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Old 11-04-2013, 05:33 PM
Location: Downtown Austin
5,988 posts, read 14,908,292 times
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My family (me, wife, daughters 17 and 20) and I are considering two vacation options during Christmas holidays. A trip to New England or a Caribbean beach vacation. If we come to New England we've settled on Boston as a base. We've never been to the northeast.

Travel dates Dec 19-28th. Me and daughter2 want a wintery adventure someplace new and different with a lot to explore. Wife wants tropical getaway, dislikes being cold, just wants to lay on the beach, read and relax. Other daughter1 doesn't care and/or won't confess a preference.


1) Will it be too cold? Weather.com says 20s and 30s, which makes me wonder if "hot climate" people like us will in fact be miserable, stuck indoors at hotel, which would be dumb. My wife wants to rule it out after I looked up the expected temps. None of us have warm shoes or anything, though we are willing to outfit ourselves with proper outerwear.

2) Are many of the "things to do in Boston" that I see online shut down and/or unenjoyable during cold weather, or is it pretty much business as usual no matter? Do people just bundle up and walk about like normal?

3) Is Boston a festive place during this season? I know it's a (possibly stupid) subjective question, but will Boston abound with Christmas cheer and activities aplenty? Is it a "special" place to be, or just "AnywhereUSA" during Christmas, with mostly commercialism and shopping as the focus?

4) Recommended hotels that provide walkable destinations and activities without getting in the car? I'm also training for a Marathon (not Boston - I wish!), so proximity to running trails/routes is a "nice to have" but not at the expense of best location for everything else.

I guess those are the biggies. We want to do daytrips too, like Lexington and Concord (daughter2 studying US History right now, is really excited about Boston). I haven't worked out a daytrip/roadtrip itinerary because if we rule out Boston it won't matter. We want a combination of staying put, hanging out in Boston, and some days where we explore nearby places.

Any opinions, advice or other info will be appreciated.

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Old 11-04-2013, 05:54 PM
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1) It won't be too cold if you have the right clothing. That might add a significant expense to your trip, though.

2) Anything indoors will obviously be open. The Freedom Trail is an open air walking trail so you could do that. The USS Constitution is only open Thurs-Sun in the winter.

3) The Boston Holiday Pops goes until Dec 24, there's outdoor ice skating in the Common, there's something on Dec 22 at the Museum of Fine Arts that's Christmas related, you can see the Nutcracker, there's a Holiday Market at Downtown Crossing, hot cocoa bar at the Ritz, the Freedom Trail does a "holiday stroll" that's about A Christmas Carol. This site has some good information on some of the events I listed. Downtown Boston | Events Calendar

4) As far as a hotel, anything downtown would be fine for walking. You can run along the river. As far as the day trips, you might want a car for those.
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:55 PM
Location: Boston, MA
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I am not from a warm weather place, so I really have no idea how you might fare in Boston, but I will say that I love the Christmastime in Boston. You can go to Lexington and Concord but most of the stuff is closed there. I was there 2 weekends ago, and it was the last weekend that a lot of stuff would be open. But of course you can still go to the spot where the Battle of Lexington began and visit Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord.

In Boston, there's plenty to keep you busy, especially if you've never been northeast before and don't really know what it's all about. Great for US history, needless to say. If you have a good guide, or do some good research, the Freedom Trail is easy and interesting, though it may be a cold walk. I recommend visiting the Boston Public Library at Copley Square, eating in North End (Italian area), take in a snowy and beautiful Public Garden/Boston Common, and then maybe hit up some museums? If you're into that. I like the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the MIT Museum, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

I guess it might because I moved here during winter time or because I'm coming from Cleveland, but a wintery Boston feels "right" to me. I'm kind of looking forward to the change in seasons!
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:14 PM
Location: Massachusetts
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Off the beaten path a bit, Newport RI and Martha's Vinyard are scenic for the holidays.

Concord has the popular Alcott family home festivities.

If the temps dip down, you may be able to do some outdoor ice skating downtown on the Frog Pond on Swan Boat Pond. So pretty to skate at night, surrounded by city lights.
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Old 11-04-2013, 08:51 PM
Location: Dallas
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Coming from Austin, Boston will dazzle you. My wife grew up in Dallas, lived in Austin for 13 years then moved up to Boston with me. She stayed for 15 years. It's an entirely different world than Texas. It's elegant, ornate, richly developed far more than anyplace in Texas, because it is 300 years older.

Christmas? It's cute for Christmas, but it's subdued. Boston is like that - proper, stately, but never garish. Quincy Market of course is lovely at that time of year. If you could see a touch of snow on Beacon Hill - well it's postcard perfect. Boston is SO rich with history, a week barely scratches the surface. It's fascinating any time of year. My bet is you'll love it.

But you never know. It could be cold. Very cold. It's usually not around Xmas, it's usually moderate - 30's to 40's.

Frankly, except perhaps the weather, I think there are few better places to choose to take the wife for a romantic getaway. It's definitely a city that appeals to ladies - more elegant and Euro than pretty much anyplace in the USA.

Would hafta add that staying for First Night would be a really good idea if yer gonna be up there anyways. The Grand Procession is wonderful. The fireworks, the ice sculptures. Unless it's 20 below!

If you decide the cold is too scary, well ok. But if the notion of Old Beantown appeals to you, I highly recommend it. Go instead for the Fourth of July. There's no place better to be on that day than the Cradle of Liberty.

These people are standing on the exact location of the infamous "Boston Massacre". In this picture, The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, formed in 1637, is about to read The Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House, just as they did in 1776 and have every year since (excluding a few war years).


Last edited by xS☺B☺s; 11-04-2013 at 08:59 PM..
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Old 11-05-2013, 03:05 AM
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1) It is true that Boston has 4 seasons. This is really nice, but if you are not used to cold weather, it will feel like it is unbearably cold to you.

2) Business is totally "as usual" during winter. People don't mind the cold at all. As a matter of fact, it is really awesome to be in the city this time of the year and go around etc. It is quite refreshing to go to a nice restaurant or a nice play and then go out again and "smell" and feel the cold air...

3) There are so many things to do in Boston in the winter and during Christmas time. From traditional plays and musicals to museums, sightseeing etc. Everything is open. The city is busy and as you say, people just bundle up and walk and shop and enjoy the season.

4) In my opinion, Boston is a festive place to be for the holidays and 10 days is just about the right time to spend to get to know everything you need to know and see. It is not as festive as New York, but if you would like to combine in one trip "opportunities to learn history" and seasonal festivities etc., this is a good place to visit…

5) Shopping is a big thing of course in Boston too, but I would say that life is not focused around shopping in Boston, in general, and in this time of the year. To me at least, it looks like life is focused around colleges, history, sports etc.

6) I would definitely stay in one of the big hotels downtown or in the waterfront, since Boston Common and the Waterfront (Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall) are two key spots for the holidays.

If I were you, I would consider the following problems:
-On Christmas day everything will be closed an nobody will be out… You will need a good plan for that day.
-I would also plan a couple of day trips to mountains, popular skiing/hiking areas with nice restaurants etc…
-Do you care to spend the holidays in a more festive place where you could watch more plays and see better decorations etc? (like New York for example?) In my opinion, Boston is more intellectual than New York, but New York is more fun.
-The weather. Prepare for feeling really cold. It could feel "refreshing" and you may enjoy it, but it will feel like it is really really cold.

Caribbean vs Boston for the holidays:
-Obviously, this depends on where in Caribbean you plan to go. It can be super busy and crowded. It is the "high" season for these places. Many folks try to escape the cold and go to the Caribbean for the holidays.
-There is nothing else to do there than swim and eat… It will be very relaxing though.
-It is hard to comment on what might be better, Boston vs Caribbean. This totally depends on your goals and your personal preferences.
-I personally would not go to the Caribbean for the holidays, but I would love to be to USVI and St John''s any other time of the year (even in the summer and the hot and humid "low season"). However, if you have not been to the Caribbean before, I would say that this might be a great plan, but you will have to do some search on the islands based on what you'd prefer.

Hope this is helpful. Have fun searching for the best place for you and family to spend the holidays...It is probably the most fun part of any vacation!
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Old 11-05-2013, 04:54 AM
Location: Central Mass
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It might be cold, it might not be. There's a good chance it won't be snowy though - it might snow, but it might not stick around. If you want really snowy conditions, your much more likely to get it during February or early March. Because your not in New England, your kids' spring break is probably in April, so that doesn't help.

I've got a friend who grew up in east Texas, went to UT and Texas A&M. She lived here for two years and really liked it. Their first winter here, they went to the ice hotel in Quebec City. That was much colder than anything here

Some of the mansions in Newport, RI do special activities for the holidays too: Newport Mansions | The Preservation Society of Newport County
It's a 70 mile drive, so not too far at all. You could take a train and bus there, but being from somewhere off the East coast, your probably more comfortable driving
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Old 11-05-2013, 12:23 PM
Location: Downtown Austin
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Thanks for all of the thoughtful and helpful responses. Exactly the food for thought and info needed to help with the decision.
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Old 11-13-2013, 08:27 PM
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You will be OK, not much snow usually until after Christmas. I would not count on the temp getting much higher than 36F while you are here. Boston is windy, so 36F feels like 20F with the wind.

You cannot see everything there is to see just in Boston and surrounds during the time you are here. I would not miss Marblehead before Christmas. Probably the most beautiful New England town in eyesight of Boston. You can spend a day on the Red Line at Harvard, MIT and Cambridge. Don't miss the MFA and ICA while you are here.
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Old 11-13-2013, 10:02 PM
Location: Mesquite,NV
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You might want to consider going to Jackson, NH for part of your trip. It us the quintessential New England town, the Wentworth Inn is very festive, you can try cross country skiing at one of the best places in the world, take a sleigh ride at Nestlenook, and shop in North Conway. Lots to do!
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