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CBWest Apr 7th, 2010 11:36 AM

finalizing Boston trip - more input?
Thanks to some of the wonderful threads on here, we're in the process of finalizing our plans for Boston/Cape Ann. Here are the "musts" we've decided on so far:
Freedom Trail
Isabella Stewart Gardner museum
public gardens
tour of Fenway
harbor tour and/or whale watching tour
ghost tour
Singing Beach
lighthouse (don't know the name)

Now I want to know if there's any other "must see" attractions we need to add. I'd also like to find the names of some good mid-price hotels (nothing too expensive, but nicer than a Days Inn, for example). Location isn't a big issue...anywhere within walking distance of some of the main attractions would be great. I also thought I read somewhere that you can sometimes get discount admission tickets if you buy them on-line in advance and group several attractions together. Does anyone know if that's true, and where I would find them? Thanks! The information I've gotten on here so far has been invaluable!

vjpblovesitaly Apr 7th, 2010 11:42 AM

If you like libraries, I recommend that you add the Boston Public Library. It is on the same T line as the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. I forget the name of the stop - Copley, maybe? It is right across the street on a big square.

I was only in Boston once, three weeks ago. I thought the building was beautiful. It would take 30 - 45 minutes, in my opinion, unless you go on a tour, which I believe are offered.

yk Apr 7th, 2010 12:34 PM

First of all, we need to know when you're coming to Boston.

Second, what is mid-priced? Hotel rates and vary a lot; from <$150 in middle of Jan to >$300 during May graduation for the same room in the same hotel

Third, how much time do you have for Boston?

As for other "must-sees", I agree the Boston Public library is a gem. They offer free guided tours of the building almost daily.

There's also the Museum of Fine Arts, next to Gardner Museum.

I'd also include Harvard Sq & Harvard campus in the must-see.

I'm not aware of advance discounted tickets for attractions, except for the duck tours.

Juldie Apr 7th, 2010 07:03 PM

How many days are you planning on being on Cape Ann? If you are going to only one beach I would suggest Crane Beach in Ipswich instead of Singing Beach. Crane beach is very large, beautiful walking along the dunes and the tides create incredible pools. You can walk for miles where as Singing Beach is quite small. Stop in Russell Orchards on the way to the beach; depending on the season you can get wonderful fruit, apple cider, etc.

Cranachin Apr 7th, 2010 07:42 PM

Do you remember where the lighthouse is (even roughly so)? It would help us advise you on how good a choice it is (especially if you plan to visit only one).

Depending on the time of year you visit, some lighthouses are open for touring (but not otherwise), while others are never open, and some you can't even get close to at any time of year.

Also, some lighthouses are in scenic locations and/or are striking specimens themselves - and so worth a special trip - while others fall into neither category (and are worth visiting only if you will be in the area already, unless maybe you are a lighthouse fanatic).

dfrostnh Apr 8th, 2010 02:21 AM

I think you should add the Kennedy Library to your list. You can get there using the T. If you are driving into Boston, they have good parking.

CBWest Apr 8th, 2010 04:10 AM

We will be in Boston from June 21 - June 25. We are planning just one day in Cape Ann. I believe the lighthouse is in Gloucester, if that helps. As for hotels, somewhere around $150 - $200 a night. Thanks for the good suggestions!

sassy_cat Apr 8th, 2010 04:30 AM

Did you mean the City Pass? See link

If you decided to go to three or more of these places you'd break even/save money. I recommend the MFA and Crane beach over Singing Beach (unless you intended to get there by train and won't have a car!).

Duck tours are very popular and will give you a good overview. Try to take one before you walk the Freedom Trail as the Duck Tour driver will pass on lots of info along the way.

June is a tough month for hotel deals in Boston but at least you're coming after the peak graduation period!

AnnMarie_C Apr 8th, 2010 04:43 AM

I'm happy to see the Isabella Gardner on your itinerary--it is fabulous. The library is magnificent, if you go there Old South Church is just across the street and definitely worth a stop, imo.

yk Apr 8th, 2010 09:06 AM

Currently there's a deal on Travelzoo for Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge (it's a Klimpton hotel):

My friends stayed there a few times and they like it.

If you want to take the Duck tour, be sure to book it in advance.

I also agree that Crane Beach is very nice, but you have to pay for parking. It's $15 on weekdays, $25 on weekends. If you like big houses, the Castle Hill next to Crane Beach is fabulous.

CBWest Apr 8th, 2010 03:01 PM

OK, we're changing Singing Beach to Crane Beach. Also trying to find time to add the Duck Tour and the MFA. I'll check out the info on the City Pass - that might have been what I read about.

One other question. I know flying rules and regs have changed a lot since 9/11 (and probably a lot since I was last on a plane in 1985)! Is there a website that lists all the items you can/can't bring on a plane now?

yk Apr 8th, 2010 03:10 PM

msjo Apr 8th, 2010 06:34 PM

As for accomodations, we recently stayed in a condo rented through one of those rent-out-your-home sites and found that to be just great. It was nice to have a kitchen (Boston is expensive to eat in but markets and bakeries are plentiful) and also a livingroom. We stayed in the North End - very picturesque and close to everything.
I love to walk out on Long Wharf just to people watch and to see the boat traffic. If you have a chance to go to the Quincy Market when the outside stalls are open, its a real treat. Veggies, seafood, bakery goods all for cheap.
The Sam Adams Brewery has a nice tour and gets you to a different part of town, though very easily accessible from the T.
Have a great time. Boston is one of my favorite cities with loads to do and see and a very good time to be had by just sitting on the park benches and people watching.

Myer Apr 8th, 2010 07:02 PM

We were in Boston a couple of years ago and stayed at the Harborside Inn. It's across the street from Quincy Market and also the wharf.

It's a pretty small hotel but fairly nice. I don't think it was too expensive.

Location is excellent. A block from the Freedom Trail and a 5 minute walk to the Italian restaurants in the North End.

Right outside the hotel is a subway station (T). Not just any subway station but this one has an elevator (yes an elevator) from street level down to subway level.

The subway goes under the harbor to the airport. There's a free shuttle bus to/from each terminal to the subway.

We arrived by train after a few days in NY but were flying home from Boston. In 15 minutes and for the price of two subway tickets we were in the airport. Each of us with a suitcase.

Yes, I would add Harvard Yard, the amazing Public Library, a slow walk thru Beacon Hill and State House mini tour.

There's a city, transportation Water Shuttle (price was 1.75) that goes from the wharf to the Navy Yards where Old Ironsides is docked. From there it's a 10 minute walk to the Bunker Hill Monument.

CBWest Apr 9th, 2010 05:30 AM

Thanks, yk, that website is just what I was looking for!

Now my concern is...can we possibly fit all these wonderful sites into just 5 days? I wasn't going to plan everything out...just play it by ear (depending on weather and all). But maybe we do need a rough plan for each day. I know to do the duck tour before the freedom trail. We'll be arriving around 2 pm on Monday...maybe we should do the duck tour that afternoon? I also know to do the MFA on Wed. afternoon because it's less expensive. Other than that, is there a good way to divvy up the attractions; for example grouping together anything that's close to one another? We were also hoping to sneak in a quick trip to Filene's and Sephora if there's time! If you think we're overextending ourselves, please say so. It won't be fun if we're just constantly running from one part of Boston to another.

sassy_cat Apr 9th, 2010 06:19 AM

Yes, do the Duck tour the day you arrive if possible.

Freedom trail goes with the Public Gardens (ride the Swan boats for a rest!). Have breakfast or pick up a coffee to go and walk through the Public Gardens and onto Boston Common. Walk the Freedom trail. I've never taken an official tour but I've led a school group and walked independently so I'm not sure of the different routes they take but I know there are am and pm tours.

Spend the afternoon shopping (there's a Sephora in the Pru mall, and Newbury St is close by have lunch before visiting the Public library, walk across the square to Trinity Church and check out it's reflection in the John Hancock building.

Aquarium goes with Harbor tour or whale watch (I think you can still book whale watch at the aquarium).

Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, MFA and Fenway are close but don't try to fit both museums into one day.

I think you can squeeze in most of your wish list and if you're fit enough to comfortably walk a few miles a day you won't be overextending yourselves.

bachslunch Apr 9th, 2010 07:45 AM

It's actually quite possible to see the Gardner and MFA in the same day, but it might be best to visit the Gardner first, have a leisurely lunch at their cafe, then head over to the MFA and choose the things that interest you most. The MFA is large (if not as large as the Met in NYC) and you won't be able to see it all in a day anyway. The Gardner Museum is small and easy to see in a couple hours, tops.

Would recommend giving over the better part of a day to the Freedom Trail, as there are plenty of things en route. Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall is part of this trail, so it can easily be seen as part of this day. You could also detour to include the Aquarium nearby.

It is also very easy to pair up a visit to the JFK Presidential Library with a jaunt to Harvard Square, as they're on the same subway line.

Will echo those who suggest visiting the Boston Public Library, as the murals and such there are excellent. Across the street is Trinity Church, also well worth the visit. This can all be easily combined with strolls along Newbury Street and Charles Street (for shopping) with the Public Garden in between. Charles Street is in the heart of the Beacon Hill neighborhood, which I'll echo as a nice area to walk around.

yk Apr 9th, 2010 08:36 AM

Another possibility is to split up Freedom trail into 2 days - so morning with Freedom Trail, then afternoon for shopping and Fenway Park tour, as an example.

If you have a MFA ticket stub, you can get a $2 off admission to the Gardner Museum; or vice versa. The discount is good for 2 days.
<i>Two Days and Two Museums
Bring your ticket stub from the Museum of Fine Arts to the Gardner Museum and receive $2-OFF the price of regular adult or senior admission. Or, bring your Gardner Museum stub to the MFA and receive the same discount. Offer good within two days of visit. </i>

Here's a possibility:
Monday - arrival, Duck tour in late afternoon (definitely a good idea), Harvard Sq in evening
Tuesday - Freedom Trail in AM, Fenway park tour/Gardner Museum in PM
Wednesday - Freedom Trail in AM, shopping/BPL/MFA in PM
Thursday - Cape Ann, Crane Beach
Friday - Aquarium, harbor cruise

This is quite a packed schedule. Whether you want to see/do everything is up to you.

sf7307 Apr 9th, 2010 09:59 AM

Have you looked at the Freedom Trail website -- it tells you what things you will see if you walk the whole trail:

Is a walk through the North End in your schedule? You need to try a cannoli at Mike's (my favorite), Modern and/or Maria's (or, as I keep telling yk, all three!)

bachslunch Apr 9th, 2010 10:22 AM

Excellent itinerary suggestion from yk. It'll keep you busy, but it's well thought out. Of course I like full itineraries, myself. :-)

The Freedom Trail goes right through the North End, though it's of course fun to wander around this neighborhood and explore it further in addition.

And will heartily second all three Italian bakeries sf7307 mentioned.

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