Carson Beach (Babe Ruth Rd & William J. Day Blvd, Boston)
It wasn't too long ago that swimming in the harbor was unthinkable, but thanks to an amazing cleanup effort Bostonians can once again find relief at the water’s edge. Carson Beach boasts a newly rebuilt bathhouse complete with changing rooms, outdoor showers and a concession stand. The water quality varies and swimmers should check with the lifeguards before diving in. Located in the heart of Southie, Carson Beach is easily accessible from the Red Line’s JFK/UMass stop or may be reached via the Harborwalk Trail, which runs behind the UMB campus.
Houghton’s Pond (840 Hillside Street, Milton)
Head out into the Blue Hills for a swimming experience that feels more like a deep woods campground than an urban park. The park features a sandy beach, a full bathhouse and a concession stand. In addition to swimming visitors may enjoy hiking, mountain biking and nature watching. The park also has a large playground and open areas for recreation. The section of the pond roped off for swimming has a sandy bottom and is shallow enough to be safe for children. Picnic tables with charcoal grills are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The park fills up fast on the weekends but weekday visitors will find plenty of room to relax. The park is not accessible by public transportation; parking is free but limited.
Nantasket Beach Reservation (Rte. 3A, Hull)
Nantasket is the first real ocean beach south of Boston and what a beach it is! Situated on a long peninsula this colorful and historic shoreline is a treasured tradition for residents of the South Shore. Hull offers every amenity you would expect in a beach town, including a lovingly restored vintage carousel and plenty of places to enjoy drinks and seafood over the dunes. The beach is uniformly clean and staffed by attentive lifeguards throughout the summer. Visitors should plan their trips around the tide; the available sunbathing space shrinks dramatically at high tide. The water is chilly but invigorating, just like a New England Beach should be. Parking rates range from $6 to $10. Adventurous users of public transportation can visit Hull via a water shuttle from downtown Boston.
World’s End (Martin’s Lane, Hingham)
The name alone earns this little known sanctuary a place on the list. World’s End is the ideal place for your next picnic or afternoon getaway. This secluded and semi-private location invites guest to linger and beach comb. There are acres of blooming meadows and rocky shores to explore. World’s End has several miles of carriage trails that make biking one of the best ways to explore this 251-acre jewel. The small spit of land connecting the island to the mainland makes for an informal swimming area. Small children and nature lovers will enjoy the chance to encounter deer, wild turkeys, horseshoe crabs and more in an environment that feels worlds away from the city. This location is cannot be reached by public transportation. Admission is $5 per adult.
Stony Brook Reservation (Turtle Pond Parkway, Hyde Park)
The price is right at this Department of Conservation and Recreation complex. Located in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood, this free swimming pool fills up quickly on hot afternoons. The bathhouse facility is sorely in need of a makeover and lockers are not available. Take a refreshing swim in the Olympic sized pool and then enjoy an outdoor feast at the nearby picnic tables, which feature charcoal grills. There are also large fields for enjoying team sports and a newly renovated spray deck for younger children. Visitors wishing to explore beyond the edges of the parking lot will find miles of trails suitable for biking or hiking laced through a woodland marsh.