Boston Area Commuter Rail

Jan 29th, 2011, 04:23 PM
  #1  
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Boston Area Commuter Rail

Planning a road trip to Halifax and return after flying into Boston for a 5 day visit but I need your help folks.

I was planning on staying in lodging in Woburn because there is a commuter rail station, it appears within walking distance of the lodging facilities, that will take me into Boston to the North Station. The station is named Mishawum & is on the Lowell Line. This location will be less expensive & will be easy to jump in the car to visit such as Concord, Lexington, & Cape Cod before heading north.

The problem is that when I bring up the commuter rail website it reflects the rail station of Mishawum, however it reflects no scheduled trains going into Boston from that station. I also read comments on other websites from folks that have stayed in these lodging facilities that commuter rail was only 20 minutes into Boston, etc, etc. I don't want to be stuck outside Boston without public transport nor do I want to drive a vehicle into Boston nor do I want to lodge in Boston.

Does anyone have any info concerning commuter rail out of the Mishawum Station in Woburn? Also any lodging suggestions are welcome. Thank you.
roy2moira is offline  
Jan 29th, 2011, 05:27 PM
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Mishawum is no longer an active commuter rail station, having been replaced by Anderson/Commerce Way complex a short driving (not walking) distance away. There is one hotel I can think of on Commerce Way (don't remember name), but other than that I do not see any hotels really in walking distance.
gail is offline  
Jan 29th, 2011, 06:23 PM
  #3  
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Thank you gail. I appreciate that info. I am glad I didn't make reservations at that location. It's back to the drawing board.
roy2moira is offline  
Jan 29th, 2011, 11:33 PM
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roy2, try looking at lodging in Lexington. While I don't think it's on a train line itself, you can easily drive to a station that has parking: either adjacent Concord or Lincoln for the commuter line, or right down Route 128 to the end of the green line at Riverside. All have lots for commuter parking; Lexington has a number of lodging options plus a decent selection of restaurants and evening activities; and it's *much* more central to the things you want to do than is Woburn! (Day trip from Woburn to Cape Cod? No thank you!)

I'm not sure what kind of lodging options are in Waltham other than out on its edge by Winter Street/Lexington. But if you can find a place to stay in the center near Moody Street, that could be another good option. Waltham is a (very) small city, again with decent places to dine, and is even closer to Boston with easy on/off Route 128 to get to the places you want to see...
ggreen is offline  
Jan 29th, 2011, 11:56 PM
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Before you plan another hotel stay based on driving to a train station (either commuter rail or subway/trolley) realize that weekday parking in many of these lots fills by 7:00/7:30 AM.

Cape cod as a day trip from anyplace north or west of Boston - I would not do it.

Proximity in miles to Boston is a very poor indicator of how long it will take to travel, by either private or public transportation. It regularly takes me 15-20 minutes to get from one end of Waltham (a mile or so) to the other during rush hour or even mid-day traffic, for example. I live about 20 miles from Boston and DH commutes in every day - either driving or by public transit. During off-peak hours I can drive it in under 30 minutes; commuting can take 1 1/2 hours, especially in bad weather or on a Monday AM or Friday PM.
gail is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 07:11 AM
  #6  
 
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It is about a third to a half of a mile from the Anderson station in Woburn to a Residence Inn. The Anderson station always has plenty of parking if you have a car, then you also have plenty of hotel choices. That is the only hotel in the area that I know of. There may be other hotels in the area that offer shuttle services. There are hotels in Burlington that have shuttles to busses that go into Boston. It would be a better experience if you can afford it, to find a hotel in Boston on the days you want to spend there.
peggybauer is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 10:57 AM
  #7  
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Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys give me the info I needed. I will check it all out.

We will be traveling into Boston three days, doing the Freedom Trail one day on our own, visiting the JFK Presidential Library another, one day for maybe Beacon Hill, Back Bay, baseball game at Fenway Park, etc. We intend to spend one day touring the Minuteman National Historic Park & Salem another day. Cape Cod with an enroute visit to Plymouth will be a two overnight stay before heading north to Halifax.
roy2moira is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 11:07 AM
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Commuter Rail is not a good idea for after Red Sox games. I believe it stops running before the games even start. Hopefully someone confirms this.
tchoiniere is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 11:21 AM
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Ah, thanks for the details! I assume you'll be picking up the car rental at the airport. Are you departing from Boston as well, or will you be flying out of Halifax?

Assuming round trip Boston, you could plan an itinerary like this:
- Boston first: Look into lodging south of Boston: Quincy, Braintree, Plymouth. The first two are on ends of the T red line with lots of parking; for Plymouth, you would use a commuter train station. The JFK Presidential Library is not in Boston proper but in Dorchester, not far from Quincy and on the southern side of Boston. The Freedom Trail likewise can be reached from the red line or the commuter train. For your Beacon Hill/Back Bay/Fenway day, if you are using the red line to get in, you can easily change from the red to the green at Park (the heart of Boston) to reach those sites.
- As you mentioned, see Plymouth on your way to the Cape. Will you be visiting Plimouth Plantation or just the Rock?
- Two nights on the Cape, then go straight up to Salem.* You can either try taking Route 3 to I-93 right through Boston, or else skirt Boston entirely on Route 128. In either case, do avoid anything resembling rush hour or Friday afternoon traffic, as these roadways get very bogged down!
- From Salem, do the northern part of your trip.
- At the end of your trip, spend a night in Lexington to see it and Concord. You can drive from there back to the airport to return the car and fly out.

*If you'd rather not wait until the end of your trip to see Concord and Lexington, put that stay in here, between the Cape and Salem.

Definitely check my suggestions on a map. I've been raving lately about Google Maps: get a free gmail account and you can customize, save, share etc your maps. Plugging in destinations, dragging the route line to recalculate, and seeing driving vs transit options are super-easy!
ggreen is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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Some thoughts to consider. . .
Is there a reason you don't want to stay IN Boston?
Are you walkers?

I personally would rather priceline a room in town and take public transportation to Salem and JFK Library rather then stay at a suburb hotel. It gives you much better flexability Then after those 4-5 nights I would pick up the rental car, head south to the cape, and stay a night close to Concord/Lex on our way north. Between the price of a rental car you won't be using and the price of commuter rail tickets and parking your car. . . well just something to consider.

It does come down to what you want to see at each destination. You do need a car in Con/Lex and Plymouth. You might want a car for Salem, but you can also see a great deal on foot. And what are your plans for the Cape?

I also think that staying in Quincy/Braintree area where you can use the RedLine makes a bit of sense if you are dead set against staying in town.
Kealalani is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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yk
 
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I'll suggest this again: Hotel Indigo in Newton.

It is right next to the Riverside T station (Green Line D), part of the T (our subway) system. The T runs a lot more frequent than commuter rail (eg, every 5-10 mins instead of 1x/hr). I'm pretty sure Indigo offers free parking. The Green Line D also happens to stop at Fenway.

Riding from Riverside into the city takes about 40-45 minutes each way, but at least if you miss one train, the next one comes along 5-10 minutes later. If you rely on commuter rail and miss it, you are looking at a >1 hr wait for the next one.

Waltham is not a feasible option. There are NO HOTELs within walking distance of the commuter rail station, and there are very few parking spots. I believe many hotels in Waltham (all are close to Rt 128) do offer free hotel shuttle to the commuter station. However, even when you get there, again you're stuck with the 1x/hr schedule of the commuter rail.
yk is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 12:15 PM
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yk
 
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One more hotel I can recommend:

Crowne Plaza in Newton Corner

I think they do charge for parking, though perhaps cheaper than what hotels IN Boston charge.

At Newton Corner, you can take the express commuter bus into the city (502, 504, 553, 554, 556, 558). All the buses go on MassPike, so you can get to either Copley Sq in 10 minutes; or to South Station & Financial Center in 15-20 minutes. The Express buses run throughout the day; but the last bus stops running around 7-8'ish pm. Also, they don't run on weekends, so if you stay there, you should do all your in-town sightseeing during the week, and drive on weekends to the suburbs.

Since you have a car, you can always return to the hotel by 5-6pm, then drive to restaurants in Newton for dinner.
yk is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 12:44 PM
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True, I was just working off the assumption that the OP didn't want to stay in Boston. But Kealalani's suggestion makes a lot of sense: spend your 3 days in Boston, THEN pick up the rental. You should be able to pick up in Boston proper and drop off at the airport without a huge surcharge.

But if you do want to stay outside of the city, I would still recommend looking south (Quincy, Braintree) instead of west (Newton) of Boston. And a stay in Lexington for the Minutemen sites and even as a start to Salem...

And yk is right that if you're staying in the suburbs, it's much preferable to be off the T instead of the commuter lines, for all the reasons she mentioned!
ggreen is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 12:54 PM
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I think Hotel Indigo is a fantastic idea when someone is driving thru Boston and doesn't want to drive into Boston. Not sure of the value/time/convenience ratio works when flying into Boston.

Another reason to get the car when you need it and stay in town is weather and the convenience of returning to your room.

All good ideas and good things to think about. We don't really ever argue here, just share our differing opinions. It comes down to which opinion works for your particular expectation and travel style.

Good Luck planning and check back.
Kealalani is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 03:54 PM
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You guys and gals are terrific, so many good ideas from you to consider and with much research I have decided on a plan. However I have never visited Boston so I am not familiar with the city layout so I welcome your comments on my plan.

Responding to some of your questions. We are walkers and desire to walk safe areas day and late night. We are flying into and out of Logan Int'l. We only drove into Boston one time to pickup someone at the airport and immediately departed out of the city. My wife refuses to drive into the city again. She had nightmares for a week after that drive (just kidding). We now reside in Anchorage, Alaska. We will be flying into Logan Int'l on Sept 6, 2011.

I located a hotel, Doubletree Boston Bayside, within 1/4 mile of the JFK Presidential Library and across the street from the Red Line Subway Station. The cost is about $100 per night and the reviews seem O.K. I assume that area is safe. There doesn't seem to be many restaurants in that area so we will be eating in downtown Boston prior to heading for our room in the evening.

Renting a vehicle after we are ready to hit the road is a good idea and if there is a rental facility close by the Doubletree I will rent from them. I haven't checked that out yet. We did that when be recently visited Washington DC and it worked out great and was also cheaper.
Orginally I was thinking about doing Concord, Lexington, and Salem as part of the visit to Boston so was thinking of a location central to them.

If i stay in the JFK/UMASS area no transport will be required to visit the JFK Library and the subway is within walking distance to get me into downtown Boston to do the Freedom Trail, etc. After that we can jump in the car head south to Cape Cod with less traffic to worry about. We will visit Plymouth enroute but not Plimouth Plantation. We are going to stay in Hyannis taking a day trip over to Nantucket Island. We will probably regret in some cases the lack of time spent in some of the locations we visit but we will get a tasteof the locations and there can always be another trip if someplace knocks us off our feet.

After Cape Cod head we will head north stopping in Concord/Lexington to visit, then on to Salem for an overnight before continuing to Maine and Halifax. Depending on the visit times for the foregoing we could end up staying another night.

I have time to adjust so if you guys and gals have a suggestion concerning my itinerary lay it on me. I really appreciate all of your inputs because they give me a lot of insight. I was overlooking a lot of factors such as a possible one hour wait for another train, etc.

Thanks again!
roy2moira is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 04:57 PM
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I still think you should try to stay in Boston center proper (Back Bay, Copley, Faneuil Hall areas). If $ is an issue, I would even stay one less night than stay in Dorchester, Newton or anyplace else - the time you spend commuting would make up for the lost day.

I would not consider the area of Bayside/JFK safe "late at night" as you request. There are no restaurants because no one goes there. It is not a tourist area, and while it has improved somewhat in recent years, I would not go strolling there. It is in general area of University of Mass/Boston - which until very recently was exclusively a commuter college - so there is not even a student presence after hours. And while I will not argue with website that says 1/4 mile to JFK Library - that must mean to the access road, since it certainly seems a lot more than that to me.

Acknowledging that it is easy for me to spend other's money, you are making a trip of several weeks, paying for airfare from Alaska, etc - spend another $100-200 total and stay in Boston. Since it is after Labor Day and also after the time that hotel rooms are booked with people dropping kids off at various colleges, it should be a bit easier to find a room, even on Priceline.

Red Sox are not in town from 9/5 - 9/13. Not sure when your return flight out of Logan is, but if it is important, try to catch a game on your way out of town. You could even return car to airport, get an airport hotel, and take MBTA into Boston for the game. Tickets went on sale on-line yesterday for the season - so if this is a possibility, buy them now - they sell out every game every year. (Bleachers are fine, try to avoid richt field Grandstand sections 2, 3, 4 as seats face a weird angle and you end up with a really stiff neck - everything else is fine since it is a small ballpark)

Plymouth is a nice little town, but perhaps not worth a visit unless you go to Plimouth Plantation (yes, the spelling is different). The Rock is really funny - looks like a boulder someone dug up on their front lawn - and then they put it in a wire cage and gave it a plaque - but in the end it is just a rock. Maybe stop for lunch on the water and then keep driving.

Commuter rail - waits of far more than an hour unless you are within rush hour. At many stations you have trains about that frequent between 6A - 10A and 4P - 7 P, but outside those hours there may be only a couple of trains.

If you desire safe areaas to walk late at night you really are limited to real tourist areas of Boston. Boston is not known for being a late night city, and while this has improved in past decade, you still need to be careful to stay and walk in areas that have high amount of pedestrian traffic - and those areas are limited to real tourist areas. Sunset is about 7 PM in early September. You might love strolling thru the North End (Italian area) later at night, Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall area nearby - but certainly not Dorchester (for safety) or Newton (because everyone will be asleep and everything closed).
gail is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 05:24 PM
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I don't really see the worth of time to visit Plymouth without visiting Plimouth Plantation. The rock is a fake and a lie. The pilgrims landed at Provincetown.
Kealalani is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 06:18 PM
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The Sheraton Commander in Cambridge is a very pleasant spot and is walking distance to the Harvard Square station and Harvard Square is a tourist destination in its own right. It is only a 20 minute--or less--T ride to Park St. station, the beginning of the Freedom Trail and that line also goes directly to the JFK museum stop.
socialworker is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 06:20 PM
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PS I strongly advise *against* staying at a hotel in the vicinity of the JFK museum.
socialworker is offline  
Jan 30th, 2011, 06:27 PM
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Hmm, I just checked rates at that hotel I referenced for your dates and they are astronomical! >$400/nt, so that may not be such a good suggestion. Maybe that is move-in time for Harvard??
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