Boston, Philly, Washington DC

Oct 18th, 2000, 11:29 AM
  #1  
Michele
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Boston, Philly, Washington DC

Ok, from what y'all have said here, I'm convinced I just have to visit Boston. I am somewhat of an American history buff - especially Revolutionary War, and I've never been farther east of the Mississippi in the U.S. than Chicago. I'm thinking of starting in Boston, then spending some (limited) time in Philly, and ending up in Washington DC. I'm looking at Spring 2001 (I know, it's EARLY!), and can go for up to 2 weeks (although it doesn't have to be that long). I won't go to New York. (sorry New Yorkers, one long nightmarish layover at JFK turned me off to the whole city!)

Now: What things would you recommend to do/places to stay? Is it easy to drive between these cities, or are shuttle flights a better option? (I come from California, so long drives and traffic are not problems for me) I'm in my 40s, and my mother (60s) will probably be going with me. We both prefer to do more walking than driving once we reach a destination - so any good walking tours of any of these cities? In Washington DC, would it require a lot of driving, or are things (monuments, Smithonian) close enough to walk to? Also, any "off the beaten path" trips you would recommend? Am willing to hear any and all recommendations/advice on stuff to do, places to eat, places to stay, tips, you name it!

Thanks!
 
Oct 18th, 2000, 12:01 PM
  #2  
John
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Boston is a lot of fun and has some neat stuff on the revolutionary war. You should check out the Freedom Trail, Quincy Market, Back Bay, North End-- the main tourist stops. Also, be sure to go to the top of the Hancock Tower (back bay) for the view and a revolutionary war display. The 'T' (subway) system is very easy to get around and safe. The Westin Hotel is a favorite (good food, good location). The Christian Science Center near there has a 'Maparium' which is walk in glass globe and is quite unique.
I wouldn't recommend driving between Boston, Philly, and DC as it is heavily populated and traffic is a nightmare. Take the train- Amtrak offers a route from Boston to DC which takes about 7 hours and stops along the shoreline and in NY and Philly. Driving would take considerably more and consist of spending a few hours bumper to bumper no matter what time you travel.
You should really check out the Mystic area for a day. If you do, be sure to visit the Seaport. The Inn at Mystic is very nice and located in a great walking area. The Flood Tide restaurant is one of CT's best.
New York is much more than JFK (which is awful). The train will take you into Penn Station which is below Madison Square Garden and would be worth spending a few days in the city.
 
Oct 18th, 2000, 12:39 PM
  #3  
Joe
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Take the train, and definitely stop in NYC for at least one day. You won't regret it.
 
Oct 18th, 2000, 01:06 PM
  #4  
betsy
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I agree with the above to take the train from Boston to DC. AND, by all means, spend a day or two in NYC. It's a great city.
It is not necessary to have a car for your entire visit in Boston. Boston is a fairly small city and you can pretty much walk anywhere, and the 'T' is very convenient and reliable. Parking is VERY expensive and street parking is virtually impossible. However, if you decide to visit Lexington and Concord, I would suggest renting a car for the day. The Minuteman NHP is beautiful, as are the towns of Lexington and Concord. You could also swing by Walden Pond. Your hotel should be able to help you with hte car rental. In Boston, walk the Freedom Trail. It takes you to all the historical sites. Also, it's never too early to start planning--Boston gets very busy in the late spring due to college graduations, so I would advise to look into accomodations soon if you are thinking of coming in May. Hope this helps!
 
Oct 18th, 2000, 01:38 PM
  #5  
Christina
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I live in DC and agree that you should take the train the entire way, it is very convenient on the East Coast and flying doesn't really save you any time when you count in getting into the city, waits and delays, etc. You can get from Philly to DC by train in a very short time (an hour or so, as I recall). Also, the train station here in DC is real pretty and centrally located so that's a convenient way to arrive. In fact, there is a metro station right in it so you could conceivably take the metro to your hotel if you stayed right near a station and had minimal luggage, but don't worry as cabs are relatively cheap within the city as the distances are rather short. You won't need a car or anything in DC, you can easily walk between attractions combined with the metro, it is a very walkable city and has lots of stops in the central area where the museums and attractions are. I would recommend you stay around Dupont Circle as there is a metro stop there so you can get to the mall and things easily PLUS if you like to walk, it is possible to walk to Georgetown from there; it is a pleasant walk, and Georgetown has lots of historic buildings and you might want to visit Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown--beautiful gardens and a small museums, that should be nice in springtime. Dupont Circle has plenty of restaurants within walking distance, also, and is a pleasant area for walking and safe. Alternatively, I'd recommend Capitol Hill to stay, especially if you are a history buff (close in Capitol Hill--I just recommended the Capitol Hill Suites hotel there in another thread you might find down below somewhere (something about hotel near mall and museums in DC). I think you would like staying around there also as it's very scenic, historic and convenient (that is a very safe part of Capitol HIll just behind the Library of Congress). I myself do not think you have to stay in NYC if you don't want to, it's very dirty and noisy and hectic and expensive (although I like to go for a day or two for theater and museums). However, if you are going to Philly and DC you already have beaucoup wonderful museums to see, so that is not a reason; DC has actually become a fairly good theater town in the last decade or so if you want to do that; I don't see any compelling reason you HAVE to go to NYC. I don't know of any off the beaten track things in Washington I'd recommend to a first-time visitor (probably Dumbarton Oaks above might qualify for that) as there is so much to see when you haven't been here before--Mount Vernon is a nice diversion from the city for a day.
 
Oct 18th, 2000, 03:20 PM
  #6  
Paul Rabe
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While in Philly, visit:
1) Independence Hall (ABSOLUTE MUST for history buffs!!!)
2) Franklin Court
3) Christ Church
4) Christ Church Cemetery
5) Carpenter Hall
6) Art Museum
You'll probably stop at the Liberty Bell, even though its historical significance is nil. If you visit the "Betsy Ross" house, be aware (1) the story that she sowed the first US flag is an obvious hoax and (2) she never lived at the house now given her name.

Places neaby: Valley Forge, Trenton Barracks, Brandywine Battle Site (not much there, the US lost that battle), Monmouth Battle Site.

Eat a REAL cheese steak, as well as a grinder or hoagie. For a, shall we say, DIFFERENT taste, try some scrapple for breakfast.
 
Oct 19th, 2000, 06:52 AM
  #7  
Michele
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Wow, guys and gals! Thanks for all the great ideas/suggestions! Never thought of the train - living in So. Calif., it's not really even considered a true form of transportation, so that is a great idea. And both my mother and I keep our luggage to one piece each, very doable. I'm glad to know that these cities are all "walk friendly".

Now, I look forward to planning out a truly wonderful vacation!

Thanks!!
 
Oct 19th, 2000, 07:04 AM
  #8  
John
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Your welcome. I would suggest that you include a few days in NYC. No trip through the Bos-NY-Wash corridor would be complete without it. The city is definetly large and noisy, but it offers a wide array of choices and should not be missed. Manhattan has become much safer and cleaner over the past decade. There is certainly a different vibe that only occurs in NY. I guess what I'm trying to say is: as a tourist, each city is unique and if you have the time, try to hit each one.
Also- a few other great restaurants in Mystic: Cafe Bravo (near the drawbridge) has outstanding food and The Seaman's Inn (near the seaport) has a live 'Authentic' band which sings sea shanty's and is very entertaining and has good food.
 
Oct 19th, 2000, 07:30 AM
  #9  
Larry
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Michele,
Since noboby has disputed the train thing so far, let me play devil's advocate. First off, I don't think carefully planned, springtime, non-holiday traffic in the northeast corridor will be any worse than what you are used to. Second, I disagree that a car ride from Boston to Philly will take
"considerably more" time than a train trip. You also would miss Newport, Rhode Island, which is not close to an Amtrack stop and which you MUST see on the way south from Boston. Further, remember that Amtrak trains don't run every 15 minutes, so if you get off the train at say, Mystic (which you should, good advice from others on this), you are in a situation where you might want to stay a few hours longer or leave an hour earlier, but the train schedule dictates what you must do. With a car, YOU decide when to go or stay. And I'd point out that Amtrak isn't immune from delays, cancellations, and overcrowded trains. It is up to you. Of course, if you change your mind and decide to go to NYC, parking your rental car may be a hassle (not really a hassle in Philly, DC, and Baltimore, a city that is worth a day and has not been mentioned yet).
 
Oct 19th, 2000, 08:01 AM
  #10  
John
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Point taken. The nearest Amtrak to Newport is Kingston (13miles). Driving between Boston and New Haven isn't a bad idea. The points of interest are more spread out and a car would be an advantage. But I would use discretion about travelling between New Haven and NY as it can be very bad. Also, the train service can be MetroNorth (cheaper, more stops, more trains, more crowded) or Amtrak (opposite). There is something to be said for being able to relax on a train rather than stop and go in a car.
Baltimore is also a very appealing city and located a short distance from DC (30-40 miles). I have only been to the Inner Harbor area, but I was very impressed and had a nice afternoon there.
 
Oct 24th, 2000, 07:40 PM
  #11  
charles
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I'm surprised no one has put out our usual mantra yet. Which is to say, don't drive in Boston. It will ruin your experience - it is not how the city is meant to be seen, and is impossible for tourists to boot.
 
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