affordable rates through sliding scale and low-cost fees.
  • George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center, the first “green” municipal building in Boston, exhibits environmentally sustainable building design.
  • The Nature Nook, a natural play area, engages children of all ages in discovering the natural world through free play.
  • Boston Area Beekeepers Association apiary, Boston Food Forest Coalition's edible forest, Clark-Cooper Community Gardens, and the Mattapan Ecovation Center.


Learn more about Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center and its urban environmental education programs