Plan Your Perfect Visit to Georges Island, 2022 - All You Need To Know

Plan Your Perfect Visit to Georges Island

 

Georges Island is the star of the Boston Harbor Islands. Dominated by Fort Warren, Georges Island sees visitors throughout the summer to tour the Civil War era fort and picnic on the grassy shores overlooking the harbor.

 

ramparts georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
View of the ramparts in Fort Warren with the Boston skyline in the background.

Construction was begun on Fort Warren in 1833 and wasn’t completed until 1847, at which time its design and artillery made it almost obsolete as a defensive structure. The fort was then converted into a Civil War prison to house confederate soldiers and political prisoners and gained a reputation for its humane treatment of the soldiers. Later the fort was again converted into a staging area and defensive point during both World War I and II.

 

Need to Know

Location

 

Georges Island is one of the many islands that make up the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreational Area. Located in the Boston Harbor, just 7 miles southeast of Downtown Boston and 4.6 miles north of Hingham, Massachusetts.

 

Hours

 

Although the island itself is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, you will only be able to arrive and leave at these times if you have your own boat. Otherwise, you will need to access the island via a ferry from Boston or Hull. These leave through out the day and arrive as early as 10:45am and leave as late as 5pm.

 

Cost

 

Entry to the island and Fort Warren are free, but you will need to purchase a ferry ticket to get to the island. A ferry from Boston costs $24.95 (roundtrip) and from Hingham is $11 (unlimited for the day).

 

When to Visit

 

Georges Island’s season of operation differs from year to year, so you will want to check the ferry schedule to make sure when it is running. For the 2022 season, the ferry is running to Georges Island from June 17 – September 5.

 

What to Do

 

Ranger Guided Tour

 

ranger guided tour georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
Tour group with a Ranger learning about Fort Warren.

Whenever there is the opportunity to take a ranger guided tour at a national park, I always highly recommend it. These guided tours give you the opportunity to learn a lot more from the site than you would get from a self-guided tour and from reading the informative signs. It is no different with Georges Island. The guided tour starts near the Guard House, to the right of the Visitor Center, and starts just shortly after each ferry arrives.

 

cannon visitor center georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
Cannon above the Visitor Center.

The guided tour is marked as having a 1 – 1.5-hour duration, but depending on your guide it could be a bit on the longer end. That being said, you are welcome to leave the tour at any time. Our tour actually took about 1.5 hours and was great. The ranger walks you around the fort and explains what and how the different areas were used; in their original construction, as well as during its time as a prison and later as a fort again. Along the way the ranger also told stories about how soldiers would sometimes sneak out through certain doors to take boats to their girlfriends in neighboring Hull or how a hole outside a door was caused by a cannon ball being dropped from above in a play to take out an officer that was in the way of his own promotion.

 

Visitor Center

 

visitor center georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
The Visitor Center has many great displays.

The Visitor Center is a must visit while on Georges Island. Here you can grab a map of the island, talk to a ranger, and learn all about the island and Fort Warren. There are a lot of information boards that tell the history of the fort and describe what life was like for the prisoners and soldiers that once called Fort Warren home. There are also many displays showing artifacts from the times, as well as series of cannon balls and shells from the different guns that once sat on the ramparts of the fort.

 

Self-Guided Tour

 

parade grounds georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
Parade Grounds in Fort Warren.

One of the things I love about the US National Park System is the growing number of the self-guide audio (and/or reading) tours that they offer on their App. Georges Island, under Boston Harbor Islands, is one of their many tours. Available in English and Spanish, the app gives you a brief overview of the island before taking on a stroll through the fort to 9 different locations. Like the Ranger lead tour, the self-guided tour also breaks down what each area was used for and its history. This tour lasts about 50 minutes, or how ever long it takes you to walk and read.

 

Picnic

 

main picnic area georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
Main picnic area.

Picnicking is a popular pastime on Georges Island and many people travel to the island to just do that. Most of the grassland on the island is mowed, so you can picnic just about anywhere, but there are a few places that are prime locations. The main picnic area on the island is just to the left when you exit the ferry; on the northwestern side of the island. There you will find a tree shaded grassy area that is great to throw down a sheet or tarp and lounge on the ground. This area also has a few picnic tables spread about, as well as a charcoal grill.

 

picnic area southern georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
Southern picnic area.

To the right when you exit the ferry, past the Visitor Center, is another picnic area; in the southern part of the island. This is a large open grassy area with 3 covered picnic areas along the water to get out of the sun. The southeast of the island also has a short grassy area with benches overlooking the harbor and is a bit more secluded than the rest. There are also two grassy areas along the eastern seawall, below the fort that have great views of harbor and of the Boston Light. Across the top to the eastern ramparts are also grassy areas that areas (with some tree shade) that have the same view.

 

view eastern ramparts georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
View from atop the eastern ramparts towards Lovells Island.

Georges Island is a carry on/carry off park, so whatever you bring with you, plan to take it back. If you forget to bring food or drinks for a picnic, there is a concession stand with covered picnic tables next to the Visitor Center. There is also water fountains behind the Visitor Center and near the main picnic area.

 

Where to Stay

 

Georges Island itself has no accommodations for tourists, so you will need to find them elsewhere. Where you should stay is highly dependent on your itinerary. Due to the park’s close proximity to Boston, most people will stay there and take a ½ day trip out to see this National Park. This is what I would suggest as there are also many great things to see in Boston. If you are seeing things south of the harbor and are wanting to take the ferry from Hingham, then there are a couple of hotel options in the area. There are a number of hotels along the eastern border of the Blue Hills if you are also wanting to get in a hike. I always use Agoda to find the best deals on my hotels.

 

How to Get There

 

Boston Ferry

 

ferry georges island fort warren boston massachusetts
The ferry from Boston to Georges Island.

The Boston side ferry is the best option for getting to Georges Island in my opinion. The ferry costs a bit more and take longer to get to the island, but you get the chance to see Boston Harbor along the way and see planes fly over the boat as you pass Logan airport. The ferry is run by Boston Harbor Islands and leaves port at Long Wharf North, just north of the Boston Marriott Long Wharf. Tickets can be bought online or at a kiosk just outside the ferry for $24.95 (roundtrip). For the 2022 season, the ferry leaves at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm and returns at 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm. The trip takes 45 minutes each way.

 

Hingham Ferry

 

The ferry from Hingham is run by the MBTA and leaves from Hewitt’s Cove in Hingham. Tickets can be bought at a kiosk at the ferry for $11 (unlimited ferry use for the day). The ferry leaves at 10am and 12pm and returns at 1:30pm and 3:10pm. The trip takes 30 minutes each way.

 

What was your favorite thing about Georges Island? 


Plan Your Perfect Visit to Georges Island

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6 comments:

  1. taking a ferry to get anywhere is an adventure on its own for me! I love it! The guided tour sounds very curious as well, I'd gladly take it

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    1. Yea, it is great to see Boston Harbor as you travel to the island by ferry.

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  2. Love to visit Georges Island someday as it has so much historical significance. And about 2 hours drive from my home. Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. You are so close! You should visit some time soon. It is a great 1/2 day trip.

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  3. I like that they have a self-guided tour and you can look around the area at your own pace. The whole ambiance looks very peaceful, a great family activity especially during the weekend.

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    Replies
    1. It is a very peaceful place. Many people just come for a picnic.

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