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Magnolia Park in Arlington

Magnolia Park is a public park in Arlington, MA. It is situated in East Arlington where Magnolia Street meets Herbert Road. The park features a playground, half basketball court, soccer field, and picnic tables. It is a great place to play and very popular among Arlington families.

Magnolia Field Sign and Park


The location of Magnolia Park's main entrance is at the intersection of Magnolia St. and Herbert Rd. A side entrance is on Thorndike St. You can also enter the park from the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway.


Street parking is available near the park, plus there is a nearby parking lot. Near 30-42 Herbert Rd. you might find parking, and on side streets such as Varnum St and Thorndike St. (Be sure to drive slowly on Herbert Road because traffic at the intersections can be dangerous.) Thorndike Parking Lot is a small parking lot near Magnolia Park.


The park entrance on Magnolia Street opens to a playground. While Magnolia Playground is next to a soccer field called Magnolia Park, the playground is often referred to as “Magnolia Park.” The playground is suitable for children of all ages because it has a mix of structures for different developmental levels. A paved path around the playground is good for young children to ride scooters and small toddler vehicles.

Climbing structure at Magnolia ParkPlayground climbing structure

The climbing structure is made of plastic and metal and has a slide at one end. Next to the climbing structure is a rope climbing gym structure: a pole with a rope web stretching from top to bottom allows kids to climb up from the ground. Wood mulch covers the ground in the playground area. The swing set has five swings.

Swingset at Magnolia Playground
Swing set

A sandbox sits at the other end of the playground. (Read about the benefits of unstructured play.) A few riding toys are anchored to the ground nearby, including a miniature see-saw and a “merry-go-round” structure that spins around when pushed. Another climbing structure with a slide is nearby. This smaller slide is perfect for young children who are too little for the bigger slide near the playground’s entrance.

Sandbox at Magnolia Park
Sandbox at Magnolia Playground

In the Magnolia Park playground, you’ll often see plastic toddler toys lying around that have been donated by families from the neighborhood. Baby walkers, activity centers, and small kids’ vehicles are among the kinds of unwanted toys left in the park for others to play with. (Just remember that some of the toys at the park belong to kids who are currently playing at the park and planning to come back for them.)

At the Thorndike Street edge of the park is a half basketball court with a single basketball hoop. The court is relatively new and the basket is sturdy, but there’s only one hoop. It would’ve been nice if the Town of Arlington had been able to fit in a full basketball court with two hoops so people could play a full court game, or play a half court game even if one hoop was being used.

Picnic Tables & Benches

Picnic tables are good for gathering groups between play times and for anchoring functions such as birthday parties. They are especially nice in the summer for picnics. Magnolia Park has a few picnic tables. The largest one was constructed in the fall of 2021 using the wood from a redwood tree that had to be cut down. This table is right in front of the community garden.
Picnic table made from redwood tree wood in Magnolia Park

Picnic table made from wood of redwood tree felled in 2021

There are a couple of benches that face the playground and that are well-positioned for parents and caretakers who are watching their kids play on the climbing structures. Several granite blocks spaced around the park can be used as backless benches.

Beyond the playground mulch is a grassy area that is comfortable for sitting. A decent-sized tree provides shade on hot afternoons and evenings– it is one of the best places to get shelter from the sun in a park that is pretty low on tree cover. The young trees that were planted during the 2017 renovation will eventually provide additional shade as they grow and mature.

Tree at Magnolia Park

A tree at Magnolia Park provides scarce shade on hot days


Depending on the time of year, portable restrooms can *sometimes* be found near the entrance to the park.


For its size, Magnolia Playground tends to attract a lot of visitors on nice weather days. People are drawn to the park’s cozy layout, diverse amenities, and good condition of the climbing structures. The busiest times tend to be weekend mornings and afternoons in spring and summer, and summer evenings before dinner time. On weekends, especially between 10 am and 1 pm, the picnic benches are often reserved by folks hosting children’s birthday parties or other gatherings. Reserving the picnic area requires a Park Permit Reservation.

Mosquitos and Bugs

The park can get buggy due to the presence of foliage. Near the sandbox is a tree with low limbs and a rock garden bordered by bushes, and this foliage attracts mosquitoes in the spring, summer and fall. Mosquito activity seems to be heaviest near the bushes and trees. It is a good idea to bring insect repellent if it’s a buggy time of year. Mosquitoes tend to come out around dusk. Ticks are present in the park, so it’s a good idea to check for them after you leave. I once saw several dog ticks crawling on a bench at the same time!

Bulletin Board

A community bulletin board sits just inside the park near the Magnolia St. entrance. Nearby, a wooden box on a post is used as a community library where visitors can leave and take books. (Arlington has many of these little community library boxes scattered around the town.

Community Garden

The Magnolia Park Community Garden is at the edge of the park. 54 garden plots are available to Arlington Residents who sign up. You can grow your own vegetables or flowers. There is a wait list.

Soccer Field

The soccer field of Magnolia Park lies just past the playground.

Soccer Field at Magnolia Park
Soccer field of Magnolia Park

Bike Path

The Minuteman Commuter Bikeway is just 700 feet from the Magnolia Playground entrance and touches the edge of the soccer field. The bike path begins at Alewife station, runs through Arlington and Lexington, and ends in Bedford at Depot Park. The path is 10 miles long.

A Bluebikes station, where you can rent a bike from a kiosk, is located where the bike path meets the Magnolia Park soccer field.

Bikes to rent at Magnolia Park on bike path
Bluebikes station at edge of Magnolia Park soccer field

Another bike path, the Alewife Linear Path, starts on the other side of Alewife Station and continues into Cambridge.

Thorndike Field, Dog Park, and Parking Lot

Thorndike Field, on the other side of the bike path, is about four times the size of the Magnolia Park soccer field. Thorndike Parking Lot, which is relatively small, can be accessed via Margaret Street.

The Thorndike Dog Park is also off the bike path– in the direction of Alewife Station. The dog park is an enclosed sandy area with benches and features made for dogs to jump on and run around with each other.

Alewife T Station

Alewife Station, just 0.3 miles from Magnolia Park, is the last stop on the Red Line, one of the subway lines of Boston’s MBTA system. From Alewife Station to the Thorndike Dog Park it’s a 0.2 mile walk or ride on the Minuteman Bike Path. Alewife has racks for bike storage.

History of Magnolia Park

Magnolia Playground underwent a major renovation that took place between 2016 to 2017. Prior to the renovation, the park sometimes got totally flooded during heavy rains. Somewhere on the internet there’s a photo of people kayaking through “Lake Magnolia!"


Magnolia Park is one of the jewels of East Arlington. It is located near the corner of East Arlington that’s bounded by Mass Ave, Lake Street, and Alewife Brook Parkway. The streets surrounding the park include Thorndike St, Magnolia St, Varnum St, and Fairmont St.

If you continue northwest from Magnolia Park past Thorndike Parking Lot, you will get to a triangular neighborhood bounded by Lake Street, Route 2, and the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway. This little neighborhood abuts the Mugar Wetlands and includes Mary Street, Mott Street, and Burch Street.

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