How to See Boston's Tall Ships

US Coast Guard Tall Ship at Sail Boston

Sail Boston

Even for those who have heard of the tall ships before, it's likely that many don't actually know what makes a ship a "tall ship." This simply describes a traditionally-rigged sailing vessel, according to Sail Training International. Tall ships are categorized by type — full-rigged ship, barque, barquentine, brig, brigantine or schooner — or by Class A, B, C or D. The classes are used to describe the ships' length and rigging.

The Most Recent Tall Ships Regatta

The last time the Tall Ships Regatta came to boston was in 2017; a historic, 6-day event hosted by Sail Boston, that was part of the international Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. The regatta's stops also included the United Kingdom, Portugal, Bermuda, Canada and France. It brought in ships to Boston Harbor from not only the United States, but also countries including Germany, Malta, The Netherlands, Spain and more, drawing over 3 million people to Boston Harbor.

During the festival was the Grand Parade of Sail with more than 50 ships, which the city of Boston hadn't experienced for 17 years until then. After the sail, visitors were able to hop on board the ships free of charge. This was a particularly exciting event because Boston was the only participating U.S. port.

2019 Visiting Ships

While the Tall Ships Regatta coming to Boston isn't an annual event, you can still experience the Tall Ships while visiting the city. For 2019, there is one Tall Ship confirmed so far, which is the Rederij Clipper Stad Amsterdam, though be sure to check Sail Boston's website to get the latest on visiting ships each year as they are confirmed.

The Stad Amsterdam, a three-masted clipper from the Netherlands, is set to arrive in Boston on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. This ship is a hand-crafted replica of a historic ship by the same name, but with far more advanced technologies on board. The Stad Amsterdam was officially launched in 2000 and today sails in Tall Ships Races and other events and is also used as a charter for business events.

Where & When to See the Tall Ships

The Stad Amsterdam will be tied up at the city's Fan Pier Marina (1 Marina Park Drive) through Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The ship will be open to the public for viewing hours on Sunday, April 21, 2019 from 12 to 4 p.m., though keep in mind that the times are subject to change.

During events like the 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, the best viewing locations included essentially any waterfront neighborhood in Boston, including South Boston, the Seaport, North End, Downtown Waterfront, Charlestown and East Boston.

South Boston's Castle Island is a highly recommended spot to view tall ships sailing, not only because there is a picturesque walk you can take along the HarborWalk, but also because there is a decent sized parking lot if you plan on driving. From there, you can usually see Liberty Clipper or Liberty Star, both of which are available for chartering, tacking around the harbor near Logan Airport. Depending on when you're in town, you could also see one of the visiting ships out for a sail! 

Nearby Restaurants and Things to Do

Fan Pier, where the Stad Amsterdam will be docked, is located in Boston's Seaport neighborhood at 1 Marina Park Drive. The Seaport is home to several popular restaurants, as many have opened over the past few years as this part of the city has continued to develop. Options near Fan Pier include Committee, Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca, Strega Waterfront and the Barking Crab. You can also head to the new Trillium Fort Point, a local craft brewery that also serves upscale bar roof and has both a roof deck and outdoor patio.

If you're watching from South Boston's Castle Island, when you're finished walking around, stop by Sullivan’s Castle Island, a neighborhood landmark with lobster rolls, hot dogs and more. Another nearby restaurant and bar is Local 149, about a mile away from Sullivan's, though closer by depending on where you are along the HarborWalk.

For suggestions on things to do nearby, check out our Seaport and Fort Point guides.

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