Enjoy the Great Outdoors in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

shutterstock_81212095With warmer weather and summer quickly approaching, it is time to start looking for some fun outdoor activities to enjoy in the Boston area. One gem that certainly should not be overlooked is the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

Situated among the islands of Boston Harbor, the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is comprised of a collection of 34 islands. While some of the islands are not open for public use, others offer plenty of recreational opportunities for visitors to enjoy. Among these is Boston Harbor Islands State Park, which is managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At this park and other areas of the Recreation Area, visitors can enjoy hiking trails and spending time at the beach. The area is also home to numerous attractions, including the Civil War-era Fort Warren, which is located on Georges Island, and the Boston Light located on Little Brewster Island.

Visiting the historic Fort Warren can be quite exciting for history buffs as well as for those who simply enjoy spending time outdoors. Named after Revolutionary War hero Dr. Joseph Warren, who is best known for sending Paul Revere on his famous ride, the fort serves as an example of coastal engineering from the Pre-Civil War era.

Situated on 28 acres of land, the pentagonalstar Fort Warren is constructed from granite and stone. With construction of the fort taking place from 1833 through 1861, the project was not completed until shortly after the start of the Civil War. At that time, the fort served as a prison for Confederate officers and government officials. The fort remained activity during the Spanish-American War and World War I and continued to defend the harbor until WWII. Although the fort was decommissioned in 1947, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

The Boston Light lighthouse is also a National Historic Landmark. Designated as such in 1964, the lighthouse was first constructed in 1716. Located in outer Boston Harbor, the lighthouse was the first lighthouse to be built in what is now designated to be the United States. With the current structure dating back to 1783, Boston Light is the second oldest working lighthouses in the country. In addition, it was the only lighthouse to still be actively staffed by members of the US Coast Guard. While the lighthouse was automated in 1998, volunteer keepers still work within the lighthouse and serve as tour guides. The light within the lighthouse flashes white every 10 seconds and visible for up to 27 nautical miles. The light is unique in that is the only second-order Fresnel lens still used in Massachusetts.

Visiting some parts of Boston Harbor Island National Recreation Area can be tricky at times, as some locations are only open seasonally. Among these are Georges Island and Spectacle Island, which are both served by ferries from Boston and Quincy. A shuttle boat can then be taken from these islands to other islands within the Recreation Area, such as Hull and Hingham, on weekends and summer weekdays.

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