Visit one of two Boston Harbor Islands at no cost

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By Irene Berman-Vaporis (COM’14)

The Boston Harbor Island Alliance is offering free ferry service to Georges or Spectacle Islands today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Photo courtesy of Boston’s Best Cruises

There’s no better way to wile away a summer day than taking a ferry ride. Especially when it’s free. Today is the Boston Harbor Island Alliance’s annual Free Ferry Day, which offers free ferry service all day to either Georges Island or Spectacle Island, two of the nearly three dozen islands and peninsulas in the Boston Harbor basin.

If you decide to visit beautiful 28-acre Georges Island, you’ll find ranger-guided tours and exceptional views of Boston Light. Be sure to check out the island’s historic Civil War–era Fort Warren, which housed Confederate prisoners of war during the War Between the States and guarded Boston Harbor through World War II. Decommissioned in 1947, the fort is now a National Historic Landmark. With any luck, you might catch a glimpse of the fort’s rumored ghost, the Lady in Black, purportedly a Confederate soldier’s wife who tried to help her husband escape. Afterward, go for a relaxing stroll around the island or find a good spot to have a picnic lunch.

If you choose instead to visit the much larger Spectacle Island, you can hike to the tallest hill on the Boston Harbor Islands for panoramic views of the harbor and the city. Open to the public since 2006, the island is believed to have been an early Native American fishing spot. Besides its five miles of walking trails, Spectacle Island is also one of the few harbor islands with sandy beaches, so weather permitting, be sure to bring a bathing suit and some sunblock.

Ferries will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Because of high demand, tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis, have a specific return time based on departure time, and are for one specific island.

If you can’t make it to the islands today, mark your calendar for the next Free Ferry Day, Friday, August 8.

Free Ferry Day is today, Tuesday, June 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ticket kiosk opens at 8 a.m. (no advance reservations available) at Boston Harbor Cruises Long Wharf–North Ferry Center, 66 Long Wharf, Boston. Ferries run every half hour. By public transportation, take the MBTA Blue Line to Aquarium and then walk along State Street to the Boston Harbor Cruises ticket office.

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