Driving from Philly to Boston-what to see?

Old Jun 23rd, 1999, 09:25 PM
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Driving from Philly to Boston-what to see?

My husband and I will be driving from Philadelphia to Boston in October. I would like some ideas of places to visit. We can take about 2 or 3 days driving-if it merits it and about 2 or 3 days in Boston without a car. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.
Old Jun 24th, 1999, 07:30 AM
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Hi Pat,

what sort of things are you looking for? I mean, New York City is between Philly and Boston, but somehow I don't think that's what you mean? And the drive will only take you about 5 hours if you drive straight through. There are lots of options depending on if you are looking for scenic, or history.

Since you are driving during foliage season, you could take the loooong way, and go north through the Hudson river valley in New York, and into the Berkshires which would be very scenic. Or you could drive up through Connecticut, maybe go to Mystic Seaport or make a stop at Foxwoods in Connecticut where there is an excellent Native American museum, as well as the casino. Or you could make a stop in Newport RI to see the mansions.
Old Jun 24th, 1999, 07:48 AM
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Suggest going northeast out of Phila. through Bucks County (New Hope, Doylestown, etc.)and spend a day/night there. Enter NJ on 202, continue via 287 up to NYThruway east to Tappan Zee bridge -- thus bypassing most of NYC congestion (I'll do anything to avoid the NJ turnpike and southern Garden State Pkwy). Following I95 along Ct. coastline gets you near some pretty, seaside towns, but I'd prefer to stay north on I84 (I think) through Danbury and then spend a day at Sturbridge Village before getting into Boston. Or as Beth suggested, you could even go north on NYThruway toward Albany and then drive east through the Berkshire on the Mass. Pike (check out a B&B in Stockbridge, Lee or....).

Early October is "leaf-peeper" season, and you can count on lots of company, esp. on weekends. Do what you can not to be on the road Fri. or Sun. evenings.

Boston without a car is MUCH the best way to do it -- the "T" goes everywhere and cars often get nowhere. Best of Boston is walking, anyway -- Public Garden, Harvard Square, Quincy Market, Newbury Street. Enjoy!
Old Jun 24th, 1999, 10:01 AM
Neal Sanders
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Pat, Philadelphia to Boston takes in a lot of urban area, but also some very pretty countryside, some great small town, and a lot of sightseeing, if you're so inclined. Conversely, as Beth points out, the drive can be done in five hours if you're in a hurry.

Let's take the area in three categories: an itinerary, scenery and New England towns, and culture and history.

First, an itinerary: From Philadelphia, cross the Delaware River into New Jersey via either the Pennsylvania Turnpike or Betsy Ross Bridge to join the New Jersey Turnpike, which you'll take north (use the western spur, which is faster through the New York suburbs) to the George Washington Bridge. Seventy miles north of Philadelphia, you can stop gripping the wheel and start enjoying the ride. The Hudson River is an honest-to-God fjord, right here in North America. The Palisades Parkway, which starts in Ft. Lee, NJ, hard by the George Washington Bridge, follows the west bank of the Hudson up thirty miles or so to Tappan. The views can be spectacular, especially in the autumn. Cross the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge (I-287) and, on the east bank, look for the signs to the Taconic Parkway. The Taconic was created in the 1930s as a WPA project, and it and similar roadways are the glory of New York motoring. It winds through the rich agricultural area of the Hudson Valley all the way up to the New England spur of the New York Thruway, 130 miles north. Hop on the Thruway for the short trip Rte 183 in Massachusetts; get off and you're now in the heart of the Berkshires. Stockbridge and Lenox, two of the prettiest towns in America, are just up the road. Rte. 183 will wind through these villages, joining Route 7 just south of Pittsfield. In Pittsifield, you can make a brief detour west on US 20 to get to the Hancock Shaker village (see below). Following Rte 7 north will take you, after about 30 miles, to Williamstown, another wonderful New England town. Here, you turn right to go on Mass. Rte. 2, the Mohawk Trail. It will be a slow ride from here to Greenfield, because everyone is out to see the leaves, but the scenery doesn't get any nicer. For much of this 75 mile stretch, you're following the Chickley River. East of Greenfield, the forests are more pine than maple, and the forests give way to farms, but it's still winding road. By the time you're approaching Fitchburg and Leominster, Rte. 2 has become a four lane divided highway. But you'll go by Concord, skirt around Walden Pond, and Boston is straight ahead.

The first part is fairly straightforward; this is scenic New England. The towns to get out, stretch your legs, and enjoy are Lenox and Stockbridge, Williamstown, and Concord.

History and culture. Like old mansions with lots of history? The Hudson Valley is stiff with them. www.hudsonvalley.org has full descriptions of places like the Franklin D. Roosevelt home and Vanderbilt Mansion, both in Hyde Park; Frederic Church's Olana, near Hudson, and many others. You can see perhaps three sites in a full day; otherwise, you're rushing things. In the Berkshires, may of the old "Cottages" are open for tours; one of the most interesting is The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in Stockbridge. Concord looks today not too different than it did when Thoreau made it his home; the area around Concord Green is very attractive. The battle sites of Lexington and Concord are nearby. As to culture, your journey will take you by one of the gems of American museums, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. Sterling and Francine Clark collected good art when it was cheap and built a first-class museum to house it. The collection is primarily western European, particularly French, and especially 19th century. The have some of the best impressionist pieces in the world.
Old Jun 24th, 1999, 10:21 AM
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First, my compliments to Neal. He has given you a great itinerary (or itineraries)to follow. Especially follow his suggestion to drive up the Taconic and tour the Berkshires area. Just magnificent in October.
Old Jun 24th, 1999, 09:59 PM
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Such wonderful information. Thank you everyone. Your advice certainly gives us some detailed information (thanks Neal) to start planning. Beth, you are correct, we are not interested in New York city as we have visited it before. I am wondering if we need to make reservations or will we be able to spontaneously stop along the way. I realize we need reservations in Boston. Also, we would like to turn in the rental car before we hit Boston. Is there a good location outside of Boston where we can pick up public transportation to the city? Thank you again
Old Jun 25th, 1999, 06:11 AM
Neal Sanders
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Pat, you'll not find a "spontaneous" hotel, motel, or inn in the Berkshires or along Route 2. Those have to be reserved well in advance as October is peak season.

It's about 90 minutes from Philadelphia to the GW bridge and the start of the "fun" part of your drive. Everyone sees things at their own pace, but a good place to break your first day would be up around Hudson. Because it is a parkway, there's only one motel that I can recall which is within sight of the Taconic, so you'll likely have to go over to Route 9 to find a place to stay. The most plentiful rooms will be in Albany, specifically the suburb of Colonie where there are about 200 chain hotels and motels along Wolf Rd. and Central Avenue (exit 1 on the Northway, I-87). That's about 25 miles out of your way, but is good to keep in mind.

I've found Yahoo's Yellow Pages function to work exceptionally well; you may want to carry a printout of lodgings in the principal towns, such as Pittsfield. If price is no object, book a room (now) at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge; easily the handsomest lodgings in the Berkshires, and use it as a base for excursions around the area.

For a second night's stay, if you want to break your journey eastbound, try around Greenfield, which is at the junction of Rte 2 and I-91. There are about 25 motels within a 10 mile radius of Greenfield.

As to where to turn in your rental car, I'm hard pressed to think of anyplace where there is a car rental return adjacent to public transportion other than Logan Airport, which I dontt think is what you have in mind. The logical turn-in point, if your car is from Hertz, Avis or National, is at Park Plaza. This is just two blocks off of the Copley Square exit of the Mass Pike, and jus before Boston traffic gets hairy. Use Yahoo's map service to zero in on Stuart Street; this is one of the choices at the Copley exit, and the one that will take you directly to Park Square, where the car rental agencies are located. That also puts you in the midst of the Back Bay and Public Garden-area hotels; the Westin, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Park Plaza, etc. are all within a few blocks.

If I can be of further help, please email me directly.
Old Jun 25th, 1999, 08:11 AM
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As for a rental car dropoff, you might try the Newton, MA area, southwest of Boston (about 8-10 miles from the city). It's right off the Massachusetts Turnpike. You can easily take public transportation from there to Boston. And, I'm sure that the major car rental companies (Hertz, Avis, etc.) have locations there. Check with the rental company when booking.
Old Jun 25th, 1999, 08:55 AM
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Neal: Your responses and itineraries, and now limericks, are the best; will you marry me (or adopt me)?
Old Jun 25th, 1999, 09:04 PM
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Howard, I live in Newton, MA and it's not southwest of the city, it's directly west of Boston. There is a Hertz consession at the Marriott Hotel at the intersection of the Mass Pike and Rt. 30 (aka Commonwealth Ave) and yes, it's very easy to take public transportation into Boston from there, though you'd have to get a ride to the T from the Marriott. There is a Holiday Inn right next to the T but I don't know if they have a car rental agency there. You are correct in that the end of the Riverside T line is ten miles from downtown (Rt. 128 make a circle around Boston at that distance). If you have a Hertz it certainly would be an easier drop off point than anywhere inside the city. I also noticed many of the major car rental companies have listings in Framingham which is also just off the Mass. Pike though further out of Boston. There is a commuter train into the city from there, but it might be a trickier connection than the T from Newton which runs constantly. Good luck.

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