Boston – Been there a bunch of times but had never really seen the city. Having gone to college less than an hour away and having friends who live in the area, I have been to the greater Boston area many times in the last 20 + years. A lot of those trips involved running (cross country races at Franklin Park, indoor meets at BU and Harvard; outdoor meets at Northeastern’s track in Deedham), or stops in Cambridge (to visit Harvard Square or hang out with the great Jason Targoff and Marcella Anderson and/or the Sheatocks). During these prior visits, we neglected to visit some of Boston’s best and well-known tourist spots. So when Jennifer snagged some super-saver airfares to Boston on Jet Blue, we decided to really focus on the city.
We decided not to rent a car during our stay and elected to use mass transportation, as parking in most cities is a hassle and expensive. Boston is serviced by the T, which can be accessed from Logan Airport so getting into the city is cheap and easy. I will say getting on and off the very crowded bus at the airport with our luggage, two strollers and the boys was tricky, but not impossible. Overall, the T is not bad and we never regretted our decision to rely on it for the weekend (although we had to change trains quite often during our stay and many of the T elevators smelled like a potpourri of urine, body order and vomit).
Jennifer scored another good deal for our hotel via the Express Deal option on Priceline.com. We stayed at the Seaport Hotel at the World Trade Center. The hotel staff were very friendly and gave each of the boys a little teddy bear when we were checking into our room. The hotel was right by the waterfront, in a section of Boston that includes a lot of recent development. As a consequence, the area has a new and vibrant vibe about it, with a younger crowd and quite a few restaurants and bars. The World Trade Center has a T stop and it is close to the Convention Center and an easy walk to the Children’s Museum.
On Friday nights, the Children’s Museum is only $1 per person so we made it the first official item on our agenda (after a quick dip in the hotel pool). The museum includes three floors of interactive exhibits and can easily occupy a few hours if you’re traveling with young kids. The boys seemed engaged the entire time we were there and were disappointed when it was time to leave. Finnegan’s favorite was the crazy climbing structure just inside the main entrance.
Declan was asleep for most of our visit to the museum, but he woke up in time to play in the store and do some climbing that involved immense concentration (based on the tongue involvement).
Since it was getting late, we walked back to the hotel with plans to eat at Legal Seafood, but the lines and wait time were too long for two hungry boys. We changed our plans and had dinner outside at a restaurant attached to our hotel. Finnegan was either really hungry or was served the best hamburger of his life since he finished the whole thing, which was bigger than his head.
The next morning we got up and tried a breakfast place we spotted while walking around the prior evening. The place was called Flour and it looked good, but wound up being overpriced with slow service and all around it was relentlessly mediocre. The boys ordered dessert so they were happy and dove in face first without waiting for the absurd formality of silverware.
From there we hit the T and took it to Boston Common, the oldest Park in the U.S. The boys enjoyed running around the park, feeding the ducks and snacking on soft pretzels. Because the Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup Finals, it was amusing to see George Washington adorned in a Bruins jersey. We thought about taking a swan boat ride, but Finnegan was not excited about that idea when he learned that he would have no role in the paddling.
After walking around the beautiful Beacon Hill neighborhood, we decided to go on a Duck Boat tour with a combined visit to the Museum of Science. We visited the museum while we waited for our designated tour time and the boys had a great time – especially in the Discovery Center, Science in the Park, and dinosaur sections! We weren’t sure if the science museum would be appropriate for their age, but they loved it.
At first I was a bit leery of the Duck boat as it is very touristy and not cheap. I was also afraid the Duck boat tour would be cliché, but it was actually a lot of fun. From a practical point I am starting to see the value in bus tours: it is far easier to see most cities this way (especially with children) and you can learn quite a bit in a very short period of time. While it has always been my preference to explore new cities on foot and I have long enjoyed wandering around new places and discovery it for myself, that ain’t happening with children in tow. So the Duck boat actually worked out quite well for us And the tour guide was entertaining and informative (although I thought it a tad corny when the tour guide would exhort the passengers to quack throughout the tour). The coolest moment on the Duck tour was when the bus converted into a boat, which then entered the Charles River for short cruise. Finnegan was thrilled when he got to drive the boat!
Sunday morning we headed to Cambridge to visit my long time friend and co-founder of the radical and subversive Providence-based group called FOC! (which existed briefly in 1991 but whose presence was felt for years afterwards). The boys had a good time playing in the sprinklers at the local playground while we had a brief chance to catch up.
After catching up with Jason and his decidedly better half Marcella, we headed back to Boston to walk some of the Freedom Trail. We started at Boston Common and only walked to Quincy Marker and Faneuil Hall because we were side tracked by a street performer called “Kilted Colin.” Street performers can vary widely in ability and frankly I usually do not stick around to watch them, but this guy was quite good and did a combination comedy/juggling/musical act all rolled into one. It was worth the time and both boys seemed quite interested.
Since we didn’t have a lot of time left before our evening flight back home, we grabbed some (overpriced) food at Quincy market and quickly walked back to the T, picked up our bags at the hotel, and headed back to Logan. It was great to finally see some of the typical Boston sights and I’m sure we will be back again before long.
What are your favorite sights, things to do, and places to eat in Boston? Regina’s is high on the list for our next visit because everyone raves about it, but we ran out of time and weren’t able to make it to the North End on this trip.