The city’s car-free travel options are truly limitless. The commuter-rail system, for one, offers rides to more than 120 destinations, and typically takes bikes on board (check website for details).
For the best beaches, take the Newburyport/Rockport Line up to Ipswich, where a summer-season shuttle bus meets riders and takes them to Crane Beach, or get off at Manchester-by-the-Sea for Singing Beach. Farther away, Newburyport offers a Nantucket-like downtown, and a beautiful bike ride along the causeway out to Plum Island, where marshlands and beach trails wind through conservation land. To reach the coast south of Boston, hop on the Greenbush Line to Nantasket Junction and bike to Hull’s beach and concrete walkway (the old-time carousel and Saporito’s Florence Club Restaurant are fun), or to the exquisite oceanfront World’s End, which has trails, woodlands, and dramatic views of the Boston skyline. Hingham’s small but thriving harbor area offers excellent restaurants (Star’s, Tosca’s, and the Square Café), or roam the small beach looking for treasures.
Several ferry companies run boats from downtown Boston’s wharves, accessible by bike or public transportation. The Harbor Islands (National Park lands) offer interesting urban history, walking trails, beaches, and even overnight camping. The boat to Salem, a much sweeter ride than the Route 1 traffic affords, lands within bikeable distance (bring your own or hop on a pedicab) to the historic seaport area, the House of Seven Gables, the Peabody Essex Museum, and Willows Park, a grassy and wooded expanse that juts into Salem Harbor--perfect for picnics, games, or simply taking a siesta. Also easy is the high-speed ferry to Provincetown, where pristine beaches and open skies meet fine dining, lodgings, and robust arts and culture.