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Northeast in March

Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 09:02 PM
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hik
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Northeast in March

My wife and I are traveling from Arkansas to the Northeast. we plan to be in Boston area on March 17th. we have to back in Washington DC on the 19th. 1st time in Northeast. we wanted to see ocean and history - maybe Boston and cape cod and plymouth. I had the idea of rocks and the ocean pictures. what are the main things to do? Will Boston history places be closed on the 18th?
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 03:11 AM
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Sorry, it looks like Plimoth Plantation doesn't open for the season until the following week. You could still get ocean pictures but it might be easier to head north instead to Rockport/Gloucester area. Although you could also see ocean and rocks closer to Boston such as Lynn and Nahant although not usually thought of as tourist destinations. I think your time would be better spent in Boston itself because there is so much to see. On Saturday, if you can get over to Haymarket Square while the pushcart vendors are still there it's a unique experience. Also, a good place to buy some fresh fruit etc. I don't think the North End (Italian) area across the way has changed much in decades. Maybe a trolley tour would be a good idea on Sunday for a quick overview of the city. Do not try to drive around the city. I think most of the historical places are concentrated around the Government Center area: Haymarket, Fanueil Hall, Old Burial Ground, the church. Get a guide to the Freedom Trail and figure out which places you want to see and how to get around via the subway. If the weather is clear I would also visit the Prudential Skywalk. Although we haven't visited in a lot of years, there used to be an exhibit of how Boston's waterfront changed in colonial days.
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 03:48 AM
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It seems you only have 2 days - so Boston, Cape Cod and Plymouth all in that time frame is not possible. Hopefully, you will see enough to make you want to come back.

Since you mention history, the best way to absorb some Revolutionary War era history is to walk all or part of the Freedom Trail - a marked route along city streets and a few city parks with marked points of interest - a few smaller museums, old burial grounds. There is a visitors center near Boston Common where you can get a map.

This route will take you by Faneuil Hall - old meeting house worth a stop in to look around. There is an adjacent area of many shops (Quincy Market) and bars and restaurants - good place to stop for lunch or a snack. This area used to have some interesting little shops, but has now been over-run with mostly chain stores.

A short walk from here is Boston's North End - small Italian area - with winding streets and authentic Italian restaurants. Worth a walk-thru and hopefully return for dinner. Just walk around and read menus on windows until you find someplace that appeals to you.

Freedom Trail continues on to USS Constitution. To do the whole thing with March weather might be a little much.

As far as the ocean, Boston is a fairly sheltered harbor, so your image of rocks and waves must be met outside the City. If you have a car, take the second day and drive up to Rockport (about 45 minutes). There you will get the postcard view of New England as well as some shops and places to eat.

March 17 is St. Patrick's Day and some areas of Boston celebrate in a big way. There are several Irish pubs that will likely be hopping on that evening, if that is your thing. The annual St. Patrick's Day parade is in South Boston on Sunday the 18th. I have never been so can't really comment - but it will not effect anything in downtown area.

Now a word about the weather. The Sunday AM weather guy just said average high temps in March are about 50 degrees and we get an average of about 8 inches of snow in March. This winter has been weird with little snow and seemingly alternating unusually high temperatures with frigid cold - actually, I guess that is not all that weird as Boston weather is very changeable.

So plan for any type of weather from sloppy slush and snow to more temperate pre-spring.

If the weather is really bad that weekend and you are into art museums there is a new Institute of Contemporary Art that is wonderful, the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is great. I am not a big fan of Boston's aquarium, but I seem to be in a minority there.
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 10:46 AM
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hik
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Thanks for the great information. I was hoping to not get caught in the St. Patrick parade traffic. I will be driving in from Lancaster, Pa ( i thought that the Amish would be interesting.) Is it better to try to see Boston on Saturday or Sunday, the 18th? Is there public parking in the Historic district? Would the hotels be cheaper around Rockport?
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 10:57 AM
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Either Saturday or Sunday for Boston would be fine - but many stores will not be open in either Boston or Rockport until noon on Sundays.

Street parking is always difficult in Boston. The financial district (actually only a few block square area) is most promising, but many other areas are marked for resident only parking. There is absolutely no parking on the street in the North End. There is a garage under the Boston Common (near start of Freedom Trail) that has some of the most reasonable rates in Boston - but all parking is expensive in a land-starved city like Boston.

Hotels in March would likely be less expensive in Rockport and parking would be free. Depending on actual itinerary, I might stay outside the city while en route to Boston on Friday 3/16, get a hotel in Boston for 3/17 and then head to Rockport morning of 3/18 - of course this depends on specifics of your trip.
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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If we do the Historic Boston on Saturday and Rockport area on Sunday, we have to go to DC on Monday. Is there anything special that we should not miss on the trip from Rockport to DC? Can we see New York City? I have been afraid to think about it.
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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Rockport is north of Boston, so you're adding an hour or more onto the drive to DC by staying there. The drive to DC takes a full day anyway, so although technically you can "see" NYC from the highway on the way to DC, you really won't have time to stop and do anything there.

The St. Patrick's Day parade is not in downtown Boston, it's in a residential area called South Boston that is traditionally very Irish. The parade will have no effect on traffic or parking in the downtown/historic area. As mentioned above, the garage under Boston Common would be a good choice.
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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Driving Rockport to DC is another entire adventure - try a search here as their are several opinions about best route to take. My preferred route does not take you anywhere near NYC. (It is the Tappan Zee Bridge route if that makes any sense when you read posts). Do not under any circumstances just pick up I95 in Massachusetts and follow it down the coast, thru NY and NJ to Washington unless you have far more patience than most.

The trick to making the Boston-DC trip is to try to avoid rush hour in 3 major metro areas. Under the best of circumstances you are looking at roughly 4 hrs Boston-NY and 4 hours NY-DC. So if you plan poorly you will hit rush hour in both Boston and DC.

My preference is to leave quite early in the AM, attempting to arrive in DC by late afternoon. But I am a morning person - others prefer to wait until after Boston rush hour and get to DC at late dinner time.
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 12:58 PM
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Gail's routing advice is good. I was being a bit facetious when I mentioned seeing NYC from the highway. The more northern route, over the Tappan Zee Bridge, is the one I actually use when I drive from Boston to DC or points south.
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 04:00 PM
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From Arkansas what is the easiest way to Boston? Now we may stay just south of Boston, touring historic Boston one day, and then spending that night North of Boston on the way to Rockport. Then we will tour Rockport and maybe Newburyport. What road is the Tappan Bridge? What is the best way to DC from Newburyport? THANKS FOR THE HELP!
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 06:50 PM
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I didn't read all the postings, but it occurred to me you could see Boston and Cape Cod if you take the fast boat from near ANthony's Pier 4 restaurant (if it runs during the spring) straight out to Provincetown. See the ocean from Race Point at the tip of Cape Cod...all National Seashore. Beautiful!
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 09:12 PM
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Jgsbro has an interesting idea about the boat to Provincetown - but I am nto sure it would be all that pleasant in mid-March, even if it is running that early.

Tappan Zee Bridge route. (Get a map - these directions without one will surely not make sense and/or get you lost).

From Newburyport take Route 495 south to Route 290 and then Mass Turnpike west (Rte 90). Take exit to Route 84 (you are now close to Connecticut) and follow this into New York state where you take Rte 287, 684 and then go over Tappan Zee Bridge. (over Hudson River).

Follow signs to Garden State Parkway. Take this to central New Jersey and take exit to NJ Turnpike. This is I95 and you follow it towards Washington/Baltimore area where I will defer to others as to best way into/around Washington, depending on where you are going.

There are about 5 variations on above route - this is my preferred route but others have legitimate reasons for preferring theirs. I am not really sure one is really all that much better than the other - but this is the general Tappan Zee Bridge routing.

As far as directions from Arkansas to Boston - Arkansas is one of the few states in eastern half of US that I have never set foot in and I admit to being geographically challenged in that part of the country. Are you really driving all that way just to spend 1 day in Boston and 1 day near an ocean near Boston?

Considering the Washington, DC part of the trip, I could make some wisecrack about your last name being Clinton, but I will pass on that.

While I love my adopted city of Boston, I am not sure if main purpose of your trip is Washington I would make that detour drive for 2 days. There are very inexpensive flights from BWI (Baltimore Washington) on Southwest to Manchester, NH or Providence, RI where you could rent a car. I see that you are also planning on Lancaster, PA - so maybe long driving distances is OK with you.

While a major snowstorm is unlikely, you could hit snow in any of the more hilly areas of your trip at that time of year to make travel annoying or delayed.

Whatever you decide, have a good trip. I may actually understand about the driving part, since a few years ago we drove from Grand Canyon to San Diego just because we were in the west and wanted to see both.
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Old Mar 5th, 2007, 01:39 AM
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How about this idea? Instead of Rockport and Newburyport, go to Portsmouth NH. You can have history (Strawbery Banke), ocean and rocks only about an hour from Boston straight up Rt 95. Newburyport is nice with a wonderful downtown shopping area but so is Portsmouth. One of my favorite drives is from Strawbery Banke area on Rt 1B thru Newcastle and over to Rye and Hampton Beaches. You will go over a narrow causeway with a view of Portsmouth Naval Prison to the north (boarded up now and really in Kittery Maine) and the historic Wentworth-by-the-Sea hotel to the south. You can also do a quick drive over the bridge to Kittery Maine. The bridge is very high so there's some great views of the area. Then it's any connect back to Rt 95 south. The Rye area has mansions and a rocky coast but Hampton has sandy beaches. Newcastle is a very old town dating back to the first houses in the area. You'll see piles of lobster traps, fishing boats, and if the weather is decent you can walk on the beach. No problem finding a place to park in March! You can also find some year round classic seafood places where you can try some steamed lobster or fried clams. I think you may be able to drive to Portsmouth as quickly as Newburyport/Rockport because of the interstate.
Let Mapquest guide you to the New York area but then use the Fodor posters' advice for getting thru NY. The Tappan Zee bridge is also our choice for the best way to get thru the NY area. If you get stuck in traffic it can add hours to your drive. Best to avoid Fridays and Sundays because of the extra traffic.
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