Boston Harbor in Winter
January 2, 2013

Boston Harbor doesn’t take a winter break—year-round it’s a busy, bustling hub of activity. The Boston Harbor Island Alliance is hosting a number of programs in coming months that explore the harbor, winter wildlife, and the historic fort at Georges Island.  A special hands-on, family harbor tour is scheduled for February school break, too. It’s a good idea to book any of these tours well in advance. Visit the alliance website for details.

Working Port of Boston CruisesYou’ve seen the ships coming into Boston’s port, but can you explain to your kids what all those ships are and what they are used for? Take a 1.5-hour cruise to see what goes on at the ports. You’ll learn about and see the harbor pilots guiding 1,000-foot ships to their berths with the aid of modern powerful tug boats.  You’ll also learn about container ships, LNG carriers, cruise ships, fishing boats (from deep sea daggers to harbor lobster boats), and Coast Guard ships and fire and rescue boats. The cruise runs on Saturdays at 11 a.m. through March 16.

Winter Wildlife Cruise
On this January 19 tour, you’ll cruise the outer Harbor Islands, Hingham Bay, and Weir River Estuary for three hours.  Park rangers and experienced birders lead this winter wildlife tour. Past trips have recorded snowy owl, harlequin duck, black guillemot, and purple sandpipers, as well as more common waterfowl. The boat leaves Quincy at 10 a.m. and Boston and 11 a.m.

Georges Island Winter Fortress
Explore the winter wonderland of Georges Island during this three-hour event on February 16. Boston Harbor Island rangers will lead kids in Junior Ranger activities and seasonal crafts. Afterward, you can warm up in the visitor center and enjoy a short film and exhibits about the island’s history.  The trip begins at 11 a.m.

Hands-on Family Harbor Tour
Each day of school break (February 18–22 at 2 p.m.), a 1.5-hour program is offered aboard a harbor boat, giving kids the chance to participate as the crew leads a variety of oceanography and environmental experiments. Activities include testing water clarity; measuring water depth; taking a sample of the ocean bottom and examining it under a microscope; assisting with deploying and retrieving a plankton tow; checking out the Global Positioning System and radar to see the contours of the bottom of the harbor; and a tour of the pilot house to meet with the captain to discuss how the Voyager III operates.

Have you visited the Harbor Islands with your kids? Do they have a favorite? Tell us about it!

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Take a night walk. Choose nearby or new: your neighborhood, a local park, along a waterfront, or out in the country. Whether you’re guided by the bright lights of the city or by starlight, pay attention to what you can hear, see, and feel. Even a short walk will illuminate the senses!



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