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Boston in a week - Proposed Itinerary-Doable??

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Jul 6th, 2009, 04:02 PM
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Boston in a week - Proposed Itinerary-Doable??

We are a family of 3 adults and 2 boys, ages 11 and 15 and are planning a trip to Boston next week. We will actually arrive in Providence RI on Friday and spend the weekend in Cape Cod. We will be back in Boston Sunday night and are staying in a condo on Shawmut near W. Concord in South End. We have purchased a Go Boston card and will be trying to see as much as we can and keep our boys entertained. We are used to packing a lot of sites in on our trips. So here is what I have decided on for now (remember I am using Go Card):

Monday - Get up early and get tickets when available for Boston Duck Tour (80 min). Then get tickets at Cambridgetown Mall for Charles River Boat tour (90 min), hopefully, the locks and harbor tour at 10:00am. If tickets are unavailable early in morning, will reverse itinerary if can get tickets then.

Then, head back to the Visitor Center for Freedom Trail Foundation tour, probably around lunchtime. Eat either before or after depending on how earlier tours go. Add on Paul Revere House and Old North Church if we feel up to it. Possible dinner in North End and hang out around Fanuel Hall and people watch. My boys would love it there.

Tuesday - Go to Public Garden and ride Swan Boats and look around. Then take Greenline to Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Have lunch somewhere then onto JFk Museum/Library. Hope to spend around 2 hrs or so there and maybe take a Boston Harbor tour afterward. (optional).

Wednesday - take Mass Bay Lines Whale Watch tour - 10:00-2:00, then visit the New England Aquarium.

Thursday - Travel to Salem, MA. Tour the Salem Witch Museum, House of Seven Gables, have lunch and look around town a while. Get back in town for 3:00pm Liberty Fleet Tall Ship Adventure. Then maybe drop by the Museum of Science since they are open until 7:00. Busy afternoon, I know. Plans can change if we get too rushed.

Friday - Take water ferry from Long Whart to USS Constitution/Museum, Bunker Hill, and explore. Hopefully be done by 1:00. Then, go back to condo and retrieve vehicle we have parked there and drive to Samuel Adams Brewery. My hubby and DD will tour while I take the kids to Franklin Zoo nearby. I am thinking this will work if we get in by 3:00 since brewery and zoo are open until 5:00.

As I mentioned, we are using a Go card and also are used to pushing the limits on city vacations. I do appreciate your comments and need them. Also, what is the best way to get around from lower Shawmut?? I know there is a Silverline 1 block East, so that is convenient, but not sure best way to get to the Aquarium from Shawmut. Thanks Fodorites!
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Jul 6th, 2009, 04:30 PM
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Hi there,

Wow! I remember those sorts of vacations with younger kids - you are sure packing a lot in.

I have never taken the Locks and Harbor Tour, but the Duck Tour does explore a bit of the Charles River. It may be redundant. The Duck Tour is tons of fun; I'd definitely keep that.

Definitely stay in the North End for dinner. Your daughter will love the shopping there, too. FH/QM is lots of fun - street entertainers and so forth. Great ice cream for dessert, too.

Tuesday and Thursday seem particularly packed. Maybe just one museum on Tuesday? I also hesitate to mention that Fenway Park does tours, too. That is very close to the Is. S. G. Museum. Your boys might think the paddle boats are lame; they are a bit anticlimactic by today's entertainment standards!

I think you have good choices for Salem, but I don't see how you can be back for 3:00 pm Tall Ships. Perhaps consider commiting to one or the other. You may want to skip the Science Museum, too, unless there is a particular exhibit you are going to see.

Sorry I can't help with the public transportation from your condo. Sounds like you all will have lots of fun! Enjoy the city!
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Jul 6th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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yk
 
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A few comments:

Monday - Get up early and get tickets when available for Boston Duck Tour (80 min). Then get tickets at Cambridgetown Mall for Charles River Boat tour (90 min), hopefully, the locks and harbor tour at 10:00am. If tickets are unavailable early in morning, will reverse itinerary if can get tickets then.

Then, head back to the Visitor Center for Freedom Trail Foundation tour, probably around lunchtime. Eat either before or after depending on how earlier tours go. Add on Paul Revere House and Old North Church if we feel up to it. Possible dinner in North End and hang out around Fanuel Hall and people watch. My boys would love it there.


For the Duck Tours, you really should book your tour in advance. Here are directions on how to make advance reservation using the Go Boston Card:
http://www.smartdestinations.com/bos...uck_Tours.html

I think the Charles Riverboat tour will be a bit redundant and time consuming. I'd skip it if I were you and use the time for something else.

--------------------------
Tuesday - Go to Public Garden and ride Swan Boats and look around. Then take Greenline to Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Have lunch somewhere then onto JFk Museum/Library. Hope to spend around 2 hrs or so there and maybe take a Boston Harbor tour afterward. (optional).

Just a quick reality check: Swan Boats start at 10am and Gardner Museum opens at 11am. To travel from Gardner Museum to JFK Museum (via public transport) will take at least ONE HOUR. JFK Museum closes @ 5pm. Your day is doable but rather rushed, unless you're driving to JFK museum?

-------------
Thursday: how are you getting to Salem? Are you driving? Are you taking commuter rail? If you are driving, are you going to park back at the condo or park at Long Wharf for the Tall Ship cruise?
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Jul 6th, 2009, 04:36 PM
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Yes, get Duck Tour tickets now or they'll be sold out. I do believe that the tours also leave from the Museum of Science and go down the river, making the Charles Riverboat cruise redundant, as yk mentioned.

The Aquarium is on the Blue Line. You'll need to walk to the Back Bay station on the Orange line (not too far from where you;re staying) and then switch to the Blue Line at State station.
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Jul 6th, 2009, 04:37 PM
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yk
 
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P.S. The Silver Line will take a long time. I think I've mentioned before (when you were asking about your apt rental), Mass Ave stop on the Orange line is about a 10-min walk. That is much faster, and you can take it inbound to State, then change for the Blue Line to Aquarium

On your first day, again, take the Orange Line to North Station, then switch for the Green Line to Museum of Science where you'll catch the Duck Tours.

Here's the subway map:
http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/subway/
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Jul 6th, 2009, 07:16 PM
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Wow, great comments! I have gotten good advice and will book the Duck tour tonight online. And I didnt realize the Charles river tour would be redundant and had heard how neat the locks were, but since everyone is telling me the same thing, that frees up some time to drop that one. Good advice there! Thanks! Since you already know our schedule is crazy, I will also tell Dreamer that we have Red Sox tickets on Friday night. So if we get there early (our plane arrives in PVD at 1:00) will take the tour before the game. We already had the trip planned when a client offered my husband tickets for Friday. Good for us, but a crazy night since our weekend lodging is in Cape Cod. Our Boston condo could not be shifted to cover this change in plans. My, my, my, it will be late when we get to the Cape, but hopefully, little traffic!

Yes, the ISG museum is out of the way, but I did want to go by and look around. Maybe Sat, our last day, we can do that and the Boston library. I didnt put Sat down as that is our last full day and we can make up for anything we left out. Probably also drive to Harvard or MIT. Is one college more interesting than the other for a short visit?? Trying to put ideas in my 15 yr olds head,ha.

Yes, we do have a car for Salem and JFK, brewery and zoo (free parking!). Otherwise, we will use public trans. Thanks YK for remembering me from Feb. I have to retrieve those posts and go over the information. I have been staring at the website, but the routes dont seem the easiest that it recommmends. You are much better at telling me how to get around. I appreciate it. Any suggestions for a restaurnat in North End that my simple minded boys might enjoy?? Thought about PIzzeria Regina, but I am sure there are other good places they would enjoy.
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Jul 6th, 2009, 07:47 PM
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yk
 
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Harvard is more interesting than MIT, in terms of campus and history; afterall, Harvard is the oldest college in the US (1638). There are "UNofficial tours" of Harvard during the summer, guided by students. They are "free" though tip is expected at the end. I took one a few weeks ago, and the guides sort of insisted a $10 tip, though it's not mandatory.
http://www.harv.unofficialtours.com/index.php

I think moving the Gardner Museum to Saturday is a good idea, touring that along with the Public Library. The free Art & Architecture tour offered by BPL is excellent, though it may be a bit boring for your kids.
http://www.bpl.org/central/tours.htm

I still don't think your Salem day is doable, despite having a car. Traffic is always a pain in Salem, as the main route there (after you get off Rt 128) is only a 2-lane road.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 12:46 AM
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I agree that Harvard's campus would be more interesting to visit than MIT. But don't drive, you won't be able to find parking. The subway's Red Line has a stop right in the middle of Harvard Square. The Red Line will also take you to the JFK/UMass station where you can get a shuttle to the JFK Museum/Library. Although these 2 sites are far apart, it's a straight shot on the Red Line so combining them might make sense. Your kids might be bored at the Zoo, that time slot might be better for a trip to Cambridge.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 12:54 AM
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I just checked the web site for "unofficialtours" at Harvard. This is an independent organization that claims, "We are to official college-campus tours what the Daily Show is to National News Networks." That sure sounds like more fun than the regular Admissions Office torus, which are also available all summer, Monday through Saturday.

However, if your kid isn't Harvard material (top of his class, ambitious, nationally-ranked in something) you might be better-off visiting one of the other dozens of schools in the area.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 03:25 AM
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Monday - agree, skip the Charles River tour. Rest is great

Tuesday - pick either museum or split up and each parent see one they want. The Swan Boats are a little lame, but I still think you should see them. If you pick one museum, which will your kids tolerate more - art or history that happened decades before they were born? MBTA to JFK Museum will take a long time. Perhaps skip that and do evening/sunset harbor tour and have dinner in North End Faneuil Hall area again - lots of places to eat there.

Wednesday. NE England Aquarium has package deals for their whale watch which include Aquarium admission. Bring WARM clothing (even if it is 90 degrees on land) and consider taking seasickness pills - it is common to feel green while searching for whales.

Thursday - Museum of Science is a very good, but not great museum but still fun. Can be over-run with camp groups in the summer, but still worth consideration. You might leave it on list for bad weather. Also, Duck Tours have one starting point at MOS (other at Prudential) so you might fold it into Duck Tour day and move something else. Keep posted on local news regarding Tall Ships - plans keep changing as to whether all will parade in at once or separately to limit crowds. (Which is still better than Mayor Mumbles first idea which was necessary to save money - having them slip in at night, not under sail).

Friday - No complaints. If you miss the Franklin Park Zoo, don't sweat it. It is a cute little zoo but not all that big - I am sure you have been to zoos before. Animals at this one seem well tended to and reasonable confined (except for a big chimp that escaped a decade or so ago and created a big scene, both logistically and because of some radio comments about it).

Red Sox - go directly from airport to Fenway Park area. You may get lucky and find street parking, but many meters are 2 hour meters, so someone will have to go back and feed it. They take lots of quarters, so be prepared - no "Pay and Display" with credit card. This becomes unnecessary after 6 PM. With good map or GPS look for parking near Boston University on Bay State Road and side streets connecting to it from Commonwealth Avenue. So you can judge how far you will have to walk, Kenmore Square is about a 5 minute walk to Fenway - so obviously add time to that. You will walk by a half dozen or so BU buildings on way to Fenway. Tell your kids this is their campus tour. Another option is to park at Prudential Center garage. Lots of people walking in that direction after the game and you beat some of the Kenmore Square traffic then. They have a deal for parking if you show them Red Sox tickets. It is about a mile from Prudential to Fenway but a nice walk on city streets. Parking in lot or garage near Fenway is $25-30 and I am not sure if you can park in mid-afternoon and have it be fee for game as well. They let you in about 2 hours prior to game time, and you can watch batting practice. Bring a sweatshirt, even if it is 90 degrees, since you can get a raw wind in the evening.

You are not allowed to bring in any food or beverages, even water. Tickets say no large pocketbooks or backpacks, but you can if security checks them out and tags them before. Seats are very tight, so limit stuff you haul in - and I never bring a pocketbook since there is no place to put it and the ground is disgusting. Food is rated as most expensive in MLB and some of the worst. Depending on time and how your meal schedule got screwed up with travel time, consider eating outside Park. It will probably take you longer to get out of Fenway area than the drive to the Cape at that time of night - so you will beat the traffic.

Have a good trip.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 04:13 AM
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Hi again,

My favorite Northend traditional family-friendly place is La Summa on Fleet Street. Great chicken parmasean and a scrumptious fettucini alfredo! Along the same lines, you could check out: Pagliuca's, Artu, and Antico Forno. I think you can review them all online.

Or just stroll until something strikes your fancy!
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Jul 7th, 2009, 05:42 AM
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Gail, I believe you are incorrect about the food and water thing in Fenway park. You are allowed sealed bottles of water, and I think you can bring in food. I admit, I have not tried this often, and the gate agents are inconsistant. We certainly have brought in small snacks with no issue. the vendors outside the gates will try to convince you that you can buy food and take it in the park. Many folks seem to do so, successfully.

mommybryant, if you don't mind a bit of walking, you can park for the game at the garage on Chandler street, which is basically above the Back Bay train station. its maybe a 15 minute walk to Fenway from there. The price is fairly reasonable, I think its under $20 (not completely sure if its gone up), which is much better than the $30 you will pay at the garages around the park. That said, I almost always park under the Trilogy building, at the corner of Brookline and Kilmarnock. Its $30, but not too difficult to get out of. However, I've never arrived before 5:30, so I don't know if there are issues. A lot of the lots for the games are filled with commuters during the day, and they start emptying out between 5-6PM, as the Fenway patrons come in.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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A couple things regarding what other posters have said earlier:

1) gail mentioned Tall Ships. But the Tall Ships are here in Boston this week, not next week. I think mommybryant meant the company called Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships CRUISE, which is a Harbor cruise on board of a windjammer. http://www.libertyfleet.com/

2) China_Cat mentioned the garage on Chandler street. I think she meant the 100 Clarendon Garage (that's the official name), which borders on Chandler Street. 100 Clarendon is the official Red Sox garage, and parking for game nights is $9. http://www.100clarendon.com/index.html

3) One more comment about the UNofficial tours @ Harvard. It is not anything like an admission office tour for prospective students. Instead, it's more about the history, myths and legends, various buildings and architecture of Harvard. It is aimed for tourists.

4) Lastly, if you plan on driving anywhere in Boston, esp during the week, double the amount of time you *think* it'll take (or what the GPS or Google map tells you). I guarantee you that
a) you WILL get lost; and
b) you WILL spend a lot of time stuck in traffic and/or looking for parking.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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No food may be brought into the park. Sealed bottles of water under 16 ounces may be brought in. This is from the Red Sox site.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 07:54 AM
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gail's right, the MOS is often overrun with camp groups on weekdays. But this itinerary calls for arriving in the afternoon, so most of them will have already left. They officially lose at 7 on most days, but some of the Theater shows run longer than that. The boys might like the "Adrenaline Rush" Omni show. MOS is open until 9 on Fridays.

Put your handbag etc. in the trunk of your car BEFORE you park it for the Red Sox game; you don't want the lot attendants or anybody else to see what you've got in there.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 08:20 AM
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Great comments and lots to think about. I am thankful for the comments of locals who give me a clearer picture of how this trip is going to happen. I have printed off your comments and will be thinking of what to leave off the itinerary. JFK library for sure. Since we are staying in Hyannis the prior weekend, might check out the JFK museum there. I am probably the only one interested in that anyway.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 09:15 AM
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On your way up to Boston from the Cape, you'll drive right past the exit for the JFK Library in Dorchester on the southern edge of Boston. So if you decide to leave the Cape early (bad weather, whatever) you could stop by then.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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I may be a bit confused on your post, but I think you are arriving on Friday and have a Sox game that night. I'd suggest finding a hotel in Boston for after the game and leave early the next morning for the Cape. Traffic on a Friday night will be bad and if you leave really early on Sat morning you will run into a bit less traffic, but leave EARLY. I stayed at the Harbourside Inn not long ago it's right AT Quincy Market, and reasonably priced, parking in the area, so you could get an early morning start from there to the Cape.

I'd forget Salem, and stay in Boston, so much to see and trying to fit in Salem, you will be spending more time in transit and will probably be dissapointed that you missed things in Boston.

As mentioned earlier get your tickets for the Duck tours online. The tours fill up fast over the summer, so you might not get tickets for the day you have planned.

Also since the Freedom Trail starts at the State House (the State Capitol Building), you might do the Public Garden and Park before you start the trail.

The Freedom Trail will take the most part of a day, so be prepared to be flexible in your timing.

A little family history you might enjoy. You mentioned Bunker Hill, my Grandmother was from Chelsea and lived very close to the the location where the monument was being built. She (Grace Perkins) and her best friend (Mary Wigglesworth) played with their dolls in the lobby of the monument as the building was going up. Also the top of the monument, her 2 uncles (who fought on opposite sides of the Civil War), my great, great uncles helped with the laying of the top stone.

Boston is a small "city" you can walk across most of downtown in a couple of hours but the traffic can be VERY bad, lots of bottlenecks, so as mentioned earlier, expect to be in traffic and that anywhere you are driving will take you at least twice as long as you think.

Have a great time.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 11:33 AM
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yk, you are absolutely right. I mean the garage at 100 Clarendon, and I think I've made that mistake before. I think that garage is relatively easy to get in and out of, right off the Pike, which is why I recommend it. Plus its cheap.
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Jul 8th, 2009, 08:33 AM
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staying in a condo on Shawmut near W. Concord in South End.
( With the boys, Francesca's on Tremont Street (look on map, near Union/ Clarendon) will give you good breakfasts, lunch, etc for less than some others in South End ( like Buttery, altho I love it there too) - as will a spot called the Tremont Cafe - you would walk past Francesca's - past Berkeley St, and at almost the next corner before the CVS is Tremont Cafe - fabulous homemade food/sandwiches/smoothies - Picco's - also on Tremont between Berkeleley and Clarendon (Boston Center for Arts block) will give you good pastas, pizzas, salads - Clery's on Dartmouth Street ( great, great burgers - good menu choices for boys, plenty of tv's playing sports, etc ) - good for lunch or earlier in evening before it becomes a happening place with a line out front ! - Mike's Diner or Charlie's for BIG breakfast's ( and you can check out dinners too) - or Giordano's for italian -
These are some ideas that the boys will also be happy with -

Monday -The locks are cool, but these are not huge locks, yes you see the water raise and lower as you enter/exit and the boats waiting in line, but it is not as "awesome" for the boys as a huge lock - think they might be bored.
If you wanted to be on the water aside from the Duck Tour/Charles River -
Freedom Trail and North End sound good for rest of day - I am not usually a "tour" person - so I like the self tour, and this way you can stop where you want, but I see the benefit to the guided if you prefer - make sure you walk the Greenway, over to the North End, and spend some time roaming the streets, and La Summa was mentioned above, we also like it there and the food is good and we always laugh as we walk past Giordano's ( they also have a location in the North and South End) and there is a line with people waiting an hour to get in b/c it is on the main 'drag' and we turn the corner and go down to LaSumma and if you want, they'll take a rezzie too. We also like Piccolo Nido in the North End and Artu -
there are others I love but save for when I am not with teenage boys !! Get pastry at Maria's - or Modern.

Tuesday - I would so skip the swan boats with boys those ages - go and watch them for two minutes and I'd be surprised if they want to watch them longer than that. They are paddle boats that go soooooo slow around a little loop and under a bridge - when I have company, anyone over 7 or 8 is never interested - watch them from on top of the bridge of by the lawn instead. take a nice photo with them in the background. I also think boys will be bored with the ISG ( although it is my favorite museum) - but I don't know your boys - if they will enjoy the building and some eclectic collections of art, then spend an hour here - if not - you spend an hour there and send them over to the MFA, which is diagonally across and a minute away where they may be more likely to enjoy different collections -

If they aren't into history or JFK, that's another museum they might enjoy the view from better - one of the Boston Harbor Cruises if weather is good might be more fun - George's Island or something -

Wednesday - great to do Whale Watch if weather works - the Aquarium - depends. Do you have one near you? Have you been to great ones? because ours may disappoint, but if you haven't been to one in awhile or do not live near a world class one, you will enjoy - - don't know w/out looking what else might be on go card, but if you are there and it works, then do a run through or maybe see one of the shows

Thursday - Travel to Salem, MA. Are you driving? there is a ferry - it takes about 45 minutes, also gets you on the water - salemferry.com - might be a good option.

Friday - if you start early, you could be done by 1 - but then you have to get back to the South End for your car on a Friday, when if the weather is good, plenty of people leave early and traffic could be easy or ridiculous. But you could probably make a tour/etc - check the times.

I don't prefer the silver line - I prefer taking the T from the Back Bay so you might look at that mbta.com , hopstop.com, some of those sights and see if it will work for you
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