Back to school in Boston

August 26th, 2011

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

It’s 4th of July in Boston again!

June 30th, 2011

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!

Harvard Graduation Cambridge Lodging, Boston Accommodations

May 19th, 2011

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 … more than just the race!

March 17th, 2011

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!

It’s almost time for Restaurant Week!

February 17th, 2011

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!

Let it snow…!

January 20th, 2011

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!

The Beehive serves up great comfort food in the South End

January 10th, 2011

With so many of our properties in the South End, we thought it was time to highlight another great restaurant in the area.  On a recent Sunday evening, we stopped by The Beehive at 541 Tremont Street for a quick dinner before a performance at the adjacent Boston Center for the Performing Arts.  What a find!  We were drawn in by the eclectic but inviting décor and were welcomed by a friendly, down-to-Earth staff.  Our hostess brought us downstairs to our table near the bar, which comes to life with nightly live music.

On a cold New England night, nothing beats The Beehive’s comfort food offerings — lamb shank shepherd’s pie, duck risotto, porcini mushroom stuffed pork chops, to name a few.  Order a fun cocktail or choose from an extensive, affordable list of wines and Champagne and settle in for the evening.

Keep The Beehive in mind if you’re staying at any of our South End properties.  You won’t be disappointed!

15 Commandments of Vacation Travel

January 6th, 2011

As winter settles in around the country, many of us are starting to dream about our next vacation.  Just about any getaway sounds appealing at this time of year, but not every vacation is right for every traveler.  Here are some great tips for planning your perfect vacation!

Fifteen Commandments of Vacation Travel

By Sandy Soule, PAII

 We all know people who come back from a vacation feeling on top of the world, and others who seem vaguely disappointed. Here’s how to put yourself in the first category, not the second.

 Know yourself. A successful vacation is one that works for the person you are, not the person you think you should be. Confirmed couch potatoes who resent having to walk from the far end of the parking lot will not find true fulfillment on a trek through the Himalayas. If privacy is a top priority, a group tour or communal lodge will turn fantasy into frustration. Acknowledge your own comfort levels. Are independence and flexibility top concerns? Or being structured and secure? How essential are the creature comforts when it comes to sleeping, eating, and bathing? Would you rather have one week of luxury travel or two weeks of budget food and accommodation? And remember that while your personality doesn’t change, your needs do. The type of vacation you plan for a romantic getaway is totally different from a family reunion.

Know your travel companions. Adjust your plans to accommodate your travel partners. Whether you are traveling with friends, spouse, children, and/or parents, you’ll need to take their age, attention span, agility, and interests into account. If you’re traveling with the kids, balance a morning at an art museum with an afternoon at the zoo; if you’re spending time with elderly parents, make sure that they can stroll a country lane while you go rock-climbing; if your group includes skiers and non-skiers, pick a resort that has appealing shops and off-slope activities.

 Plan ahead: anticipation is half the fun. Enjoy the planning process. The more you know about an area you’re going to visit, the more fun you’ll have. Check out destination websites; skim a guidebook; read a novel or watch a movie set in the region; talk to friends who have been there recently.

 Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Keep your itinerary in line with the amount of time and money available. Focus on seeing a smaller area well, rather than trying to cover too much ground and seeing nothing but interstate highways. Don’t over-program; allow yourself the luxury of doing nothing.

 Avoid one-night stands. Plan to stay a minimum of two nights everywhere you go. A vacation made up of one-nighters is a prescription for exhaustion. You will sleep poorly, spend most of your time packing/unpacking and in transit, and will get only the smallest glimpse of the place you’re visiting.

 Travel off-season. Unless your vacation dates are dictated by the school calendar, off-season travel offers many advantages: fewer crowds, greater flexibility, reduced costs, and a more relaxed atmosphere. Learn to pick the best dates for off-season travel; typically these are the weeks just before and after seasonal rates change.

Book well ahead for peak season travel. If you must travel during peak periods to popular destinations, make reservations well in advance for the key sites to avoid aggravation, extra phone calls, and additional driving time.

Take the road less traveled. Get off the beaten path and leave the crowds behind. Instead of booking a room in the heart of the action, find a quiet getaway tucked in the hills or in a neighboring village.

Ditch the car. You’ll need a car to get most destinations, but once you’re there, get out and walk. You’ll see more, learn more, experience more at every level, while avoiding crowds at even the most popular destinations.

Hang loose. The unexpected is inevitable. When your plans go astray (and they will), relax and let serendipity surprise you. And keep your sense of humor in good working order. If possible, travel without reservations or a set itinerary.

Carpe diem–seize the day. Don’t be afraid to follow your impulses. If a special souvenir catches your eye, buy it; don’t wait to see if you’ll find it again later. If a hiking trail looks too inviting to pass up, don’t; that museum or outlet mall will wait for a rainy day.

Don’t suffer in silence. When things go wrong–an incompetent guide, car troubles, a noisy room–speak up. Politely but firmly express your concern then and there; get your room changed, ask for a refund or discount, whatever. Most people in the travel business would rather have you go away happy than to leave grumbling.

Remember–being there is more than seeing there. People travel to see the sights–museums and mountains, shops and scenery–but it is making new friends that can make a trip memorable. Leave a door open to the people-to-people experiences that enrich travel immeasurably.

Don’t leave home to find home. The quickest way to take the wind out of the sails of your trip is to compare things to the way they are at home. Enjoy different styles and cultures for what they are and avoid comparisons and snap judgments.

Give yourself permission to disregard all of the above.  Nothing is immutable. If you find a pattern that works for you, enjoy it!

Travel like a king on a pawn’s budget

December 31st, 2010

Blog of Note: Quirky, irreverent, and sometimes racy, http://hackingtravel.com covers travel from the perspective of a once silver spooned blue blood who’s lost his fortune but not his wanderlust. It’s fun reading. Some of their posts make me just drop into my imagination. Some of their posts almost bring the smell of Belgian waffles from belgium into my room. Take a glance at http://hackingtravel.com

Staying in Boston this winter? Embrace the season and head outdoors!

December 9th, 2010

Skating on Frog Pond

Boston is a great place to visit in the winter and you don’t have to go far to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities. Whether traveling with children or on your own, pack your winter gear and experience all the fun of a New England winter.

Skiing
You don’t have to head to Vermont for great skiing … hop on the Ski Train to Wachusett Mountain and you’ll be on the slopes in less than two hours! Named by SKI Magazine as one of the Top 20 resorts on the East Coast, Wachusett offers 22 trails, eight lifts and 110 acres of skiable terrain.

Every Saturday and Sunday throughout the ski season, the Ski Train leaves Boston’s North Station at 8:35 a.m. and arrives at the Fitchburg commuter rail station at 10:06 a.m. The Wachusett Mountain shuttle picks up skiers and riders at the station and brings them directly to the mountain, 20 minutes away. The shuttle leaves the mountain at 4:45 p.m. for a 5:35 p.m. departure back to Boston.

The Ski Train fare is only $7.75 each way. The service runs from December 12th through March 28th. Each train includes a designated “ski” car for easy storage of ski and snowboard equipment. If you don’t have equipment with you, rentals are available at the mountain.

Sledding
Whether you’re a child or child at heart, sledding is fun for everyone! Larz Anderson Park in Brookline offers some of the best sledding around and is easy to get to from anywhere in Boston. Take the Green Line C trolley to Cleveland Circle, change to Bus 51 and get off at Newton Street.

Did you forget to pack your sled? No problem! Sleds and all the winter gear you need can be found at City Sports, 480 Boylston St. and 1035 Commonwealth Ave.; EMS, 1041 Commonwealth Ave.; and Target, 180 Somerville Ave. in Somerville.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventuresome, head out to Nashoba Valley in Littleton for a day of tubing. The Nashoba tubing park is open until 10 p.m. and a two-hour ticket costs $25.

Skating
Glide across Frog Pond in the heart of Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States. Now through March 15th, Frog Pond is open for skating Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (with a 4:00 p.m. closing time on Mondays), and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Skating is free for children 13 and under and costs only $4 for everyone else.

New this year, visitors can also skate at Faneuil Hall Marketplace! From January 21st through February 27th, an ice skating rink located in the East End Promenade will be open for skating Sunday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Skate rentals will be available onsite and concessions will be offered inside the Quincy Market Colonnade.

So no excuses … get out and enjoy the winter!