With summer in full swing and Boston Harbor within reach, what better way to spend quality family time than with a boat ride on the open seas?
Our city has a deep and exciting nautical history, and kids really enjoy a venture offshore. Boston Harbor has whale watch trips, speedboats, schooners, and even a ship shaped like a duck—enough seafaring options to satisfy every member of the family.
For more fun on the water this summer, check out these Boston-area beaches and swimming lakes and ponds.
Codzilla brings passengers on hairpin turns and 40-mph straightaways. Photo by Boston Harbor Cruises
2020 update: Codzilla is running weekends only, with reduced capacity, and reinforcing social distancing in line and on board. Bring face coverings to wear in line and on your trip.
Not for the faint of heart, Codzilla is a 70-foot speedboat with 2,800 horsepower that runs riot through Boston Harbor at up to 40 mph, whipping around turns and blasting music. You'll probably get wet, but free ponchos and waterproof bags are available aboard the boat. While there are no age or height restrictions, the speeds and spray might be a little much for very young children.
2020 update: The USS Constitutions Cruise is running at reduced capacity four times daily, and reinforcing social distancing in line and on board. Bring face coverings to wear in line and on your trip.
History buffs will love the 45-minute USS Constitution Tour aboard "Old Ironsides," one of the first ships commissioned by the U.S. Navy. Enjoy the opportunity to disembark at the Charlestown Navy Yard to visit the accompanying museum.
2020 update: Only Spectacle Island is accessible by ferry this year. There are multiple trips daily. Bring face coverings to wear in line and en route.
Hop on a ferry to explore one of the many islands encircling Boston Harbor, including Spectacle Island, with hiking, beachcombing, and swimming; George's Island, a slice of Civil War history; and Lovells Island, one of our favorite "hidden gem" beaches around the city).
Get close up to whales and more aboard a Boston Harbor Whale Watch cruise.
2020 update: Whale Watch cruises are running at reduced capacity daily and reinforcing social distancing in line and on board. Bring face coverings to wear in line and on your trip.
Why drive all the way to Cape Ann when you can boat to whale-rich waters from city limits? Boston Harbor Cruises' whale watch tours launch from Long Wharf toward Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, where passengers can see a variety of whales, along with dolphins and other sea creatures. Trips run from March through November and are between three and five hours total.
2020 update: The Adirondack III is running at reduced capacity multiple times daily and reinforcing social distancing in line and on board. Bring face coverings to wear in line and on your trip.
Classic Harbor Line offers a variety of options for families looking to hit the high seas. If you'd like to show kids what sailing is all about, book a 90-minute sail on the Adirondack III, an 80-foot schooner touring Boston harbor. Alternatively, you can cruise to the Boston Harbor Islands aboard Northern Lights, a classic-style yacht that's especially inviting during sunset hours. Classic Harbor Line also does specialty trips such as a USS Constitution Turnaround Sail, Labor Day sails and fireworks cruises, fall foliage cruises and holiday cruises.
Kids can help hoist the sails on the Liberty Fleet of tall schooners.
2020 update: The tall ships are operating at reduced capacity multiple times daily and reinforcing social distancing in line and on board. Bring face coverings to wear in line and on your trip. Overnight stays are canceled for 2020.
The Liberty Fleet of tall ships has been sailing Boston Harbor since 1993 with different sailing options. The fleet’s two ships, the Liberty Clipper and the Liberty Star, depart for both day sails and sunset sails. Prior to the pandemic, adventurous sailors could even spend the night on the ship overnight. which includes a sail in the direction of the best wind and the chance to take the helm and hoist the sails.
Duck boats depart from convenient locations, traveling on land and water. Photo by Duck Boat Tours
2020 update: Duck Boats are running at reduced capacity and reinforcing social distancing in line and on board. Bring face coverings to wear in line and on your trip.
And, last but definitely not least, you have to consider a duck boat ride, which is a top Boston tourist attraction for good reason. This World War II-style watercraft is amphibious—so it begins along the streets of Freedom Trail and then splashes down into the Charles River for a cruise highlighted by skyline views of Boston and Cambridge. Charismatic tour operators relate historic tidbits along the way. Conveniently, tours begin and end at other family-friendly hot spots, including the Museum of Science and New England Aquarium, so you can begin or end your ride with a science adventure.