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Boston bound November 14-17

Jackson, Tennessee
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Boston bound November 14-17

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Boston. I have never been further north than Tennessee so I am very excited and very nervous. I have no idea what to prepare for, so if you could please give me some tips. We are flying in and getting a hotel. I read that it would be better to take public transportation than to rent a car. We want to be able to explore the city's history and everything else it has to offer but with some sort of preparation. I don't want to be lost all the time and confused. I really want to enjoy Boston. Thanks in advance.

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1. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

Welcome Chynna! Glad that you have picked Boston for your first trip north. A couple of suggestions: tell the folks here what you enjoy doing when you travel (other than history, do you enjoy museums, boat tours, shopping, etc.) and that will help us to make suggestions specific to your interests. Also, take some time to read through the recent trip reports filed by visitors to the city. There have been many excellent/detailed reports filed recently, some by first-time visitors, that provide highlights of their trips - hotels, restaurants and sites. Then you can get some ideas of what appeals to you and you can come back with some specific questions for us.

And definitely, no need to rent a car - our public transportation system (called "the T") makes it easy to get around the city without one.

Edited: 04 October 2013, 20:50
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2. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

Hi Chynna,

Do you know where you will be staying? Boston hotels are unfortunately quite expensive, but if you can manage it, you will enjoy your trip more if you stay in a central location, such as Back Bay, Quincy Market, or the North End, or Cambridge.

As far as tips, it's difficult to give really general tips, but here are a few:

Don't rent a car unless you really want to explore outside of the Boston Metro area. Given that this is your first visit and you are only here for three days, you probably won't have time for that anyhow.

Plan one dinner at a nice restaurant in the North End

Plan half a day to walk the Freedom Trail. Start at the Boston Visitor's Center on Boston Common. You can also get a lot of good information for the rest of your stay if you start there.

Bring good comfortable walking shoes, because you will be doing a lot of walking

The T is very easy to use and there's no reason to be intimidated by it. People will be glad to direct you if you are not sure where to go.

Bring layers of clothing. In early November the weather can vary widely, from warm and sunny to cold and rainy, and there is a small possibility of freezing cold and snow as well (though not likely). If you are used to Tennessee weather, you will probably find it cold.

Make sure you walk on the following streets if you have time:

Back Bay:

Commonwealth Avenue

Newbury St.

Beacon Hill:

Charles St.

Mt. Vernon St.

Acorn St.

South End:

Tremont St.

Union Park

Dartmouth St.

Montgomery St.

North End:

Hanover St.

Salem St.

Parmenter St.

Hope that helps. Have fun!

Edited: 04 October 2013, 21:01
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3. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

You've received a lot of good tips so far. I just wanted to add that you may want to consider doing a duck tour, trolley tour, etc. on your first day because it will give you a good overview of attractions and the city. You definitely don't need a car-- Boston roads can be a tad overwhelming and it is really easy to get around. Boston is known as a walking city so as BeantownMan mentioned, bring comfy shoes because Boston is a great city to see on foot! (But there is the T if you need a break from walking or are going far).

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4. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

A couple general tips for your visit:

Although Bostonians are not as outwardly friendly as Southerners, they are almost always willing to help someone in need, so don't be shy about asking for help if you need street directions or recommendations. You're unlikely to hear someone's life story or make a lifelong friend, but you're not likely to be treated rudely either.

Read as much as you can on Trip Advisor of recommended things to do, restaurants, etc and see what appeals to you. As you plan your trip, I recommend buying a Boston travel guide (the Eyewitness Series or Fodors or Lonely Planet books) or borrowing one from your local library if you can. There's a lot to do and see in the Boston area, and narrowing down your options is sometimes the hardest part of a trip here.

Most visitors are amazed what a nice place Boston is, and the TA forums are filled with trip reports from people who have had a great time here, so don't be too nervous. The main tourist areas of Boston are very safe and filled with people, so you are unlikely to get into trouble in the "big city".

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5. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

Go to your local library and get a good guidebook on Boston and also take a look at a map of the city, whether online or in the book, to help get your bearings and to look at locations of possible hotels in relation to the places you wish to visit. Read up on the various sites so you have a general list of things you want to see and then we can help yo fine tune your plan. You definitely do not need a car, it is expensive to park and narrow Boston streets were planned way before the invention of cars! You can get just about anywhere you need o go using the T. Definitely choose your hotel wisely and ask here before booking, as many hotels on the big booking sites have attractive rates and advertise themselves as being in Boston(such as "Boston/Burlington") but they are not, they are out in the suburbs. Happy Planning!

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6. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

Great advice so far!

As for weather, it could be cold, but Nov in Boston won't be any different then say Jan.Feb in Tennessee. You could get snow but unlikely, in fact you'd be more likely to get snow in Tenn in Jan.. Dressing in layers is a good idea. Your outer layer should be a good weatherproof windbreaker with a hood, if you where glasses bring a ball cap (or buy a good Red Sox cap for a souveneir).

You'll definitely be walking the Freedom Trail. Brush up a bit on your American Revolution history. It will add meaning to your visits to Bunker Hill, Boston Massacre, Old North Church and other sites.

Definitely stay in town!!! Being right here and walking out into the cityscape will add immeasurably to your experience, plus not dealing with commuting in will add time to spend enjoying town. NO car!

Get a good map of Boston - AAA? Print out a map of the MBTA. You won't get lost. Most everywhere you will go is within a 4 sq mile area. Fenway or Harvard Square are 10 minutes away from Downtown (Boston Common).

Oh, and bring your appetite for great seafood, Italian and Chinese.

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7. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

Just wanted to add that the Freedom Trail is marked on the sidewalk by a red line--so you don't have to constantly check a map or worry that you will get lost. Boston is fairly compact.

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8. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

Great choice! Boston is a lovely city.

The most important decision to make is where to stay. It's important to stay in a central location as Boston is a fabulous walking city (the T is convenient as well if you tire of walking). Once you get outside of the central areas, some hotels are somewhat convenient and some aren't. You really don't want to be staying "in the middle of nowhere" if you can hep it. It's not as wonderful an experience as being able to come and go from your hotel and stroll to fun places.

Feel free to ask for help selecting your hotel.

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9. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

Welcome to the forum! You have come to the right place for advice as you can already see! As mentioned get familiar by looking at some of the threads on this site. Particularly to the right the Top Questions for Boston and Massachusetts. Once you do a little research, post a new thread with specific dates you are coming to town, and specific details of what you like i.e. shopping, sports, restaurants, theater, etc. We will then be able to further direct you. I think it is a great idea to have a loose schedule in place for your visit in order to maximize your time here. We can let you know if your plans are realistic.

Some helpful websites away from TA are:

www.MBTA.com - our public transportation system, has a trip planner tool, do NOT get a rental car

www.artsboston.org - theater website

www.tdgarden.com - home of the Boston Bruins (hockey) and Celtics (basketball), as well as other events

www.boston.com - local news, has good listings on things to do

www.bostonusa.com - greater Boston visitors and convention website, good info

10. Re: Boston bound November 14-17

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