Travel With Me.........
Last weekend we went on a whirlwind college trip to the Boston area. Here are some thoughts on our successful journey!
Here is a link to our planning thread last week:
We left last Friday (10/11) at 6.30am from upstate NY - heading east on route 90 with my wife and daughter. It was an uneventful trip - stopped at the Turnpike rest stop near Lee - who knew they would have a great little farmer's market there?! I think they just sell sunglasses at the NY Thruway stops! Had a 1/2 hour delay about an hour from Boston. A tractor trailer had litterally gone off the road, into the guardrail and started tipping down a hill. A crane was there bringing it back upright! Luckily, one lane was open, so we got through.
We drove straight on in to our first stop at Boston College. They have a huge parking garage there, and parking was easy. For college visits, they will validate your parking - so no costs. In hindsight, I'm glad we chose to drive between schools as oppossed to trying to take the subway. I think it was the right choice for our itinerary. Thanks, TA forum for the advice last week!
We had just enough time before 2:00 to grab a sandwhich at an on campus eatery (at the bottom of the huge staircase!) Boston College was beautiful. Loved the architecture and Chestnut Hill Reservoir! It did not hurt that the weather was sunny and in the mid 60s. The info session and tour lasted about 2 hours. After, my daughter asked our student tour guide a few more questions. We left and headed over to Cambridge.
Side note - crazy roads in Boston! (I knew that from our last trip, but thankfully the GPS got us everywhere correctly). Just pay extra attention "newbies". I felt lucky we did not have any issues with the wild streets, intersections, darting pedestrians and bikers!
We did not have a formal tour at Harvard, since we there late in the afternoon. We did find street parking on Plympton Street. (They have pay and display parking kiosks there, that take credit cards). Walked to the Harvard visitor center, and got a $2 walking tour map. Spent about an hour walking around campus and the adjacent streets. This would definitely be a stretch school for our daughter, but she wanted to see it while we were in the area. Amazing architecture. Interesting vibe there and around campus. My favorite building was The Sanders Theatre. (Memorial Hall)
After our walking tour, it was getting to be dinner time. We could either eat around Harvard, our hotel, or try to go downtown. Our daughter really wanted to go downtown, so we gave it a shot! We drove right down Massachusetts Ave to Main St., and across the Longfellow Bridge. It was a fairly easy trip. With traffic, it took about 1/2 hour. Unfortunately, I had not really planned on this trip, so we were "winging it" for parking. We saw a few garages that were like $30 for the first hour, and passed. We decided to try to find street parking. In hindsight, I might have tried New Sudbury St. It's close to Faneuil Hall, near a police station, and it seemed to have some decent street parking. Unfortunately, we did not see that until after we left!
After driving around the area for about 1/2 hour with no luck (and some crazy traffic), we were about ready to give up but we found ample street parking by City Hall on Cambridge St. It was about 7:10 and we had several meter spaces open there. (near FedEx). For only a few dollars, we got 2 hours of parking there, and walked down to Quincy Market Area. We did some window shopping and grabbed a quick dinner there and dessert. There were tons of people there and some outdoor bands playing. My daughter was satisfied with this quick trip to downtown (which she loved).
We left and the GPS took us up Cambridge to New Sudbury, and then just a few blocks and we were right on 93 heading out of town - easy on ramp there! We were excited that we got to go over the Bunker Hill Bridge at night - beautiful!! The GPS kicked us off 93 and over to the Concord Turnpike and out to our hotel in Waltham. The whole trip out was less than 30 min.
Why we stayed at Hilton Garden Inn in Waltham - we got a reasonable price there ($145/nt), it was easy on/easy off route 95, free parking and a nice, clean place. If we were in Boston for seeing the city or sightseeing, I would have leaned toward staying downtown, parking the car and walking everywhere or using the subway. For this college trip, I was glad we did it this way. The hotel was very good and had some nice "extras" - Keurig coffee maker, microwave and mini frig. We chilled out before going to bed and planned our attack for SAT.
SATURDAY - another early morning - headed out around 7:45. Gas stations are right near the hotels by the Hilton Garden. I wanted to leave plenty of time in case of traffic, but we did not need it. The drive down 95 and then into town on 90. Got to Northeastern around 8:15. They also have a parking garage which was free for families on campus tours. Northeastern tour started at 9:00, so we had time to grab a bagel at the cafe near the visitor center. Very impressive visitor center! Info session was good, and we took the student led tour which started around 10:00. Our daughter really liked NEU. So around 10:30 people started leaving the tour to go to the 11:00 Boston University tour. It's too bad they don't time this better and have tours that are about 1/2 hour difference from the end of the other one. So many people were visiting both on that day, so they had to either leave NE early or miss 1/2 of the info session at BU.
We chose the latter, as we felt the tour was more important then the info session. And, since she liked NEU, she wanted to see the tour. We actually still left it while it was going on at about 11:10. We drove to BU and I dropped them off while I found parking. They missed about 1/2 the info session. I missed it all finding parking. The tours leave from the east end of Bay State Road, so I drove up and down Bay State, Back St, and Commonwealth. Finally I found a tight meter space on Bay Street, about 4 blocks up from the admissions center.
Met up with the family for the tour. We went about 1/2 way down the campus to the west (did not make it to west campus) on the tour. What a long, narrow campus! A very urban feel to this campus and feels like it is right in the City being close to Commonwealth Ave. The tour ended around 1:15. We grabbed Subway for lunch, and off we went back home! There was a 20 min backup on 90 out around 495, but other than that, it was smooth sailing. We got home around 7:30.
By the way, no issues with the game at Fenway. I think we were out of there early enough to avoid issues. We did see some fans starting to come into the area as we left.
Overall, it was a great, quick trip. Our planning and TA forum definitely helped. (and the GPS!). We had a long discussion on schools on the way back, she is excited about Northeastern and Boston College, so they are definitely "on the list". Total parking costs for 2 days, four colleges, and a trip downtown: $8! (all at meters, NE and BC were free)
I also can't believe how many schools are in the area (someone said around 60?!). We will see how the rest of the application and college process goes this year!
Thanks, Boston TA forum!