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Looking for somewhere to bring the kids this summer? An outdoor adventure awaits you just minutes from Boston!
The Blue Hills Reservation lies 20 minutes south of Boston, and has captivated people of all ages for over a century. The woods, fields and vistas offer beautiful views that extend over 7,000 acres — think about 7,000 football fields spread out over five towns.
Needless to say, once you start exploring, you’ll quickly discover that there’s something for everyone, but here’s one way to begin your journey.
The beach at Houghton’s Pond is the one of the best swimming holes south of Boston, and a great place to get your feet wet. If you have young children, you’ll appreciate that the swimming area keeps them from venturing out too deep — there’s even a separate beach area where toddlers can splash in peace. You can bring a picnic or grab refreshments at the snack bar.
Houghton’s Pond via The Friends of the Blue Hills Facebook page.
On weekends, the main parking lot fills up. So, come early, or if you don’t mind a 10-15 minute walk to the beach, park at one of the overflow lots on Blue Hill River Road.
If you plan for a full day, you can bring your family to visit both the Blue Hills Trailside Museum and Blue Hill Observatory in the same trip. After checking out the Museum’s live animals exhibits outside, where you’ll find native wildlife, including an otter, venture inside to see out more live animals, local wildlife, and Native American displays.
Photo by Tiffany Mohamed
You can then take a short, but steep hike up the summit of Great Blue, where you’ll find the 100-year old Blue Hill Observatory, the oldest continuous weather record in North America. On weekend, or by appointment, you can take tours of the Observatory, too.
Additionally, Quincy Quarries offers another set of spectacular views of Boston. Kids and adults can watch as rock climbers scale the steep cliffs, and it’s an ideal picnic spot. On one of the short paths towards the back of the Quarries, you’ll find the historic remnants of The Granite Railway, one of the first railroads in the United States.
For a collection of great photos and to learn more about the Quarries’ history, check out the virtual Quincy Quarries and Granite Workers Museum.
For a guide map, and hike suggestions, click here! To explore more of Massachusetts’ outdoors, click here.
The Friends of the Blue Hills is a non-profit organization devoted to preserving and protecting the Blue Hills Reservation’s natural beauty, diverse natural habitats and many recreational opportunities. Check them out for hikes near Boston and upcoming events in the Blue Hills. You can find the Friends of the Blue Hills on Facebook & Twitter.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy the outdoors in Massachusetts?
Photos via The Friends of the Blue Hills Facebook page.