BOSTON HARBOR ISLANDS
The islands nestle into one of the most historic harbors in America- all 34 of them- and are so accessible from downtown Boston, you can be out there island-hopping in about 20 minutes to an hour, depending on where you stop first.
The islands are maintained by quite the force of both preservation and rejuvenation- the National Park Service, Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, Boston Harbor Now and the City of Boston all have a say in the vitality of the Islands. And vital they are. In the past twenty years, the water of the harbor has gone from dirtiest to nearly the cleanest, and is considered one of the nation’s greatest environmental achievements. And the islands themselves have only recently been thoughtfully maintained. Until twenty years ago, Spectacle Island was an unregulated garbage dump, and only in the past ten years has it been open to the public with a swimming beach and five miles of walking trails.
Catch the ferry from Boston Harbor Cruises at Long Wharf. A boat leaves for Georges Island on the hour every hour starting at 9 am and ending at 3 pm on the weekends. Heading to Georges Island first gives you the most options for Island-hopping, as many of the ferries to the other islands depart from Georges. It's easy to plan for two or three islands in a day.
Georges Island is home to historic Fort Warren, a Civil War-era fort with many areas to explore, and many grassy spots to relax. The interior of the fort has an expansive lawn with some shady trees, and often on the weekends you can find events happening here.
Wander around the stone and granite fort for the whole morning, exploring the varied sections of terrepleins and ramparts. We especially like the bastion at the northern-most point of the fort, which stays significantly cooler than anywhere else on a hot day, and also the bakery and the powder magazine, which has amazing acoustics.
Peddocks Island is another easy spot to visit while island-hopping for a day. It's larger and more diverse than most of the other islands, and its unique shoreline is entirely walk-able. You'll get a great view of Hull and most of the other Harbor Islands as you explore the outer edges of the island, and near the dock you can explore the remains of Fort Andrews, a coast artillery post active until the early nineteen-hundreds. Peddocks Island is also home to some inhabited private cottages, which you'll come across if you follow the trails to the Southern-most end.
Pack some sandwiches (peach, tomato & halloumi on a biscuit is perfect for a summer island day) or prep some veggies to grill on the charcoal grills in Georges picnic area. Bring a blanket to lounge on, or walk all the trails. Hop around from island to island, and even stay the night at a camp site on Bumpkin, Peddocks, Grape or Lovells Islands. Head all the way out to Little Brewster Island, one of the outermost islands in the park, to tour Boston Light. Boston Light is the oldest continually used light station in the United States. There are many variables for an awesome itinerary. Spectacle Island is a great place to stop at the end of the day. It's only twenty minutes from Long Wharf. The five miles of trails will give you a great view of Boston as the sun is lowering. Take advantage of these islands this summer, and don't forget to keep up-to-date with events happening on the islands by checking the Boston Harbor Islands event calendar, here.