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Boston, Newport, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard

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Mar 3rd, 2014, 10:26 AM
  #1
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Boston, Newport, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard

Planning a long weekend trip for 2015. It is possible that we might go over Memorial Day Weekend or July 4th weekend(4th is on a Sat). These times would probably work of our daughter(she would be 21 by then, so who know really whether or not she will go with us, or what she will be doing) or we could go anytime during June or July if she doesn't go. I'm guessing most likely will go Memorial Day weekend or the weekend after that.

I've always wanted to view the Boston Fireworks, but just not sure what to expect and if I really want to fight the crowds.

This would be a long weekend trip. Probably 2 days in Boston would enough for us. Might possibly take in a game at Fenway, although we are not baseball fans at all. Having been to a few games we always leave before they are over(but have never been to Fenway). Might take in the Boston Pop/Symphony (not sure I know the difference)

Main interest would be seeing the "must" highlights: Gardens, Commons, Freedom Trail and Food.

Thought we might do 1 day to Newport to see the mansions there and then 1 day to either Cape Cod Area or Martha's Vineyard. I don't really know much about Cape or Martha's Vineyard. What are those area's like in late May?

Do I want to do Newport and Cape/Martha's as a day trip from Boston or do I want to spend 2/3 nights in Boston and then 2 nights somewhere just south of Boston?

If I did the Cape, should I take Car, Ferry, or the Train(Cape Flyer)?

We are big on National Parks (hiking, etc). Can do a little shopping but not sure that would interest that much. Do like good food and that seems easy to find everywhere, so don't really think I need suggestions for that.
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Mar 3rd, 2014, 12:09 PM
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Hi spirobulldog, to start off, depending on if you go for Memorial Day or Independence Day is going to make a big difference. If you go in May, then the Cape is going to be just opening up for the season, if that. Usually, it is cloudy or rainy and in the 60's for the end of may and the beginning of June. It would be great weather for walking along the beaches or walking around town, but some restaurants will not be open, and the beaches are still too cold (usually). Of course there are years when it is 90 degrees for a few days in April, then all of this logic goes flying out the window. I think that a day trip to Newport from Boston would be great, as it is only a one hour drive from Boston along interstates. To get to the Cape, especially if it is the 4th of July, I would recommend anything that does not drive on the highway, so that would leave the train as a great option. If you choose to go to the Cape for two days then I recommend you stay in Hyannis, which is very close to the beach and has a few fun historical things. If you were to drive, I recommend either early morning or later in the evening, the drive would not too bad. It could range anywhere from 1 hour 15 to over 2 hours, depending on how bad the traffic is and what the weather is like. From Hyannis, you could use your car to either drive to Chatham, which I highly recommend, or you could take the ferry to Marthas Vineyard. I would recommend Chatham, as it has some great restaurants, nice stores, and the Cape Cod National Seashore is really good. Newport is no more than a one day thing, even if you do take a tour of one of the mansions. On the note of Marthas Vineyard, I would only recommend it if you have seen everything on the Cape. I have been vacationing on the cape for over a decade, and I have only gone over to Marthas Vineyard a few times. To sum it all up, if you go for memorial day, take a car and see a large part of the cape. If you go over 4th of July, either try going late or early or take the train and see what you can do from there. Hope this helps
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Mar 3rd, 2014, 12:43 PM
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If you decide to go to Boston, you will not need or want a car as walking or the T take you most places and parking costs a fortune. You could go by ferry to Provincetown on the tip of the cape. Then rent bikes and explore the National Seashore or hire one of the dune buggies to do that.

We prefer to go to the Cape off season and enjoy having a car to explore but it gets crowded at holiday times and DH has a bad attitude when he sits in traffic. The 4th in Boston can be neat with lots of free stuff to enjoy.
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Mar 3rd, 2014, 01:25 PM
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I live on Nantucket and love it, but I would never recommend that anyone go there on a holiday weekend, ESP those. Hotel rates go way up, there is likely to be a three night minimum, and there are long lines in restaurants,

Memorial Day, as on the Cape, is likely to have one nice day, one okay day, and one cold, rainy day. Saturday is the Figawi sailboat race from Hyannis to Nantucket which is really an excuse for 50-something professionals to party the way they did when they were in college, including college girls who think it is fun to get drunk with old men for a party on a boat. Locals stay away in droves. All this and long lines for the ferries to get home.

Fourth of July is a lot of fun, but the same things apply about hotels and restaurants, you will need reservations for the fast ferry, and the traffic off the Cape on Monday is legendary ( 10 miles per hour).

Come in September after Labor Day and enjoy us and let us join you. The beaches are still great and the historic town even better.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 12:53 AM
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Memorial Day is the kick off weekend for the season on the Cape. For either weekend there will likely be a three night minimum stay. As lovely as the train to the cape sounds - what do you do once there? Hyannis is the least charming town on the cape - has a shopping mall, Home Depot, BJ's and several large shopping complexes. The historic Main St area is quite small with pricy galleries, jewelry stores and restaurants. I always told our guests (we owned a B&B in Falmouth for 9 years) that unless they were HUGE Kennedy fans to just avoid Hyannis period. I would stay somewhere central to the areas you to see and day trip to each place. Plymouth is pretty central - you can take the train to Boston from there easy and won't have to worry about the car in the city. It;s an easy drive from there to the cape - park in Falmouth and take the Ferry to Martha's Vineyard for a day - do not take the car to the Vineyard - it is expensive & unnecessary - there is great bus service there. It's a little over an hr to Newport from Plymouth as well so another easy day trip - you are then not burning valuable time changing locations. You may be able to get better rates for Memorial Day - July 4 will be crazy - crowded and expensive. September is actually the BEST time to visit the area - the weather is gorgeous, the water has warming up all summer, the crowds are diminished but everything is still open.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 05:08 AM
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Boston's July 4th is a wonderful zoo and it can take a couple of years' familiarization to figure out the best navigation of times and places. There are blogs and websites about this. It's fun, but it has to be your only priority because everything else will have to fit around the logistics.

But the bottom line is that hotels are mostly booked by now, esp the very few with a view of the fireworks - and ditto topfloor restaurants near the river. You'll need to know where to set up shop for the fireworks and how to make choices between arriving early to camp on your spot all day no matter the weather, or arriving later on and just coping.

It's also a rough weekend (this year a 4-day weekend 4th is Friday) to try to get around pretty much all of eastern New England except by helicopter.

My very favorite week there is the one after Labor Day, although late August isn't bad. And reservations will still be available now for then, while it's pretty late to be booking Boston or Cape/Island.

However, if it must be June or July and it must be a long weekend rather than a full week, suggest mid-June and don't expect full summer weather yet, although there are heat waves possible then. Can be 50, can be 80. Prepare.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 09:22 AM
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I agree that Memorial Day and 4th of july weekends are NOT the time to come. As long as you don't need to go swimming, anytime between mid May and mid October - other than holiday weekends (and graduation weekends) is a good time to come. We don't really have a rainy season in New England - it's as likely to rain on any given day as another. Temperatures certainly go up in July and Aug compared to May, June and Sept, Oct, but likelihood of clouds vs blue sky doesn't change much.

I've read many of your (helpful) posts and trip reports and based on the things you seem to like to do I'd suggest 2 full days in Boston followed by 3-5 (minimum) either going up the coast of Maine (Acadia National Park would be ideal but there are plenty of nice places between Boston and Portland or as far as Camden/Rockport if you don't have time to go all the way to Acadia) - or - going to the cape and one of the islands (but I'd choose that option in months other than July and August). From Memorial Day through Labor Day (and not just ON those weekends) if you don't time it right you can spend a LOT of time sitting in traffic. Going north you are much less likely to hit tons of traffic. Also going to MV or Nantucket you have to deal with ferries which (for cars) may need to be booked very far in advance. In Maine you don't have to deal with that. You can take ferries to islands if you want up there, but there's plenty to see on the mainland so you can be more spontaneous.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 01:34 PM
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A day trip to Nantucket without a car is one hour on the Steamship Fast Ferry, an hour plus on the HyLine Fast Ferry, or 15 minutes in a plane from Hyannis, but both ferries let you out downtown, so the total travel time isn't that different. That is one way. You will need to book a fast ferry reservation in advance, and you will have to pay for parking in Hyannis.n. you have to allow time to take the shuttle from parking to the ferry.

There is a cheap, slow ferry ( 2h15m) that does not require reservations but may leave you at the dock returning from one of the big weekends.

You do need a car reservation in advance, and it will cost you well north of $450 round trip. You won't need a car in Nantucket. And you won't get a reservation for either of those weekends now, anyway.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 02:36 PM
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Isabel, I am going to Acadia for 5 days the 2nd week of October(hoping for fall colors). Glad you mentioned it, looking forward to it.

Ackislander, 2015---not planning for this year. Just thinking ahead.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 04:30 PM
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Boston Symphony plays "serious" classical music. Boston Pops play "light" classical, show tunes, patriotic music, etc. Pops are at Symphony Hall in May but at Tanglewood (in western MA) in July (except July 4 concert in Boston and July 3 rehearsal for it).

School is in session here through most of June (maybe all of June this year, what with all the snow days!) and school groups are on field trips around Memorial Day weekend. So on the weekdays you might encounter hordes of schoolchildren at main attractions. We did at USS Constitution, Freedom Trail, Plimoth Plantation, and Mayflower II a few yeas ago in the days just after Memorial Day. Also on a whale watch if I remember correctly.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 04:41 PM
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Should have mentioned that BSO season is fall through spring and Pops season is summer.

So only Pops concerts during a late May or July visit.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 06:10 PM
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Thanx for the Pops/Sym info
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Mar 5th, 2014, 05:34 AM
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Pops ends mid-June. Action for orchestra members (of both Pops and Symphony) moves to Tanglewood then.
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Mar 5th, 2014, 07:49 AM
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But the bottom line is that hotels are mostly booked by now, esp the very few with a view of the fireworks

This doesn't look to be the case. There is availability at pretty much every major hotel on Expedia.

It's also a rough weekend (this year a 4-day weekend 4th is Friday) to try to get around pretty much all of eastern New England except by helicopter

If you restrict the stay to Boston, I don't think it bad once you are in town.
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