Boston Love, RV Camping, Sights, And Baseball!
Boston MA holds a rather special place in my heart. You see it’s where I started to fall in love with Paul. Or perhaps more specifically it’s where this West-Coast living Danish girl experienced the spark that led to this 20-year thing we’ve had going ever since. It’s a fun little story too…
At the time we were both living in San Jose CA and working in the same group in the semiconductor business. I was in marketing, he was in engineering and we had somehow managed to get ourselves on a business trip together to Boston. It just so happened to be the dead of winter (what were we thinking?) and in the short few days we were there a huge snowstorm blew through town which shut down the streets and literally snowed us in.
It was bitterly cold and utterly romantic (of course), and since we couldn’t make it to any of our business meetings we simply walked the streets of Boston together and got to know each other. I already knew I kinda liked Paul, so I pretended to be a klutz on the icy pavement (not much of a stretch for me) so I could grab him by the arm. On his side, Paul rather generously offered up said arm for as long as I needed it. I didn’t let go all day. Amazingly nothing happened beyond the arm thing those few days, but I still remember it as being one of our most romantic pre-officially-dating experiences.
So yeah, even though I’ve only ever been once before, Boston is my city of love.
But it also has rather more of a link for us too. You see Paul’s dad has been a lifelong Red Sox fan, which means he’s an AVID, CRAZY Red Sox fan (anyone in Boston will tell you it’s more like a religion than a sport) and one of his lifelong bucket list items has been to attend a game in Fenway Park with his son. In addition my dad was traveling with us, and he’d never seen a baseball game (ever!). What better first experience than seeing a game in the oldest baseball stadium in the country?
So, we formulated our devious plan to bring it all together….
The Caravan To Boston (And Where To Stay In Your RV)
When dad and I finished up our 5 nights in NYC we booked a rental car and motored on over to Cooperstown NY to join “the beast”.
Paul was already there (of course) as well as his dad & stepmom (in their own RV). They were parked at Hartwick Highlands Campground (sorry, didn’t have time to do a Wheelingit review but we liked the forested section very much. You can see other reviews HERE and HERE). Both Paul and his dad are huge baseball fans so they’d been geeking out in the “home of baseball”, going to the Baseball Hall Of Fame and refreshing themselves at the famous local brewery (Ommegang). Good stuff all-around.
The next morning we all raised our jacks and headed east to Boston.
Now, unlike NYC there are sadly no “downtown” RV parks (that I know of) in Boston. In fact a search of campgrounds around the Boston area reveals that you need to go at least 20 miles out of town before you get to anything at all. Knowing that Boston traffic can be HORRIBLE (seriously, you don’t want to be anywhere near it at any time) we decided our best option was to park our rigs at a campground close(ish) to one of the trains into town and then just rely on public transport to get around downtown. In the end we decided on Boston Minuteman Campground** (full review coming), a nice forested FHU campground located just 20 mins drive to the train into town. For the few days we were there it turned out to be a great choice.
** NOTE/ If you don’t need full hookups, there are also 2 public parks which rate very well and look to be close to a train/subway into town -> Wompatuck State Park (on south side of Boston. Almost entirely 35-ft max sites, although there are five 40-ft sites listed online) and Winter Island County Park (on north side of Boston. Looks tight, but sites fit up to 45-ft and waterfront views are an option here!)
Getting Around Town
Like all big cities once you figure out how to use the public transportation, getting around is a breeze although it can take a little research and a few missed steps before you get to that state of enlightenment.
It can feel overwhelming when you first look at it, but believe me it’s worth it!!! When I said the traffic in Boston was horrible I wasn’t kidding. The afternoon rush hour starts at 3PM and by 5PM the highways out of Boston are completely chocked up. Unless you are into tourturing yourself for fun, it’s simply not worth it.
Thankfully from our campground we had several easy public transport options only ~20-40 mins drive away using either the MBTA commuter rail ($9.25 each way) or the Boston Subway (known locally as “the T”, $2.25 each way). Once downtown our feet, the T and Lyft/Uber got us everywhere else we needed to be. Honestly it was a breeze and the campground was super helpful with info both in-person as well as with detailed transportation instructions for each option online.
Some useful tips we picked up along the way:
Commuter Rail: For the commuter rail we download the free mTicket App (for Apple & Andriod) to check timetables and buy/activate tickets. It was super easy to use and avoided us having to wait in line for a ticket or carry cash onto the train.
Subway System: For traveling on “the T” we got a free Charlie Card (available at these stations) loaded it up with some $$ and used it for everyone traveling (you can actually use a single card for two people simply by swiping it twice when you go through the turnstiles). The card gave us a slight discount over the regular cash price ($2.25 per trip instead of $2.75) and saved us having to buy a ticket at the vending booth every time we traveled on the T. Plus we got discounted transfers to local buses. We loaded ours with $20 and that was enough to cover the whole family for everything we did.
Google Maps Transit Is Awesome: For figuring out how to get around downtown on public transport Google Maps transit was our best friend! We just entered origin and destination in Google Maps on our computer or phone, clicked on the “transit” icon (the one that looks like a train) and we got a handy dandy list of all the possible options including how far we had to walk to the station, which line to take, how many stops, how long it was going to take, and any transfers we needed to do. If you’ve never tried using this in a big city, you’ll be blown away by how useful it is! We used it constantly while we were downtown.
Lyft & Uber ROCK When You Need Them: When we were tired of walking and just wanted a car service, Lyft (discount referral HERE) & Uber (discount referral HERE) were awesome. If you’ve never used this service, just download the free app on your phone and walk through the set-up process. It’s super easy once you’ve used it once. We used Lyft a few times in Boston and never had to wait more than 4 minutes for a car.
PAW NOTES/ Well-behaved paws are welcome on MBTA lines! During off-peak hours, leashed dogs can ride, provided they are under your control and don’t cause annoyance to fellow travelers. During rush hour they can also ride, but must be able to be transported in a container that fits into your lap. Read official info HERE and more detail in this helpful blog post HERE.
The Freedom Trail
Once we’d figured out the transport options we settled in to do some sightseeing!!
Now there’s a ton to see and do in Boston (including many, many things we missed), but if you only had ONE day and you were only able to do ONE thing then The Freedom Trail would be my hands down, absolute “must do” recommendation. It’s a 2.5-mile red-lined route (a bit like the Wizard Of Oz, you literally just “follow the red brick line” through town) that leads you past 16 historically significant sites and IT IS AWESOME!!
Boston was one of the key starting points for the American Revolution, and the history here is deep and fascinating. From the oldest standing structure in the city (Paul Revere House, 1680) to the oldest church (Old North Church, 1723) to the Old State House (1713) and the site of the Boston Massacre (1770), there are no end of interesting spots to see. You could literally spend a week just exploring the trail & visiting the various museums & stops along the way, but even if you only do a portion it’s well worth it.
Dad and I did the entire walk, starting at Boston Common (where we picked up a detailed brochure for ~$7), visiting all the churches as well as the museum at the Old State House (most excellent), stopping for lunch at an Irish Pub near Faneuil Hall Market Place (worth seeing in and of itself), walking through Boston’s Little Italy (what a cool neighborhood) and finishing up at the USS Constitution (which was sadly closed for restoration). From there we took the water ferry back into downtown (also well worth it!). Paul, his dad & stepmom did the exact same outing the following day. We all LOVED it!
VISIT & PAW NOTES/ The Boston Freedom Trail is free to visit and you can pick it up anywhere along the route. Just look for the red line on the pavement and follow it! You can download free maps HERE or click on this Google Map HERE. You can also buy a detailed brochure at the Visitors Center or book a tour with a certified tour guide (HERE). This is city walking so you can certainly bring paws along if you wish, but you won’t be able to bring them into the various historic buildings or museums along the way. We chose to leave Polly at home.
No visit to Boston would be complete without a trip to see Fenway Park.
Not only is it the oldest baseball stadium in the country (dating from 1912), but thanks to various additions and renovations over the years it’s got a bunch of quirky features including The Triangle, Pesky’s Pole, and the Green Monster. Plus of course it’s the home of the Boston Red Sox whose fans are some of the most dedicated and vocal I’ve ever seen.
Going to see a baseball game here is not just an outing, it’s an EXPERIENCE amplified by the small stadium (it’s crazy loud), the music, the charged atmosphere and the things that make Boston baseball unique (Oh Sweet Caroline, I’m talking to you).
Paul and his dad & stepmom went the day after we got to Boston, fulfilling their lifelong bucket list of seeing a game together here. It was a good game (Red Sox won) and a truly momentous event for them both. I think a few tears might have been shed. Priceless stuff!
My dad and I went the next day and saw a thrilling game that literally came down to the very last pitch. The Red Sox came from behind and won in the 9th inning and the stadium went INSANE! It was riveting and one of the best baseball games I’ve ever attended. Dad loved it.
BEER & FOOD TIP: The brew options inside Fenway park are mediocre, so if you decide to go to a game I highly recommend stopping at one of the many establishments just outside the park for some pre-game sustenance. We were particularly impressed with the beer at Boston Beerworks (awesome Milk Stout on Nitro and very tasty BWX IPA) even though it was standing room-only. Inside the stadium there no brews worthy of mention, but some decent food options at THESE spots.
VISIT TIPS: Outside of game-time you can tour Fenway Park for $20 and I’ve heard it’s a fabulous tour. If you’re coming for a game the official place to buy tickets is HERE. They cost anywhere from $23 to $240 depending on where you are seated. Check out View From My Seat for a good idea of what your view will be like before you buy.
And Stuff We Missed
Sadly we only had a few days in Boston, so the two items above were literally the only two things we managed. There was lots we missed!
We didn’t make it out to see the Boston Light (an iconic lighthouse but it’s only open for visitation Fri-Sun, and we were there mid-week), nor were we able to make the pilgrimage to Trillium Brewing (the timing just didn’t work out, so sad….).
We also would have loved to explore more of the stops on the Freedom Trail in further depth (for example, we didn’t go into the Paul Revere House because of the insanely long queues) as well as more of the downtown neighborhoods & foodie spots. Alas, you can never see everything and even less so when you’re on a fixed travel schedule.
But what we DID get to see we really loved!
I know Boston sometimes gets compared to it’s bigger neighbor-in-the-south New York City, but we all agreed that it’s a totally different vibe. From the buildings (all much lower, which means there’s more natural light in the streets) to the history (SO much of it here) to the many different downtown neighborhoods, it has a unique atmosphere that simply can’t be matched anywhere else. It’s a huge city yet it feels cozy and welcoming, which presents a fascinating mix.
Plus there’s the love-thing. For that reason alone it’ll always have a special place in my heart. Until next time, my city of love 🙂
What did we miss? One day we want to come back so feel free to share tips in the comments below!
Useful External Links:
- Boston’s MBTA -> Details of all public transport options in and around Boston HERE
- City of Boston -> Free and mostly free events listed HERE
- Boston Discovery Guide -> Good info on things to see and do in Boston HERE
- The Freedom Trail -> Official links and maps HERE
- Fenway Park -> Official Boston Red Sox tickets HERE, plus info on tours HERE
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
John Whitney says
Paul, I like and use your reserve America tool, and in fact, I’m a premium member. However the last 2 times I’ve used it, it returns all available sites, not just the ones that meet the 40′ length and elect service I specified. Love your blog, and so sorry for you at losing your mother.
We don’t have any Reserve America tool? You might be confusing us with Tim & Amanda from Watson’s Wander. Tim wrote the only reservation tool (that I know of) so likely you’ll want to talk to him about the glitch you’re seeing.
Ed Kirkpatrick says
If you stay at Wompatuck Park you are close to the Ferry terminal at Hingham where for just a few $$ you can ride all the way into Rowe Wharf downtown and back on a regular basis. Coffee and danish on the way in and cocktails on the way out. A really nice way to get into the city. In Hingham are many nice restaurants as well as some spectacularly gorgeous old homes dating to the 1600’s. Boston is home to scads of Irish pubs and downtown the very best chowder can be had at Hennessey’s. I believe its on the Freedom Trail as well.
We never get tired of visiting the Boston area and it’s always a stop on our way up and down the coast.
Sounds wonderful. I think we’ll definitely try staying at Wompatuck Park next time we’re in the area. We were a bit worried about whether or not we would fit since almost all of the sites (online) are listed at 35-ft max, and for the few days we needed to be there all five of the 40-ft sites were fully booked. Do you know if the 35-ft sites are accurately sized, or do you think we could squeeze our 40-footer in one of them?
Cheers for sharing your tips!
Kathryn Hall Allahyari says
I stayed at Wompatuck Park summer 2015 when I drove from Seattle WA to do genealogy in the New England Historical & Genealogical Society library (NEHGS); it was an easy ferry ride almost to the door of the library. Very nice RV park – I paid $14/17 a night for electric hookup. I also drove my Rialta RV around Boston…. Wompatuck was a much better alternative!! Next time I go back I’ll certainly tear myself away from the Library to do the Freedom Trail.
Sweet! I think the price has gone up a tad at Wompatuck, but the ferry into town sounds like just our kinda thing. And we didn’t make it to the library either!! Gotta go back to do that too.
Toni Kaus says
i lived in Boston for a few years, and always loved taking visitors to the Mapparium. https://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/project/mapparium/ It’s free, and a surprisingly cool experience. Not far from the Boston Public Library, also worth visiting, and where I worked.
Oh what an interesting spot! That’ll def be on our list for a return visit.
I love Boston! I lived there for 10 years in the 90’s and we want to return with our RV. Wompatuck Park sounds perfect for us. I never wanted to drive in the city when I lived there, much less now with our truck and trailer. But as you say, the public transportation is excellent. I agree, Boston is cozy and lovely. It was a wonderful place to live, until I got tired of snowfall into April. 🙂 Beautiful photo of the skyline!
Ah yes, the snow. It was romantic those few days Paul and I were there over 20 years ago, but I don’t think I’d like it for much longer. Never knew you lived there for 10 years! I’ve only ever known you in wide-open, natural kinda places so I just didn’t think of you as a city gal. So interesting!
This was a huge shot of nostalgia for me since I landed in Boston when I was 5 years old. It was a wonderful experience. I think the difference in atmosphere (besides the things you mentioned) is that it’s always been a college town. So many colleges and institutions like Harvard, MIT, Boston University, etc etc. Far more than I can name. There’s something about a college town that has that youthful energy and flavor. I rather miss it. Though I understand it’s become far too expensive to live in with gentrification. In my college days those marvelous old houses around the state house and Back Bay were mostly divided into cheap apartments.
I did manage to see the Red Socks at Fenway. Ted Williams was an early hero and there was also the heartbreak of not winning the pennant during my years there. During my college days I worked at the Top of the Hub (restaurant), back when it used to be the tallest building in Boston. It was on the 52nd floor and looked right down into Fenway Park from the employee side of the building. I wonder if it’s still there?
Can’t imagine driving the Beast anywhere near Boston or NYC. You folks are awesome!
I’m so sorry for your loss and thought the post you did for Paul’s mom was heartwarming. I apologize for not commenting sooner, but we finally made the big move down to Gold Beach and we’ve had a wildfire explode down here about the time of the eclipse. The evacuation zone kept inching closer and closer to the house. You made the right choice NOT doing the west coast this summer. It’s been all fires and smoke out here.
Didn’t know you’d spent so much time here in your youth! And YES I think your comment about it being a University town is spot on. Don’t know why I didn’t make that connection, but that definitely adds a youthful atmosphere to the place.
And yeah I’ve been watching those fires out West and thinking about all my friends (including you) out there. So very sad! I didn’t realize you’d gotten so close to the evacuation zone…yikes! Hope it all clears out soon!
Doug Tally says
Nina, your coverage as with all posts are beyond incredible… ‘in the universe’! I love how couples meet and ‘their stories’. We honeymooned in Boston and an uncle sent us to a pier (44?) for seafood. He served in the Navy with the owner. It’s where the fishermen eat seafood. While in Boston we were lost in the Italian neighborhood one night and asked a man for directions. As we drew closer and he spoke, we thought we were talking with the character ‘Rocky Balboa’ from Philly. Lastly, on Chicago, if you come back I have a place for you to camp with ‘da beast’ in the City, gated and 24/7 security. At this place crime would be like violating the serenity of a truck stop and facing a mob of drivers wearing tats with an American Flag or military service.
Wrigley Field has undergone renovation too but its still in the neighborhood and Murphy’s Bleechers Pub is just down the street from our parish. Uber 1 mile from ‘da beast’ to Michigan Ave and Roosevelt, walk along the park to the River and duck under Wacker Dr for ‘chee-brrger, chip-no fry’ at Billy Goat Tavern. Then ride the ‘L’ packed with fans 20 min. to Wrigley Field. Let me know in advance if you come back.
What a wonderful story! Thanks so much for sharing.
Linda Sand says
The name of the Charlie Card cracked me up. In case you don’t know the story: http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/history/?id=19582
Cool! No, I hadn’t read the story so cheers for sharing it.
Great review of Boston from
an RVer point of view. Yay! You are always soooo thorough.
I lived in Philly for 15 years and visited Boston several times. College visits and vacations.
Is the Big Dig still happening?
LOVE Fenway Park and the, outside the park, sausage street vendors….so unique.
Thanks for the doggie friendly advice too, since Penny, the Cockapoo, is our constant companion. We will venture to Boston maybe in the next couple years and will certainly refer to your recommendations when we do. Thanks, Nina!
Big Dig? Honestly no idea. Maybe those “in the know” will chime in? And glad the doggie info is useful. We’re all about the paws in this house so I’m always checking the doggie details everywhere we go.
Big dig is the most over priced make-over in history, 13 million over budget, it was the new tunnel under the city of boston. I think it considered finished at this point.
AHA! I knew someone would know. Cheers for the details.
Ah, Boston…..one of our favorite cities.
Linda Davey says
We are currently in the Boston area staying at Winter Island Park in Salem. We snagged a waterfront site so needless to say, we are loving it! So far we’ve taken the ferry into Boston and did the Trolley tour. Today we spent nearly nine hours exploring Salem and it’s rich history. Such a fascinating area!
Sounds lovely! We definitely want to go back and explore Salem too. Some interesting (albeit dark) history there. Also good to know the waterfront sites at Winter Island Park are as nice as I’ve heard.
Kimberly Raines says
So cool. Go Sox!
Bob McQuade says
Heresy! Check out your title for the Yawkey Way photo. Yankee Way?
Great post, as usual!
Yup I made a spelling SNAFU on that one! I think auto-correct managed to get it and I managed not to notice until after I published. I’ve corrected it now.
we stayed at a Elks club out side Boston which was near a train line that took you right into Boston…I will have to get the name for you…
Linda Davey says
Yes! I forgot to mention this in my comment above, but we stayed at the Lynnfield/Wakefield Elks. Super easy to get to right off I-95, 15 miles from downtown Boston. We actually drove downtown from here. Water is available at the lodge, there is electric. We’re heading back here for a couple of nights on our way out of Maine!
Excellent. Good to know there’s a decent Elks option in the area too.
What a great post! So glad you had some joy with your dad given your recent loss.
You really made the best out of your short time in Boston.
Having lived in Boston most of my life, I am familiar with the area, and when we have visited there in our RV, we have stayed many places. Cape Ann campsites is good if you don’t care about being in the city, but mostly we stay at Boston Minuteman in Littleton. The owner, Ted, is a great host, and goes out of his way to accommodate any needs you have.
I am thinking and assuming that your review will be positive.
Yes we were very happy with the campground. Not a lot of big rig sites, but lots of privacy and green. And as you said the owners are super friendly.
Next time your in Cooperstown try to have lunch at the Otesaga. Sunday brunch is the best! It’s right at the tip of Otsego Lake and it’s just a grand old hotel. One of my all time favorite places in the world.
Jim and Gayle says
Haven’t made it to Boston yet, but would agree that Google Maps transit mode was a tremendous help when we took the light rail into downtown Portland, OR and Denver.
I used the transit button on google maps when I needed to figure out the Vancouver, WA/Portland,OR system.
An amazing piece of technology!
We loved Hartwick Highlands and Cooperstown. A beautiful area! We were lucky to meet Johnny Bench at the Hall of Fame and he did a nice shout out to our daughters classroom via FaceTime. Great guy! We are die hard crazy Red Sox fans stuck on the West Coast. We have made several trips for games sometime a couple of series in a row! Lucky us, we have lots of signed balls even Pesky himself. Love Boston, love the East Coast-enjoy!
Peter Scarnati says
It is so, so cool that Paul got to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway with his Dad. So quintessentially American for a Dad and his son. I’ll bet their days together in Cooperstown were nearly as fulfilling as Fenway was.
I happened to come across an admission receipt from the Baseball Hall of Fame when I attended in 1974. The entry fee was a quarter! I’ll bet the admission price is a little higher than that these days.
Awesome blog post! I love Boston too. My son’s birthday is July 3, so last summer I took him there for his birthday and we were there 4 days, but we stayed in a hotel. He took in several Red Sox games (I went to one of them). Other places we visited were the USS Constitution, the JFK Presidential Library, JFK’s childhood home, and Bunker Hill. We also hit the Parker House restaurant, where the Parker House rolls and Boston Cream pie were made famous. We also went down to the river front for the fireworks. We didn’t make it into the amphitheater to see the Boston Pops concert (the security line was too long), but they air the concert over giant speakers throughout the area. So we enjoyed the concert and watched fireworks with many thousands of our closest friends! I highly recommend all of it and would do it again. We made heavy use of the subways also and found it very easy to get around, in spite of the 4th of July crowds.
Glad you had a good time in Boston. If I were in town and knew you were coming I would have volunteered to be your driver and give you a quick tour of some other sites, as that is where I live. If my driveway were longer you could have parked at my house. But my truck camper hangs over the sidewalk by itself!
Are you visiting any open lighthouses this Saturday? I’m in Lubec now and plan on going to West Quoddy Head.
YES! We’re hoping to hit Bass Harbor and Burnt Coat Harbor Lights. Should be fun!
exploRVistas - Diana and Jim says
Fenway is one place I want to get to, as it opened the same week my long lost Detroit Tiger Stadium did. That also happened to be the same week the Titanic sunk!
Goodness I didn’t know that! It’s such an interesting baseball park to visit. The stadium seats are old and tight so it’s a tad uncomfortable for taller folk (people were shorter back then!) but it’s just got so much history and atmosphere. It’s a really, really cool place to experience a game.