Wednesday, March 14, 2018

2017: The Year of Travel | Boston

Our first visit to the east coast as a family took place in a whirlwind 10 day long trip that started in Boston. We've always had illusions of doing crazy long road trips to cover as much ground as possible, but this was the first time we have ever done it to this extent. Starting in Boston and winding our way through New York, Philadelphia, and DC, this trip gave us a nice overview of Colonial America while also allowing us to take advantage of as much as we could while we were there.

Airfare isn't cheap, epecially when you have kids that aren't free anymore. Aiming to be as budget friendly as possible, it's natural for us to throw in as much as we can whenever we splurge on airfare. That being said, this was a crazy idea to start with and we were actually pretty exhausted well before we were done.

This is what our itinerary looked like for our short time in Boston:
  • Day 1: Freedom Trail, the Old State House Museum, and Quincy Market.
  • Day 2: Museum of Science, Boston Tea Party Museum, and the Boston Children's Museum.

Granary Burying Ground

Meeting Room at the Old State House Museum

Freedom Trail
I was excited to see that the Freedom Trail is an actual trail lined with brick inlayed in the sidewalks throughout the city. Pretty much anywhere you go in Boston, you'll likely see this trail during your stay and take in some of the sites. The Freedom Trail was too much for us to to do in one day, especially since we opted for the audio tour purchased at the information booth at the start of the trail. Isabelle can never just skip anything and the audio tour didn't help with time management, however, we did learn quite a few interesting facts that helped the kids enjoy more of the locations. (We wouldn't recommend getting the audio tour unless you want to be very thorough.) We ended up finishing our walk of the Freedom Trail with a visit to the Old State House Museum and Quincy Market.

Highlights on the Freedom Trail

  • Boston Commons: This is where the Freedom Trail officially starts. It's a beautiful park in the middle of the city and the kids loved seeing all the squirrels and hanging out on the playground.
  • Granary Burying Ground: We spent a lot of time here because the kids wouldn't give up looking for the scavenger hunt from the audio tour. Established in 1660, this is where you can find the final resting place of some revolutionaries like Samual Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere. 
  • Old State House Musem: We entered the museum just before the last admittance time. Although we wish we would've gotten here earlier to take in more of the tours, we're really glad we made it and we were able to catch the last tour of the day. This was the one place on Andrew's list of must-sees, because of its significance to American History. This is where the Revolution began with it being the site of the Boston Massacre. If nothing else, this is a must-see.
  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace: This is where the shopping and dining is and also where you'll find Quincy Market. We found some really great local shops and souveniers as well as a ton of food offerings here.

Boston Commons and the start of the Freedom Trail

Day 2 was filled with museums. If we had known how long we'd spend at each museum, we would've definitely done it differently. Here's an overview and what we thought of each:

Museum of Science
This was one of the best science museums we've ever been too (and we've been to a lot). It was packed with so many amazing interactive exhibits and we really couldn't get enough. We started our day here and left way too soon, almost literally dragging the kids and me out the door to make it to our next destination. If you're a science nerd, this museum is a must and I would plan for most of the day spent here. If it wasn't for closing times and parking, we would've made our way back here at the end of the day. 

Boston Tea Party Museum 
I've had a fascination with the Boston Tea Party ever since I learned about it in US History so I was very excited to come here. The gift shop isn't as cool as I thought it would be but it is free if you want to visit. I'd advise you to only visit if you're in the area and not do the paid tour if you're short on time or cash. We paid for the hour long tour which we realized later was the same cost for us to go to Mount Vernon for the day. Aside from the immersive experience and the ability to throw "tea" over board a ship, Andrew and I are undecided whether this was a worthwhile visit or not. 

Ignoring the cost, these were our favorite highlights:
  • It was an immersive experience which is always really fun.
  • We got some really great pictures throwing tea over board.
  • The kids learned how to respond to speeches during the time period with words like "fie" and "here-here!"

Boston Children's Museum
This was the museum we could've definitely skipped if we'd known what to expect. The kids were slightly too old for everything here and while it was fun, it was small and we were done with everything pretty quickly. It also got pretty busy as the day went on and we learned that it was a discounted day for locals. The kids definitely enjoyed the time we spent here, but I would've loved to have fit in other sites the second time around. If you have younger kids though, this would be a really fun place for them to expend some energy. The bubble making room was my kids' favorite!

We feel like we got a good feel of Boston in the short time we were there. We didn't venture too far, but it was a great visit and we were excited to continue with our road trip. Have you been to Boston? What are your favorite things to do there? 

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