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View Full Version : OT: Budget things to do in Boston


Theta
03-16-2008, 10:28 AM
DH is going to run the Boston Marathon next month and I will have my 10 and 8 year olds in tow. Could I get some suggestions on things to do?

We are staying at the Westin Copley.

Museums?

What about the Duck Tours, is it worth doing?

Other historical tours?

I get a little motion sick so I am a little leary about boat tours.

Also, restaurant suggestions close to our hotel would be appreciated as well.

TIA

vanillarum
03-16-2008, 10:43 AM
Duck tours are great, but not cheap, and they do go in the water. And usually, you need a ressie well in advance. There is the children's museum, the museum of science that are both great for kids. Take a trip to Faneuil Hall Market, you could spend the whole day looking at the shops and restaurants ! I would qualify that as a "must do ". Good luck and have fun !! :thumbsup2

Auggietina
03-16-2008, 10:47 AM
The Freedom Trail is a walking tour.

http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/

My 10 year old dd really enjoyed Paul Revere's house and the town hall museum.

We also did the Duck Tour and it was really fun. We also did the trolley one day and I enjoyed that tour more than the Duck tour.

There is the Boston Museum of Science which is a hands on museum that is also a lot of fun for kids

http://www.mos.org/

MM27
03-16-2008, 10:49 AM
The NE Aquarium is about $20 for adults and $11 for kids. Well worth the money.

hsmamato2
03-16-2008, 11:46 AM
A great deal that we did last time we went was to head to Quincy marketplace- you can wander here for hours,you can either get a map at one of the stores for free or cheap-and follow the freedom trail yourself,or sign up for a tour guide,which looked fun,but we didn't.... we found some places on the trail,then took the local boat ferry over to the USS constitution,which was GREAT- a free tour over there,and the boat ferry is CHEAP- like 2.00 pp each way across the harbor,and the dock is a short walk from Fanieul hall
- Don't bother with the big tourist boats- we found out about the cheap ferry from a worker in the faneuil hall stop on the trail,we checked it out,then asked a local persons advice on the best way to see more-(like rachael ray!)
We also used the metro trains,very easy to get around town that way-
my kids love the museum of science,but it can cost to get in-it's great- the museum of fine arts is very nice too....
Quincy market is a good place to find lots of food choices too

crjack
03-16-2008, 11:51 AM
I believe the Childrens Museum is only a $1.00 on Friday nights. Not sure if you will be in town on Fri but it's a nice place to visit if you are.
Also, if you go to Quincy Market you should walk down to the North End. Great food and pastry.

JacobsMommy11002
03-16-2008, 11:51 AM
The NE Aquarium is about $20 for adults and $11 for kids. Well worth the money.


If it were me, and I were choosing between the museum of science or the aquarium, I would go with MOS. There is just way more to do there. Its funny, as a kid I used to love going to Boston and the aquarium. As an adult, the aquarium is a let down to me....but that is just MHO.

MichelleinMaine
03-16-2008, 12:42 PM
DH is going to run the Boston Marathon next week


Just checking that you know the Boston Marathon's next month (21st, I think?) Not next week. Good to be early, not sure that early! ;)

Keep in mind that is school break week in Mass. The museums and stuff will be crowded. (Of course, half the state will have fled to WDW, lol, but still lots of people with free time.)

Adding on to what some others have suggested, the Freedom Trail is the best "budget" thing to do. It's a small amount to get into Paul Revere's House, donations to Old North Church (I think you may have had to pay a small amount to go into Old South. Last time we went, we were in a group so things had been settled in advance.) It's a good dose of Colonial History and VERY well marked (follow the red bricks in the pavement). I haven't ever been on Patriots Day (been to the Sox game that day, but not FT) but I'd imagine they would have special events around that as well. (Lexington and Concord- right outside Boston, would surely have something going on.)

USS Constitution would be a must see (free). That's my DS's favorite part of Boston (lucked out he and I got to go on a turn-around cruise on it one fourth- whoo hoo!) They have a little museum there as well.

Bunker Hill Monument is right near The Constitution as well. The "mini Washington Monument", as my kids call it. Warning though there is no elevator if that's an issue.

I saw someone post about the ferry to Charlestown (were the Constitution is)- we always just walked it. Depends how budget you want to be :)

The trail ends (or begins, depending how you go) at Boston Common. Right next to that is the Public Garden. They have swan boats there that we try to ride every year. (It's just a couple dollars.) If your boys ever read Make Way for Ducklings, this is where Mr and Mrs Mallard lived. There are even statues of Mrs and the ducklings (Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack!) (And my 11 year old still has to run ahead to take a seat on the ducks :).

We always have to hit FAO Schwarz as well. (Only budget if you can get in/out without spending money, lol.)

I don't think anyone mentioned the behind the scenes tours at Fenway Park. (around $10 I think?) Even if you're not big Sox fans, it's need to go behind the scenes/on the field of a MLB ball park!)

As said too, the trolley tours are fun. They pretty much follow the Freedom Trail (including the Const, I believe) You can get on/off and you get a fun narration (we do the Old Towne Trolleys.) Depends on your budget and how much walkers your guys are. The narration is nice (if you walk it, pick up a book explaining the sites. I got mine at the Bunker Hill Museum. I'm sure they have them at Faneuil Hall and Old South at least too.

We love the Duck Tours. They aren't cheap though and I'd get a reservation. They only go into the river (eg not the harbor), so I wouldn't think it would be too wavy, but we dont' have issues with that either. When DS was little, he got to "drive" it down the Charles. Not sure if they still do that or not.

As said, there is the aquarium, Museum of Science and Children's Museum. Nothing budget about any of those, lol (though if you have a passport membership from another science or children's museum, you can get into MoS or CM free.) Out of the 3, our choice would be MoS for your ages.

The T (subway system) is a great way to get around (don't drive- esp on Patriot's Day!!)

npmommie
03-16-2008, 12:59 PM
J

We always have to hit FAO Schwarz as well. (Only budget if you can get in/out without spending money, lol.)



Lots of great suggestions!!
FAO Schwartz is closed down :(

Things will be crowded in town that weekend, so just expect that, but it is sooo much fun going to the marathon, my hubby usually runs it too, but this year he is not.
The kids and I always get a great spot near the end usually around lord and taylor........but its tough, you have to fight a LOT of crowds!!!

PolyHereWeCome
03-16-2008, 01:31 PM
Wow, lots of great suggestions before I even logged on, especially from MichelleinMaine! Yes, sadly FAO is closed, but, OP, you are in such a great location that you'll be able to walk or T-it (subway) to so many great places. The Westin Copley is a gorgeous place and both inside the Copley mall and all around Back Bay and Downtown Crossing have interesting shops. The Public Gardens and Quincy Market are easily walkable and fun, weather permiting. Dining can be as low or as pricey are you want -- great Italian and Chinese food in those ethnic districts, great seafood at Legals nearby but that is very popular and touristy so wait can be long (and reservations limited). Your hotel will have tons on maps and suggestions at the desk, plus the race itself will be fabulous and crowded and fabulous! MIT and Harvard are fun to walk around and just strolling along the Charles River is so nice! Our children are similar in age to yours and they love the Public Gardens and looking at the flowers and feeding the ducks (bring bread), going to a Red Soxs game (we've always bought in advance but you can buy from interested "sellers" right up until gametime outside the park), Museum of Science (IMAX show is also there, extra charge), Aquarium, Museum of Fine Arts, freedom trail/BunkerHill/Constitution/Faneuil Hall/historical stuff, shopping, eating at Quincy Market and Legals, riding the T (you can get day passes, maybe even multi-day passes, or pay per ride).

Whatever you do, leave the car parked at the hotel -- driving and/or parking will only add unnecessary stress and Boston is truly a walking/subway kinda' place. We'd skip the duck tours, personally, as well as any double-decker bus tour, and just get a guidebook from the library or bookstore and explore on your own.

sanapp
03-16-2008, 01:49 PM
Personally I would't bother with the Acquarium. I would think that your children would enjoy the science musuem though. You get much more for your money there. You have to check out Faneuil hall and it is a great place for you to pick up a quick bite to eat. The freedom trail is a nice walk, but only you know whether you children would enjoy it. They probably don't really care to go shopping I would assume. You could take the T over to Fenway just to get the experience. Given the age of your boys they might enjoy eating at Hard Rock cafe, but that isn't really budget.

DebMcDonald
03-16-2008, 01:56 PM
If it were me, and I were choosing between the museum of science or the aquarium, I would go with MOS. There is just way more to do there. Its funny, as a kid I used to love going to Boston and the aquarium. As an adult, the aquarium is a let down to me....but that is just MHO.


Ditto. I would make sure I visited the MOS over the aquarium.

Also Hanover Street for an Italian dinner with a visit to Mike's Pastry. Everyone has a favorite, but my is Giacamo's (sp).

Theta
03-16-2008, 04:01 PM
Just checking that you know the Boston Marathon's next month (21st, I think?) Not next week. Good to be early, not sure that early! ;)

!)

:rotfl: Yes, next MONTH, I just purchased my flights this morning and I thought I better get-a-plannin'!

Thanks SO much for all the GREAT suggestions!! I am getting pretty excited now!

StillPinballFamily
03-16-2008, 04:16 PM
Yep - the Boston Childrens Museum is $1 per person on Friday nights from 5-9 p.m. There's usually a (short) line of folks like us who get in line at the cashiers around 4:45 to wait to get in at the discount rate. The museum usually isn't crowded at all during these hours, too! Not sure if the giant milk bottle outside the entrance will be selling ice cream/snacks then or not (too early in the season?), but that's fun too, if it's open.

Oodles to do for kids of all ages at the Museum of Science - and also at the much smaller but fun MIT Museum. The Mapparium (a walk-through stained glass globe) at the Christian Science Center is fun (for a few minutes) and I think is only $1 or a "goodwill donation" - I forget. Not worth a special trip, but your hotel is VERY close.

Dim sum (from early morning until late night, daily) at either the Emperor's Garden (on Washington Street downtown at the edge of Chinatown - my fave) or the China Pearl are fun, cheap, and fascinating for kids. Even the pickiest eaters would probably eat plain rice or chicken, while everyone else can try good stuff from the carts as they're wheeled around.

iggbees
03-16-2008, 05:04 PM
Dim sum (from early morning until late night, daily) at either the Emperor's Garden (on Washington Street downtown at the edge of Chinatown - my fave) or the China Pearl are fun, cheap, and fascinating for kids. Even the pickiest eaters would probably eat plain rice or chicken, while everyone else can try good stuff from the carts as they're wheeled around.

i like dim sum, but when we went to china pearl we had the WORST and i mean, worst service. we kept waiting and waiting and no carts were coming to us. i've been to dim sum before and never had to be so aggressive as i was there. they seemed to all go to the families that they knew. we got so annoyed after only having 3 different dishes that we left (all i wanted was some pork buns!). as soon as they saw us ready to leave they were very attentive though (what a surprise!).

i liked the other one across the street better (i can't remember the name).

there are a lot of great ideas here. my friend and i are always looking for things to do in boston when i go visit her. we usually end up going to quincy market and walking around.

duck tours are ok. i went on one back in 8th grade and we had a good time, but they do go in the harbor.

if you want to walk around harvard square area, there are lots of neat shops and some good restaurants there (if you like coffee, i recommend peet's).

here's a good starting point too. http://www.boston.com/travel/boston/for_the_kids/

http://www.theinsider.com/Boston/attractions/attractionsforkids.htm

JacobsMommy11002
03-16-2008, 05:15 PM
Ok, I am a dim sum challenged, so I need help. I guess I don't "get" it. Do they walk around with different foods? How much does it generally cost? We have been looking for an overnight getaway, and this may be it...we are only 2 hours from Boston. We can leave on a Friday, no problem, and do the Children's Museum that evening for cheap, maybe arrange a tour of Fenway the next day and do some shopping or the MOS, and have a pretty cheap weekend. Dim sum sounds intriguing, and I'd like to work it in, if I "got" it.

StillPinballFamily
03-16-2008, 05:23 PM
I do LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Emperor's Garden (an old theater - you have to walk upstairs to get to the dining room - it is huge!) but friends love the China Pearl and when I've been there with them the food was good - and we didn't have that awful experience with the crappy service. At the Emperors Garden, I can assure you, the parade of carts begins trundling over to your table the second your fanny hits the seat! A party of four can totally pig out for under $25...

Also, meant to second, or third...(sadly) skip the aquarium. It is expensive and in need of updating inside. You can enjoy a sea lion exhibit from outside the entrance while you're walking around the harbor area.

StillPinballFamily
03-16-2008, 05:42 PM
Ok, I am a dim sum challenged, so I need help. I guess I don't "get" it. Do they walk around with different foods? How much does it generally cost? We have been looking for an overnight getaway, and this may be it...we are only 2 hours from Boston. We can leave on a Friday, no problem, and do the Children's Museum that evening for cheap, maybe arrange a tour of Fenway the next day and do some shopping or the MOS, and have a pretty cheap weekend. Dim sum sounds intriguing, and I'd like to work it in, if I "got" it.

Here's how it works (at least here): You get seated at a table (your own, not shared), and a blank card/bill gets placed on your table with the tea. Women pushing carts of cooked dishes stop by your table, lift the lids off little pans, plates, or bamboo steamers of foods and show/tell you what they have on their cart. Sometimes, their English can be pretty broken (!),but we've never had a problem communicating. The carts all have something different - usually 4-5 different things on each cart. If you want something, point to it or just nod at the woman and she will put it on your table and use a small rubber stamp to mark your table bill for the price of that dish. Most are two or three dollars. If that cart doesn't interest you, just shake your head and say no thanks and another cart will be along in a few seconds. If you'd like something particular (steamed pork buns!!!) that isn't on that cart, say so and the right cart will be sent over to you ASAP. There are lots of noodle dishes (big noodles with different fillings - meat, pork, or shrimp,), barbequed pork buns (steamed, sweet, or my favorite... one called a "ham-soy-ga" one that is fried - OMG!), all sorts of dumplings, shrimp balls (yum!), sticky rice, and all sorts of interesting things. If you don't like something, no biggie - you probably only spent a dollar or two on it. Move on! At the Emperors Garden, there is a separate area off to the side that has the more (ahem...) "exotic" foods that can be sent over to you, if you wish. Chicken feet would be the tamest - we're not courageous enough to try this area! When you're done, you just give your your stamped card to one of the waiters or men in suits who circulate constantly through the room - they'll total it up and you pay them. It is so easy and fun! It is wonderful to see several generations of families eating together, lots of new and yummy foods, and get outta there totally full for short money.

Hope this helps - we love dim sum in Boston's Chinatown - can you tell?:laughing:

tiggrsbride
03-16-2008, 06:04 PM
Great ideas for Boston! We have done all of them at one time or another. I agree that Museum of Science would be the must do of the museums. I loved the Duck Tours! Pricey but worth it! The Constitution and Quincy Market are freebies that are fun! A canoli tour of the North End is a good way to spend a couple of hours. Bring your walking shoes and stick to the T.

We did Dim Sum at China Pearl during Chinese New Year. It was very inexpensive (16 bucks for a family of 4) but we were mixed on the food selections...many times we were told the items were meatballs. Not quite! Bean paste balls, other oddities. It was fun, an adventure, and we enjoyed snacking elsewhere later in the day. Be careful browsing the shops for authentic chinese merchandise. DD was looking for a traditional outfit, and we ended up looking at kimonos next rows of porn!

Enjoy your trip and good luck with the marathon. We live in a town close to the start and enjoy all of the excitement of Marathon Monday!

MichelleinMaine
03-16-2008, 06:08 PM
FAO Schwartz is closed down :(



Oh shoot! I'm glad I foudn out before our next trip, though! Shoot, walk over there and see it closed- I'd have a couple of ugly kiddos!!

chatchdvc
03-16-2008, 06:22 PM
Other historical tours?



If you have a car, and don't mind getting up early, the battle of Lexington is re-enacted every year on Patriot's Day (aka Marathon Day). Unfortuately, its at 5 am, though.
It is budget, however- Free!

kristilew
03-16-2008, 07:34 PM
Lots of great suggestions. I skimmed, so forgive if someone already mentioned these:

We read Trumpet of the Swan the week before we went, then rode the swan boats. Also, dd loved playing in the Frog Pond and seeing the Make Way for Ducklings statues, all at Boston Common.

DD also read Johnny Tremain, which made it more interesting to see some of the Freedom Trail sights.

Boston By Foot tours does a fabulous, shorter, one for kids called Boston for Little Feet. The leader was awesome, and dd really learned a lot about colonial history and architecture. (so did we!)

There is a series of tour books for kids for different cities. Kidquest We're There, Boston is the one for Boston (duh). I ordered that then kind of built our plans around the sightseeing they had. There are scavenger hunts at the various sights, bus tour bingo, count the flags at the state house, things like that that make historical touring fun for kids. These books are perfect for the 7-10 year old set, and you have a great memento of the trip when they're all filled in. Amazon sells them.

Have fun!

jeankeri
03-16-2008, 07:49 PM
My sister and I used to love visiting the Christian Science center next to the Prudential Center (and right next to where you are staying as well). We are not Christian Scientists, but the tour of the church is free and we just thought it was the most amazing place. They have a good information center and an awesome walk through globe. It has a walkway that goes through it and you can stand in the center and all the countries are illuminated around you. Again- free and very cool. They just re-did the globe about 10 years ago. I haven't been there since the re-do.
Copley Place- the shopping gallery that is on the ground floor of the Copley Westin and Marriott hotels- has a really nice movie theatre inside. About 4 good sized theaters and 6 smallish ones.
I do not know how long your trip is, but the Museaum of Art is about 4 stops from you on the green line trolley. Very cool place for boys- Egyptian mummies and other fun stuff. On weekends they have family days where you can do scavenger hunts through the museum. There website will have a schedule of events.
BTW- I love the aquarium! One of the trolley tour companies has free tickets if you take their tour. Can't remember which one- google Boston Trolley Tours and their website will tell you. HTH!

dakcp2001
03-16-2008, 09:13 PM
The Duck Tour IS def worth the money, its a good time for sure!

The Museum of Science is fun, but the best part is the Omnimax Theater (its a dome shaped Imax theater) In my opinion, the Omimax theater is spectacular!

I also agree with the previous poster about teh Fenway Park tour, that is awesome!

Taylar*SamSam'sMommy
03-16-2008, 09:27 PM
One thing that I didnt see mentioned is 5Wits...it's an interactive experience- you walk through and play along with the game as archaeologists looking for a lost pharaoh's tomb. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the group. It's really an adventure and perfect for you'r kids ages..(my girls are 6 and 8 and thought it was great). It is right behind Fenway Park. Something different. Have fun!

soontobewed07
03-16-2008, 10:21 PM
If you are up for a short train ride (20 mins or so ) Salem is a great budget place to do some walking around and there is alot to learn here is the link also I believe they have a pass that reduces the prices of addmissions to places like the witch museum etc... Here you go http://www.salem.org/

MEM
03-17-2008, 08:43 AM
Oh shoot! I'm glad I foudn out before our next trip, though! Shoot, walk over there and see it closed- I'd have a couple of ugly kiddos!!

If you want to see the FAO Bear, they donated it to the Floating Hospital for Children at New England Medical Center - I can see it from my office window - and only two blocks from the Emperor's Garden.

MEM
03-17-2008, 08:46 AM
[QUOTE=jeankeri;23837343]My sister and I used to love visiting the Christian Science center next to the Prudential Center (and right next to where you are staying as well). We are not Christian Scientists, but the tour of the church is free and we just thought it was the most amazing place. They have a good information center and an awesome walk through globe. It has a walkway that goes through it and you can stand in the center and all the countries are illuminated around you. Again- free and very cool.

This is called The Mapparium and I agree that it is a great place to visit.

http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/exhibits/mapparium.jhtml

rdevine10
03-17-2008, 08:51 AM
A few things I could think of....

If you own a membership to a local musuem many are reciporical in Boston (ours is with the Science Musuem and the Childrens Musuem).

Not sure if the swan boats are open yet for when you are going... but the kids always enjoy that.

Fanueil Marketplace... lots of street performers... fun to watch. Dontations are optional.

Also, there is something called the CityPass, which gets you into many attractions for a set price (and a good deal-although I see they just raised the price).

here are a couple links.....

http://www.citypass.com/city/boston/next.html?id=RDMcnaiL

or

http://www.gobostoncard.com/

We have done the $1 Friday nights at the Childrens Musuem and it was fanatastic as well!

PeterPansMum
03-17-2008, 09:31 AM
As said, there is the aquarium, Museum of Science and Children's Museum. Nothing budget about any of those, lol (though if you have a passport membership from another science or children's museum, you can get into MoS or CM free.) Out of the 3, our choice would be MoS for your ages.

Bolding above is mine- we're members of a museum here, and getting into MOS and children's museum FREE! If your kids like museums, I'd look into a local museum and see if they have a reciprocal deal with Boston museums..

Our kids are almost the same ages and our trip is the week before yours!
We're doing a side trip to Plymouth, our kids are REALLY into history. Skipping Salem-not into witches. Also a freebie- the musuem of fine arts is free Wednesday nights.

We're eating at Fire and Ice (Berkeley and St James), maybe McCormick and Schmidts (Faneuil), maybe South Street Diner (Kneeland St), somewhere in the North End. I'll bump up my thread for you- there's a couple more ideas in there.

Theta
03-17-2008, 02:57 PM
Bolding above is mine- we're members of a museum here, and getting into MOS and children's museum FREE! If your kids like museums, I'd look into a local museum and see if they have a reciprocal deal with Boston museums..

Our kids are almost the same ages and our trip is the week before yours!
We're doing a side trip to Plymouth, our kids are REALLY into history. Skipping Salem-not into witches. Also a freebie- the musuem of fine arts is free Wednesday nights.

We're eating at Fire and Ice (Berkeley and St James), maybe McCormick and Schmidts (Faneuil), maybe South Street Diner (Kneeland St), somewhere in the North End. I'll bump up my thread for you- there's a couple more ideas in there.

Yes, we have a local Science center membership and will get into the MOS free!

Thank you for the restaurant names, I will check into them.

I will also check into Fenway and the duck tours!

Theta
03-17-2008, 02:59 PM
Kidquest We're There, Boston

There are scavenger hunts at the various sights, bus tour bingo, count the flags at the state house, things like that that make historical touring fun for kids. These books are perfect for the 7-10 year old set, and you have a great memento of the trip when they're all filled in. Amazon sells them.

Have fun!

I just ordered these! Thanks!

Disers are the BEST!!:thumbsup2