Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   Boston to DC in 16 days (

James49 Jun 15th, 2010 03:34 PM

Boston to DC in 16 days
First time visit flying into Boston, out of DC. Have 16 days to tour between Boston and DC. Planning about 4 days for Boston. That enough? Want Boston hotel location, no car, for normal tourist sites. How about Cambridge? Will use Priceline as I've heard hotels are expensive in Boston
Heard better to rent car in Cambridge when we are leaving Boston to save on airport fees?
Any suggestions for cities to visit.?Thought of Newport, Portland, Philly, Atlantic City, maybe Williamsburg if not too far.
Want to leave 3- 4 days for DC, I guess as we've been there before.
Thanks very much. James

PaulRabe Jun 15th, 2010 06:43 PM

> Heard better to rent car in Cambridge

The best thing to do is not rent a car at all. Boston, Philly, Atlantic City, and D.C. are all places where a car is not only unnecessary, it's a nuisance. Boston, for instance, is the WORST city to try to use a car in.
Since you'd be crazy to be using a car while in these cities, you'll end up paying for parking AND to rent the car. Plus, the drop off fees between Boston and DC will kill the cost. Much better to simply get between these cities by train or bus, and then use public transport while visiting each one. The total of a day pass on public transport will be less than the cost of just parking the car.

BTW, is there a reason you're not thinking of visiting NYC in this trip? That alone could take up the whole sixteen days!

Vttraveler Jun 16th, 2010 03:26 AM

What time of year are you planning this trip? I agree with the last post that having a car for many of the places you are considering would be expensive and more trouble than it is worth

bachslunch Jun 16th, 2010 05:49 AM

PaulRabe is entirely right about not wanting a car for this trip. Public transportation is either excellent or not really needed in the cities you mentioned, and all are easy to get to via other means than a car.

To address other questions:

--yes, four days is a good amount of time to spend in Boston, not counting side trips, of which there are many worthy ones. You could easily spend one day walking the Freedom Trail and seeing the sights there, a second at the Museum of Fine Arts and Gardener Museum, a third seeing the JFK Presidential Library and then heading off to the Harvard Square area in Cambridge, and a fourth seeing whatever other attractions (historic houses, aquarium, Science Museum, Mapparium, Trinity Church, Boston Public Library, etc.) strike your fancy, taking a Duck Tour, or doing some heavy duty shopping along Newbury Street and/or Charles Street in Beacon Hill.

--Atlantic City is really of interest if you like casino gambling, otherwise not so much. Philadelphia has a good week's worth of sights, depending on how thorough you are, and is a must for US history buffs. Newport can easily take up 4 days of your time if you're thorough -- and if large historic mansions are of interest, this is ground zero for them. Portland isn't bad, but am thinking a couple days maximum is good here -- it is a good jumping off point for exploring the Maine coast, though. Haven't been to Williamsburg.

--there are scads of other cities to consider depending on your interests. Start off with the numerous day-long side trip possibilities from Boston, including Plymouth, Salem, Lexington, Concord, Gloucester, Ipswich, Rockport, Lowell, Marblehead, etc. New York City is the most obvious omission, and as PaulRabe says, you could easily spend your whole trip here. Baltimore has a number of attractions as well. Other city possibilities that would take up ca. 1-2 days (and depending on your interests) would include Portsmouth (NH), Providence (RI), New Haven (CT), Mystic (CT), Annapolis (MD), or Lancaster (PA)/Amish Country. And that doesn't even count small towns on Cape Cod or the Maine Coast or in the Berkshires, as well as along the Hudson River Valley or Pioneer Valley.

And Vttraveler is right, the time of year you take this trip may impact where you go.

James49 Jun 16th, 2010 09:21 AM

Have rented a flat in NYC on Upper West Side 5 times in last 10 years so skipping NYC this time.Traveling from 9/9 - 9/25 if that helps.\
Wanted rental not for cities but for trips between big cities. We saw HBO's John Adams and want to see historic sites related to him and our country in Philly, Boston, DC and maybe Williamsburg,Va. Thought we'd need car for Va but maybe bus or train is better?
We are tennis players so Newport is a must.
Bachslunch is a car necessary for your suggested day-long trips? Thanks everyone!

PaulRabe Jun 16th, 2010 12:14 PM

Depending on how far and for how long you want to get from the big cities during this trip, you may well be able to rent a car only a few times. For example, you could spend three days visiting the historic and cultural sites within the city of Boston and Cambridge, using the 'T' to see them, then rent a car for only one day and drive out to Lexington and Concord. That way you would only pay for your rental on the days you actually use it, and avoid the drop-off fee between Boston and DC. To get between cities, ride the train, commuter rail, or bus.

I can't emphasize enough that you do NOT want a car in Boston, Philly, or DC. Williamsburg, by its very nature, is a walking city. Can't say about Newport.

bachslunch Jun 16th, 2010 12:39 PM

Newport is also a walking city, with a trolley running past many of the historic mansions to augment things. A car (and traffic) can be a real problem in the summertime here -- you're better off without a car.

It is entirely possible to reach all the day-long trips out of Boston listed in my post above using commuter rail (Plymouth, Salem, Concord, Gloucester, Ipswich, Rockport, and Lowell), city bus (Marblehead on weekdays), or a combo of city bus and subway (Marblehead on weekends, Lexington), and then walking around from there. Check schedules, though -- note that the city bus out from the Alewife subway stop to Lexington doesn't run on Sundays or holidays, for example. If you want to combine more than one of these destinations in one day, however, a car is pretty much a must.

bachslunch Jun 16th, 2010 12:44 PM

If you want to see John Adams related sights in the Boston area, you'll definitely want to visit Quincy. Here you'll find birth houses for Adams and his son, the house where the elder Adams and his family spent most of their later years, and the church in whose crypt both Adamses and their wives are buried. All this can be seen via tours. To get here, take the subway (Red Line) out to the Quincy Center stop.

yk Jun 16th, 2010 12:55 PM

More about the Adams National Historical Park:

The houses can be visited by guided tours only.

BigRuss Jun 16th, 2010 02:58 PM

Renting a car is fine outside Boston, but I wouldn't rent in Massachusetts -- insurance laws are bad for those who live there and those costs get passed on to you.

Birdie Jun 16th, 2010 05:14 PM

You can easily do Williamsburg without a car and Kingsmill Resort has a fabulous tennis facility if you want to play. If your dates change, you may want to be in Williamsburg for the women's USTA pro circuit at the beginning of October. Let us know if you decide to come to Williamsburg. We can give you more info and point out the locations filmed in the Adams show.

James49 Jun 17th, 2010 07:48 AM

Thank you all for your help. Birdie, We will take you up on that. Thanks also to Russ, Yk, Bach and Paul for your advice.

DebitNM Jun 17th, 2010 08:51 AM

check out megabus for some great prices to get you from major city to city. Fares can be as low as $1!!! We are using to get from NYC to Philly [$1 ea] and then from Philly to DC [$3 ea]

James49 Jun 18th, 2010 08:46 AM

Will check out Megabus. We want to play on the grass courts at Newport but thanks for info on kingsmill resort.

Vttraveler Jun 19th, 2010 04:13 AM

With the amount of time you have I would concentrate on Boston, Newport, Philadelphia and DC and leave Williamsburg for another trip. Four days is probably enough for Boston although you could easily spend more.
I would try to rent a car if you go out to Lexington and Concord--much easier to get around efficiently that way. Public transit should be fine for Boston/Concord/Quincy

James49 Jul 17th, 2010 10:18 AM

Got Boston Marriott Copley Place with Priceline for $110/nite. Hope this is a good location.

Need help with Priceline areas for DC. Thinking maybe Arlington for better prices as DC is uber expensive for us.

Heard to stay in Old Town Philadelphia, so I guess I will try for Downtown unless anyone has a better idea?

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:53 AM.