We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

visiting boston, & waltham

Which Boston hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Indiana
Level Contributor
41 posts
15 reviews
Save Topic
visiting boston, & waltham

Hi all,

(sorry this is kind of long..)

My husband and I will be going to Boston May 8-13, we will arrive May 8 in the late morning. He has a conferenc in Waltham at the Westin hotel on May 12 and 13, but the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th we are free to explore boston and the surrounding area. (As far as I know he is entirely busy the 12th and 13th so we only have the 8-11 for sightseeing

Since 4 days seems like a long time (we are fast walkers and like to take in a lot of sights, not so interested in eating or shopping either) we thought maybe 1 or 2 of those days we could rent a car, I would like to go see Lexington, Concord, Cape Ann, and Salem - are these too far away from each other to be done in one day? Or should I rent a car for 2?

I'm not sure yet what specifically I'm interested in to see in Boston, most likely the Museum of Fine Arts, the Paul Revere House, Harvard, and the Freedom Trail - I am still looking around on this site to find what else looks interesting.

Also, where should we stay? I am thinking maybe we fly in, go stay in a hotel in a cool area of Boston accessible by foot or public transport to some attractions, then rent a car and while we are renting it relocate to the conference hotel in Waltham - I imagine there is cheaper parking there and then we won't have to navigate the traffic in boston. Or would it make sense to stay the whle time in Waltham? Is there public transport into Boston?

So here are my possible itinerary choices:

8th - arrive in Boston, stay overnight in Boston

9th - overnight boston

10th - overnight Boston

11th morning, rent a car, explore surroundings, overnight in Waltham

or -

8th - arrive in Boston, stay overnight in Boston

9th - overnight boston

10th - rent a car explore surroundings overnight in waltham

11th explore surroundings in car, overnight in waltham

Actually the 11th we have to overnight in waltham because his conference starts very bright and early the next day.

Advice on which itinerary is better??

Thanks

Anya

Boston
Destination Expert
for Boston
Level Contributor
16,344 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

Your plan intent seems pretty reasonable, doing the city and then renting a car to do some day trips. However, since your time is relatively short, I would do your Boston piece first, just in case you decide you need another day in the city you'd be able to. There really is alot to see, even if you do walk fast! You could easily spend a half a day or more at the Museum of Fine Art alone.

Lexington, Concord, Cape Ann, and Salem aren't so very distant, BUT you would want to spend time in each the areas to get the sense of their history and to actually enjoy them. For that reason, I think you are talking two separate day trips: Lexington and Concord as one, Cape Ann (including Rockport and Gloucester) and Salem as the other.

And you're also right about the parking situation. It's very expensive in Boston ($35-40 a night) and probably free in Waltham. Hotel rates should be half, too.

Well, this should be enough to get you started anway.

AlanM

Indiana
Level Contributor
41 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

Thank you Alan.

I'm going to look for hotels then. :)

Anya

Quincy...
Destination Expert
for Boston
Level Contributor
5,788 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

Hi,

Your plan to stay downtown and then relocate to the Westin with a rental car sounds very reasonable. Your hotel is only a 20 minute drive from Minuteman National Park and all of the historic sites in Concord and Bedford. You would also only be about 30 minutes drive to Salem from there as well.

If you enjoy museums, make sure to see the Isabella Stuart Gardner museum, which is a block from the Museum of Fine Arts. It's full of priceless masterpieces of art from Titian, Rembrandt and Vermeer.

Also, the museums at Harvard are worth visiting. The Fogg Art Museum has a great collection of American masters. The National History Museum has a fantastic collection of glass flowers, which are utterly amazing. Harvard is the only place in the world where you can see these stunning recreations of actual flowers, in blown glass. Any pictures just don't do these masterpieces any justice.

…harvard.edu/on_exhibit/the_glass_flowers.ht…

Boston...
Level Contributor
2,894 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

The only advantage to Waltham is that it puts you closer to Lex-Concord and right on thr route to Cape Ann-Salem. That's all I can say about Waltham. One day each for each of those trips which are worth while. It will be generally y easier to stay in Waltham and drive into the city and the other spots than vice versa.But in the evening you're kinda stuck.

Boston...
Level Contributor
1,001 posts
165 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

I agree with two days for the day trips: One for Concord/Lexington and the other for Cape Ann and Salem. For the two days that your husband is in the conference, could I suggest two things you may enjoy near Waltham if you keep the rental car:

-New England Wildflower Society Framingham, MA. To get there you take Rt 20 west through Weston, Wayland, Sudbury then turn into a suburban part of Framingham. It is an fairly easy drive down Route 20. They have a fabulous native plants garden and that time of May there is many shrubs, native flowers in bloom. Just Lovely! -- see www.newfs.org

-DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln is not too far from Waltham.

http://www.decordova.org/

Or if you give up the rental car you could still get into the city using public transportation if you can get a lift to the Riverside Green Line T Station. May be the hotel offers a free shuttle to this station?

If you like Indian food, Moody Street in Waltham has some very good Indian restaurants.

Mineola, New York
Level Contributor
6,407 posts
46 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

Just a thought, many times we will go to Boston and stay at the Double Tree Suites in Waltham. It is really a very easy trip into Boston from there.

Boston
Level Contributor
35 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

A word in favor of Waltham (full disclosure, I work for a museum there.) If you find yourself with some time on your hands in Waltham, there are a few nice places to visit. Gore Place, the 1806 mansion of the 7th governor of Massachusetts, is considered one of the finest examples of Federal period architecture in New England. The addition to the Robert Treate Paine House (Stonehurst) was designed by H. H. Richardson, who also designed Trinity Church in Boston. The Lyman estate has an early 19th century greenhouse. Moody Street is known for some great restaurants and when leaving Waltham for Boston you can head toward Cambridge and drive through Mount Auburn Cemetery, one of the first "garden cemeteries" in America and a prime spot for birdwatching in season.

Check their websites for tour availability.

Salvador, BA
Level Contributor
8,202 posts
1 review
Save Reply
8. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

Lots of great suggestions.

The Lexington-Concord day could also include a trip to the innovative-for-its-time Gropius House in nearby Lincoln, as well as the DeCordova Museum close by.

http://www.spnea.org/visit/homes/gropius.htm

And a visit to Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatmeadows/

The Gardner Museum and the glass flowers at Harvard's Natural History Museum, as beantownman mentioned, are two of my favorite things in the Boston area.

Boston...
Level Contributor
279 posts
54 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

You could stay the whole time in Waltham, since it's easy to get into the city from there: head up 128/I95 for two exits and take Route 2 into the Red Line station in Cambridge. That would give you a little bit of flexibility in your schedule, and you never know what the weather will be like in May. It would be much nicer to take a trip up to Cape Anne on a nice sunny day instead of going on a soaker.

A trip to Lexington and Concord will be extremely easy from the Westin.

Norwood...
Level Contributor
1,269 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: visiting boston, & waltham

Keep in mind that the Alewife Train station in Cambridge fills up on work days. If you drove down Route 2 and found it full you could always head into the city by car BUT it wouldn't be my recommendation. I would vote for staying in the city as long as possible without a car. Once you head to Waltham use your car to tour West and North. Many great suggestions. If you are into clasic literature there are many hot spots to visit as well - Walden pond, the Wayside Inn, Salem/House of Seven Gables etc. The Westin is a nice hotel and the location is an easy jump on and off the highway once you figure out the ramps. There are another 4 hotels right at the same juncture if you are brand loyal to anyone. Also ditto on Moody Street in Waltham. It's one of those old main streets that was run down in the 80's, 90's and is now being reborn with funky restaurants, as the city set expand out to the surrounding suburbs. Waltham was once the pocket watch King and made beautiful pieces, as the digital age came the city took a big economic hit that they are finally shakeing off.