Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Touring Boston - What to Know About Free Ferry Day and Visiting Georges Island

Every year Boston celebrates the ferries again running to the Boston Harbor Islands by offering free ferry rides for the day, which is a pretty good deal considering tickets run about $20/person otherwise.

Last year Free Ferry Day was Saturday May 9th, so I suspect free ferry day will be in the near future. There are no advanced registrations and the first ferry leaves promptly at 10am.  If you want to do this, get there early!  This event is super popular,  we tried to get to the harbor early, we aimed for getting there at 9:45, though we didn't end up actually getting there until closer to 10 but by then tickets were already sold out until 1PM!   That was a little too  long for a toddler and a pregnant women to be waiting around so we decided we would save the trip for when my mother came to town and instead took our time exploring the city for little bit.

Touring Boston - What to Know About Free Ferry Day and Visiting Georges Island

A few weeks later we again made attempted the harbor trip and we were not disappointed.  The little kids loved riding the ferry and I didn't realize at the time that we would get to have a historical tour while we rode Harbor Ferry. The tour included pointing out the different islands and why they were important.  We also had the bonus of seeing the Blue Angels (Military Jets) fly overhead in formation a few times for a special event which was pretty awesome.

Blue Angel Jets flying in formation
The ferry ride was about 45 minutes from Boston Harbor to Georges Island.  We got off and let the kids explore the little play ground for a few minutes and then attended one of the islands free tours.  There we were able to learn all about the fort, hear some interesting stories about prisoners trying to escape, and learn about the Bostonians feeling bad for the southern prisoners during the Civil War and sending over blankets and boots so they wouldn't freeze during the horrible Boston winters.  

I didn't realize until we got there that swimming wasn't allowed from Georges Island because of the strong currents surround it, but we ended our day with a nice picnic lunch and a gorgeous view of the city.

Things to Note:

1) Price
Free on Free Ferry Day, otherwise $17/adult, $10/children ages 3-11, under 3 free but call to make sure that they have space.

2) Free Ferry Day
No pre-reservations, and get there early if you want tickets because they sell out fast.  At 10AM (when they open) tickets were already sold out until 1PM.

Boston Ferry Tour
3) Kid Friendliness
This is a great activity to bring your children too.  My toddler loved riding the ferry and once we got to Georges Island there was tons of things for him to explore from the playground, to the shoreline, to the green space to the open fort.

4) Stroller Friendliness
If you've got little ones you are probably going to want your stroller to walk around the fort.  We had no problem bringing ours on the ferry (but there weren't many people riding the ferry) There seemed to be plenty of space on the ferry and I suspect they realize parents are going to need their strollers so on crowded days expect to collapse yours and have it stored in the corner for the ride.

Georges Island Beach
5) Getting There
Take the "T", parking downtown is an expensive mess. The Blue Line - Aquarium "T" stop is right around the corner from the ticket booth, less than a block away.

6) Things to do on Georges Island
  • Play on the playground
  • Relax on the shoreline and enjoy the amazing view of the city
  • Walk through the small museum
  • Tour the fort with or without a guide 
  • Play in the "Yard" (Huge green space that the fort surrounds)
  • Have a picnic 
  • Climb the fort

Summary and Rating ★★★★★

Georges Island Beach
Five Stars.  We loved this outing and it seems like one that is perfect for people of all ages.  We all enjoyed the ferry ride and the bonus historical tour on the way to George's Island.  The Island itself was both beautiful and fascinating.  We loved being able to walk around and explore the fort, when the tour guide was not moving fast enough for our young son it was easy to step away and run around with him, then jump back in at different points.  It was the perfect place for a picnic and all in all a wonderful day trip.

Have you been here before?  If so I'd love to know more about your experience and any tips or tricks you have in the comments section below. 

Boston Harbor Cruises - Harbor Islands
Long Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

Phone: 617.227.4321
Ferry runs about Mid May - Mid October

Georges Island
42°19'11.7"N 70°55'43.1"W
53 acres
7 miles from Boston