boston_1-7350909We’ve all heard the old story about tea and the Boston Harbour. This city’s port was certainly an important asset back in colonial days — and the perfect place to get attention if you wanted to make a statement. Now, its political visibility across the Atlantic may have lessened, but there are still plenty of reasons for visitors to explore Boston Harbour.

Partly because of its colonial history and partly because of its role as the home to several world-class universities, Boston is one of the most popularly visited cities in the USA at any time of year. For quick and easy booking, plan your city break to Boston with an online service such as Expedia.

Sailing on the Harbour

Boston’s harbour has always been a perfect natural port for shipping. It’s located at the western tip of Massachusetts Bay and is formed by the mouths of Charles and Mystic rivers. Those, and the mouths of other rivers feeding into the bay elsewhere nearby made safe, natural anchorages for sailing ships that plied the Atlantic coastline during colonial days.

You can still get a taste of the maritime experience by hiring a sailboat for the day or booking a cruise excursion, depending on your own comfort as skipper. One of the most popular pastimes for sea-loving visitors to Boston is to take one of the Liberty Cruises aboard the city’s fleet of tall ships. These cruises set out several times a day from Boston’s Central Wharf.

If the weather is fine, the sunset cruise offers unique possibilities for souvenir photographs. If you’re traveling in a group who are all above the age of majority in the United States (21), you might try to book a Rum and Revolution cruise, which combines a bit of history — enacted in period costumes — with a sample of historically accurate alcoholic beverages.

If you’d prefer to man the decks yourself, and you have the right certifications, you can hire a yacht from the Boston Harbour Sailing Club. Without qualifications, you may be able to schedule private lessons.

Visiting the Boston Harbour Islands

boston_2-7076898Thirty-four of the outer harbour’s many islands make up the Boston Harbour Islands National Recreational Area, a maritime park popular with boaters, campers and other nature enthusiasts.

Of these, George’s Island is one of the most popular. It’s easy to get to by ferry, and visitors can explore a former military prison that once accommodated prisoners of the American Civil War. Other highlights of the islands include Spectacle Island, from which you’ll get some of the best views of the city’s skyline and the various quaint lighthouses.

As mentioned, George’s Island and the other islands are served by public ferry routes; the sailing times varying according to the season and day of the week. Generally, summer weekends see the most arrivals. It is best to limit your visit to two islands in one day so you don’t have to rush. The park service asks if you bring in a picnic lunch that you also bring out your own rubbish on the return.

Walking along the Harbour

Boston is a nice city for walking, and taking a stroll along the harbour is a fine way to spend an afternoon. With that in mind, the city administration has laid out an urban trail system (called HarborWalk) that links the waterfront with many attractions, neighbourhoods and open spaces nearby.

You may want to download free guided audio tours of the Fort Point Channel and of Downtown, starting at Christopher Columbus Park. If you’d prefer to narrate your own journey through the city, try some of the other routes the city has suggested, for example, one taking in the public art and sculptures near the harbour.

Combing the Beach

Boston has many kilometres of urban harbour waterfront, so it shouldn’t surprise you that some of the coastline has been kept aside for swimming and other recreation. Boston has several beaches where locals love sunbathing and swimming in the warmer months or exploring by foot in cooler weather.

Of these, Revere Beach and Carson Beach are favourites because they are sandy and accessible via public transportation. If you are planning on visiting the Harbour Islands mentioned above, Spectacle Island also has a noteworthy beach so pack a swimming costume along with your picnic.

So, as you can see, from swimming to strolling to sailing on the harbour, Boston’s waterfront offers plenty of excitement all year round. Which ones will you enjoy?