A 3 miles and 3 to 6 hours trek, depending on what you choose to do, to enjoy the seaside at Dorchester and visit 3 museums dedicated to government.

Bring your swimsuit and sun taning lotion, you will also go to Carson Beach, one of the few beaches in Boston accessible by the T. (details and photos below the map)

Highlights: Dorchester Shores reservation, JFK library and museum, EMK Institute, Commonwealth museum, Carson beach, the Rainbow Splash, the Victura

A: Your trek starts at theJFK/UMass T.stop, and you first have to reach the Day Blvd. Go left when you exit the station, and either walk through Kosciuszko Circle or cross the Morrissey Bvld. In any case, be patient and careful as there is a lot of traffic here, and the area is not particularly pedestrian friendly.

Once you are on the Day Blvd., leave the State Police Station on your right and find a pathway that will lead you to the Harborwalk. From there, you’ll not see a car for a while.

B: The Metropolitan District Commission Rest has an unappealing name for a pretty round structure, but it’s a good spot to see the expense of the beach on your left, and South Boston behind it. There is also a jetty where people sometimes go fishing, but except if you ‘ve decided that a day on the sand is what pleases you the most, keep walking along the shore. There are plants, benches, the scent of the sea, people walking and jogging and kissing. You’ll see the city skyscrapers in the distance, yet you’ll be in an oasis of greenery called the Dorchester Shores,  protected and taken care of by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

C: You’ll then follow a concrete boardwalk lined with panels telling you the history of the place, until you reach another round and pretty structure at the end of this section of the Harborwalk. In the 1930’s, all this area was a very popular destination to go walking and bathing, and the Carson Beach bath house was at the time one of the finest beach facility you could find around Boston. It is now and again a fine place to go after a revitalization made in the 1990’s.

You’ll see the Boston harbor islands in the distance, cargos passing, and the Deer Island wastewater treatment plan that allowed the harbor to be clean again after years of pollution. You’ll also understand why there isn’t any waves along the shore, the islands making a natural barrier and surely explaining why the first settlers decided this was a good place to stop.

D: Your pathway turn right now, go around a little pebbles beach, and finally reach the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. It’s the white and modern structure you see at the end of  this peninsula, designed by I.M. Pei, the architect of the John Hancock tower in Boston, and the Louvres’ pyramids in Paris.

Next to it, you’ll find the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, another modern and minimalist structure, and the Commonwealth Museum and Massachusetts State Archives (there’s no entrance fee for this one)

It goes without saying that they will be the places where you can learn a lot about JFK and the world in the 1960’s, the role of the Senate in the government (you can even “be a senator for a day” in the E.M.K Institute), and the history of the Commonwealth (with interactive displays and a Treasures gallery). You’ll see that in the 1970’s, black residents living in Dorchester and around fought for equal access to Carson Beach and its bath house.

Once you’ve visited all or some of these places, go back to the harborwalk behind the JFK museum: you’ll see there “the Victura”, a 26′ sloop that JFK used to sail around Martha’s Vineyard island, and on your right in the distance, the impossible to miss “Rainbow Swash” painted on a huge gas tank by sister Corita Kent.

E: It’s now time to go back and if you do not want to take the same path or if you want to find some shade, turn right once you have reached the little pebbles beach, and find a path going to Vernon Street, then S. Point Drive. Other option: take directly Vernon St in front of the museum until you reach a sign for Harbor Point, and turn slightly right. You’ll walk in a quiet and fairly new development, with streets lined with trees, tennis court and a swimming pool that unfortunately seems to be restricted to residents (but is there something preventing you to try to enter ?)

F: At the end of S. Point Drive, you’ll reach the harborwalk again, and from there, you know the way.

G: A few more words about Carson beach and bath house: you’ll find there restrooms, changing rooms, places to sit in the shade, and an ice-cream and sandwiches stand. The sand is ok, but it’s not Florida, only Dorchester in Massachusetts, near Boston! Same for the  water: it’s safe, monitored everyday, yet it does not mean you won’t see plastic bags here and there. If you go swimming, don’t do it when it’s low tide, you ‘ll have to walk on muddy ground for a long time before reaching water deep enough to swim. There are lifeguards in season, and some strange characters too, but it’s a beach accessible by the T, so it’s still worth it. Besides, you’ll have plenty of room for sunbathing or playing games as it stretches for 3 miles. All in all, a good option if you don’t have a car, yet want to enjoy the seaside.

Good to know: you’ll find benches all along the way. Restrooms at the bath house and the museums. Your best bet to eat is the cafe at the JFK museum, otherwise, bring your own sandwich!

T-stop:  JFK/UMass (start and end)

Tips for the guide: they are welcome but as we live in a virtual world, it will be easier to follow the suggestions at the bottom of the page. Thanks in advance!

2 comments on “Dorchester Shores Trek

    • It must be the Calf Pasture Pumping station complex, an historic building; “in its time was a model for treating sewage and helping to promote cleaner and healthier urban living conditions” (from Wikipedia)

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