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September 8, 2011 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Help with last minute planning for things to see in greater Boston Area tomorrow through Monday

My fellow and I are headed to the Boston area for a wedding this weekend. Since we didn't have much time or funds for any sort of vacation this summer, we're making a longer weekend of it than planned -- flying in early Friday (tomorrow) morning for the Saturday evening wedding and staying until Monday night (flight out at 8 PM) We're renting a car on landing and will have it until we leave.

The wedding is west of the city (at the Fruitlands Museum) and based on references from the grooms, we're planning on staying closer to that (around Westford) Friday and Saturday night (because of a pre-wedding dinner Friday night and a brunch Sunday morning) But we're free for the rest of the time, and may choose to spend Sunday night in a different hotel if it makes sense to plan it that way. .

Neither one of us has been to the area or is familiar with it. But I'm trying to get some last minute planning done before we get on the ground because, looking at the map, it makes sense to plan on seeing some sites closer to Boston proper Friday (before we drive out to Westford to check in) and then spending the day Monday doing the same before we fly out.

1) Does that seem feasible to those who know the area?
2) We're mostly interested in historical sites -- colonial, Revolutionary War type stuff -- though will take other suggestions.
3) We also have an interest in Salem if we can assess if the Witch Museum and other sites are 'worth it' -- again, based on location and where our first/maybe only hotel is, it makes sense to me to do Salem on Friday upon arrival or Monday.
4) Any suggestions on (not too pricey) hotels/motels in case we do end up staying somewhere else Sunday night that are closer to things we may want to do Sunday day/evening and Monday.
posted by MCMikeNamara to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: That all sounds pretty good to me. I live very close to Westford and Harvard and would be glad to answer any micro-location-specific questions you might have while you're here or translate MA accents.

I would try to check out Concord and Lexington (such as something like these). It takes about 45 minutes to drive to Boston -- you might want to walk the Freedom Trail if the weather is nice, as you say you like history. When I go into the city, I usually drive to the Alewife T station in Cambridge and take the T from there because driving in Boston makes me swear a lot. Take the red line from Alewife to the Park station and there are guys in tricorn hats trying to sell walking tours on the Common. Ask them where the Freedom Trail headquarters are (it's across the street from the park) and grab a map, even if you don't buy a ticket for the tour.

Have a nice trip!
posted by theredpen at 9:45 AM on September 8, 2011

Best answer: Salem is a tourist trap. The Witch Museum etc. are not the best thing to see. However the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is well worth the trip.

Also, being west of Boston you'll be close to Walden pond and The Walter Gropius house
posted by Gungho at 10:13 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I personally adore Salem for its cheesy tourist-trap-ness. It's around a 40min drive from Boston.
Fruitlands is a good hour from Boston. If you head out there tomorrow, be aware that 'traffic hour' is generally 3-7pm - and you'll want to tack at least an extra half-hour on to your travel time back to the airport. Perhaps more for returning the car.
posted by noxetlux at 10:20 AM on September 8, 2011

Best answer: I was just there this weekend, and if you're planning on doing the Freedom Trail, and walking around the North End/West End and the piers and all that, you definitely won't need a car to get around that area. The T/subway system is very easy to use, but we just walked the whole time. Parking and driving on all the one way streets in Boston was a huge hassle. So think your itinerary through, and maybe take the T from the airport on Friday, and spend that day walking around seeing all the Revolutionary stuff, and then rent a car the next day to go to Salem and other places. You can save some money that way by not renting a car, because if you do rent a car, you'll end up putting it in the garage for ~$30/day, since you won't be able to find parking next to the places you'll want to see.

I recommend walking the Freedom Trail and walking around Hanover Street and all the little curvy streets in between. Stop by Quincy Market (Faneuil Hall) as you're doing the Freedom Trail, there are always street performers there. It's nice to grab food and sit on the stairs and watch the dancers/acrobats/weird ladder juggling guy. Boston Commons park, and walking down Beacon Street, Newbury Street, and seeing all the old beautiful churches around that area was really nice too.
posted by at 10:26 AM on September 8, 2011

Best answer: Since you'll already be out west of the city & have a car, you could do Old Sturbridge Village. I took my history-loving parents there and they were impressed. It's pretty much a full day. Fruitlands is pretty cool too. Try to set aside an hour or two when the exhibits are open to check it out.
posted by libraryhead at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2011

Seconding Walden Pond and Gropius House, and, while you're at it, also the De Cordova Museum, which is near by.
posted by Dragonness at 11:20 AM on September 8, 2011

3rding Walden Pond and the De Cordova. The Old North Bridge battle site (where the "shot heard round the world" was fired) is also worth checking out in that neighborhood.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:12 PM on September 8, 2011

I'm going to go against the grain and say skip Walden Pond. I was incredibly disappointed when I went there. It might be nicer now in the cooler weather, but in the summertime, it has a big built up beach with crowds of children and teen thugs and familie swimming and partying, it is not secluded nor does it lend itself to introspection or anything such as what you would think when going to Walden Pond. Thoreau would not want to hang out there in its present state, imho.

Do the Freedom Trail, check out the Minuteman park in the Lexington/Concord area, and I also recommend strongly the Mount Auburn cemetery if you like historical cemeteries. It is a beautiful, peaceful oasis in a busy neighborhood near Cambridge. Tons of cool monuments, birdwatching, statues, gardens, etc.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:47 PM on September 8, 2011

Mapparium! And if it's a nice day, the Christian Science Plaza there is a good place to rest.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:59 PM on September 9, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everybody for your great answers. I had some stuff come up so wasn't able to plan in the evening/the day of like I expected, so these answers really helped.
  • On Friday we went to downtown Boston and though it was a mess, we did some of the Freedom Trail and Boston Common walking on a beautiful day.
  • Saturday was the day of the wedding and because we wore ourselves out so much we didn't do much but go out to Fruitlands -- which was a gorgeous wonderful spot for a wedding that I couldn't recommend more.
  • Sunday we putz around near the hotel with friends from college who were also there for the wedding ended up checking out and then going over to Walden Pond and walking around the lake. It was fantastic -- again a beautiful day and a great walk to share with someone you love -- especially if you've had a sort of intense weekend (we were going to wedding of my ex -- who is one of my best friends and whom my current partner cares for deeply (and visa versa) but it was the first time I'd seen many of 'his' friends from our college days since we split up, so though it was lovely, it was also A LOT.)
  • We spent the night in a nice hotel cheaply (thanks last minute Priceline) near Salem, and though we didn't go into a lot of the tourist stuff, we did walk around and really enjoyed the House of the Seven Gables tour.
  • Finally, killing time on our way back to the airport, we surreptitiously drove past the billboard for the Don Orione Madonna Shrine, and given that my guy has an almost fetishistic love of all things Mary -- the gaudier the better -- this felt like a literal sign.
A good time was had by all and I really appreciate your effort -- especially the warnings about traffic, which made our Friday early evening trip out to our hotel much better than it may have been otherwise.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:42 PM on September 15, 2011

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