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Old 04-30-2009, 07:48 AM
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I'm visiting Boston in May for a weekend with a couple of friends. None of us have been there before. I've been reading up on things to do but I'm still confused. Where should we go as tourists? We want to go to Cambridge (Harvard and all)...what about the rest of Boston? What's there to do in Downtown? Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 04-30-2009, 07:56 AM
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Here is a great piece of history to go and visit while in Boston.

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Old 04-30-2009, 09:53 AM
Location: East Boston, MA
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I'd love to help, but first could you provide a little more information? What do you all like doing? Do you like sports, fine-dining, bar hopping, upscale clubs, history, art, etc? What are you into. Two days is a short time and there's a lot to cram in, so there's anything you're looking for in particular, we could be a bit more helpful.
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:15 AM
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Not too much into bar hopping or clubbing. We're coming mainly for sightseeing... so anything that you think is worth seeing...we're interested in.
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:53 AM
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We might be staying in Westborough...how's the area and how far is the drive to Downtown Boston?
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Old 04-30-2009, 02:16 PM
Location: East Boston, MA
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Why Westborough... family/friends there? Westborough is nice, but not very exciting. That would be a great location if you were planning to spend a week and see all of the state given its location near the interchange of I-90 and I-495. However, it's sort of a pain to drive in from Boston every day from Westborough. If you must do it, I would suggest driving to Newton (at the interchange of I-90 and I-95) and take the Green Line train from Riverside Station into town as Driving in the city is a pain and I wouldn't recommend doing it unless someone you're with is VERY familiar with the city. It's easily a 40 minute drive to downtown Boston from Westborough with very little traffic. If you're traveling on a week day, expect it to be worse. If there's any way to avoid this option, do it.

If it's possible, I would highly recommend staying IN the city WITHOUT a car and relying on mass transit and your feet as this is the cheapest, fastest, easiest way to see the city. To be honest, unless you plan on leaving the Boston area, having a car will do nothing but cost money and get in the way. If it's too expensive to stay downtown, cheaper hotels can be found along subway lines in places like Braintree, Quincy, Newtown (right near Riverside Station), Revere and East Boston. I really can't reiterate enough that cars get in the way in Boston... they do not help. For more info on Boston's transit system, look here: MBTA.com > Official Website for Greater Boston's Public Transportation System

Now, things to do... There are plenty:

I think everyone should start seeing Boston by walking parts of the freedom trail ( The Freedom Trail Foundation and City of Boston - Freedom Trail ). It's a long trail that traverses many famous sites and neighborhoods. While it can be burdensome to walk the whole thing, non-stop from end to end; it leads you by some of the best historic sites in Boston. It's also a great way to see the best of some of Boston's unique neighborhoods and areas. Like I said, the trail is long so you may only be able to focus on certain areas. Even if you feel like Walking the entirety of it, you should stop and spend a little time seeing some of the areas you're in. For example, The Freedom Trail takes you right to Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church. These are cool sites by themselves, but they happen to be in Boston's North End.. a neighborhood admired for its narrow winding streets and Italian heritage. When you see Paul Revere's House, you should walk off the path a bit (Down Hanover and Salem Streets) and check out the area. Get a Cannoli or Gelato at a little bakery or gelateria and maybe grab some lunch at an authentic Italian restaurant. Another Idea is when the Freedom Trail takes you to the Old South Meeting House, walk around that area and explore Downtown Crossing and head over to Chinatown and check that out. Boston is so walkable that just heading off on foot and exploring on a whim is the best way to see the city. Any "rough" neighborhood is sort of isolated away from the center of the city so you're not likely to just "stumble" into a bad area unless you're trying really hard.

The Faneuil Hall Marketplace ( Faneuil Hall Market Place ) is centrally located downtown. It's a cool area to shop and grab something to eat. There's an area in the center with all sorts of "to go" eateries. It's cool because they have just about any type of food you can imagine. If you're in Faneuil Hall and want an authentic old fashioned Boston style meal, go to Durgin Park ( Durgin Park > Home (http://www.durgin-park.com/web/ - broken link) ). Durgin Park is certainly a no-frills type of place, but it's a unique experience (and the food is good).

You must see the Boston Common/ Public Garden. Even if you don't want to ride in one, it would be a good idea to head to the Public Garden (which is right next to the Common) and see the Swan Boats.

A good way to see the city quickly before you go off on your own is to take a Duck Tour: Boston Duck Tours - The Official Website & Online Tickets . This is a thorough way to get an idea of what you'd like to see in Boston.

There are a ton of interesting museums. The Aquarium ( New England Aquarium Home ) and Museum of Science ( Museum of Science, Boston | Home ) are two of the more well-known stops to see and you may want to. I think they're a bit better for younger children, but still quite interesting. The Museum of Fine Arts ( Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Home ) is wonderful even if you're not too into art. They have mummies and historic artifacts and exhibits from all over the world. The Institute of Contemporary Art is fun too ( ICA Home | Welcome ). I really recommend the Mary Baker Eddy Library ( The Mary Baker Eddy Library ) and it's famous mapparium. It's in the middle of the Christian Science Plaza which is beautiful by itself. The Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum is interesting too ( Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum ).

If you head over to Harvard Square in Cambridge (and you ABSOLUTELY should), you can see the Harvard Museum of Natural History ( Home*-*Harvard Museum of Natural History ) which is a fun stop in the area. Even if you don't go to the musuem, Harvard Square is a historic and fun area.

If you can get tickets to a Red Sox game, I would suggest doing so. It's an experience worth having even if you're not a big sports fan ( The Official Site of The Boston Red Sox | redsox.com: Homepage ). If the team is out of town during your stay, or you just don't want to buy tickets, you can still tour the Ballpark at a reasonble cost ( Fenway Park Tours | redsox.com: Ballpark ). That's a cool experience.

The Skywalk at Prudential Center is a cool way to take in the city... from the 52nd floor of Boston's 2nd Tallest Building ( Skywalk Observatory - The Shops at Prudential Center ). It's located in the Prudential Center which has a big mall at the base where you can find some great shopping if you want. The top floor of the Prudential Center tower is a nice restauarant (called Top of the Hub). It's expensive, but a nice date if you're bringing a partner to town.

The Prudential Center Mall is a good jumping off point to start exploring the beautiful Back Bay Neighborhood (and Mary Baker Eddy Museum/ Christian Science plaza right next door). From the mall, walk over (one block) to Newbury street and just walk East from there towards the Boston Common. The architecture here is beautiful and Newbury Street is dotted with interesting restaurants, cafes and shops. It's a great place just to people watch if you don't feel like spending.

Beacon Hill is a great neighborhood to explore as well. It's perhaps Boston's most elite neighborhood and is home to the prototypical narrow, cobblestoned streets and brick structures that Boston is associated with. It's also home to the Massachusetts State House (brick building, big gold dome) which is a cool site. Beacon Hill is just adjacent to the Boston Common, so you can easily explore both of them together.

The North End is a destination by itself. It's along the Freedom Trail and near Faneuil Hall and the Aquarium so it's easy to see at the same time as those places.

Chinatown is an experience too. It's gritty and fun. It's a short walk from Downtown Crossing and the Boston Common so when you're in that area you could walk over (or take the subway) and see it.

There are thousands of restaurants in town so it's hard to narrow down just a few. Sometimes the best way to find one is just to stop into the first place that looks good. Durgin Park is an authentic experience and Top of the Hub is a nice fine dining place (you pay a lot for that view). L'Espalier is one of the best French Restaurants in the country so if you don't usually get to try that type of food, L'Espalier is a good place to check it out. There are bunches of cheap places in Chinatown for good food. A cool place to grab a drink (or dinner) is CLINK ( Clink. ) at the Liberty Hotel ( Boston Luxury Hotels | The Liberty Hotel )... a luxury hotel that was once Boston's most notorious prison. It's a unique spot. The Black Rose ( The Irish Connection ) on State Street is a real cool Irish Pub with some great Irish cuisine. There are tons more.

Hopefully this gives you a good start. Enjoy your trip!
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Old 04-30-2009, 03:07 PM
Location: Boston, MA
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Here is a list of places all within walking distance from the T (our public transit system): The Arnold Arboretum, a beautiful outdoor botanical museum park owned by Harvard University just outside Forest Hills Station, the Bunker Hill Monument, the Harvard Museum of Natural History right by Harvard Station, the Boston Public Library at Copley Square, Newbury Street in Back Bay, the JFK Museum near JFK UMASS Station, the Museum of Science at Science Park, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Had you come on a weekday, you could have taken a free tour of the State House as well.
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Old 05-01-2009, 07:13 AM
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Woooow...thats great! Thanks a lot guys!
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Old 05-01-2009, 07:15 AM
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We're staying in Westborough because of hotel prices! Hotels are expensive any where near the city.

Last edited by DrTor; 05-01-2009 at 08:12 AM..
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Old 05-01-2009, 11:46 AM
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FYI, you may want to price the costs of commuter rail tickets/gas,tolls,parking for your group against staying closer in near the T. There's nothing wrong with Westborough, but unlike mostmajor US cities, 1 hour outside city limits puts you in an area with a commercial strip & working farms.

If you do stay in Westborough, be sure to drive along rt 30 by Tufts' Vetrinary Center - it has a short but lovely allee, which is uncommon in New England.
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