Our Trip to Boston

State House - Boston

Massachusetts State House

Kate and I have been working pretty hard at work lately – okay maybe Kate has been working hard – so we decided to take a much needed mini vacation.  Our destination:  Boston, MA.

Boston is renowned for its champion sports teams, world-class educational institutions and for its involvement in the American Revolution. It is also one of the oldest cities in the United States and it was the scene of major events of the American Revolution – Boston Tea Party, Battle of Bunker Hill, and Boston Massacre.  Lonely Planet listed Boston as a Top 10 US Travel Destination because of its rich history.

Boston also has one of the highest cost of living in the United States, which means everything is expensive.

We wanted to enjoy a three-day weekend in Boston without having to spend a crazy amount of money – I guess we wanted to Visit Boston on A Budget.  And I would say that we were quite successful at accomplishing this feat.

Baby Geese in Boston

Baby Geese!!!

Transportation

As many of you know we live in New Jersey, which is about a four hour drive to Boston – without traffic.  I don’t mind driving long distances but I hate traffic and I hate looking for parking.  I’ve never been to Boston but I was told driving in Boston is a nightmare.  And since Boston is one of the most walkable cities in america, our choice was simple – take a bus.

After some research, we ended up going with Bolt Bus.

Our round trip tickets to Boston was $72 with taxes – which is about the same we would spend on gas and tolls if we drove – but not having to drive and look for parking is priceless.  The bus also had free Wi-Fi and outlets to charge our devices.  Okay, the Wi-Fi didn’t work half the time, but it was free and it was on a bus.  Kate kept complaining when the Wi-Fi wasn’t working and I had to remind her that we were on a bus.

The bus also had a bathroom, but we didn’t use it so I can’t tell you if it was clean or not.

Nesting Swans - Boston Common

Swan Nest at Boston Common

Lodging

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a big fan of AirBnB and after finding a great room in Boston for $90/night I’m still a big fan.

We stayed in Chinatown, which was great because we were less than ten minutes from the bus station and Boston Common.  In reality, we could’ve stayed anywhere in Boston and be about ten minutes from everywhere – Boston is a lot smaller than I thought.

Our room was small but it was big enough for us.  The most important part was that the bed was comfortable and the room and sheets were clean.  The bathroom was also pretty clean.

We never saw the owner though.  All the doors had a key-pad and she just provided us with the code.  That was very convenient, but I wish we got to meet her so we could ask her for recommendations.  Overall, the room was great and I would stay there again.

Boston Common

Boston Common

Food and Entertainment

One of the great things about Boston is that there are a lot of free things to do.  We walked the Freedom Trail – a 2.5-mile, brick-lined route that guides you to different historical sites in Boston – and spent some time relaxing at Boston Common – the oldest park in the country. We also toured the Massachusetts State House – the state capitol – and sat in the balcony while the state senate was in session.  Even though I had no idea what they were voting on, it was still pretty cool to see.  We also visited the Otis House ($10 per person) – last surviving mansion in Bowdoin Square.

The only time we took the train was to go to Cambridge and visit Harvard.  I felt smarter just walking through it but I was not that impressed.  I don’t know why I thought it would be more impressive, but it’s a school just like any other school.  Since the semester is over, we also got to check out some of the classrooms.  The campus was full of nice brick buildings but nothing special.

We did, however, visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History ($12 per person) and it was actually pretty cool.  Lots of different animals, an impressive collection of minerals, and a pretty cool glass flowers exhibit.  Worth a visit if you like science.  Did you know that Emperor penguins were 4-ft tall? – I thought they were tiny little penguins.

We really didn’t save that much money on food because you can’t go to Boston and not have a Lobster roll – or shall I say Lobsta roll – which are expensive.  We did find $0.50 oysters at Barracuda Tavern, which was awesome.

Trinity Church - Boston

Trinity Church

Since we stayed in Chinatown, we also had to try some dumplings.  We went to this restaurant where it had some funky stuff in the menu – frog, pig ears, beef tongue, jelly fish, and lots of liver and sauteed blood – but it was also known for its delicious dumplings and there was a line out the door so we knew we had to try it.  We went the safe way and had dumplings, but we also tried the jellyfish to experiment a little.  We did not like it one bit.  It was just weird.

Overall, we had a great time in Boston.  The weather was beautiful, the city was cool, the food was decent, and it was not hectic at all.  I liked it a lot and would recommend it to anyone.

Boston could be expensive, but with a little research you could enjoy the best Boston has to offer for a reasonable price.

Where do you like to go for a weekend trip?

10 comments

  1. I have never been to Boston but would love to. I love big old buildings and history! =)

  2. I have heard and thought about taking the Bolt bus, but quite frankly it has scared me for some reason. Would you recommend it or use it again? Were the seats comfortable? And I hear ya on the wi-fi, I have traveled via Amtrak and had a tough time with their wireless as well. You have to keep it in perspective.

    • Aldo Rancier says:

      I would definitely use them again if it turns out cheaper than driving. The seats were very comfortable actually – way better than airplane seats. I think everybody should try taking it at least once because I was also skeptical at first, but now I know that it is a good option.

      On the way there, we sat on the second row but I had to keep looking up from my movie – yes I was watching a movie – because I kept feeling a bit sick. On the way back home, we sat on the front row and didn’t have that problem at all. Maybe we got used to the motion sickness or maybe being able to see the road helped. Keep that in mind if you take it.

  3. I’m so glad you got to do the Freedom Trail, I think it’s so totally awesome. I was also surprised by how tiny Boston is. I would go on runs when I was working in town and wind up having circled the whole city in an hour.

    • Aldo Rancier says:

      The Freedom Trail was very nice indeed. When we first arrived in Boston, we looked at the map and thought “everything is so far, we might have to take the train there”. But after we arrived at any particular destination, we kept saying “Are we really here already?” I think we’re just used to walking around New York, which is a massive city. I think Boston fits inside Central Park… but don’t quote me on that.

  4. I’ve never been to Boston but it seems like an interesting city with lots of history. It’s quite an expensive city so I’ve heard but it’s awesome you can find an affordable lodging through AirBnB. I gotta try it next time.

    • Aldo Rancier says:

      Home sharing services like AirBnB and VRBO are pretty good. Just make sure you read the reviews of any place you might consider. We don’t pick any places without reviews – might be silly of us, but it makes us feel safer. I’ve used AirBnB many times and in many different countries and I have never had an issue. You should try it sometime.

  5. My friend and his fiance live in Boston and I definitely have heard stories about just how expensive it is there. It sounds like you got some really great deals and saved money where you can. I like to go to Duluth for weekend trips, which is about 3 hours north of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

  6. Looks like you had a good time in Boston…it’s such a great city full of history. And with all the colleges there, there a lot of young people there too so it’s a good time. I go there every year pretty much, but now just go there to visit family.