I had been to Boston only once before, in my single days, for a New Year’s Eve house party late at night. But I never saw the city, and for whatever reason never cared to go despite friends insisting I should. But now, my husband had school friends who had recently moved there and we were both very excited to see them.
The drive was pleasant. With only one stop during the less then 3 hour drive, I got a sense that this was going to be a great visit. It also helped that we were traveling the day after Christmas, when most people were sleeping in or had already arrived to their destinations days before.
We spent our first night at our friends’ beautiful suburban home in Framingham, MA before heading to the Boston Harbor where we were staying. The weather was somewhat cloudy, but temperatures was great. Our room at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf was great. Comfortable, spacious, clean, very nice. Staff was helpful and very friendly, at one point promptly assisting in getting the sheets of one of the beds changed when the youngest made a mess on them. Our hotel package included free meals for all kids under 12 , a package only offered through the Marriott website. I found that even after looking at other hotel websites, which often promise the best rates for hotel, it was actually the Marriott website which, for the same nightly rate, offered them more.
We were also happy to see that the hotel came through with our guarantee of a room with a view to the harbor. Our room also had a view of the New England Aquarium, which they headed to once they dropped off their bags. Right across the street from the hotel, the aquarium was something the kids were excited about right away. It was a bit crowded on this snowy New England day and the wait to buy tickets, from a booth located outside of the building was 30 minutes. One can purchase advanced tickets online, but only 48 hours before the visit. I laughed at this notion for I couldn’t remember the last time I planned a visit like this that far in advance. “How does one do that with babies?” I thought.
While our friend’s husband stood on line for tickets, she, my husband, the boys, and I headed to the Fanuil Hall, also referred to as Quincy Market. This was definitely a tourist destination. It reminded me of South Street Seaport in NYC with all the shops, restaurants, the tree, and the entertainment. We were able to get a bite to eat from a huge selection of food vendors, and though we weren’t able to have drinks in the local Cheers Pub, I made note to stop there the next time we visited with a sitter in tow.
Once all the tickets were purchased and we entered the aquarium, we were immediately greeted by penguins who were very busy swimming around, calling out to each other, and in full entertaining mode. The boys ran to one of the many plexiglass walls and stared with glee as they watched them move around. The aquarium is designed so that the visitors’ walkway spirals around a huge fish tank about 5 stories high. In this tank you will see all sorts of tropical fish, including sharks, stingrays, barracuda, clown fish, etc. Our arrival coincided with feeding time, so we were able to witness a scuba diver as he fed the various fish and smiled for cameras.
My absolute favorite was the jellyfish exhibit. The backdrop of soft colorful lights, and the clarity of huge glass tanks made for an easy view of these wonderful creatures as they smoothly floated and swam from one end to another.
If I lived in Boston, or had the flexibility to travel there often, I would purchase a membership pass because though the space is exciting and tons of fun, the crowds and warmth of the location, in addition to the tremendous amount of things to see, can lead to overly stimulated and irritable kids. So, after a good hour and half, with all adults exhausted and babies wailing for freedom to run around, we all headed out, greeting the crisp air as it cooled them off and helped to calm the kids down.
After a short rest at the hotel, we all ventured back out, only a half a block away to Legal Sea Foods, where I ate some of the best clam chowder I’ve had in a long time and hubby feasted on a dish called “Everything Tuna“, which I can’t describe as other than simply a “plate load of deliciousness”.
After dinner, with bellies full, palates satisfied, and sleepy children, we bid farewell to our friends and headed back to our hotel room where a peaceful, quiet night, in an incredibly cushioned, soft bed awaited us.
The kids woke up early. I was looking forward to my third and last day in Boston. The past two days had been wonderful. I wanted to see more of this wonderful city. The road trip had already been so great. We started our morning feasting at the generous breakfast served at the hotel restaurant before heading out to Boston Common, a 30-minute walk from our hotel. It was another cloudy day, but not too cold to walk around.
The hotel is located in the Financial District, so this being a Sunday, the streets were empty. We had the streets to ourselves as we strolled down the small, narrow streets, admiring the architecture as we walked by. We stopped to browse through books at a sidewalk book sale, take pictures of the Park Street Church, and art exhibits. We arrived to Boston Common, and even the cloudy weather couldn’t mask the beauty of this local park. We lingered here, walking around, taking pictures as the kids played and watched others fly their kites. Dusk came upon us unexpectedly. No tantrums, no fits…one bathroom accident and a few bouts of hunger, both which were quickly and easily resolved.
We all walked back slowly, admiring the beautiful evening sky and the wonderful holiday lights as they lit the streets and glistened off the wet cobble stone streets close to our hotel. We walked along the harbor, looked at the yachts docked along the way and breathing in the moist bay air.
Everyone, tired and smiling, loved this trip. Though there are tons we didn’t do, like visit the Science Museum or several of the other things there are to do with kids in Boston, we weren’t disappointed, because this is a city we wouldn’t mind visiting many, many times again. Next time in the summer, when I have been promised there will be sun.