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4 Fun Things to Do in Boston Harbor: Complete Guide to Harbor Activities

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Yacht Leasing, Boston Harbor

Experiencing Boston’s thrilling charm is incomplete without a visit to the historic Boston Harbor Islands.

Boston Harbor, with its rich history and stunning waterfront, is more than just a geographical location; it’s the nexus of the vibrant city’s past, present, and future. Discover the captivating allure of Boston’s historic harbor, where you can experience a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoors enthusiast, or someone simply seeking to enjoy a sense of tranquility that only being on the water can offer, the Boston Harbor Islands has got you covered. This eastern Boston area contains 34 islands, parklands, and multiple waterfront attractions.

From the mesmerizing Harborwalk to the living history on display at the USS Constitution Museum, there’s something for every taste and interest when exploring this landmark haven. There’s excitement for everyone!

4 Must-Do Activities When Exploring Boston’s Waterfront:

  1. New England Aquarium: Dive into marine life encounters with sharks, sea turtles, and penguins, and enjoy captivating exhibits and live presentations.
  2. Castle Island: Discover historic fortifications, stroll along the waterfront, and soak in scenic views of Boston Harbor and the skyline.
  3. Boston Harborwalk: Take in stunning harbor views, access parks, and art installations, and enjoy dining and recreational opportunities along this picturesque pathway.
  4. Ferry to Boston Harbor Islands: Venture to natural and historical treasures for hiking, beach relaxation, and exploration of forts and lighthouses amidst tranquil island surroundings.

With Harbor Yachts, you’re creating memories that will last a lifetime. From exploring the historic Boston Harbor Islands to enjoying the vibrant city skyline at sunset, each trip offers a distinct and memorable experience.

So, why wait? Join us aboard and let’s set sail on a voyage of discovery through Boston’s iconic harbor!

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Historical Significance of Boston Harbor

When it comes to the rich tapestry of American history, few places play such a pivotal role as Boston Harbor. This bustling waterway is much more than a picturesque backdrop for your yachting adventures—it’s a living, breathing testament to centuries of trade, rebellion, and resilience.

Role of Boston Harbor in American History

From the early days of the English colonies, the harbor served as a crucial lifeline for trade and communication. This bustling port connected the New World with the Old, making it a hub of activity that shaped the destiny of a nation in the making.

The harbor wasn’t just a gateway for goods and commodities. It was also a stage for momentous events that marked turning points in America’s journey toward independence.

One such event—the infamous Boston Tea Party—left an indelible mark on the harbor’s waters.

Boston Harbor and the Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party is perhaps the most famous event associated with Boston Harbor. On the night of December 16, 1773, a group of colonists famously dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor waters as a protest against unfair taxation, sparking a chain of events that led to the American Revolution.

This act of defiance against the British Crown transformed the harbor into a symbol of American resistance, making it a must-visit for history buffs and enthusiasts alike.

Today, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum provides an immersive way to revisit this historic event, complete with costumed performers and replica 18th-century ships.

Boston Harbor as a Trading Hub

Following the Revolution and into the 18th and 19th centuries, Boston Harbor thrived as a major trading port. Ships laden with goods from around the world made their way through Boston before traveling down the coast, cementing the city’s reputation as a commercial powerhouse.

As Jessica Rubin, our expert at Harbor Yachts, often says, “Every trip on the harbor is a journey through history.” Whether you’re interested in the pivotal moments of America’s past or simply want to enjoy the scenic beauty of this iconic waterway, there’s no shortage of things to do in the bays within Boston, Massachusetts.

Beginning on a yachting adventure with Harbor Yachts unlocks the door to these experiences, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Exploring the Boston Harbor Islands

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Boston Harbor is home to a network of diverse and exciting islands, each offering a unique adventure.

Among these other islands, the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park is a collection of 34 islands and peninsulas, rich in natural and cultural resources.

Overview of the Boston Harbor Islands

The Boston Harbor Islands offer an array of recreational activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and bird watching. Each island has a distinctive character, with diverse flora and fauna and panoramic views of the harbor.

The islands are also steeped in history, with landmarks dating back to the colonial era, Civil War, and World War II. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day by the sea or an active outdoor adventure, the Boston Harbor Islands are an ideal destination for visitors of all ages and interests.

Visiting Spectacle Island

Among the many islands in the harbor, Spectacle Island stands out as a favorite destination for our members at Harbor Yachts.

The island offers incredible views of the bays within Boston, Massachusetts; the city skyline, an accessible lifeguarded beach, and a network of walking trails that traverse the island’s hilly terrain.

Spectacle Island’s rich history includes periods of farming, manufacturing, and even housing resort hotels. Today, the island is a popular destination for swimming, picnicking, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

The five miles of trails offer stunning views of the harbor, making it a great spot for photography enthusiasts.

Swimming Opportunities on the Boston Harbor Islands

Many of the Boston Harbor Islands offer opportunities for swimming during the summer months. One of the more popular spots is the lifeguarded beach on Spectacle Island.

But, remember to pack essentials such as comfortable swimwear, sun protection accessories, and water-resistant sunscreen as suggested in our Harbor Yachts guide on what to wear on a yacht day trip.

Whether you’re planning a casual day trip or a formal event, exploring the Boston Harbor Islands is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Boston Harbor.

At Harbor Yachts, we’re dedicated to making your yacht experience safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable.

So, get ready to embark on a unique yachting experience that allows you to explore Boston Harbor in style and comfort.

Museums and Cultural Attractions around Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor is a waterfront, not just renowned for its scenic beauty and thrilling water activities, it is also a treasure trove of history and culture. The harbor is surrounded by a multitude of museums and cultural attractions.

The USS Constitution Museum

Located in the Charlestown Navy Yard, the USS Constitution Museum is a must-visit. This family-friendly destination tells the story of the oldest commissioned warship in the world, the “Old Ironsides”.

It brings the ship’s history alive through hands-on exhibits, interactive displays, and engaging dioramas. You can even see a model of the ship made entirely of Legos!

Faneuil Hall: From Meeting Place to Marketplace

Just a short distance from the waterfront, Faneuil Hall is an iconic landmark. It was once a meeting place where crucial topics of the day were debated.

Today, it’s a bustling marketplace offering great shopping and special events throughout the year.

The Museum of Fine Arts

As one of the largest museums in the United States, the Museum of Fine Arts is home to over 450,000 works of art.

It offers a comprehensive view of the world’s many artistic traditions from ancient times to the present day.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

This museum is a work of contemporary art all in itself. The building, inspired by a Venetian palace, is built around a lush courtyard filled with flowers and sculptures.

It houses an impressive collection of European, Asian, and American art.

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is a floating history lesson. It offers a multi-sensory experience that takes you back in time to one of the most significant events leading to the American Revolution.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

This museum is a tribute to the life and leadership of America’s 35th president. It offers a fascinating insight into Kennedy’s presidency and personal life, with exhibits including artifacts, photographs, and video presentations.

As you sail through the calm waters of the harbor, take some time to explore the many museums and cultural attractions that surround it. They offer a unique glimpse into the history and culture of this vibrant city, making your yachting experience truly unforgettable.

Family-Friendly Activities at Boston Harbor

Whether you’re a Boston local or a visitor exploring the city, Boston Harbor offers a variety of family-friendly activities that are sure to keep both kids and adults entertained.

From interactive museums to fascinating aquariums, here are some top picks.

Boston Children’s Museum

First on our list is the Boston Children’s Museum. This museum is an absolute must-visit for families. It’s a place where hands-on fun is the order of the day.

A three-story climbing structure greets kids in the lobby, and the museum boasts other engaging exhibits like a Japanese house, a stage for kids, a Bubbles exhibit, and more.

The interactive nature of the museum makes learning fun and exciting for children.

New England Aquarium

A stone’s throw away from Boston Harbor Hotel, the New England Aquarium is another favorite for families. The aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic animals, from giant sea turtles to penguins.

It offers a fantastic way to educate children about marine life while entertaining them.

The highlight is the giant ocean tank, a four-story coral reef featuring hundreds of Caribbean reef animals. You can even book a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about animal care, feeding, and maintenance at the New England Aquarium.

Museum of Science

No family visit to Boston Harbor would be complete without a trip to the Museum of Science. This museum is a treasure trove of scientific discoveries, with over 700 interactive exhibits. Kids can learn about everything from human biology to outer space.

They can even experience a lightning show at the world’s largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator.

So, next time you’re brainstorming ‘things to do Boston Harbor’, don’t forget to consider these family-friendly attractions and a peaceful sail with us!

Outdoor Activities and Scenic Spots at Boston Harbor

Ready to Explore Boston Harbor’s Outdoor Fun and Gorgeous Views? There’s so many great things to do Boston Harbor, and here you’ll find some amazing examples.

If you’re itching to get moving and soak up that salty sea air, look no further than the bays around Boston, Massachusetts! They’re like a giant playground, offering all sorts of outdoor activities and chill spots to kick back and relax.

Walking the Boston Harborwalk

If you’re in search of a stroll with spectacular views, the Boston Harborwalk is your go-to destination. This scenic path spans 43 miles along the shoreline, offering incredible harbor views.

It’s the perfect place to walk, soak up the sun, feel the sea breeze, and watch the bustling harbor life.

Relaxing at the Esplanade

The Esplanade, a three-mile-long park along the Boston side of the Charles River, is another picturesque spot.

Here, you can relax on the grass, enjoy a picnic, or partake in outdoor activities like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. The lush greenery and calming river views make it a tranquil escape from the city buzz.

Exploring Castle Island and Marine Park

For a mix of history and outdoor fun, head to Castle Island and Marine Park. Home to the historic Fort Independence, it’s a place where you can immerse yourself in Boston’s rich past.

The surrounding park offers plenty of green space for picnics, games, or simply enjoying the ocean views. The nearby Pleasure Bay Beach is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Discovering Deer Island

If you’re a nature lover, Deer Island is a must-visit. This 60-acre recreational site offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and stunning vistas of the Boston skyline. It’s also a significant site for wastewater treatment, showcasing a blend of natural beauty and modern innovation.

Whether you’ve been sailing for years or are just dipping your toes into yachting, we offer various membership types to suit your needs and give you an unforgettable yachting experience.

So, next time you’re pondering ‘things to do in Boston Harbor’, think no further.

Unique Experiences at Boston Harbor with Harbor Yachts

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When it comes to the ‘things to do in the bays around Massachusetts’, there’s nothing quite like the freedom and luxury of experiencing the harbor from your own private yacht.

At Harbor Yachts, we’re passionate about making this dream a reality for more people, offering a range of services tailored to your needs and desires.

Overview of Harbor Yachts’ Services

Our services are all about flexibility and convenience. We offer two distinct membership options: Scheduled Membership and Rolling Membership.

Scheduled Membership, starting at $12,500, grants our members access to 22 timeslots for the season, with dates selected through a ‘draft’ format.

On the other hand, the Rolling Membership, starting at $13,900, offers flexible usage throughout the season, allowing members to schedule as they go.


As you navigate through the rich history and vibrant attractions of Boston Harbor, Harbor Yachts invites you to begin an unforgettable journey.

From the iconic Boston Tea Party to the serene beauty of the harbor islands and the historic allure of Castle Island, every corner of this storied waterway offers something unique to discover.

Our mission is to ignite your sense of adventure and simplify your planning process, ensuring that your visit to Boston Harbor, with its treasures like the New England Aquarium, is nothing short of extraordinary.

Join Harbor Yachts as we uncover the endless possibilities awaiting you at the Boston Harbor Islands.

At Harbor Yachts, we’re dedicated to unveiling the abundance of activities and attractions awaiting you at Boston Harbor. Our goal is to spark your curiosity and ignite your sense of adventure.

To learn more about our services and membership options, visit our About page and Membership Application page. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

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At Harbor Yachts in Charlestown, Massachusetts, our credibility is the bedrock of our operation. With years of boating experience, we aim to offer well-informed and researched information regarding boat leasing and your options to get out on the water. Transparency and integrity are ingrained in our practices; we provide accurate information and prioritize honesty in every interaction. Our mission is a daily commitment to deliver exceptional service, professionalism, and a trusted partnership for a seamless yachting experience.

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