Can't afford to fly--driving vacation to New England

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by drcmk, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. drcmk

    drcmk DIS Veteran

    Dec 12, 2002
    I'd hoped to fly to San Francisco this summer, but the airfare is just too high. So we are going to drive to New England instead (from PA).

    I would love to hear your suggestions for places to visit in New England. I am traveling with my husband and two teenage daughters. The girls definitely want to visit the New England Aquarium in Boston and a few Boston restaurants. I haven't decided if I want to book lodging for a whole week in Boston or spend a few nights in a few different places. What other New England locales would you recommend we visit?

    Do you recommend Newport RI, Mystic CT? We like museums and historical sites and quirky places and hiking/national parks. Maybe a whale-watch? We visited Smugglers' Notch a few years ago and that was not our cup of tea.

    Thank you.
  2. elphie101

    elphie101 Left my heart in Tomorrowland

    Sep 30, 2008
    Hi there! If history is something you're interested in, and you're up for a good walk (2.5 miles in total) you might be up for Boston's Freedom Trail. There's a red/brick line in Boston that links many of the city's historical sites on a walking trail. They offer a guided tour, but you're more than welcome to just walk it yourself - it's a blast!

    Just north of Boston is Salem, home of the Salem witch trials - they've got plenty of re-enactments and museums in the area as well, and it's quite interesting.

    Hope you find something you like!
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  4. Mkebound

    Mkebound Mouseketeer

    Oct 23, 2010
    Mystic, CT is a great location. Mystic Seaport is a great 3/4 of a day visit and then a dinner at Mystic Pizza (Julia Roberts first movie was based on Mystic) is a must.

    In Boston, there are many great things to do. The Freedom Train is run by the National Park service and links important sites in Boston from the Revolutionary War. The Boston Commons, site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere's House, the Old North Church, the USS Constitution and others. Just outside of Boston is Lexington and Concord, and the National Park Service runs some great sites to visit there as well.

    I'm going to try and talk you out of the Boston Aquarium. My kids love aquariums, and we have visited the aquariums in Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, DC, Chicago, Honolulu and LA and Boston is our least favorite. It's expensive, old, poorly lit and just not that great. If you are looking for a great aquarium with in driving distance of you visit Baltimore.

    If you are willing to splurge on something I'd suggest a whale watching trip over visiting the aquarium.
  5. Mkebound

    Mkebound Mouseketeer

    Oct 23, 2010
    If you are looking for a great nature experience/hiking/etc. Acadia National Park in Maine is about a 5 hour drive North of Boston. It is the best and most beautiful National Park East of the Mississippi River.
  6. wedindis'00

    wedindis'00 Mouseketeer

    Sep 23, 2003
    Arcadia National Park is a must, that place is beautiful and there is plenty to do. I'll also give recommendations to Mystic, great town and their Aquarium is way better than Bostons. The Freedom Trail is also cool. I'd also suggest Plimouth Plantation or Sturbridge Village. The White Mountain area of New Hampshire can be a lot of fun.

    TIAMOMMA Mouseketeer

    Apr 25, 2007
    We're from outside Philly. We went to Boston a couple of years ago and had a great time, but I do find Boston to be expensive (and the parking rates for the hotels will make your eyes pop out). But if you go I'd recommend parking your car at the hotel and taking the subway throughout your visit - they offer weekly passes that are well worth it. The Swan Boats are inexpensive and fun and for an inexpensive meal (and best pizza we've ever tasted) go to Regina's at the North End location.

    Last year we went to the White Mountains in New Hampshire for 5 days, spent a day in Vermont (lots on inexpensive tours that were fun - Ben & Jerry's, Cabot Cheese, Rock of Ages Quarry) and then moved over to Portland Maine for a couple of days. We really enjoyed this trip and it was more economical compared to Boston.

    You'll have a good time anywhere you go, New England is a great place to vacation, especially in the summer.
  8. 3boymthr

    3boymthr DIS Veteran

    Nov 5, 2008
    A love of Hiking/National Parks and history leads to Minuteman National park - which is a great follow up to the Freedom Trail. It also leads to Newport (the cliff walk) and the Mansions. The Adams National Historic Site in Quincy is also beautiful (just south of boston, if driving you'll go right by the exit) . And if you are going to be here in summer don't forget to hit the Cape Cod National Seashore.

    If you love museums then the aquarium is fun but pricey. Your DDs are also the right age to appreciate the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum of Science is also very interesting too bad you'll miss the Pompeii exhibit which is going on now but they'll have a exhibit on "Lost Egypt" opening in May. The MOS also has a ton of reciprocal agreements so check your local museums you may be able to get in there for free or a great discount.

    Mystic, CT is also a great place if you love history - the aquarium there is supposed to be as good as better than the one in Boston and the Seaport is a wonderful place to visit.

    Another great locale is Old Sturbridge Village; an 1830s village that you can walk around. Not as good as it was a few years ago as they got into financial trouble so as there are not as many living interpreters there used to be but still fun and some of the buildings are just lovely.
  9. shoney

    shoney DIS Veteran

    Apr 4, 2005
    Maybe you'd enjoy staying a night or two in different places rather than all in Boston...

    1. Mystic CT - aquarium, whaling museum
    2. Newport RI- mansions, rock walk by the sea
    3. Plymouth
    4. boston area
    5. Salem
    6. gloucester for lunch - watch the perfect storm before you go
    7. Rockport, MA - quirky cute little town with shops...kinda artsy
    8. Then up to Maine if you want...I have been to Arcadia National park but on a cruise...It was beautiful!!!

    ***We also really liked Provincetown on the Cape, but we stayed in town. The ferry from Boston is really expensive***

    have fun!
  10. VAfamily1998

    VAfamily1998 DIS Veteran

    Jan 8, 2008
    If you go to Plymouth, I've heard excellent things about the Jenny Grist Mill

    And if you like ice cream, I HIGHLY recommend going a couple towns over to Duxbury, MA and visiting FarFars.
    Their peppermint stick is amazing...all of their flavors are! :thumbsup2

    If you will be in Boston, see if you will be around for any of the Feast Days in the North End.
    I can't find the 2012 schedule for all the feasts online yet...but here is the website for St. Anthony's If it looks like something you'd be interested in but won't be around that weekend, keep checking around for the schedule of the other feasts.
  11. pilesoflaundry

    pilesoflaundry <font color=green>it doesn't get scratched as ofte

    Jan 7, 2009
    For a peaceful day take the ferry over to block island, ri. It's mostly shopping and the food is expensive but it's nice to do at least once in your life. My kids love going.
  12. ptmmg

    ptmmg DIS Veteran

    Feb 14, 2002
    Cape Cod!!
  13. MinnieForMe

    MinnieForMe DIS Veteran

    May 15, 2007
    Skip the Aquarium - with little kids we get through it in two hours. You could get through it with teens in an hour.

    We, too, love history and the Boston area is filled with it.

    1. Duck Tour (great way to see the city)
    2. Freedom Trail
    3. Definitely venture out of Boston (18 miles) and go to Lexington/Concord. The rangers dress up as uniformed British Regulars and Minutemen. It's fascinating to hear or see the demonstrations. Check their site for show times. It's the MinuteMan National Park.
    4. Plymouth Plantation has the replica of the MayFlower and a Native American Village. I can't remember how far the ride is from Boston but it's doable.
    5. Take a tour of the USS Constitution and a museum. I believe it's in Charlestown Navy yard (right outside Boston).
    6. Bunker/Breed's Hill Monument in Boston. They use to have a show but I haven't been in years.
    7. Rhode Island and the mansions are a beautiful place to visit but expect to pay a small fortune to stay in that area. We looked at a Bed & Breakfast there last year and they wanted almost $600 a night. I believe you can go 20 minutes out for a reasonable price.
    8. Boston Museum of Science has some cool shows (planetarium and laser type shows).

    If you want to venture to our state of New Hampshire. We have the Christa Mcauliffe planetarium with space shuttle simulator. We also have the ocean and mountains.

  14. meg8017

    meg8017 Mouseketeer

    Nov 18, 2009
    I'd also skip the NE Aquarium. Very expensive and not worth it. The Museum of Science is awesome. Definitely hit the North End for dinner, pretty much everything is great, can't go wrong. Grab a pastry at Modern after then point and laugh at the people in the Mike's line. :lmao: (just kidding!) Fire & Ice is a neat restaurant, teens would probably like it. Salem is really neat. Plymouth is good for a day trip. I LOVE that someone mentioned FarFars!! (it's like a hole in the wall place but they make their own ice cream and it is super yummy!). Jenny Gristmill is not worth it in itself, but you can see it walking around historic plymouth center. (Plymough Rock, Mayflower II) Or there's Plymouth Plantation. The John Carver Inn has an awesome pool and you can walk to shops, restaurants and the waterfront. The White Mountains in NH are great, lots of stuff up there, very scenic. Whatever you decide, have fun! :goodvibes
  15. Sheree

    Sheree Mouseketeer

    Nov 27, 1999
    Maria's pastry, with the real Maria! you can definitely spend 2-3 days in boston, lots to see and do
    mystic is good for 2 days on the way to boston
    if you can, go to bar harbor and acacia park
  16. DebMcDonald

    DebMcDonald DIS Veteran

    Aug 26, 2004
    I have to agree with the above. We live in Boston and I also don't love our aquarium. We actually like the Ripley aquarium in Myrtle Beach better....:rotfl: I think the Mystic Aquarium is actually nicer than ours.

    With the ages of your girls the Isabella Gardner Museum or the Museum of Fine Arts could be fun. Eating in the North End is a must - you really can't go wrong and it's also just fun to walk around the area.

    I also would NOT recommend the plymouth plantation.
  17. bemily

    bemily Mouseketeer

    Sep 19, 2002
    If you are coming in the summer, I would actually stay outside of Boston and do day trips to places, including Boston. I live in Gloucester, Ma, (someone suggested it and watching the movie "The Perfect Storm" before you come), which is a great idea. You can stay in this area (Gloucester/Rockport) and actually take the train into North Station in Boston (which is part of the TD Garden) and plan a couple of days do stuff in there (maybe one day do the Museum, another doing the Freedom Trail. Pizza at Pizza Regina as someone suggested as it is my favorite as well). Then, you can go to one of the awesome beaches up this way. You can take the train from this area also into Salem as someone also suggested (look up train from Boston to Gloucester and you can see the route). I honestly dont think it is worth it to stay directly in Boston for a week with parking prices, etc, and to stay in one of the beach towns up my way and take the train would really be an enjoyable week). Then, you could also head up to Maine for the day if you wanted (outlets in Kittery?) or up to the White Mountains for an overnight...

    Just ask if you have any more questions!
  18. drcmk

    drcmk DIS Veteran

    Dec 12, 2002

    The last time we visited Boston, we stayed in the Summerdale Suites in Waltham (Free parking, much cheaper), drove to a T station and used that to go to town every day. What other towns outside of Boston are accessible to T stations? I like the idea of watching Perfect Storm first and visiting Gloucester. Thank you.

    Thank you for all of the idea. We are interested in a whale watch and many of the other suggestions.
  19. wlake

    wlake DIS Veteran

    Jul 14, 2010
    I went to school in Boston and love it! Visit the Mapparium at the Christian Science Center -- it's a huge stained glass globe you can walk through! I used to be free. You can ride the swan boats in the Boston Garden too.

    I live very close to Mystic, and it's a good place too. We adore the Mystic Seaport and the aquarium here is good. You can take a steamboat trip from the Seaport down the river to see the drawbridge and then go walk over it. The Denison Pequotseapos Nature Center is cool. It's a short drive to the beach at Misquamicut, RI, (parking there is pricey, though) and Watch Hill, RI, is a fun little town to visit. About a half hour's drive from Mystic is the Southeastern CT Children's Museum, which is lots of fun for younger kids.
  20. Jen_in_NH

    Jen_in_NH <font color=deeppink>waffles and snow seem to go t

    Jun 23, 2005
    If you're looking to go further north, try Portsmouth NH and Portland ME. Both are really neat cities with lots of things to see and do.
  21. englishteacha

    englishteacha Have courage and be kind.

    Apr 2, 2006
    Acadia National Park is great. Boston is fun, too. I also like the Museum of Science in Boston. I don't care for the aquarium.

    Boston is expensive. On our last trip we stayed in Danvers (Pricelined a room) and drove to the T (subway) instead of staying in the city. We stayed for $45 a night in Danvers, and everywhere within Boston was well over $100.

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