An August 2006 trip
to Boston by gatorgirl1977
Quote: For Labor Day Weekend this year, I decided to meet up with my college roommate. We did everything from the Freedom Trail to whale watching.
When planning my trip to Boston, transportation was upmost on my mind. I selected the Doubletree Boston because it less than a block from the T, or subway, on the Orange line. What a great hotel! Not only was it conveniently located next to the T, it was within walking distance to Boston Commons, the Boston Public Gardens, and the Theater District area. There were tons of restaurants within walking distance as well.Another added bonus was that the New England Medical Center was literally across the street. This might not sound like a big deal, but when I woke up with an ear infection and needed treatment this was a great bonus.
In addition to the wonderful location, the hotel was very clean and quiet. Our room was a standard room with two queen beds and was well furnished with towels, hand cloths, etc. The room had a coffeemaker, iron, hair dryer, etc. as well. We also did not experience any trouble with noise during our 4 day stay. also felt the price was very reasonable. We paid $159 a night, and this included a the holiday weekend.
As far as food available in the hotel, we mainly did room service for breakfast. The food was really good and ran between $10-$13. I recommend the ham and cheese omelet it was very tasty. The last morning of our stay we went to the main restaurant for breakfast. They offer a breakfast buffet with both hot and cold items for $11 a person. The food here was also very good.
The thing that really made this hotel, however, was the staff. There was never a question or a request that they hesitated to fill. The front desk staff was polite and helpful, especially when it came to finding information about health facilities and the concierge was more than willing to make restaurant recommendations/reservations for us. The entire staff was kind and considerate to our every request.
In addition to these things, the hotel was well maintained. The lobby area was set up with several small seating areas to accommodate patrons if they were meeting people or if they wanted a quiet place to hold a conversation outside of their room. The lobby was well decorated and made for a nice setting to enter into the hotel. In addition to the lobby area each floor had a small seating area where patrons could go use their laptops or sit and talk. I saw numerous people using this space.
In addition to appearance and helpfulness, the hotel offered two technology centers where patrons could use computers/printers, faxes, etc. This proved helpful for us when checking our email and then later checking in on our flights.
All in all, this hotel was really a great find, especially for someone who had no working knowledge of the city of Boston. I would defiantly stay here again, and besides who can beat the warm, chocolate chip cookies you get when you check-in!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 8, 2006
Doubletree Hotel Boston - Downtown
821 Washington Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02111
While in Boston, my friend and I decided that we ought to go "where everybody knows your name, and where they're always glad you came." We decided to eat at Cheers on Beacon Street. This pub was originally called the Bull and Finch Pub and was the inspiration for the TV series Cheers.
There are two Cheers restaurants in Boston, this one and the one located in the Quincy Market area. The one at Quincy Market is an exact replica of the one on the TV show. When we arrive it is sufficient to say that the pub was crowded and tons of people where having a blast! The atmosphere is casual and very laid back.
The inside of the Beacon Street Cheers bears some resemblance to the one on the TV show, but it is not an exact match. However, the part of Cheers the show that I remember the most was when the patrons had to walk down the narrow stairs to enter the pub, and this is true of Cheers on Beacon Street. The pub itself is filled with Cheers memorabilia and autographs of famous patrons.
We were quickly seated and both chose to order the Cheers Cheese Burger. It was about $10 and came with fries. It was a really good hamburger! It was excellently prepared and very tasty. The restaurant has numerous other casual dining options like chicken sandwiches and other standard American favorites. In addition to the food, the pub also features a gift shop that sell Cheers memorabilia. We looked around there after we finished dinner. It contains basic mugs, shirts, etc. all bearing the Cheers emblem. The restaurant also has a website. It is www.cheersboston.com It showcases information about both Cheers locations, and you can check out the menu.
Overall, it was a fun way to spend a casual evening. We had a great time, even though due to the crowds we did feel we needed to hurry so that other patrons could enter the space. The waitstaff were slightly harried, but I imagine that I would be as well if I had that many people coming in to my facility.
If you are looking to relive your Cheers fantasies, you would probably be happier with the location at Quincy Market, but this was a neat experience to see the inspiration.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 8, 2006
Cheers Beacon Hill
84 Beacon Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Attraction | "Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum"
Numerous travel books and people who have traveled to Boston told me that I had to stop by the Isabella Gardener Museum. On my last afternoon in Boston, I finally found time to squeeze it in.
When my college roommate and I arrived, we were extremely happy that we had our GoBoston Cards with us as it covered the admission costs. If you don't have a GoBoston Card, the price for admission is $12 for adults and $10 for Seniors. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday 11am to 5pm. We arrived at around 3:00pm and they started to try to close things down around 4:30ish.
My first impression of the museum was that it appeared to be quite small from the outside, but inside it expands and includes an enclosed courtyard. This museum was different from any other museum that I have ever visited. The first difference is in the way the museum was kept. Mrs. Gardner laid specific stipulations about the museum's collection in her will. They were not able to add to this collection following her death in 1924. Therefore any artwork stolen was not allowed to be replaced by other pieces. The museum has had approximately 13 pieces of artwork stolen since the founder's death. They have left the empty frames where the artwork belongs with its description should it be returned. They have also set up a really interesting exhibit on art theft. Some people may think that this would be really odd or uncomfortable, but I thought it was really neat and interesting.
Another difference was in the way that the artwork was displayed. Mrs. Gardner designed each of the rooms in the museum to be like someone's home. There was a cozy sort of feeling to it. The pieces were displayed using fabric backings in some cases, and the groupings were intricate.
Another difference was that in addition to the sculpture, drawings, and paintings, Mrs. Gardner was also an avid collector of historical notes, rare books, and documents. These documents such as letters written by George Washington are available to be viewed. It was really exciting to see notes written by America's Founding Fathers.
The thing about this museum that I found to be truly unique was the courtyard. Between the two sides of the museum is a beautiful courtyard featuring lush, flowering plants. It was bright and airy especially when compared with the dark formally decorated rooms of the museum. There were even open windows from the within the gallery walls that you could look out onto this gorgeously landscaped area.
This museum showcased a wide variety of artists and it was a truly unique experience. If you are looking for something on the scale of the Metropolitan in New York this isn't it, but if you are looking for something truly unique and different check it out. The website for the museum is www.gardnermuseum.org/index.asp if you want to check it out.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Wow! What an experience! If you do not do anything else, do not miss this tour! When coming to Boston, we discovered we were at the last part of whale season. As part of our Go Card (www.gobostoncard.com) benefits we had tickets with the Mass Bay lines to go on a 3 hour whale watching expedition. The company's website is www.massbaylines.com/whalewatch/default.html
Since the whale watching company offers a guarantee that you will see whales or they will provide you with a free pass this was something that I just couldn't pass up. My friend and I hurriedly made our reservations for the next day and went out on the noon boat. The boat was actually run by a group of whale researchers, which was awesome. During our journey out to the feeding grounds we passed by traditional light houses, rock jetties, and the USS Constitution, or Old Ironsides. With the wind whipping our hair, we looked a fright, but were having a blast!
When we reached the feeding grounds we were not disappointed. Right away we were given a show as an adult humpback whale called Compass made an appearance. We watched as Compass and another adult played and swam through the bluegreen waters. After watching the whales play for about 10-15 minutes we moved on to a different section of the feeding grounds where we encountered two calves playing. It was awesome to watch them breach the surface and to fold back into the water with just a flipper remaining.
We then wound around to a different portion and saw a mother with a small calf playing, which was truly awesome. In addition to all the humpback whales, we also were treated to a school of white striped dolphin. I felt like it was a scene out of a movie, a school of 20-30 dolphins rode the wake of our boat jumping and swimming beside us. It was really a unique experience.
This was truly the highlight of my trip. I am so glad that we decided to go. As I previously stated our tickets were included with our GoBoston Card, but tickets can be purchased for about $32 at the Whale stand at the Aquarium. You can't miss it... it has a giant whale sign positioned above it.
In addition, don't forget a jacket and your camera if you chose to head out to view the whales. I was very thankful I had my jacket when the wind started whipping and I was able to get some pictures of the whales though they are very far away. The researchers do sell a CD of the whales that are seen on each excursion which is amazing for $20, so if you can't get pics you can always order the CD. Also, don't forget to grab something to eat prior to heading out on the boat. While the boat sells hotdogs, sandwiches, etc I felt they were a little overpriced.
Overall, this was an unbelievable experience and something not to be missed!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 8, 2006
Mass Bay Lines Whale Watch
60 Rowes Wharf
The theater was located very near to our hotel so we chose to walk to it. We weren't really sure what the play was about, but it seemed like a good way to spend the evening. The play, it turns out, is a Boston institution. It has played almost 26 years in the city of Boston and has been performed over 10,000 times. It is performed Tuesday through Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 6:00pm and 9:00pm, and on Sundays at 3:00pm and 7:30pm. The theater is set up cabaret style with small tables and stools circling the stage area, so your seating assignment is important.
The play is set in a hair salon and features a cast of hilarious, stereotypical characters, such as the flamboyant, male hairdresser, the rich socialite, and the bubble-brained shampoo girl. The plot is basically a whodunit with comedy and improv built in to it. The characters are all set up with possible motives and following the "murder" the audience is given a chance to interview the suspects. After these interviews you are allowed to vote on who you think committed the crime. The actors then play out the performance based on this vote. Because they play out what the vote is if you see the performance more than once it has the possibility of ending differently.
Overall, the play was a fun experience and the actor who played the male stylist definitely stole the show. I don't think that it would be worth approximately $50 per ticket, but it was worth the $23 we paid. My suggestion is that if you're looking for a fun evening then try to grab 1/2 priced tickets.
Charles Playhouse, Stage II 74
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Attraction | "The Freedom Trail"
Another great thing to do while in Boston is to walk the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a marked walking path that is absolutely free to walk. There are several sites on the path that request a small fee ($5 or under) or a donation. Our GoBostonCard, included these fees and donations, so walking the trail was a completely free attraction for me.
The trail is marked by a double red brick line or a wide red painted line. It runs for about 2 1/2 to 3 miles and encompasses sights like Bunker Hill, old graveyards, and Paul Revere's home. This was a really neat thing to do and you could spot people following the trail all over Boston. This is the best way to take in the historical sights. What a feeling to walk down streets where patriots like Samuel Adams and Paul Revere walked!
One of the neatest sights on the trail for me was the Old North Church, where the lanterns were hanging to signify which way the British were invading. The church still holds services today and Paul Revere's prayer box is marked and still maintained by his family. As the trail winds its way past monuments, graveyards, and homes of patriots, you can just imagine the conversations and excitement present during the Revolutionary period of American History. It was really an awesome way to spend the afternoon.
This being said... do not forget really good walking shoes. Also my friend, who has a heart condition grew tired on some of the hills along the trail. People who have physical conditions may need to break up the trail into different segments over longer periods of time. Also, we never found a really good map available of the trail to help plan our progression. There are maps available at the Visitor Center, near the Old North Church, but I found it to difficult to handle and read.
Overall, this was a wonderful way to see Boston and to take in a lot of history. It is something I would suggest that everyone do at least some of if the come to Boston. It was nice to tour the streets of Boston as we wandered from sight to sight, and you just can beat the price ---free!
15 State Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02109
Attraction | "Boston Public Gardens"
Right next to Boston Common, the United States oldest park, is Boston Public Gardens. This is a gorgeous spot where you will find all kinds of places to sit and spend your time. You can view the beautiful flowers, or you can stroll next to a statue of George Washington riding a horse. You can take a ride on the world-famous Swan boats, or you can sit and ponder the cute Make Way For Ducklings Statue. For a park of extremely limited size, the Public Gardens packs a might punch.
The park is well maintained and very clean. Unlike many other public parks I have visited, I didn't notice a large number of homeless there even though we arrive prior to 8am. I felt extremely safe and at peace. The park is free to visitors, and is situated very close to some of the other sights of Boston. It is a quick walk across the street to Boston Common and the T station. Also the Bull and Finch Pub, or Cheers, is located to the south of the park directly across the street.
My friend and I toured the park and found it to be unbelieveably calm and beautiful. There is a lovely wooden bridge that crosses a pond surrounded by willows. The flowers were in full bloom even though it was late August, and it was definantly a refreshing stop. Like I stated earlier it is not a very large garden, but it does contain a lot of things worth viewing. My favorite sight in the park is the Make Way for Ducklings Statue. Make Way for Ducklings is an award winning children's book that is set in Boston Public Gardens. It made me smile just to look at the mother duck followed by numerous baby ducklings. I would have loved to ride the Swan boats too, but unfortunantly they don't run in rainy weather or before around 10am.
This is an experience I can't wait to try the next time I head to Boston! I would definantly return back to Boston Public Gardens if for nothing else than to stop and smell the flowers.
Boston Public Garden
Adjacent to Boston Common
On our wanderings around Boston, while on the Freedom Trail, we crossed the bridge over the Charles River and entered Charleston. In Charleston, we had the opportunity to board and view the USS Constitution. For a ship built in 1794, it is a beauty. The wood is in spit shine shape, the paint looks fresh, and it is impossible to believe that this ship is over 200 years old.
For a ship this old it is hard to believe it not only still keeps water out, but continues to actively sail around Boston. While on our whale trip we caught sight of it out of port, and were really excited to see all 4 masts with sails up. While the USS Constitution still currently sails it is slotted to be put into dry dock soon.
When in port, the USS Constitution is available to board and view. There are two tour options available. The first is a do-it-yourself tour of the top deck. There are Navy officers available to answer questions about the boat; however, this is more have a quick look around at the cannons and such. The other option is a 30-minute tour that includes both the top deck and the deck below. This tour is lead by a naval official who tells you about the history and life on the USS Constitution and takes place about every 30 minutes.
The USS Constitution is made from live oak wood. This is a particularly hard type of wood and led to it acquiring its nickname, Old Ironsides. In the War of 1812, during cannon fire, the cannonballs bounced off with such force and observer stated, "It must be made of iron." It is open during the summer from Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5:50pm, and during the winter from Thursday through Sunday 10am to 3:50pm. It is a free attraction.
It is important also to note since September 11, there are security procedures that you must adhere to prior to being allowed entrance to the it. Make sure you allot enough time to get through security and to view the ship. We did not allow enough time and felt rushed during our visit to the ship. I would love to go back when I wasn't trying to rush to another location. The website for the USS Constitution is www.ussconstitution.navy.mil
In my opinion this is a great attraction for the whole family. Kids will love to visit the ship and dream of pirate adventures, while the adults are wrapped up in it true history.
Pier 1 Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, Massachusetts 2129