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WeekendWatch: Exploring the Bay State, by water

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Boston Harbor Islands
Boats leave Long Wharf, near the New England Aquarium, each hour to shuttle adventure seekers to Spectacle and Georges islands, the two most popular and accessible islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Spectacle is a beachgoers paradise, with a scenic shore and hiking trails, while history buffs will enjoy Georges, the site of Fort Warren, a Civil War-era bastion.

Salem
This bewitching North Shore community gets most of its tourists around Halloween, but a ferry runs daily between Salem and Boston. Check out the local haunts before October, when Salem gets overrun with tourists clamoring for their witch fix.

Provincetown
The drive to the tip of Cape Cod may be daunting, but the colorful community of Provincetown is just 90 minutes from Boston via ferries operated by two Boston-based companies. Be sure to schedule your return to coincide with sunset — you’ll catch a rare East Coast sunset over the ocean and arrive in Boston under the lights, from stars, passing aircraft and skyscrapers.

Charlestown – Navy Pier
The MBTA ferry service provides access from downtown Boston to the Charlestown Navy Yard, the national park where the U.S.S. Constitution is berthed. It’s also close to the Tavern on the Water, a Charlestown restaurant that offers excellent food and even better views of downtown Boston. 

Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard
It may seem impossible, but you can get from South Station to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket in less than three hours, thanks to bus service to Woods Hole and a ferry connection with the Steamship Authority.