Remember running through the sprinklers when you were a kid? You might think that sort of wild reckless abandon is out of the question as a grown-up, but Boston presents a few options right downtown for cooling off quick during the summer—and you can always bring a rugrat with you for cover, if you think you need it.
Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park (Atlantic Avenue near the Aquarium stop on the Blue Line) in the North End boasts a play lot, a lovely rose garden for horticulture fans and a fountain with spray showers for little (or big) kids to enjoy.
Similarly, a good place for a soak is the Christian Science Center in Back Bay (corner of Huntington Ave. and West Newton St., at the Prudential stop on the Green Line). First of all: DON’T jump into the massive reflecting pool—that’s strictly verboten. But those looking to beat the heat can definitely pop into the large spray fountain located just adjacent, and feel like a kid again.
Finally, the Frog Pond on the Boston Common—known for its ice skating in the winter—becomes a popular wading pool in July and August. With six-inch deep water and a cooling spray jet, you can bask just like the pond’s amphibian namesake.
Day at the Beach
Okay, okay—so a trip to Boston isn’t going to involve white sand beaches and palm trees like that vacation in Cancun you’ve been eyeing. Still, the Massachusetts coastline is long and varied, and when folks want to spread out a towel, bask in the sun and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean, there’s plenty of prime, conveniently located spots around to do it.
Hop on the MBTA Blue Line and head north, and you’ll quickly find yourself at Revere Beach (Revere Beach or Wonderland stations). While the name might bring to mind Paul Revere and his fellow minutemen sitting on the sand, fanning themselves with tri-corner hats, what you’ll really find is the oldest public beach in America and bathers fending off seagulls as they munch on delicious fare from the legendary Kelly’s Roast Beef.
If you choose to go further north, the lovely North Shore is loaded with beautiful beaches, including two that can be accessed via public transportation. The unique Singing Beach (Masconomo Street, Manchester-by-the-Sea) is named for the squeaking sound created when walking across its wet sand, and is accessible by the MBTA Commuter Rail’s Rockport line (simply walk 1/2 mile up Beach Street from railstop). And lovely Crane Beach in Ipswich—with its five miles of pristine sand—is now accessible via a special summer Ipswich Essex Explorer shuttle bus, which departs from the Ipswich MBTA Commuter Rail station Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (Call 978-283-7916 for schedule information.)
Meanwhile, just south of Boston proper are a number of neighborhood beaches providing oases of sandy beauty despite their proximity to urban centers. Malibu Beach in Dorchester (MBTA Red Line to Savin Hill, follow Savin Hill Avenue one-quarter mile to the beach) boasts protected swimming and a new bathhouse, while Castle Island (MBTA Red Line to Broadway, then City Point Bus # 9) features not only a swimming area, but trails for hiking and jogging, as well as historic Fort Independence, a granite fort dating back to 1834.
A Sailor’s Life for Me
When it’s hot out, there’s nothing better than the stiff breezes of the open sea to cool you off. Of course, being neither Popeye nor a rich, yacht-owning type, it can sometimes be stymieing exactly how to cast off our 9-to-5 landlubber role and go a-sailing on the open water. But not here in Boston, a renowned maritime city and still a Hub of boating and sailing opportunity.
Those needing to ease into their sea legs can take a Super Duck Excursions (refer to tours listing in sightseeing), which starts out on land, taking in city sights, before converting from bus to boat and popping into Boston Harbor for unparalleled views of the city. Established sea dogs, on the other hand, can hop aboard the Liberty Clipper (refer to cruise listing in excursions), to enjoy anything from a relaxed brunch or steak and lobster dinner sail to a raucous re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party, aboard a majestic 125-foot replica of a 19th century clipper ship.
Numerous cruise companies offer tours in and around Boston’s waterways. Patrons of Charles Riverboat Tours (refer to cruise listing in excursions) can enjoy 60-minute sightseeing cruises along the mighty Charles River, while those who hop aboard Boston Harbor Cruises’ (refer to cruise listing in excursions) new high-speed Codzilla ship will take in Boston at a less-leisurely pace—enjoying an exciting 40 m.p.h. rip-roaring jaunt around Boston Harbor, complete with loud music and waves crashing over the side.
Insider tip: Though it’s not common
knowledge, the skilled oarsmen of the
UMass Boston Division of
Marine Operations offer the general
public access to Boston Harbor with weekly
harbor cruises (departing Mondays at noon)
from the Fox Point Docks at a cost of just
$5 per person. Call 617-287-7899 for
schedule and more information.
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