Last minute trip to Boston w/ kids and car

Old Jul 30th, 2016, 10:53 AM
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Last minute trip to Boston w/ kids and car

Hello, we just decided to visit Boston and the surrounding area next week! There is so much awesome info here about things to do, but I'm a little overwhelmed because of the lack of time to research it all! Hoping you all can give me some ideas on best place to stay and what to do.

First, the travelers include me (the planner), husband (just tell me where to go), son (14) and daughter (12). We will arrive on Tuesday afternoon by car, and will need to be headed for home (OH) by the following Monday morning. Would like to see the history in the area while keeping it entertaining for the kids. Our son is interested in history, music (performing), and would love to see some area colleges since he will be starting the search before too long. Our daughter has limited tolerance for history tours, but will put up with it if we can keep it interesting and in shorter amounts of time! She would enjoy the Duck tour, and any outdoor activities.

The routes shown to me from SW Ohio include a more southern route through PA on the PA turnpike, around NYC and through CT. The more northern route goes up through Erie, PA and through NY on the way to Boston. Both routes are similar in miles and time, so I'm considering taking one way there, and the other way home.

Boston - best place to stay with a car? We're fine with staying outside of city and taking the T. Kids loved doing that when we went to DC. My daughter cried on her last Metro ride because she loved it so much! Would love to keep hotel under $300 if possible, and we don't need anything fancy. Is it better to be there during the week, or on weekend? Planning on the Freedom Trail (self tour or guided?), Duck tour, Skywalk Observatory, maybe some museum (art or science), Harvard Yard. All depends on how long we stay in Boston. Outside of Boston, interested in Concord, Lexington, Quincy, Plymouth. Should we see anything in CT or RI? Or anywhere more to the north of Boston?

Not big baseball fans, so probably won't spend time at Fenway. Also skipping the Cape this trip due to lack of time. Would love to spend an afternoon at a beach somewhere though. And the kids would love something on the water, perhaps a whale watching trip?

I know we can't see everything. Just trying to decide what is our highest priority, and keeping in mind that what I'd like the most isn't necessarily what my kids will enjoy. My husband and I have been to Boston before, but it's been 20 years! Thank you so much for any help you can give me in planning this quickly. We've had an interesting summer, and weren't sure we would be able to get away together at all, so we're thrilled to to be doing anything!
JanS22 is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2016, 11:22 AM
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For Tues Wed Thurs it looks like the Doubletree in Allston is available. On the weekend nights, of the 315 hotels listed on, only 39 show any availability and they are all very pricey. La Quinta Inn Somerville has something and is walkable to the T, but $300 per night for such an average place to stay seems like robbery. There is also Homewood Suites Arlington which is a couple of miles further out. Further still, Residence Inn in Woburn will give you more room & a kitchen, free breakfast, and I believe they shuttle to Woburn Station which is less than 1/2 mile away. It's under $250 per night, but the hotel sits alone with nothing much within walking distance.
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Old Jul 30th, 2016, 11:34 AM
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Look at the Hampton Inn, Cambridge-Boston. Free parking, easy subway ride in town from Lechmere on the Green Line, in a safe but not charming area.

Boston may be cheaper on the weekend because it is summer. You can take a whale watch from Boston.

Beaches will be less crowded on weekdays. Scusset and Duxbury beaches are near Plymouth.

You can also take a cruise out to the harbor islands in Boston. Spectacle Island has a beach.
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Old Jul 30th, 2016, 11:35 AM
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The Mariner Resort in Oqunquit Maine surprisingly has availability on the weekend, also the Oqunquit Resort Motel. These are not on the beach but they are a short distance away. About an hour's drive up from Boston but you'd want to watch your drive times as Ogunquit gets really backed up with traffic, and traffic north from Boston can be nightmarish on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Perhaps leaving Friday around 10am might not be too hellish, or leave Boston Sunday morning and spend just Sun & Mon night in Maine.
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Old Jul 30th, 2016, 02:33 PM
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I will leave the lodging question to others here or for you to research - I live here, so am not as current on lodging options with car. Just beware that 5-10 miles outside city can have hotels called Boston/Waltham or something similar and can be 45+ minutes commute in. Commuter rail has very limited service outside rush hour. And no one takes the bus - so stick with trolley/subway.

Some comments on usual tourist things. Not including tiny details - since you are a planner an easy web search can get you that.

1. Freedom Trail - even if not into history, take a stroll for a half day anyway. There are enough ice cream shops along the way to bribe your daughter. And towards the end is Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market area with lots of shops, restaurants and stores.

2. You can take a nice whale watch out of Boston Harbor. New England Aquarium has one as does Boston Harbor Tours. Dress warm, even if it is 90 degrees on shore.

3. Eat dinner in the North End (Italian). Lots of threads here on which restaurant is best. Or have pizza there for lunch and each cannoli for dinner.

4. Boston Common is really quite boring. A few statures of some guys on horses and at night a few harmless but homeless people sleeping on benches.

5. Museum of Science is good. Duck Tours starts from right outside.

6. You are from Ohio so you have to go to the ocean. Options are Cape Ann (Gloucester, Rockport). About 45 minutes north of Boston to drive. Their town websites give beach and parking details. Stop on Ipswich or Essex and have fried clams on the way back. No one likes Woodman's here but me (in Essex) but the huge lines on weekends must mean someone likes it.

7. Or drive south to Plymouth to the beach. In that direction in Plimouth Plantation - again history, but unless the day is terribly hot, I think even your daughter would like it.

8. I don't think the JFK Library/Museum would be all that interesting for your kids.

9. If the kids have any interest at all in weird art, the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) is one of my favorite spots. Best view of Boston Harbor around. And the art is big - 3D, installed stuff - not just traditional paintings.

10. If you drive out to Newton (not far) there is a place to rent canoes and kayaks and paddle along the Charles River.

11. If you like Boston, take the MBTA to Boston University or Harvard for a few minutes and convince your kids to go there so you can visit; buy PowerBall tickets (jackpot now $ 500 million so you can afford it).

12. Check Boston Globe or Boston Visitors and Convention websites to see what is going on that week - there are a variety of free things like movies on Esplanade (where Boston Pops plays on July 4) and North End festivals that will be listed there.

Have a good trip.
gail is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2016, 03:46 PM
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Take the kids to the Museum of Science.
They have 2 huge lightning generators built by Mr. Van Degraaff
Others have covered your lodging questions.
There is a third option on the route to or from Boston.
Use I-80 from just north of Youngstown to the Scranton area and I-81 to I-84.
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Old Jul 30th, 2016, 06:00 PM
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The kids might like the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum.

The USS Constitution is in drydock for renovations but I think you can still visit it.
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Old Jul 31st, 2016, 12:21 PM
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The Essex/Ipswich places for fried seafood are arguably the best options. Woodman's (Essex) can be hit or miss; personally, I prefer The Clam Box (Ipswich) or J.T. Farnham's (Essex) for a clam shack type experience or The Village Restaurant (Essex) for a sit-down experience.

There are several other area kid-friendly options for sightseeing, such as the Aquarium or the Children's Museum (Boston) and the Harvard Museum of Natural History (Cambridge). There are excellent art museums such as the one at Harvard University in Cambridge and the MFA and Gardner Museum in Boston, but they might not be entertaining for kids. And while gail is right that the Boston Common is kind of dull, the adjoining Public Gardens is much prettier (usually lots of flowers and such) and has paddle swan boats to take a ride in.
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Old Jul 31st, 2016, 01:50 PM
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The Boston Common is a wonderful green space in the middle of the city. The oldest public park in the U.S. It's great for taking a break, sitting on the grass or a bench with a cold drink, watching the kids in the frog pond wading or just generally watching the world go by. The Public Garden has more flowers but it's not a place to sit on the grass.

Have you asked your children to do a little research to find things they might like to see and do? Get their opinions too.
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Old Aug 1st, 2016, 09:34 AM
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First thing check out Groupon. There is a hop on trolley/harbor cruise for cheap. This is a great way to get around the city. has the Boston Park Plaza for $159 for some August dates. Great hotel just renovated.
Instead of a boring whale watch where you MIGHT see a whales tale or driving up the coast with the horrible traffic, I would take the ferry to Provincetown on the Cape. Spend the day. There is a beach, fried clams, and lots and lots of shopping and people watching on Commercial St. A must do. Key West of the North.
Your kids will love it and so will you. Groupon did have discount ferry tickets recently.
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