Adore Boston’s charming working harbor from the waterfront or head out by boat to get to know it more intimately.
Ever since Boston Harbor was discovered by John Smith of “Pocahontas” fame, it has been at the forefront of this proud city’s identity. A major and somewhat dirty port for centuries, Boston’s harbor had a massive clean-up in the late 20th century. Now you can enjoy its substance and style.
Stroll along the Boston Harborwalk, a public walkway winding beside the waterfront through the city’s great harborside districts. In Charlestown, explore well-groomed parks and maritime history attractions, while enjoying gorgeous city views across the water. Make your way along the wharves and piers of Boston’s downtown and North End, stopping at the New England Aquarium to greet resident harbor seals.
Watch fishermen unload their catch at South Boston’s Fish Pier, a fascinating reminder that Boston Harbor remains a working port. Elsewhere in the area, visit the celebrated Institute for Contemporary Art and take a photo of its breathtaking design. Walk around South Boston Maritime Park and finish a near-perfect day with fresh local catch at nearby Legal Seafoods.
The Boston waterfront offers opportunities for jogging and cycling. Harborwalk paths feature spectacular views of the city, the water and the Harbor Islands beyond. As you look over the harbor, imagine the atmosphere in December 1773, when the Sons of Liberty threw an entire shipment of East India Company tea overboard, triggering a chain of events resulting in the Revolutionary War, leading to American independence.
Several companies offer boat trips and cruises in the harbor, and sailing centers provide sailboat rentals and lessons. Just 45 minutes by boat from downtown Boston are the Boston Harbor Islands, a gorgeous set of islands and peninsulas that make up a state-administered recreation area. Enjoy picnics, bird-watching and sunset views here. On the lovely Georges Island, which is home to the Civil War-era Fort Warren, a range of guided tours and summer afternoon concerts are available.
Boston Harbor’s various access points are well served by public transportation. Reach many of the Harbor Islands by commuter ferry. A number of attractions along the waterfront may have shorter opening hours in colder weather; check in advance for details.