Dorchester Shores

Walk in Boston # 7, the Dorchester Bay shores, is a 3 miles self-guided tour to walk along the sea, visit 3 historical museums and enjoy Carson Beach at the end.

It will take you from 2 to 6 hours to complete, depending on what you choose to do.

Weather permitting, bring your swimsuit and sun tanning lotion, you will go to one of the few beaches in Boston accessible by the T.

Highlights: Dorchester Shores Reservation, JFK library and Museum, EMK Institute, Commonwealth Museum, Carson Beach, the Rainbow Splash, the Victura.

T-stop:  JFK/UMass, red line (start and end).

Car: never a good idea in Boston but along this walk, there could be free but limited parking at Carson Beach (point G on the map) or the JFK Library (point D, free il you visit the library; then you can do the walk in reverse).

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!

A: Your walk starts at theJFK/UMass T.stop: 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, there is a lot of traffic here.

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

B: The Metropolitan District Commission Rest has an unappealing name; yet it’s a pretty round structure and a good spot to see the expense of the beach on your left, and South Boston behind it.

There is also a jetty where fishing is possible, but for now, keep walking along the shore. You’ll see the city skyscrapers in the distance, yet you’ll be in an oasis of greenery: protected and taken care of by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, it offers you benches and rest areas; it welcomes walkers, joggers, fishermen and love birds sitting on benches!

C: A concrete boardwalk lined with panels telling you the history of the place will follow; then another round and pretty structure.

In the 1930’s, all this area was a very popular destination to go walking and bathing; the Carson Beach bath house was at the time one of the finest beach facility around Boston. It is now and again a good place to go after a revitalization made in the 1990’s.

In the distance, the Boston Harbor Islands, cargos passing, and the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plan: it allowed the harbor to be clean again after years of pollution.

There isn’t any waves along the shore, the islands making a natural barrier. It surely explains why the first settlers decided this was a good place to stop.

D: Your pathway turns right, goes around a little pebbles beach, and finally reaches the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

It’s the white and modern structure you see at the end of  this peninsula. It has been 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; then the Commonwealth Museum and Massachusetts State Archives. Of the three museums, only this one is free.

If it appeals to you, you’ll be there able to 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 then 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 museums, go back to the Harborwalk behind the JFK museum: you’ll see “the Victura”, a 26′ sloop that JFK used to sail around Martha’s Vineyard island; further on your right, the impossible to miss “Rainbow Swash” painted on a huge gas tank by sister Corita Kent, a Pop Art artist famous in the 1970s.

E: It’s now time to go back and the map isn’t exactly accurate. You have the choice to turn left once you reach the little pebbles beach: you’ll find a parking lot behind fences and a pathway toward S. Point Drive. You’ll then be in Harbor point, a residential area with plenty of trees.

Otherwise, go back to Vernon St. in front of the museums, and follow the street downward. You’ll pass along a strange building from another era, a pumping station facility that was a model for treating sewage in the 1880s.

Once at a sign for Harbor Point, turn slightly right, and you’ll join the option 1 trail.

A little further, there are some tennis courts and a swimming pool that unfortunately seems to be restricted to residents (but you can always try to enter it, you’ll see).

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

G: A few more words about Carson Beach and its facilities: it houses restrooms, changing rooms, places to sit in the shade, and an ice-cream and sandwiches stand.

The beach is 3 miles long, the sand is ok, the  water is safe and monitored everyday. It doesn’t mean you won’t see plastic bags here and there, though, but you’ll find plenty of space to enjoy the sun or play ball. If you want to go swimming, don’t do it when it’s low tide, you’ll have to walk on muddy ground for a long time.

In short, it’s not Florida but a beach accessible by the T. and all in all, a good option if you don’t have a car and want to enjoy the seaside.

If you liked the photos illustrating this walk, you’ll find more about Boston at

Before you go, don’t forget your guide and see how to thank him at the bottom of the page. Then enjoy the rest of your day!

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