First Trip to Boston--7 days w/ rental car

Old Aug 14th, 2013, 06:35 PM
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First Trip to Boston--7 days w/ rental car

My husband and I are going to Boston August 31st for seven days. We are staying at a VRBO condo in the North End, and have a rental car. We are 28 and 33, and like to walk. Having trouble deciding how many day trips to take. We love history, outdoors, and old homes. Here are some places we want to go, but need to know if they are a "must" see.

--Salem (heard mixed reviews)
--Concord (really want to go to Louisa May Alcott's house; HUGE book fan)
--Newport, RI (tour mansions)
--Portland, ME (thinking should probably save this for another trip so we could actually spend a night there)
--Block Island
--Martha's Vineyard
--Cape Cod

I want to save at least three days for Boston. Also have tickets for a Red Sox game.
This is also a babymoon, so we want to relax a little bit as well.

Thanks! Look forward to any input.
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Old Aug 14th, 2013, 07:36 PM
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Where are you parking your rental car and what is the cost per day?
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Old Aug 14th, 2013, 08:03 PM
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I would only rent the car to make the day trips. Parking in Boston is expensive.

Salem is easily accessible by train or ferry. The Peabody Essex Museum is the jewel of Salem. A tour of their Chinese house is great. It is popular and has timed admission. There is beautiful Federal architecture as well. If you're going for the witch attractions, you have to decide if it's worth it.

Concord and Lexington is easier with a car. Don't miss the Park Service visitor center on Rt. 2 A, and also the Concord Museum.

Newport is about an hour and a half drive and can be a long day trip, but worth it.

Portland is also doable in a day, but would be better overnight if you want to explore.

Block Island and the Vineyard are two very long day trips and may not be worth the effort. I'd definitely skip Block Island. MV is doable.

Cape Cod is about 60 miles long. If you want to go, figure out what you want to see. It's hard to get a sense of it in a day. There is a ferry from Boston to Provincetown, which can make for a nice day trip. Take a dune tour to see the National Seashore landscape.

You list seven different locations outside of Boston, most worth more than a day. You're leaving no time for Boston and for relaxing. I'd limit the day trips to two or three. Definitely do Concord because of your interest, but don't try to do too much.

Have fun at the game!
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 02:51 AM
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Agree with everything above, especially not having a car unless your VRBO has parking, rare but not impossible. Expect to pay $30-$40 per day for a parking lot, more at the otherwise tempting Aquarium Garage. Generally, no free in and out. For all practical purposes, there is no legal on street parking for non-residents in the North End. Stickers are required.

You will need a car for Lexington and Concord (per my son, who took his family on Monday). A Provincetown boat trip would be fun on a beautiful day, though the ferry is a zoo on weekends. Otherwise, there is plenty to do in Boston, Charlestown, and Cambridge. If you decide against P Town, take a harbor islands cruise from Long Wharf or take the ferry to Salem (or take the train up and the ferry back; the return views of Boston are spectacular).
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 02:58 AM
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I agree to save Portland for another visit. I think you are doing too much driving for what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation.
I would skip Salem in favor of more time elsewhere. The Chinese House is wonderful but there are museums in Boston to visit.
I haven't been to Block Island but it's a friend's favorite. We did MV as a day trip on the ferry without a car. Pay attention to the ferry schedule. The car parking lots are remote so you have to add time just to park your car.

I would split my week between Boston and the Cape and do the MV trip while staying on the Cape. Possibly leave the Newport mansions for the day before you fly home and spend your last night in Boston depending on time for your flight. You won't need a car while you're in Boston.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 03:15 AM
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Lavender, you have some very good advice here. Do not use a car in Boston if you can help it. The city has a different style of traffic. There are streets that are not in a grid pattern, curve around,become one way, change traffic direction periodiicly,etc. The drivers tend to be aggressive, use stop lights as suggestions, dont stop for yellows etc.

The T is pretty easy to use and much less expensive than parking.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 07:44 AM
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<Where are you parking your rental car and what is the cost per day?>

Well, that's another hitch. We are looking for a 24 hour garage to park it. I've found some that vary from $25-$33 per day. We got a "free" rental car so it's sort of a wash.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 12:52 PM
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Take a look at http://boston.bestparking.com to see alternatives, if you haven't already.
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Old Aug 17th, 2013, 03:43 AM
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If you are arriving on Aug 31 for a week you will be there Labor Day weekend. Driving in and out of Boston, especially to the Cape will be hell. That is also a big move in weekend for the zillion colleges in Boston area. I would probably seriously rethink the rental car. At most I would get it only for the last few days and do your day trips then. As pointed out you can get to Salem and P-town on the ferry and there is plenty to do IN Boson/Cambridge.
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Old Aug 17th, 2013, 05:28 AM
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If the car is free anyway, and you only will use it for a few trips out of town, why not park it at one of the outer T stations then take the T in/out of downtown area?

Not all of them allow overnight parking. But you could do a little research (www.mbta.com) and pick a station in the general direction of your day trips. For example at Alewife station (end of the red line, convenient to Lexington/Concord), overnight parking is $8.00.

I agree that trying to use a car near any university in Boston on that particular week is the stuff of nightmares.
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Old Aug 17th, 2013, 05:50 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions and insider info! We decided to cancel the car, since it sounds like it's going to be more of a hassle then we want to deal with. We'll probably just keep it a relaxing trip, go to Salem, maybe Provincetown, and just enjoy Boston.
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Old Aug 17th, 2013, 05:57 AM
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When we went to Boston, we just rented a car for one day, using to go to Concord and just see the scenery in the area. We took the train to Salem and really had fun over there.

Loved, loved, loved Boston! Enjoy!
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Old Aug 22nd, 2013, 01:48 PM
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Good suggestions to give up the car. If you really want to go to Concord, research the other places on your way. The Wayside Inn in Sudbury was a stopping place for all the writers and is now a restaurant. Also spend a little time at Walden Pond, in Concord, a little path to the site of Thoreau's home.

I would highly recommend a trip to Provincetown, if you time it well, just after Labor Day Weekend. Consider renting bikes and go out to the dunes and the beach. It is quintessential Cape Cod, good food, good shopping or browsing and people watching.

There are lots of great outdoor activities in Boston, so take advantage of that over Labor Day rather than fighting the traffic. If you want a special restaurant however, book now!!!The kids are coming back and all their parents want to take them out to eat.

Have fun and congrats on the baby.
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