We didn’t have any particular plans for our 24-hour Boston stopover on the way back from Maine. Although the boys loved canoeing and kayaking on Branch Lake, the older two did cast longing looks at the occasional speedboat that whizzed by. So when the opportunity came to take a 10 a.m. harbor tour of Boston on Codzilla, which promised thrilling 40-mile an hour speeds, we dove right in. It set the stage perfectly for the rest of our day.
Fast: Everything they tell you is true. It is a fast boat. We loved the speed, especially the bumpy rides going over the wake after a big 360 degree turn. It was truly exhilarating but a little too much action for our littlest sailor, Jeremy, who is only five and not a thrill seeker.
The commentary, or banter between our two college-aged guides, told a tale of a giant cod lurking below the harbor.
And wet: You know when someone gives you advice that seems so completely counterintuitive that you think it must be true? Like scratching a bug bite will make it worse (it does, but it also makes it feel better—so confusing). Well, I was using that logic when, after asking the ticket lady where to sit if I wanted to stay dry, she directed me to the front of the boat. I don’t think I need to tell you who got drenched and who’s sitting in the back next time.
Post-Codzilla, boys only slightly damp, me with a drenched torso, we meandered along the Freedom Trail to Boston Common.
Boston Common and the Public Gardens
It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic scene for a day out with the kids. The weather was glorious, the playground buzzing, and smack in the middle of the park sprung a geyser-like fountain feeding a giant wading pool.
Now that everyone in the family was wet (note to self: bring a towel next time), we made our way down to the Public Gardens, where Jeremy found a boat ride that was more his speed, the Swan Boats. We all remembered them from “Make Way for Ducklings,” Robert McLoskey’s 1941 picture book about a pair of ducks who, decide to raise their ducklings in the Public Gardens. The man-powered boats have been in operation for 130 years, and as we slowly glided across the water, we felt a real connection to families of years gone by.
U.S.S. Constitution and the U.S.S. Cassin Young
Not ready to settle on terra firma just yet, we went over to the U.S.S. Constitution, or Old Ironsides as it is more widely known, to get a feel for yet a different type of boat: the warship. Great decision. The boat and its history is the stuff of schoolboy fantasies: pirates, war, hard tack, it’s all there. Built by order of George Washington in 1797, Old Ironsides is the oldest commissioned boat afloat in the world.
The ship is part of the National Park Service and admission is free. Parking, however, is not. If you drive, expect to pay $15-20 in parking.
Dry-docked just a few steps from the U.S.S. Constitution sits the WWII destroyer, the USS Cassin Young. Visitors are free to roam around the boat freely (of movement and purse—this boat also has free admission). There’s something really freeing about visiting a warship—they’re virtually indestructible. Our kind of museum!
So long, Boston, this land lubbering family will be back!