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Exploring the Boston Harbor Islands
 

What to Bring

Folding chair   Binoculars
Hat   Sweatshirt
Sunscreen   Water
Insect repellent   Snacks
Sunglasses   Food
Windbreaker    
 

Specs

  Directions
 
Ticket center and ferry departure to George's Island located at Long Wharf, one block from Faneuil Hall, between the Marriott and the New England Aquarium
By car:
· From I-93 north, take exit 24 (Callahan Tunnel) and follow signs to Long Wharf Ferry Terminal.

· From I-93 south, take exit 22 (Atlantic Ave./Northern Ave.) and follow signs to Long Wharf Ferry Terminal.
· Parking is not possible at Long Wharf, and you will have to park nearby, at Rowes Wharf, The Mariott Hotel, The Garage at Post Office Square, The Boston Harbor Garage, or Quincy Market. Traffic can be heavy in the area because of the Big Dig, so arrive early to find a spot without hurrying. Average parking fee for a day is about $25 (free downtown on Sunday, but spaces are rare)
By subway:
Take the Blue Line to the Aquarium station
  Good to know in advance
 
Water is available only on George's Island— bring your own
Ferry can be crowded on summer afternoons—arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure
Shuttle between the islands is free
General Park information: 617 223 8666
Ferry information (Boston Harbor Cruises): 617 227 4321
All islands open from 9:00 am to sunset
Check schedules— ferry schedule to George's is shorter and shuttles to other islands suspended after Labor Day
  Etiquette
 
No dogs allowed on the islands
Carry out your trash
 
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Main Ferry from Boston to George’s Island (until Sept. 2)
Leaves Boston: Leaves George’s:
10:00
11:00
12:00
1:00
2:00
3:00
4:00
5:00 (no dropoff on George’s)
9:50
10:50
11:50
12:50
1:50
2:50
3:50
4:50
5:50
 
Main Ferry from Boston to George’s Island (Sept. 3–Oct. 14)
Leaves Boston: Leaves George’s:
10:00
12:00
2:00 (no dropoff on George’s)
10:50
12:50
2:50
 
George’s to Lovell’s and Great Brewster (Saturday–Sunday until Sept. 2)
Leaves George’s: Leaves Lovell's: Leaves G. Brewster:
11:00
12:00
1:00
2:00
3:00
4:00
11:15
12:15
1:15
2:15
3:15
4:15
11:30
12:30
1:30
-
3:30
-
 
George’s to Lovell’s and Great Brewster (Weekdays until Sept. 2)
Leaves George’s: Leaves Lovell's: Leaves G. Brewster:
10:20
11:00
12:00
1:25
1:50
3:30
4:30
10:35
11:15
1:40
2:30
4:15
4:40
-
11:30
12:20
-
2:10
4:00
-
 
Exploring the Boston Harbor Islands

ID Card

Overall rating: Four-Star Rating Three-Star Rating Three-Star Rating Three-Star Rating Four-Star Rating
Difficulty: 1/5
  Time from Boston: 15 mins.
  Duration: Full day
  Cost:
 

Per person roundtrip boat fare


$10 adult
$7 child (4–12)
$8 Senior
$25 Family

  Main activity:

Relaxing

  What do our ratings mean?
 
The Boston Harbor Islands are now a National Park area, but a very unique one: 30 islands spread across the Boston harbor, varying in size and shape and rich in history, which make up an unparalleled playground for outdoor enthusiasts. If you like open space, the feeling that the world is far away, and that special feeling of remoteness that is only found in islands, then this is the place to be. When you land on any one of these islands, you will have hard a time remembering that you are only 40 minutes away from the mainland, and close to one of the largest cities in the country. Turn your back on Boston's skyline to the west, and look east: this is the open ocean, with more than 3,000 miles of emptiness.

The Harbor Islands offer numerous opportunities, from swimming and walking to paddling and camping. Here are our suggestions to make the best of your trip and leverage all these opportunities without hassle.

Six islands can be reached though water ferry and shuttle: George's, Lovell's, Peddock's, Grape, Bumpkin, and Great Brewster. George's Island is the hub for visiting the islands, as well as a worthwhile destination in itself. This is also the only island with a snack bar and water. All the other islands have no support services (except Rangers on duty in season) and no water. Always bring ample water for a full day when you head for the islands.

Because the place is so attractive and can be reached only by boat, our advice is to spend a full day there, though spending only half a day is possible if you stay only on George's island.

There are three great options to enjoy the islands depending on your mood (shuttle times indicated for weekends—for weekdays check schedule below):

1. The hassle-free day on George's Island: Take the 9 am or 10 am ferry from Boston in the morning—see full schedule below.
· After a 40-minute ride, you will spend the day on the island, exploring Fort Warren's ramparts, parade ground and numerous stairs and rooms. This is one of Boston's most attractive destinations for children, who will spend the day running across the fort and pretending they are castaways defending the place against pirates. Views from the fort on the Boston harbor are impressive, and there are many places to set up your barbecue and have lunch, gaze in the distance or play with your friends. Our tip: after disembarking on the island, walk on your right as if you wanted to go around the fort. Follow the trail to walk along the ramparts until you reach the last corner of the ramparts, facing the open ocean. You should be able to find a nice, grassy area on your left, away from the weekend crowd that will mostly stay around the dock area. You can also walk around the island, though some sections will require you to walk on the coastline rocks. Restrooms are available near the visitor center facing the deck.
· Come back with the ferry leaving George's at 4:50 pm. This is not the last one, but precisely for this reason you will find embarking easier and faster.

2. Spending a day at the beach on Lovell's island (until Sept. 2)
· Lovell's has a real sandy beach, supervised by lifeguards in season, and a diverse landscape that includes woods and dunes, the latter not commonly found on other islands. Here, the atmosphere is quiet and serene, as most visitors tend to stay on George's. Several trails will allow you to explore the island
· To get there, take the 10 am ferry from Boston to George's island—the ride is about 40 minutes
· Disembark at George's and wait for the Lovell's shuttle at 11:00 am—the boat is the Betty Jo Tyler
· Spend the day on Lovell's and take the shuttle back to George's at 4:15 pm
· You will be on George's in time to take the boat back to Boston at 4:50 pm. It is usually less crowded than the last ferry at 5:50 pm.

3. Visiting the outer harbor islands (until Sept. 2)
· The outer islands are the most remote of all those making up the National Park—they are actually beyond the limits of the Boston Harbor. Of these islands, Great Brewster is the only one accessible by shuttle, but also one of the most attractive: at 23 acres this is the largest of the group, and it boasts 100-foot bluffs, from where you will have wonderful vistas on the other islands, the mainland far in the background, and naturally the open ocean.
· Take the 10 am ferry from Boston to George's island—the ride is about 40 minutes long
· Disembark at George's and wait for the free shuttle to Great Brewster Island at 11 pm—the boat is the Betty Jo Tyler
· The shuttle will stop at Lovell's and bring you to Great Brewster at 12:30 pm.
· You'll spend the day on Great Brewster. The island sports several walking trails, as well as remains of military installations and summer cottages. You may want to just find a great spot with great vistas and spend the afternoon there, or explore the coastline and its tidal pools. Overall, the island is rockier and feels more remote than most of the others in the Park. You will have a great view on the famous Boston Light, set up on nearby Little Brewster Island, the last lighthouse is the US to be staffed and manually operated.
· Take the last shuttle back to George's Island at 3:30 pm, in time to take the ferry back to Boston at 4:50 pm (it will be less crowded than the last one at 5:50 pm).

 
 
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