Cambridge is a city of squares — Harvard, Kendall, Central and Inman, to name a few — each with it’s own distinct vibe and interesting mix of shops and restaurants.  While you may gravitate to the historic charm of Harvard Square or the bustling energy of Central Square, you could overlook the convenience and affordability of Porter Square.  Porter Square is a great option for visitors looking for accommodations, regardless of where they need to be in Cambridge or Boston.   Walking distance to Davis Square and one T-stop away from Harvard Square, Porter Square is located on the Red Line and is a short subway ride into downtown Boston.  The area is home to some of the best restaurants in Cambridge — The Elephant Walk, Temple Bar and Chez Henri are perennial favorites — and an eclectic mix of locally owned stores like Porter Square Books.

 

We are always enthusiastic when we recommend a vacation rental or B&B in the Porter Square area and hope you’ll explore this little gem the next time you visit Cambridge.  If you’re looking for Porter Square accommodations, here are two we recommend:

Cambridge Accommodation Near Harvard

Gray House Cambridge Accommodations

 

 

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If you’re looking at colleges in the Boston area, you’re in good company.  Home to more than 50 colleges and 249,000 students, Boston is truly America’s College Town.  However, visiting area schools can be daunting and requires some advance planning.

 

  1. Consider what type of college interests you.  A big university or small college?  A self-contained campus or urban environment?  A world-renowned science program or top-notch music school?  Boston offers all of the above!  Before you visit, check out a few colleges in your area to get a feel for what type of environment you like.  You’ll be able to narrow your focus when you visit Boston and won’t waste time visiting schools that aren’t a good fit.
  2. Plan around peak tourist events.  This may be a big city, but there are certain times of the year when finding Boston area accommodations can be challenging and cost-prohibitive.  Avoid visiting during the Boston Marathon (mid-April), college graduations (mid-May), fall foliage season and the Head of the Charles regatta (mid-October).
  3. Leave the car at home.  One of the best things about visiting and living in the Boston area is its great public transportation system.  On the flipside, traffic and navigating through the city can be a nightmare for out-of-towners.  Try to plan your visit without driving everywhere and book accommodations in a central location.  Stay in a vacation rental apartment in Back Bay or Cambridge and take the “T” to the campuses you’re visiting.
  4. Plan for changing weather.  As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.  This is especially true in the spring and fall.  It can be 50 degrees one day in April and 80 degrees the next, so plan accordingly.
  5. Talk to as many people as you can.  Seek out students on campus for directions and ask lots of questions.  Every student you talk to will have a different experience and different perspective to share.  Try staying at a bed and breakfast or small inn near one of the campuses you’re visiting.  Your hosts can offer a wealth of insider information and give you a sense of what it’s like to live in this great city!

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As a business traveler, you’re probably accustomed to staying in large, chain hotels with standardized rooms and amenities.  Whether you’re in Boston or Barcelona, it all feels the same.  But have you ever thought about trying something different?   Here are our top five reasons for choosing a vacation rental for your next business trip.

  1. Live like a local.  Have you ever glanced out a cab window as you’re passing through a charming neighborhood and wondered what it would be like to live there?  Why not rent an apartment in that neighborhood and find out!  Odds are, you’ll enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of the conference hotel or convention center and you’ll feel like you really got to know the city.
  2. Bring your family.  It’s frustrating when you travel to a great destination but have to leave your family behind.  Staying in a vacation rental offers an affordable way to extend your business trip into a family vacation.  Avoid the costs of multiple hotel rooms and enjoy amenities such as a kitchen, free wifi and enough space to spread out.
  3. Pack light.  Many vacation rentals have a washer/dryer unit in the apartment or offer access to a laundry room in the building.  Avoid extra fees and the inconvenience of checked luggage and pack only what you need for a few days.
  4. Enjoy your own private meeting space.  Rather than meeting with your colleagues in a noisy hotel lobby, take advantage of the private, quiet living room in your vacation rental.  Stock the kitchen with snacks and get your work done without the interruptions and distractions of meeting in a public place.
  5. Book through a reputable agency and get exactly what you want.  Most cities have agencies that represent a broad range of vacation rentals and can offer guidance on location, budget and amenities.  You’ll end up with accommodations that meet your needs and memories of a great stay!

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Choosing a vacation rental over a hotel can be a great way to “live like a local.”  But with thousands of vacation rentals by owner listed online, how do you really know what you’re getting?  There are no guarantees in life, but there are certain steps you can take to find great vacation rentals and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

  1. Find a local vacation rental agency that represents properties in the specific area you’ll be visiting, and make sure the agency inspects all the properties they represent.  Booking a vacation rental property through an agency offers assurance that the property will be clean and well-maintained.   You’ll also be able to choose from a greater selection of vacation rental homes and apartments.
  2. Research your destination before you book anything.  If you’re planning a beach vacation, how far will you have to walk to get to the beach every day?  If you’re visiting a city, make sure you book a vacation rental apartment in a safe neighborhood, near the sites you want to see or accessible to public transportation.
  3. Pay attention to square footage!  City apartments in particular can be tiny, even if they offer two bedrooms.  Figure out how much space your family really needs to be happy on vacation.
  4. Determine what things are essential for your comfort and convenience.  Amenities offered in vacation rentals by owner can vary greatly, so consider whether you’ll need features like high speed internet access, cable TV, central air or a full kitchen.
  5. Before you book, make sure you’ll have 24 hour access to help in case of an emergency.  If the property owner isn’t local, they should have a property management service available. This is another good reason to book through a vacation rental agency.  When the water heater bursts in the middle of the night, you want to know who to call!

For more tips on how to successfully find vacation rentals and avoid vacation rental scams, check out this helpful article:  http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/tomkelly/5-tips-safely-book-a-vacation-rental.  With a little research and planning, you’re sure to have a great vacation!

Boston area colleges are gearing up for the return of students. Some incoming freshmen and upperclassmen have already started to unpack their belongings in their new dorm rooms or Boston area apartments. Others will be joining them this week and next. The best advise to those visiting Boston during this period is to plan.

  • Plan out your drop off strategy as parking is always at a premium. Most universities provide detailed instructions for this stressful event.
  • Plan out your dining options as Boston restaurants are likely to be packed as well. If there is a particular restaurant you would like to try, make a reservation. Restaurant week is winding down so there may be a bit more availability. Try opentable.com
  • Look for discounts on sites like Groupon.com for things to do, restaurant deals, and more.
  • Leave a few days to take in the beauty of the city of Boston and breathe a sigh of relief. You can lots to do by visiting bostonusa.com and massvacation.com
  • Plan your return trip. Parents’ weekends tend to book up quickly so make your Boston travel plans to return to the city. You can visit our site for Boston vacation rentals , Boston B&Bs, and many Boston accommodations at bnbboston.com

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Once again, Boston is doing it up big with the Boston Pops 4th of July Extravaganza. Lots to see and do this weekend so check out all of the happenings. It’s hard to believe this marvelous Boston event is in its 38th year.

Can’t make it down to the Esplanade for the festivities? Don’t worry. You won’t miss a thing. The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4 from 8:00PM to 11:00PM.

Check out CBS Boston’s Survival Guide to the 4th of July in Boston event. It’s chockful of information for the Boston adventure crowd.

Have fun and be safe!

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Are you looking for Cambridge lodging or Boston accommodations for the upcoming Harvard University graduation ceremony? We still have Cambridge vacation rentals and Boston furnished apartments available for visit with no additional fees. Check out our listing at http://www.bnbboston.com/specials.

Congratulations to all of our new Harvard graduates and their proud families!

Marathon weekend is almost here and we’re excited to see the city fill with runners and their families.  With 20,000 runners and more than 500,000 spectators along the route, the marathon is always a fun event for families and friends. But don’t forget the many other activities and events going in the city that weekend!

If you’re not from New England, you may not realize that the Boston Marathon is held on Patriots’ Day, a local holiday commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.  History buffs can choose from several reenactments to watch, including Paul Revere’s Ride and the Battle of Lexington.

Kenmore Square is hopping on Marathon Monday!  While runners stream through on the homestretch of the race, the Red Sox will host the Blue Jays for an 11:05 a.m. game at Fenway Park.  As always, the game is sold out, but you can try your luck at ticket brokers like www.stubhub.com.  Go Sox!

For a more relaxing day, check out the three new exhibits opening in April at The Museum of Fine Arts: Through the Looking Glass (April 10th through August 7th), Global Patterns: Dress and Textiles in Africa (April 13th through January 8th) and Embroideries of Colonial Boston (April 2nd through August 28th).

And finally, don’t miss a favorite Boston tradition … the return of the Swan Boats to the Public Garden lagoon.  Whether recovering from the marathon or just enjoying spring in the city, sit back and enjoy a leisurely ride on one these historic pedal-powered boats.

We hope you enjoy your visit and will keep our fingers crossed for great weather on Marathon Monday!

Restaurant Week will soon be back and better than ever! If you’re in town March 6-11 or March 13-18 – yes, Restaurant “Week” is actually a two-week event — don’t miss this chance to sample some of the best cuisine in Boston. Restaurants all over the city and well into the suburbs will offer three-course meals for a can’t-be-beat price: $20.11 for lunch and $33.11 for dinner. With more than 200 participating restaurants offering virtually every type of cuisine, Restaurant Week has something for everyone! Check out the full list of restaurants and menus at www.restaurantweekboston.com and be sure to make your reservations early!

Recent storms have blanketed Boston with snow and have been a bonanza to nearby ski areas.  If you’re staying in Boston this weekend and want to squeeze in some skiing, you won’t have far to go for some of the best conditions of the season!  Here are a few easy day trips from Boston:

Blue Hills Ski Area
Canton, MA
www.ski-bluehills.com
The closest ski area to Boston, Blue Hills is about a 20 minute drive from downtown.  They are reporting a 34”-56” base and almost all trails are open. 

Nashoba Valley Ski Area
Westford, MA
http://www.skinashoba.com
Nashoba Valley is an easy 45 minute drive from Boston, located right off I-495.  They have a 32”-36” base and all trails are open.

Wachusett Mountain
Princeton, MA
http://www.wachusett.com
Wachusett is about an hour’s drive from Boston.  As we mentioned in a previous blog post (12/9/10), skiers can also take the ski train from Boston’s North Station.  Wachusett is reporting a 45”-65” base and all 22 trails are open.

Mount Sunapee
Newbury, NH
www.mountsunapee.com
Billed as the “closest big mountain skiing to Boston,” Sunapee is a 90 minute drive from downtown. They have a 32”-48” base and all trails are open.

Loon Mountain
Lincoln, NH
www.loonmtn.com
Just a little farther away, Loon Mountain is a two hour drive from Boston.  They are reporting a 14”-30” base and have 51 trails open.

Don’t worry if you left your skis at home – equipment rentals are available at all of these mountains.  So bundle up (It’s going to be cold this weekend!) and enjoy some great New England skiing!

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