Wicked Good Guides / Boston for Visitors /

Getting around


Boston has a number of "trolleys" (buses made to look like trolleys) that can be a fun way to get around the city. Typically, the trolleys do a circle around key tourist sites in Boston (a couple also go out to Cambridge); you buy a day pass that lets you get off and on as often as you like (around $20).

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In a word: Don't.

Everything you've heard about Boston drivers is true - we're angry and hostile. Our roads aren't much better - while it's not really true that the local road were laid out by wandering cows 375 years ago, it will seem that way. Parking in downtown Boston is VERY expensive and limited, especially on weekdays. On weekends, some garages (for example, the Government Center Garage near Quincy Market and the North End) now offer discounts.

So unless you want to see sights outside the city (such as Concord), leave your car in the hotel garage and take the subway or a tourist "trolley."

If you do drive, SmarTraveler has real-time traffic reports. Do not rely on online mapping services for directions to specific points in the Boston area. They don't do well with our funny road system; better to ask your concierge for directions.

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Public transportation

Boston has an extensive subway and bus system that can get you to almost every tourist location relatively quickly and safely (although be aware that trains and buses will be crowded during rush hour). Locals call the subway "the T" - you can find the stops by looking for large black T's in circles.

The T's Boston Visitor Pass give you unlimited subway access for $7.50 a day; $18 for three days or $35 for a week. The MBTA Web site can tell you how to get to key attractions by subway; another site can give you an idea of how long it will take to get from A to B.

One drawback of the local subway, at least for bar-hoppers, is its hours: The last trains leave downtown around 12:30 a.m. (even though bars in Boston can stay open until 2).

The MBTA's commuter rail can get you to more remote tourist attractions, such as Concord, Rockport and even Providence, R.I. However, on some lines, schedules are particularly geared to getting commuters to and from Boston (i.e., trains out of Boston will be far between in the morning and trains to Boston will be infrequent in the afternoon), so plan accordingly.

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