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Spectacle Island, Boston

4.1
#3 of 7 in Nature in Boston
Spectacle Island is a 105-acre island in Boston Harbor, 4mi offshore of downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It is part of the city of Boston. The island has a varied history, and today is a public park with a marina, visitor center, cafe, lifeguarded swimming beach, and five miles of walking trails, forming part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. It is served all year by ferries from Boston, and on weekends and summer weekdays by a shuttle boat to and from nearby islands.TopographyThe island was initially composed of two small drumlins connected by a spit, with an approximate size of 49acre. The name is believed to derive from its then-resemblance to a pair of spectacles. However, dumping of trash and dirt, together with subsequent landscaping, have resulted in a significantly larger island with a permanent size of 85acre, plus an intertidal zone of a further 28acre.The island is now composed of two artificial earth mounds, terraced with retaining walls, roads and newly planted vegetation. With a height above sea level of 157ft, Spectacle Island is now one of the highest points on Boston Harbor. The island's inner harbor acreage is 114, with 85.5 upland acres and 28.4 intertidal acres.HistoryStarting in the early 19th century, the island was used exclusively for its relative remoteness from Boston. Two hotels were built in 1847, only to be closed by police ten years later when it was discovered they were used for gambling and other illicit activities.
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Spectacle Island Reviews
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94 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • My friends and family made this an afternoon trip and took the ferry out to the island. The dock is huge and the beach was beautiful with only a few people around. We went late in the season but it wa...  more »
  • Warm welcoming visitors center with clean bathrooms, composting toilets, great veranda with Adirondack chairs; hiking trails, picnic tables and park benches; large dock, nice beaches; well worth the $...  more »
  • The ferry ran to time and was clean and pleasant. The Island was so relaxing. We took the perimeter walk and you could hear the waves on one side and the crickets on the other. The rocky beach was fun...  more »

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To stay close to where most of Boston's tourist action is, book a room at one of the many hotels located downtown, near the center of the city and state governments, businesses, and shopping. For a more affordable option, consider a budget-friendly boutique hotel or small bed and breakfast in one of the city's diverse residential neighborhoods. If you plan to stay longer and need a real home away from home, explore Boston's short-term rental options, which include private villas, waterfront lofts, and luxury apartments scattered across the city's historical districts.
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