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College Trip Visit to Boston

Old Aug 24th, 2004, 06:02 PM
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College Trip Visit to Boston

Taking my teenage daughter for 4 days in October to see Boston area colleges. Looking for some advice on where to stay, how to get into Boston from Logan airport (no rental car), any good shopping??, what to see, restaurant recommendations, etc. Assume we'll do the usual tourist sites - looking for locals recommend. Thnking of using Priceline for hotel. Below are 2 areas to consider. Any thoughts on which would be better?? Hoping to get 3 or 4 star hotel for around $100/night. Thanks!!

1) Downtown Boston - Charlestown
2) Back Bay/Copley/Theater District
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Old Aug 24th, 2004, 06:33 PM
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The only way you'll get a 3-4 star hotel for $100/night in Boston will be Priceline, so start researching. My preference for area is Back Bay-- but I stay at a B&B-type hotel called the Newbury Guest House right on Newbury Street (endless charm makes up for no room service). A little more than $100 a night, however.

Have you looked at Fodor's Boston miniguide at all? It's pretty helpful. I suggest you look at it and come back with questions.
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Old Aug 24th, 2004, 06:35 PM
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Oh, and unless you're heading out of town (i.e., somewhere beyond Boston's convenient mass transit), do NOT rent a car. Boston's a hard town to navigate with car. Believe me, I've tried. Just get a cab from Logan. Cheap, convenient.
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Old Aug 24th, 2004, 06:36 PM
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You do not want to stay in Charlestown, but as long as you stick to 3 or 4* you shouldn't have to worry about that, as all the hotels listed at biddingfortravel are actually in downtown Boston. Back Bay/Copley is a great area to stay, it's what I'd choose.

Logan is very close to downtown Boston, quite accessible by public transportation -- check out the subway system, commonly known as "the T," at www.mbta.com.

Which colleges will you be visiting? Some are very easy to get to on the T, others aren't.
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Old Aug 24th, 2004, 10:51 PM
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Lauralue9,
Charlestown is not "Downtown Boston".
Choice 2 is the way to go.

You arrive in Boston (actually in East Boston) at Logan Airport. You have several travel options at this point.

You could cab it (price can depend on how stuffed up the tunnel is, and unless you are arriving at 4:00am on a Sunday it will be to some degree stuffed up. I know from experience by driving throught the tunnel, working in a toll booth at the mouth of the tunnel and working inside the tunnel.)

You can take an airport shuttle bus to the Airpoort T station (it's on the blue line. One side goes out towards Wood Island, Orient Heights, Suffolk Downs race track {horses} & Revere Beach {have a "world famous" roast beef sandwich at Kelly's if you head in that direction}. The other side goes to the Aquarium, State Street {orange line} and Government Center {green line connection}. Last stop there is Bowdoin.)
Shuttle buses to the T are every bus but the one that makes a loop through all of the terminals. Shouldn't take you more than 20 minutes to get to the T from the terminal. Blue line to downtown is about 15 minutes and they run very regularly throughout the day, slipping back to 30 minutes between trains late at night.

Don't rent a car (bad option).

If the schools are Harvard, Radcliffe, Tufts or MIT you can reach them on the red line (T).

If you are looking into Boston University or Boston College you can reach these on the green line. Be aware, on the green line there are a few different ways it can go after Kenmore Square (which is down the street from Fenway park and also Simmons College and I think Wentworth Polytechnical). I recall that BU and BC can both be reached by the C line.
If it is Wellesly or Babson you are interested in you'll have to hike up there on the "purple line" or commuter rail. It leaves from both North (green line connection) and South Station (red line connection). For the above schools you'll want the Worcester {pronounced "Woostah"} direction and that one runs out of South Station. You can go to Salem from the North station.

Nearby North Station is the Fleet Center (formerly Boston Garden). South Station is in the heart of the Financial District (boring), but also near the Childrens' museum, Computer museum and teaparty museum -- all hands-on type places.

Government Center is right next to the shopping area and also Faneuil Hall, a tourist trap, but fun.

For eats I not only recommend but DEMAND that you go to Red Bones in Somerville in Davis square (near redline T and Tufts). http://www.redbones.com/
Get the Barbeque Belt with all 4 sauces and who cares if you can't finish it.

Newbury street is the "high" street with expensive shops and hairdressers. The next street over is Boylston street and has loads of restaurants and bars/pubs. Coply square is nearby -- more shopping.

Anthony's Pier Four is the big Seafood place, but Legals Seafood (one on Boylston in the Coply complex & another in cambridge near Kendal Square by MIT) is the best IMHO.

Sunday morning gospel brunch at the House of Blues in Cambridge by Harvard is fantastic.

John Harvard Brew House has a plethora of Beers and great food.

The food trucks outside building 66 at MIT have the best lunch -- try general gau's chicken with brown rice.

Sight seeing is easy if you get yourself a guidebook or map of the freedom trail. You can get a load of info from the national parks services office that is 15 steps from the entrance to State Street station.

The Esplinade is a large park along the Charles river, between the Harvard bridge (which is measured in Smoots) and Longfellow bridge, just behind Beacon street.

Right next to the tunnel entrance from the airport, in East Boston, there is Santarpio's Pizza. A very local establishment.

L'Espalier is the fancy French restaurant downtown. Its between Boylston and Newbury.

Dick's Last Resort is a wild restaurant at Copley. The prices are a bit more than the regular chain, but the food is good and the atmosphere is... different.

Ask if you want more info, otherwise, I'll shut up now.

-Craig
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 04:47 AM
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Thanks so much for all the great suggestions! Alas, we are not MIT or Harvard material, but here is a list of colleges: Babson College, Wellesley College,Brandeis University,University of Massachusetts at Boston, Tufts University,Boston College.Simmons College, Northeastern University and Boston University.

Is the "T" safe for 2 women to ride at night (we are arriving around 11 p.m.)? Will the Swan Boats still be running in mid-October? What should I expect to pay for a cab from Logan to the Back Bay area. Thanks so much!!
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 05:33 AM
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Hi lauralue9

Yes, the "T" is safe to ride - from Logan to Back Bay - even at 11pm at night. But arriving that late I'd suggest you just cab it. I don't think you would want to go the "T" route after a long day. The cab fare to Back Bay is around $20. See the Logan website:
http://www.massport.com/logan/getti_typeo_taxis.html
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 07:27 AM
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Hello:

At 11 pm I would tend to arrange for one of the shuttle services to take you to your hotel. It might be cheaper than a cab. Cabs to Harvard Square (my area) run around $25. My son is also a senior in school and we should be in the midst of the college selection process. If you want to talk by phone about Boston, I would be happy to give you a call. Just let me know how to get in touch with you. Jill
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 12:26 PM
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Boy, we picked a BAD weekend to try to find a hotel room in Boston. We already have our flight (non-refundable of course!) so we are committed. We will be in Boston October 13-17 and everything seems sold out already. I tried Priceline up to $150/night and can't find anything either. Question: what is Brookline like? Is there perhaps a suburb with access to the T that we can stay in, that might have availability?? We are not looking at Harvard or MIT, but is Cambridge an OK place with decent public transportation?? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 12:46 PM
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lauralue9: unfortunately for you, that is parents' weekend at BU and perhaps other schools as well. Not familiar with Cambridge hotels just shopping, etc. but the son says you can take the Red Line into the city from their with no problem. Good luck!
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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I neglected to tell you that you catch the Red Line at Harvard Square (I think there is also another location but can't remember it right now).
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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That should also read "from there" not "their"
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 02:17 PM
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lauralue9-

Brookline is very nice, I've lived there for 4 years. There are a few B&B's in Brookline which may still have vacancy. See this thread:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...1&tid=34504823

Brookline will be easy location to get to most of the colleges on your list. To get to Tufts, take Green line to Park Street and change for the Red line and get off at Davis Sq.
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 03:30 PM
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Here's a thought for a hotel that might work for your budget and your T concerns. I wouldn't normally recommend but you seem to need a spot that's convenient to public transportation and it's a national chain. It's the Doubletree Suites hotel in Dorchester near UMass Boston and the JFK stop on the red line. Safe neighborhood. Shouldn't be too expensive.

Another option is the new Marriott in Quincy. They have a shuttle to the Quincy/Adams T stop on the red line. About a 25 minute ride into Boston but may help with the budget and availability.

CraigdotWhite gave GREAT suggestions and directions. Printout his post!
If you are going to look at Babson and Wellesley, a car would be helpful.
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 11:26 PM
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Lauralue9,

Northeastern is on Green line E.

Simmons is down the road from either the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) (green line), or up the road from Kenmore square. MFA is good for a tourist visit.
Every Wednesday or Thursday night at Simmons they have a little club night at their Quadside Cafe. Worth the visit if you are in town on those days. The Simmons girls, their boyfriends and kids from other schools nearby (Harvard Med, MIT, BU, BC) go there to chill out. They have some low key music act most nights and it would be a good opportunity to ask the students about Simmons and most any other school in the area.
It has a special place in my heart as this is the place I met my wife.

BU is spread out along the green line from Kenmore up the road in the direction towards BC. It is vast and takes up a huge chunk of the city, don't underestimate the "whoa, I'm lost" factor here.

BC, as mentioned before on the green line, about a half hour out of the downtown area, at the end of the line.

UMass Boston is near JFK red line.

All of the above can be done in the same region rather easily.

Tufts is out past Cambridge on the red line.

Babson, Wellesley College & Brandeis University are out in the boonies. You'll either want the commuter rail or a car rental to get out there.



My wife graduated from Simmons & Babson, I went to BC, UMass Boston and MIT. So high marks for all of them.

BC is like a pastoral painting of an Ivy League university. Unique to Boston, it has a green and lush environment and the students tend to congregate around the campus. Lots of full blooded pride in the school, its teams and camaraderie is what I recall.

UMass Boston has a very diverse student body. I took a few courses there because my MIT Physics professor was giving the exact same course over at UMass, but in a classroom with 20 students instead of 150. I just transferred the credits.

Simmons is famous for its Physical Therapy and Nursing programs, but also has a very fine business and economics program with friendly and approachable faculty. Nearly every girl there is involved in something outside of studies that helps to enrich their mind/body/spirit.

Babson is likewise world famous for its Entrepreneur program. they attract some of the greatest minds in the fields of business, management and economics to teach and study there.

BU has arguably the best medical degree program in the country. It is an accelerated program and demands high commitment, but you are out being a doctor early in life as you combine pre-med and medical school in the program. Otherwise, I thought the place was a bit overwhelming. There are A LOT of students.

Wellesley builds a lot of leaders. The people I met while doing MIT-Wellesley cross study work (They have an arrangement w/ each other that includes Harvard. Basically a student from Wellesley could take courses from MIT or Harvard if she likes) were intelligent, strong willed and cultured ladies.

My sister graduated from Northeastern Nursing school and eventually became the Registrar of all nurses in Massachusetts & a member of the National board or examiners.

All of the schools on your list have their own character and are wonderful in their own way.

Rather than rant on and on (as I have done already, so a bit too late), feel free to email me directly. If you replace the lowercase in my username with the punctuation and add an "at" sign followed by "alum.mit.edu" I promise not to misuse your email address.

Best of luck and my highest hopes for your daughter,
Craig

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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 06:25 AM
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You can get to Wellesley College on the Worcester line of the commuter rail out of South Station. Get off at Wellesley Center and you can walk from there to the college. However, the trains run on a different schedule on weekends and holidays and some lines don't run at all on Sunday so check out the MBTA website for the Worcester line info. As for Babson in Wellesley and Brandeis in Waltham, you can't get close enough to them on the T to be able to walk. Only option would be to rent a car or call a cab from the T station unless there are buses I don't know about. Call the schools themselves for advice. Your daughter should be aware that UMass Boston is a commuter college with no dorms and a student body of varying ages. If she's looking for "college life" that's not going to do it for her.

If you wind up staying outside the city, a rental car may be a better option. BC, Babson, Wellesley and Brandeis are in the western suburbs and easy to drive to. Even UMass Boston would require some city Expessway driving but not any "downtown" driving. For the inner city colleges, you could drive to a T station fairly close by, park there and take the T in. That seems an easier solution to me. There are hotels in the western suburbs right off Rt. 95 (128 to locals)such as Waltham and Newton (Marriott, Westin, Doubletree, Holiday Inn Express, etc.) which are handier to some of your schools. Don't know the prices but my guess would be that they are cheaper than Boston but still over $100. The Mass. Pike feeds right into 128 from the city and airport. Good luck.
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 08:27 AM
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The good news is we got a hotel room this morning on Priceline. The Boston Park Plaza Hotel for $140/night, which, considering all the hotels in town are full is OK. TripAdvisor had VERY mixed reviews, sounds like an old dowager lady that still has her prom gown from high school and has seen better days. However, the location is supposed to be excellent. We don't plan to spend much time in the room. It is at 64 Arlington St., would like some suggestions for nearby inexpensive breakfast options (Starbucks would be fine). Thinking about renting a car for one day to cruise around the suburbs and see some of the outlying schools. Any suggestions for an in city location to pick up/drop off the rental car without having to schlepp out to Logan??

Craig, your help has been very valuable. I will be sending you an e-mail with more college related question, you seem very in tune with the educational scene. My daughter is a junior, so we are very much in the exploratory stage. We will check out the Simmons scene as you recommended, since we will be in town on a Thursday night. Daughter is definitely not business oriented. She loves English,takes AP courses and loves creative writing, but she also takes honors (AP) science courses and I would love her to consider a medical degree, the BU program sounds interesting. She is very interested in psychology and is thinking maybe being a therapist would be good (maybe a psychiatrist with an MD??) Graduate school seems almost a certainty with her interests. As you can see, hasn't settled on what she wants yet. Thanks again for all your help!
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Old Oct 5th, 2004, 12:13 PM
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<<<You do not want to stay in Charlestown>>>

A friend of mine told me it was a nice place to stay, as it had cobblestone streets and other charm. Can you elaborate as to why not Charlestown?
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Old Oct 5th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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My brother stayed in Charlestown -- at the YMCA/Constitution Inn -- while his wife was hospitalized at MassGen. The area is not well-served by transportation, and while somewhat quaint during the day seems not as "visitor friendly" at night, when transportation options are minimal.
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Old Oct 5th, 2004, 03:46 PM
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When we go to Boston we end up staying in the Waltham Doubletree. It is a short ride from the T and costs about $100. per night. For restaurants try Laurels, on Berkley dinners are $10. and fantastic. Brown Sugar for Thai on Comm Ave. and Pomodoros, in the North End with a cannoli from Mike's across the street for dessert.
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