Travel Advice: Boston, New England and NYC

Posted:
in AppleOutsider edited January 2014
Starting at July 24, I will travel to New England for three weeks. I'm interested in the Boston Area, the hills of Vermont, and the coast of Maine. I'll be travelling with a friend of mine by rental car, and we're on a budget (well, we have some money to spend, but the Boston Harbor Hotel would be overkill).



After this three weeks, I'll stay for two more weeks in new York City.



Unfortunately, I did not yet find time to read a travel book. Any travel advice (where to go, what to see, where to stay, etc) from the friendly AI people?



thanks a lot
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    Great time to come. Boston is "empty" what with all the college students gone for the summer (like 100,000 less SUVs clogging the streets).



    Boston is, however, a complete mess for road construction right now, so drive carefully and plan ahead. I'm not kidding, downtown it is often impossible to get from point a to b.



    For shopping:



    Charles Street near Beacon Hill: Many nice little shops, often expensive though.



    Newbury street: Ultra-high end at one end, getting progressively trashier/affordable at the other - something for everyone and many cafe-seating restaurants.



    Copley area: Several indoor malls and interesting places in general like Trinity Church and the Hancock tower (the moneyshot for tourists).



    Boston Public Garden is nice. Not to be confused with the Boston Commons which is less so.



    Cool thing is that all of the above are doable in a day and all near each other.



    Food:



    North End I won't say one place or another but take your pick, fantastic dining can be had on/off Hanover St.



    For the worst service anywhere, with authentic totally Bostonian asshole attitude, go straight to Pizzeria Regina. Marvel at how the pitcher that serves four actually costs more than four individual drinks - plus you need to do the work of pouring. Go figure.



    Canolies at Mike's Pastries. Do it.



    Drive and park there only if you are a "made man", terminal, or stupid. Use the large parking lots nearby instead of the street.



    The ill-named "Tsunami" restaurant in Brookline near Coolidge Corner is simply the best sushi I've ever had in America. Go before the name alone puts them out of business.



    The Druid Pub in Cambridge is THE best (i.e proper) Guinness, although hope you don't go on trivia night (why my Irish brethren like that crap is beyond me).



    And ideally will have just visited Punjabi Dhabi a few stores down for the most authentic Indian food anywhere (not a fancy restaurant at all, everything is on cafeteria trays and you won't care! It's packed usually but just go upstairs.) Makes my Indian friend say: "Jesus Christ this is so good!". Your clothes will reek of spices after, though. Both in Inman Square.



    The Faneuil Hall area is the tourist trap. Okay I suppose, I never go there though. There is an aquarium nearby. Museum of Science near Cambridge is ok too. Don't forget the MFA Museum of Fine Arts and Gardner museum. And the old wing of the Boston Public Library is worth a peek.



    Bunker Hill monument has sadly been eclipsed by the idiotic and competitive pyramid caps of the nearby Zakim bridge, which says "Nyah, nyah, you're just a filthy old obelisk, we're a shiny hard-working bridge". Anyway go inside the monument for a chilling reminder of the Masonic cult that runs this world. (A huge masonic symbol statute is at its center.)



    Arnold Arboretum is a nice place to fly a kite or just chill, with a great view of the Boston skyline.



    And the Boston side of the Charles can be quite lovely at times. (Sad that it is also the point of two major roads though). You'll need to go over to the skinnier/noisier/less shaded Cambridge bank to get nice pics of Boston though.



    And Chinatown (not big at all) has some cool shops and good food tucked away but that's more trial and error. "Pho Pasteur" is an excellent Vietnamese chain around Boston for those big ass bowls of soup. Delicious.



    The Porter Exchange mall at Porter Square Cambridge is packed with Asian/mostly Japanese restaurants. Convenient to Harvard if you visit there.
  • Reply 2 of 30
    Thanks a lot for all this information - I'm sure it'll help us having a good time.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by johnq

    The Druid Pub in Cambridge is THE best (i.e proper) Guinness, although hope you don't go on trivia night (why my Irish brethren like that crap is beyond me).



    And ideally will have just visited Punjabi Dhabi a few stores down for the most authentic Indian food anywhere (not a fancy restaurant at all, everything is on cafeteria trays and you won't care! It's packed usually but just go upstairs.) Makes my Indian friend say: "Jesus Christ this is so good!". Your clothes will reek of spices after, though. Both in Inman Square.





    Sounds like a good plan to eat spicy Indian food and then extinguish the fire with Guinness -- lots of it.



    maybe we'll go to a ball game (the Red Sox vs the White Sox) when we're there, but it's expensive like hell. We'll see.
  • Reply 3 of 30
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    In Boston, don't go to the "combat zone". Lousy expensive strip bars, got mugged, cop said "well, you shouldn't have been there" when I told him my teeth were knocked out.



    Luckily, I was young, and my braces held the teeth in, so they just popped back in their sockets when I got back to Canada.
  • Reply 4 of 30
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    In Boston, don't go to the "combat zone". Lousy expensive strip bars, got mugged, cop said "well, you shouldn't have been there" when I told him my teeth were knocked out.



    Luckily, I was young, and my braces held the teeth in, so they just popped back in their sockets when I got back to Canada.




    Phew. That sounds like fun. Well, happened to me in Zurich, Switzerland as well, so I know what you're talking about.



    So any place to go out without beeing mugged / tortured / killed / whatever?
  • Reply 5 of 30
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    Please, the so-called combat zone at this point is a piddling little street with the odd club or porno store and some dingy alleys. Safer than anywhere in New York's 5 boroughs. Plus, there's no reason to go there unless passing through on the way to the theater district via Chinatown.



    Other than that to me "combat zone" is "that scummy place dad used to go to on the weekends when I was 10 in 1977" and has no modern associations.



    Pay it no mind.



    Downtown Crossing is just one big highschool corridor though.
  • Reply 6 of 30
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by johnq

    Please, the so-called combat zone at this point is a piddling little street with the odd club or porno store and some dingy alleys. Safer than anywhere in New York's 5 boroughs. Plus, there's no reason to go there unless passing through on the way to the theater district via Chinatown.



    Other than that to me "combat zone" is "that scummy place dad used to go to on the weekends when I was 10 in 1977" and has no modern associations.



    Pay it no mind.



    Downtown Crossing is just one big highschool corridor though.






    I guess thay my info is 15 years out of date, it is good to know that things are better now.
  • Reply 7 of 30
    dogcowdogcow Posts: 713member
    John covered a lot, but i figured I'd throw in some more...





    Quote:

    Boston is, however, a complete mess for road construction right now, so drive carefully and plan ahead. I'm not kidding, downtown it is often impossible to get from point a to b.



    First off, Boston is always under construction. Second if you aren't from here, don't drive here - we'll only get pissed at you. Our roads and highways don't make any sense, and we'd rather just not explain it. You don't need a car anyway since most of the places you will be going are within walking distance. What looks like a long trek on the T (subway) is probably an easy 5-10 minute walk. And remember this isn't New York, we are all expected to be drunk and passed out by the time the last subway leaves downtown - at 12:30.



    Also to check out: The waterfront, walk from Government Center through Faneuil Hall and across the street. The parks and pier area is a really nice place to just chill in the afternoon sun and breeze. Have a picnic and watch the jets land at Logan across the harbor. The Esplanade on the Charles is also a nice area for a walk. Downtown Crossing, Newbury Street, and Coply are the big areas for shopping.



    Another good day trip is to the harbor islands. You can take a ferry out to an island and spend the day there. George's Island (I think) has an old fort you can walk around. Another option would be a whale watch out of the harbor - if you're into that kind of thing.



    Other tourist things you may want to do: Ice cream at JP Licks (Newbury Street), Red Sox Game (good luck getting tix), Mike's Pastry, Cheers, Swan boats in the public garden, duck tours, harvard square, etc.



    Standard destinations of interest outside of Boston: Cape/Islands, Lexington/Concord, Salem (not that exciting, really, unless you like history), Gloucester/Rockport (awesome little fishing communities up north, nice shops and restaurants, good day trip).



    Someone mentioned the "Combat Zone." This area is mostly gone and really nothing to worry about. The most dangerous area of the city you could probably find yourself in is the Fens (at night), or the "ghettos" behind Northeastern. Even then most of the city is relatively safe.



    I can't say much for Vermont or Maine since I only go there to ski.
  • Reply 8 of 30
    Thank you all for the advice.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by Dogcow

    First off, Boston is always under construction. Second if you aren't from here, don't drive here - we'll only get pissed at you.



    Well, Boston seems really to be a traffic nightmare. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 2 sums it up pretty much. So I'll have to find a place where I can get home by public transport or foot.



    Cape Cod is really crowded in August, isn't it? Is it worth going there?
  • Reply 9 of 30
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    Put it this way, we've paid a dollar a handful of times now to get onto the Mass Turnpike at Allston at night to head to downtown Boston only to find that it is closed after the tolls, so you have to get off at the first exit. No signs, no warning, no refunds.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    tmptmp Posts: 601member
    Western Mass and the Berkshires are very pretty.
  • Reply 11 of 30
    trick falltrick fall Posts: 1,271member
    What type of things are you looking to do in NYC?
  • Reply 12 of 30
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trick fall

    What type of things are you looking to do in NYC?



    I haven't made any plans yet (too much work here ). It's my second visit to NYC (I was there in spring 2000), so I know the place a bit.



    I'm not so interested in typical tourist things such as the Statue of Liberty, I try to feel the pulse of the city. I'm a hobby fotografer, therefore I'm looking for a lot of interesting motives.



    Nightlife is not that important (although I would not say no). I plan to visit a few museums, haven't yet decided which ones.
  • Reply 13 of 30
    trick falltrick fall Posts: 1,271member
    Sorry I didn't get to this sooner. While you are inevitably downtown in Soho you might want to grab some pizza at Arturo's The best neighborhood to go out in and also just to walk around in is the Lower East Side. Plenty of bars and restaraunts. For Mexican I like to go to the hat which as long as the cops aren't around will also serve you a margarita to go. Another place I really like over there is the Pink Pony



    If you like catching live bands you might want to check out Arlene's Grocery or Sin-e



    Since you are in to photography I would suggest taking a walk over the Williamsburg Bridge or if you are less adventurous the L train to Bedford Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn. This is another interesting area to walk around and eat, shop and drink. It is also the scene of many photo shoots because there is some really good shots to be had over by the water. Lots of cool industrial buildings. This would probably be considered the hippest area in the city right now.



    Oh, if you want one really good drinking and dancing session I'd highly recommend a Thursday, Friday or Saturday at the Bulgarian Bar otherwise known as Mehenata



    One museum that I think is a little off the beaten path for tourists is the Cloisters



    That's all for now. If you let me know what area you are staying in I might have some restaurant recommendations.
  • Reply 14 of 30
    Thank you all for the tips so far, I'll compile them into my travel plans.
  • Reply 15 of 30
    Lots of good advice on NYC and Boston. Only thing I would add is don't skip Fenway, if you are gonna see a baseball game then that is the place to do it.



    Outside of there my main recommendation would be to head up to Acadia NP in Maine. Nicest scenery of the North half of our Atlantic Coast by far. Enjoy some yummy lobster as well while you are up there. Forget Cape Cod, it might be a nice place to live but it is overrated as a tourist destination. Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is also a nice stop and of course Ben and Jerry's factory in Vermont can be fun and quite tasty. Nice thing about New England is that it is so small that driving is quick and fast. There are some Western states which are bigger than the 6 states and NY combined.
  • Reply 16 of 30
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    Quote:

    Only thing I would add is don't skip Fenway, if you are gonna see a baseball game then that is the place to do it.



    I saw a yankees game last trip to NYC - tickets were plentiful and cheap, but the fans were a bit drunk and rude to the away team.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    Yep. IME the Boston fans were knowledgeable and enthusiastic like the New York fans but much more civil. I'm not one to blush or find an usher after an occasional off color remark or even if a fan wishes to share with an opposing player some information on that player's sister and her acumen at fellatio well then so be it. But the obnoxious fan ratio was way too high, there was enough rudeness, crassness and loudness at Yankee Stadium that it hurt the experience. I wasn't offended at all, I mean whatever, but at some point it gets tiresome especially when it is not creative and it so it detracts from the fun of the game. I much preferred the cult of victimization of Red Sox fans over the absurd arrogance of Yankee fans as well but that is just a personal predisposition and one that may no longer apply after last year. I mean a lot of that is just NewYorkyness, take or leave it but I'd leave it myself. I also liked the miscellaneous oddities of Fenway as well, saw a triple off the ladder in left and so on. I'd rank Dodger Stadium ahead of Yankee Stadium too in terms of places to see the game (not just the stadium). Worst two fans I ever saw were a pair of Mets fans at a Diamondbacks game although that one ended nicely as they tried to fight the cops when it came time to be arrested and that was a battle that the lost decisively which I didn't mind so much.
  • Reply 18 of 30
    trick falltrick fall Posts: 1,271member
    Wow as someone who goes to fifteen to twenty Yankees games a year I'd have to say that the worst behaved people I've encountered in the Bronx were wearing Boston hats. I'm usually in pretty decent seats, but I've sat up top and never felt at all uncomfortable. The bleachers could be different though.
  • Reply 19 of 30
    Well as always your mileage may vary. Some parties in any Red Sox Yankees debate are probably not truly neutral either but I'll claim Swiss citizenship for this issue. Of course being accustomed to New York's culture might give someone a different perspective as well as you would be acclimated shall we say to a certain way of speaking.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    I don't think I will be much offended by the language used by the fans; as an owner of an all season ticket of the ice hockey team SC Bern I'm used to quite a lot of interesting stories about players, their habits with certain liquids, their mothers sexual activities and so on... I think I can handle it
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