Did you know there are 34 islands and peninsulas in the Boston Harbor? These islands and peninsulas make up the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. They make the perfect way to get away from the city life for a day. Some are accessible by public ferry while others are only accessible via private boat. This summer, due to covid-19, only Spectacle Island was accessible via public ferry, and I decided to revisit this island one Saturday in the beginning of September.
The round trip ferry costs $25 and leaves from Long Wharf in Boston, not far from the New England Aquarium. The Island is a great place to have a picnic, so stop at Faneuil Hall or the Boston Public Market and grab some sandwiches, drinks and snacks to take with you.
The ferry ride takes about 20 minutes and includes some really beautiful views of the harbor and the city of Boston. It’s a nice short relaxing trip to take in the views of this gorgeous city.
Spectacle Island is 114 acres and is located just 4 miles offshore of downtown Boston. It’s named Spectacle Island as the island is composed of two drumlins connected by a spit which make it resemble a pair of spectacles.
Back in 1847, two hotels were built on the island. Sadly they were closed just ten years later when police discovered the hotels were being used for gambling and other illegal activities. In 1857, it was used as a horse rendering plant and after that it was used as a landfill. The dump on the island closed in 1959, but the trash remained there until 1992.
In the 1990s, the main highway thru Boston started to go through a major reconstruction. They basically took the highway which originally went straight thru the city and instead built a tunnel for the part of the highway that went thru downtown. It took years and was a big nightmare for locals and visitors alike. They called it the “Big Dig”. I mean it is quite the Big Dig to build a tunnel thru a busy downtown. Well when the Big Dig took place, they decided to use the land that was dug up in the Big Dig and take it to Spectacle Island to fill in the landfill
Then finally in 2006, the beautiful Spectacle Island we know today was opened to the public. Visiting there today you would never know that it was a landfill for all those years.
There are many activities that you can enjoy on Spectacle Island, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a great place to have a picnic with views of the Boston skyline in the distance. There’s a small beach, hiking trails and plenty of beautiful areas to sit and enjoy your surroundings.
During pre-covid times, there was even more to do on the island including a small visitors center with some history of the island and a snack bar.
The island would host many events over the summer months, such as a yoga classes, kayaking, clam bakes and live jazz music to name a few.
As most of you know I’m an avid runner, so one of my favorite events on the island is the annual 5K. Nothing better than taking a boat to a race! Due to the island being pretty hilly and the lack of shade, it’s definitely a challenging 5K, but also a lot of fun!
Definitely make sure to walk around the entire island to take in the views from all sides of the island, I honestly could not get enough of the gorgeous views. So close to Boston, yet I still felt so far away, which in a year lacking travel, that definitely felt really nice.
Have you ever visited one of the Boston Harbor Islands? If not, and you will be in Boston during the summer thru the beginning of fall, definitely put this on your list, it’s a great little break from the hustle and bustle of the city.