Boston by the Locals: Castle Island

castle island pleasure bay

Pleasure Bay with the Boston skyline in the distance.

I’ve been going to Castle Island in South Boston pretty much all my life. Even when I was a young kid, I remember summer trips over to Southie with my mom, sister, nana and papa to sit by the water, walk around the island and have some of the famous Sullivan’s clam strips.

Then, as we got older, Castle Island was a standard school trip. We looked forward to boarding our school buses and heading into town for the day, sometimes a trip at Castle Island followed up by a couple of hours running around Fanuiel Hall before heading back home to the suburbs. It was exciting stuff to spend the day in Boston.

Fort Independence

castle island fort independence

A good look at Fort Independence with a plane taking off overhead.

Being the big history nerd that I am, what I always enjoyed about Castle Island was that it has a big fort sitting on top of it.

You’d be pretty hard pressed to find many other American cities that have an old, and I mean 1600s old, fort just hanging out on a little spit of land that juts out into Boston Harbor.

The actual fort, called Fort Independence, as it stands now was built in 1851, and it was the 8th fortification built on the spot. The land upon which the fort is built has served as a defensive installation protecting Boston since 1634.

If you know your history, that means the fort was built by our old friends the Brits to protect their new territories against their biggest threat, the French. Oh how times change, huh?

Way back during the Revolutionary War, the fort was held up under British control and it was the place where all of the loyalists, or Tories as they are also known, holed up to hide from the battles raging just a few miles away.

Castle Island Today

castle island boston harbor walk

Boston Harbor Walk runs along Castle Island.

Now, Castle Island is about as far away as you can get from those days of battle. In fact, it’s not even an island anymore. Beach has been reclaimed and there is a pedestrian track that runs around Castle Island, making it the perfect spot for a stroll with the family, a jog or a quick bike ride.

It’s actually one of my favorite parts of Boston and a perfect area to visit. Bring a little lunch (or grab one of those Sullivan’s clam strips), and park yourself on the grass. Not only is the area bustling with people, but it gives some really great views of Boston, the Harbor and many of the other islands in the area.

If you are a mechanical nerd, get ready, because with Logan Airport literally a stone’s throw away, you only have to look up to see planes streaming in from the area to land.

Castle Island also has opportunities for fishing or just laying on the beach. Pleasure Bay provides visitors and residents with a little strip of sand to enjoy a beach life just minutes away from downtown.

So next time you are visiting Boston. Take a trip out to Southie and check out Castle Island. If you want a great workout follow along the Boston Harbor Walk which will connect you back into downtown right along the waterways.

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