Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

Make the Most of Your College Tour in Boston

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

 

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!

Choose a Vacation Rental for Your Next Business Trip

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

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!

Back to school in Boston

Friday, 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!

Thursday, 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!

Let it snow…!

Thursday, 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

Monday, 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

Thursday, 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!

Boston Dessert Showcase 2010

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Sweet tooth foodies delight! If you are in Boston this weekend, don’t miss the New England Dessert Showcase on Saturday, September 18th, 12-5 PM at The Westin Copley Place.

Just the facts:

  • Sample desserts from Boston’s best pastry chefs, chocolatiers,  homemade ice cream makers, custom cake designers, confectioners, and dessert wine producers.
  • Family friendly–suitable for anyone who loves dessert
  • General admission for Saturday only just $35

So get your silver fork ready, and dive in to all the delectable delights on Saturday!

Boston Celebrates Africa’s Independence

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Part II of II

Mamadou in Boston

The 1st Annual African Festival of Boston – July 17, 2010

As I mentioned previously, we stumbled into an array of color, music, and excitement as Boston celebrated the 1st Annual African Festival. Hosted by the Shalupe Foundation, the city was alive with entertainment to celebrate the 50th birthday of 31 countries celebrating Africa’s independence. It was also an opportunity to celebrate our city’s diversity and to educate Boston African’s on their rich history.

We were greeted with the sounds of Mamadou Diop, a local African artist, who’s rich music filled the plaza and provided the backdrop for one of the featured speakers, Ayana Pressley, Boston’s At-Large City Councilor, and the first African American elected to this post. International African artists headlined as well including performers Teeyah from the Ivory Coast and Bouro Mpela from Congo.

The organizers hope to turn this into an annual event. Based on the turnout I’m sure they will succeed in their endeavor.