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By Scott Roberto / July 17, 12:00 AM
10 Top Ways to Experience Boston By Water

Get out on Boston Harbor or the Charles River this summer and enjoy a variety of cruises, tours and more


Boston Harbor Islands

The farthest you can be from the hustle and bustle of the city without actually leaving it, this collection of state and national parks (pictured above) can be reached by a short ferry ride from Long Wharf. Explore historic forts, pristine beaches, picturesque hiking trails and more just a few miles from downtown. You can even visit the country’s oldest light station, Boston Light, on Little Brewster Island via a 3½-hour round trip.

1 Long Wharf, 617-227-4321, bostonharborislands.org

Liberty Fleet

Cruise Boston Harbor on the 125-foot Liberty Clipper or the 67-foot Liberty Star during a day or sunset sail. There’s even a rum tasting at sea on Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday brunch, aboard the Liberty Clipper.

Central Wharf, 617-742-0333, libertyfleet.com

Odyssey Boston

This newly renovated yacht made its Boston Harbor debut earlier this year. With lunch, brunch, dinner and cocktail cruises, the sleek new Odyssey is an elegant way to enjoy both fine food and live music with a spectacular view.  

60 Rowes Wharf, 866-307-2469, odysseycruises.com

Architecture Cruise 

Marvel at the city skyline from both Boston Harbor and the Charles River while learning about its landmarks on this venture hosted by the non-profit Boston By Foot and the design-focused BSA Foundation.  

CambridgeSide Galleria, Cambridge, 617-621-3001, charlesriverboat.com

New England Aquarium Whale Watch

Rocket on a high-speed catamaran from Boston Harbor to Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, playground to several species of majestic cetaceans, including humpback, finback, minke, pilot and highly endangered right whales.  

Central Wharf, 617-973-5206, neaq.org


Not for the faint of heart, this colorful vessel tears through the harbor at 40 miles per hour, executing hairpin turns along the way.  

1 Long Wharf, 617-227-4321, bostonharborcruises.com

Pirate Harbor Tours

Enjoy the sights of Boston Harbor with a twist on one of these cruises aboard a tall ship decked out in pirate paraphernalia.  

60 Rowes Wharf, 617-542-8000, massbaylines.com

Boston Gondola Tours

Let authentic, Italian-made gondolas carry you and your significant other on a romantic excursion along the Charles River.  

Charles River Esplanade, 617-876-2800, bostongondolas.com

Kayak and Paddleboard Tours

For those who want to take a more active role in their water-based tour, Charles River Canoe & Kayak offers guided tours of both the Charles River and Boston Harbor on stand-up paddleboards or two-person kayaks. Most tours depart from Kendall Square in Cambridge, while one begins and ends at the Fort Point Channel. 

15 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, 617-965-5110, paddleboston.com

Classic Harbor Line Music Cruises 

Catch some jazz aboard the 1920s-style yacht Northern Lights (August 27 at 6:30 p.m. and September 1 at 9 p.m.) or live Irish music on August 25 at 9 p.m.  

60 Rowes Wharf, 617-951-2460, boston-sailing.com

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