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Planning A Visit To The Boston Harbor Islands

July 9, 2011 3:50 AM

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Spectacle Island (credit: The Boston Harbor Association)

Spectacle Island (credit: The Boston Harbor Association)

By Bob WeissBOSTON (CBS) – Boston’s newest destination is a day trip to The Harbor Islands, now a National Park. Just a quick ferry trip from the city, it makes a great family day trip.A total of 34 islands make up this National Park, encompassing 1,600 acres and 35 miles of coastline – and it’s all within ten miles of downtown Boston.

When planning your trip, you should allow a half-day per island. Only a few of the islands are accessible by public ferries, with Georges and Spectacle Islands being the most popular.

pavilionmap Planning A Visit To The Boston Harbor Islands

Boston Harbor Pavilion (Google maps)

Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion

The new Visitors Pavilion is the connection from the Rose Kennedy Greenway to the islands; it’s open during the summer, right through Labor Day. Operated by The National Park Service, the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion is open seven days a week and staffed by Park Rangers ready to answer your questions. Rangers are on hand from 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with free maps and machines to purchase tickets. The Pavilion is located on the Greenway near the corner of State Street, right at Aquarium MBTA station on the Blue Line.

harborislandferry wikipedia Planning A Visit To The Boston Harbor Islands

Boston Harbor Island Ferry (credit: Chris Wood via GNUF License)

Taking The Ferry

Ferries for Georges and Spectacle Islands run hourly during the summer, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday-Sunday until 6 p.m.

Adult fare is $14 round trip, children $8, and children under 3 ride free. A family four pack is $39.

There are also ferry schedules from Hingham and Quincy and smaller ferries serve Lovells, Grape, Bumpkin, Peddocks, and Thompson Islands.

Check: Full Ferry Schedule

spectacleisland tbha Planning A Visit To The Boston Harbor Islands

Spectacle Island (credit: The Boston Harbor Association)

What To Do

Each of the Boston Harbor Islands has its own unique character: from the wildflower-lined walking trails of Bumpkin Island to the sunset clambakes on Spectacle Island. You can explore what each has to offer on the Boston Harbor Island website.

Among the activities that island visitors enjoy:

Ranger-led Tours
Beaches
Kayaking
Nature Walks
Historic Sites
Special Daily programs

Something to consider if you’re traveling with children – only Georges and Spectacle Islands have food, fresh water and restrooms. Other islands have composting toilets.

Camping is available only on Bumpkin, Grape and Lovells Islands through Labor Day. Reservations must be made in advance. Weekend sites are pretty well spoken for; the reservation fee is $9 and camping costs $6 per person, per night.

sunsetclambake ferry Planning A Visit To The Boston Harbor Islands

(credit: Boston's Best Cruises)

Special Events

Summer Shack Clambake & Sunset Cruise on Thursdays, Spectacle Island; Reservations required

Island Yoga, Saturdays on Spectacle Island; Free

150th Anniversary of the Civil War, Walking tours at Fort Warren on Georges Island

Go fly a Kite, Saturdays at 1:30 p.m on Spectacle Island

Toddler Tuesdays on various islands

Plus all sorts of daily events – check their website.

sunscreen Planning A Visit To The Boston Harbor Islands

File image (credit: AP)

Don’t Forget

A hat
Sunscreen
A jacket or sweater
Plenty of water
Insect repellent

Bob Weiss’ All Things Travel reports can be heard on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

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