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Is driving in and out of Boston really as terrible as I've heard?

Is driving in and out of Boston really as terrible as I've heard?

Mar 28th, 2007, 11:44 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 551
Ahh just what i don't want to read!

I'm planning about a week in New England in early October (Yes, right before Columbus Day) arriving in Boston and was planning to hire a car and drive north for some leaf peeping. I arrive early on a Sunday morning after a red eye flight from LV. I'm assuming I'll be tired and probably shouldn't drive an unfamiliar car on unfamiliar roads even without this news of terrible driving conditions. So I thought it would be a good chance to see something of Boston

What would be a good place to stay if I spend the day in Boston and get an early getaway on Monday morning? Something maybe near the airport but with good access to the city via public transport or is that on the other side of the city? Or would there be a good place only a short trip from Boston which would make a good base for me?

I'm still deciding on a couple of places (maybe in VT or NH)as a base from which I can do day trips. Suggestions welcome.

Also I'll be returning the car in Boston and wondering which of the days over that long weekend to avoid for the trip back. Would the traffic towards Boston from parts north be better on the Saturday or the Sunday?
eigasuki is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 02:57 AM
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You can expect late afternoon traffic southbound from NH and VT to be at a crawl on Sunday afternoons. A lot of people head north for the entire weekend so Saturday would be the better of the two. One of the problems is that Rt 89 from VT funnels into Rt 93 in NH a few miles before a toll booth. If you continue on Rt 93 to Boston, that's the only toll booth. If you change to Rt 3 thru Nashua there's a second toll booth in Merrimack NH.
For the first two weeks of October, you should make reservations as soon as possible in most areas of NH and VT. Columbus Day weekend is the most popular weekend of the fall but expect heavy traffic the weekend before and the weekend after.
Several years ago we drove into Boston very early in the morning. I was surprised at the amount of traffic on the interstate. We were headed to South Station to pick up our son. Off the highway, the streets were empty but it was about 6am!
Make sure you get really good directions to your hotel missypie. Although we grew up in the area and my friends go into Boston quite often, we usually stay in a different hotel each time and some hotel people can NOT give good driving directions. It really helps to have the front seat passenger reading street signs and knowing when to make turns.
dfrostnh is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 03:05 AM
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Everyone fearful of driving in Boston - take a big breath and be reasonable. It is a city - not Mars. People drive in the correct side of the street (usually), street signs are in English (unless a snow plow has knocked them down, a kid has stolen them or they have changed the name or direction of the street).

Compare it to driving in any big, older, congested city that one is unfamiliar with, not driving on a rural road in Nebraska.

Likely you will not always be certain where to go, you will get lost, you will become somewhat frustrated at some point - that is probably not different than any other non-grid city.

In Boston we like to complain about the weather, the Red Sox, the traffic - it's part of our culture.
gail is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 05:40 AM
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Thanks, everyone!
missypie is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 05:18 AM
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I know you received many replies, but I'm going to add one more.

The easiest way to get to Lexington/Concord by far is to take Storrow to Route 2 but that can be confusing.

I would NOT drive all the way down Mass Ave, shoot me now. Rather, the entrance to the Pike is about a block from the Eliot - hope on the Pike to the exit for 95/128 to get to route 2. So much easier and less of a headache than dealing with the bazillion lights on Mass Ave!

Loving your trip idea, by the way. I live for the history of our area...
BostonGal is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 05:23 AM
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if you are not a city driver, IMO boston is hard to drive in. if you can park near the subway in say cambridge and then take the subway into the city this is a much better way to go.
justme22 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 06:19 AM
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Well, I do drive n and out of downtown Dallas 5 days a week. As I mentioned, our "package" at the hotel includes free valet parking, so while it may be easier to park in Cambridge, we would park the car at the hotel.
missypie is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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We drove in an out of Boston (and all around looking for a gas station) and had little trouble. Have a great trip!
KTtravel is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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sorry for miss reading your post. i don't think people willing to offer opinions deserve sarcastic remarks which is what the reply to my post seemed. you don't have to hurt someones feelings, you can ignore the post and move on. i do not prefer to drive the narrow streets around boston. i am a dc veteran so i am very familiar with difficult city driving filled with circles... i would say if you don't mind traffic, which it sounds like you don't (given your 2nd post) then drive, being in the city at night would be more interesting. see how easy it is to be nice?
justme22 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 07:28 AM
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Sorry-didn't mean to be sarcastic. I was just trying to remind folks of the contents of my original post, so I didn't get a lot of "yes, parking out of the city would be a great idea" posts, when the whole thing that gave me the idea was the free parking.
missypie is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 07:41 PM
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missypie, park the car at the Eliot. We have done that many times -- stay for a few days and not use the car. We always found it easy to get around by foot or take the T. Have a great trip!

BTW, the Eliot is a great hotel. Enjoy!
seetheworld is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 07:54 PM
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The bar at the Eliot, that was once on the Com. Ave side was where all the Marathon runners would meet and drink.
I was a runner back at that time and I wonder if they kept any of the decor. The Restaurant Clio in the hotel is very good.
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 06:06 AM
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Boston driving is not like DC and it sure ain't like Dallas. Here's what it's like:

Suppose you are trying to find Phantom Drive. You are on X Avenue, which is a 3-lane highway. You turn a big curve and the 3 lanes somehow merge in to 2, but there are no road markings, so you are not sure where the lanes are. Traffic all around. You stop at a red light, and while sitting there, you realize that you are in the right-hand lane, and there is a little sign on the other side of the street that says ``Phantom left''....

The light in your lane turns green, and people are honking, so you turn right and try to go around the block to get in the correct, left lane. But all the streets are one-way the wrong way, so this takes 15 minutes and 3 wrong turns. Finally you are back at the same intersection, and in the left lane, and now you see the sign really says Phantom _next_ left! You are supposed to go straight through the light, then turn left at the next intersection. But now you are in a left-turn-only lane, and the green arrow turns on, so you turn left, vowing to do it right the third time. Surprise! Two lanes split and all of a sudden you are on the entrance ramp to the Mass Pike! You exit when you can, 20 minutes to get back to this intersection, and this time you go straight through the light, ready for the second left. But the next left street is one-way the wrong way ... ``next left'' doesn't mean ``next intersection''. The next intersection has a detour due to construction....and so it goes.

The combination of curvy multi-lane streets (you are always in the wrong lane, with no clear view ahead), bad signage, and congestion is what makes Boston interesting.

Just start with a mind-set that you don't necessarily need to get there in a perefectly direct way -- enjoy wandering towards your target -- and you'll be fine. Its not scary, its just a little frustrating sometimes.

The second time, of course, you will have it figured out and will drive like a native.
capxxx is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 06:58 AM
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So both the driver and the navigator should take Xanax before attempting it?
missypie is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 07:10 AM
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Ommmm. You are a child of the universe. You have a right to be in this lane. Ommm.
capxxx is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 07:14 AM
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LOL,capxxx! That's so true.
I drive into Boston about once a month and use the Mass Pike. I usually park at the Pru which is a few yards from the exit and then when I leave I loop around to get back on the Pike...easy!

Occasionally I have to venture further to pick up friends at downtown hotels or whatever and I assume I'll be late and take my time. I get there eventually!

missypie, with a navigator you'll be fine just make sure they understand you probably won't be able to cut across 3 lanes of traffic NOW. Enjoy Boston!
highflyer is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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If you're still reading this then stay at the Westin. It has the easiest access on and off the Pike and you'll be right in the centre of Boston.
highflyer is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 07:54 AM
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Having grown up driving in Boston, and having driven in Paris, London, LA, Dallas, DC, and others, I have to defend petitemom and capxxx. There is no driving experience like Boston if you're not used to it and haven't memorized your routes. To get anywhere you have to be super-agressive. You make it appear that you are oblivious to anyone else and that YOU will ace them out no matter what. Of course, if your adversary does the same thing an accident results if someone doesn't back off. It's war, folks! Bottom line: don't drive in Boston if you're not a native.
xkenx is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 08:06 AM
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This thread is getting a tad ridiculous.

Missypie, you'll drive to the Eliot, park at the hotel and have a nice time sightseeing using public transportation and taxis. When you're ready to go, you'll leave the hotel, drive out of the city and that will be that. You'll be fine.

wyatt92 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 04:54 PM
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Please forgive me for not wanting to read 38 posts, but I really would like to know where to park our car in Boston for a day of sighteeing. We will be coming in to town from Cape Cod.
Where should we park, and what should we see? We'll probably come in for 2 seperate days. One to see the famous history sites, and the other for shopping.

bblount is offline  

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