Carson Beach, South Boston
Red Line JFK/UMass
About a 10-minute walk from the T station, the Edward J. McCormack Bath House anchors this southern tail of South Boston’s 3-mile stretch of beaches on Dorchester Bay. You’ll encounter dog-walkers, stroller-pushers, and joggers along the sidewalk and boardwalk that skirt the edge of Day Boulevard and connect Carson to L and M Street beaches.
Get The Big To-Do
Your guide to staying entertained, from live shows and outdoor fun to the newest in museums, movies, TV, books, dining, and more.
But you’ve come to sun and swim, so head straight for the broad crescent of sand that begins at the James Michael Curley-era pavilion known as Mother’s Rest. Once you’ve spread your blanket and claimed your spot on the sand, take a moment to savor the view of Dorchester Bay stretching all the way from the John F. Kennedy Library on Columbia Point to City Point. Then hit the water.
When you get hungry, Molly’s Beachside snack bar (open daily; sandwiches $7-$15) is part of the bathhouse complex. It serves classic beach fare of sandwiches, burgers, fries, and ice cream — which sure beats egg salad on white wrapped in soggy waxed paper. To avoid sand in your sandwich, spread your picnic under a tree in the grassy area adjoining the beach.
Constitution Beach, East Boston
Blue Line Orient Heights
Constitution is the epitome of an urban beach. Blue Line trains rattle along the tracks on the street side. Just across an inlet from the sand, huge jets pirouette on the northeastern runway of Logan airport. They are almost as graceful as the blue herons skimming above the grasses at nearby Belle Isle Marsh.
Shoe-horned into a dense neighborhood, Constitution is a compact public beach, but it has everything you need. The bath house (with Beachside Cafe), a well-equipped playground, and tennis and basketball courts sit on the western end of the beach, while a grassy area with shaded benches and picnic tables borders the strand on the eastern end.
The beach is less than a 10-minute walk from the Orient Heights station. Several small restaurants line the route, but we usually stop at Royal Famous Roast Beef (752 Bennington St., East Boston; 617-567-7779; closed Sunday; burgers and sandwiches $7.50-$14) for a Super Beef with Cheese to share. Royal sits directly across the street from the blue-painted Marmo Overpass that deposits you on the sandy strand.
Revere Beach, Revere
Blue Line Wonderland
We love the approach to Revere Beach from the futuristic Wonderland station. You exit on an elevated plateau amid fancy beach residences and snazzy restaurants and bars. Then comes the ceremonial march to the sea across a pedestrian cable-stay bridge. It makes for a dramatic entrance to a day at the beach.
Yet, as the French say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. America’s first public beach remains one of its best loved. Stretching 2½ miles, the wide strand welcomes touch football players, Frisbee throwers, serious sunbathers, families toting beach chairs and sand pails, and folks who’ve worked all winter at the gym to develop six-pack abs. Revere’s big event, the International Sand Sculpting Festival, is scheduled for July 28-30 this year.
Again, no need to bring a picnic. Beach eats range from the upscale elegance of shrimp scampi and steak frites at Dryft (500 Ocean Ave., Revere; 857-345-2717; dryftrevere.com; open daily; entrees $18-$39) to the time-honored sandwiches at Kelly’s Roast Beef (410 Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere; 781-284-9129; kellysroastbeef.com; open daily; sandwiches $9-$12, lobster roll $24). (What is it about roast beef sandwiches and Massachusetts beaches, anyway?)
We like to sit on the seawall between beach and sidewalk to eat our roast beef sandwiches and French fries. We keep an eye out for sandwich-grabbing seagulls whose insistent cries are muffled by the roar of jets settling down to land at Logan. When we’re tempted to dream of far-off escapes, we turn our gaze to the sand and sea and the happy milling humanity. How much better could it get?
Spectacle Island, Boston Harbor
Blue Line Aquarium/Boston Harbor Islands Ferry
Reaching Spectacle Island takes a little more effort. From the Aquarium T stop, walk just steps to the Boston Harbor Islands Ferry at Long Wharf (adults $24.95, seniors/students/military $22.95, ages 3-11 $17.95; cityexperiences.com/boston/city-cruises/harbor-islands/). The boat will leave the city in your rearview mirror as it carries you into the watery world of the Boston Harbor Islands.
You’ll pass a number of Boston landmarks on the half-hour ride. Be sure to pay your respects to the massive digester eggs on Deer Island. These elegant sewage treatment vessels are a big part of the reason that Boston’s beaches are fit for swimming.
Spectacle is one of the rewards for enduring the endless years of the Boston Harbor cleanup and the Big Dig. Enhanced with fill from the Big Dig, the 86-acre island has 5 miles of walking trails, including an invigorating ascent of 155-foot North Drumlin. It’s the highest point in Boston Harbor with 360-degree views of land and sea. When it’s time to cool off with a swim, head to West Beach (no lifeguard in 2023). If you’re more of a beachcomber or sunbather, beach glass and other treasures wash ashore on South Beach. Park rules say you should leave anything you pick up for the next beachcomber to discover. Then head to the concession stand at the visitor center for a hot dog, ice cream, or Italian ice (closed Monday-Tuesday; $2.50-$4.50). See bostonharborislands.org for the schedule of “Jazz on the Porch” concerts.