Boston at Christmas
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Apr 25, 2009 6:53 PM Last Post By: born2run
Apr 16, 2009 2:38 AM
Boston at ChristmasHi, we are considering Boston at Christmas, which may not sound that exciting to some, but we live in New Zealand where Christmas dinner is a bbq on the deck, and we want to experience something completely different. We have 2 children who'll be 8 and 10 and we want to do this while Christmas still holds some magic for them. Two years ago we went to San Francisco and Chicago during summer, which we loved. I had hoped to spend a week in Boston (stopping somewhere else on the way home) but I see that people recommend only 3 or 4 days there. Would a week be way too long in winter? We'd want to check out the different neighbourhoods, go skating, shopping, eating, sightseeing (architecture), maybe a day trip somewhere interesting. We are fully prepared to wrap up warm and walk around, or is it just too miserable?? Does Boston go all out with Christmas decoration etc? (remembering that we rarely see trees lit up here as it's not dark til late in summer). We've chosen Boston as my husband was there briefly for work last year and would like to go back, and we'd prefer a smaller city than NY, and with the chance of some snow. We'd stay somewhere in Back Bay I think. I guess my big question is, is Boston a good place to spend the Christmas holiday or is there a chance we'd be disappointed after going all that way?
Thanks, I know it's down to personal opinion but some thoughts would be good.
Apr 16, 2009 5:30 AM
1I'm from Minnesota so Boston during Christmas is down right tropical to me. If you're going to be there a week I'd suggest a day trip to Vermont/New Hampshire or up the coast of Maine a bit. I realize a couple kids in a car for 8 hours or so can be problematic, but Christmas time in greater New England can be very beautiful.
A week is fine. There's a lot to see and do and with the kids and a week you can take your time and not try shoving it all in three or four days.
Apr 16, 2009 6:32 AM
2I live in Boston and do really like it during Christmas season. The Boston Common is decorated really pretty (but not tacky) especially if there's snow. The kids will probably like skating on the Boston Common (it would be best to go during the day when the local crowds are still at work). New Years Eve is a big deal here too......so after a flight as long as you'll need to get here maybe it makes sense to kill two birds with one stone and stay through New Years. There's a lot of stuff going on during the day that the kids would like....it's not just night parties.
"We'd want to check out the different neighbourhoods, go skating, shopping, eating, sightseeing (architecture), maybe a day trip somewhere interesting."
Boston certainly has all that plus so I'm sure you could easily keep yourself busy for a week. So in summary I think it would be a good place to spend Christmas.....if you can handle the weather. If you look at a temp chart Boston doesn't seem so bad but the wind and moist air do make it brutal at times. But it's rarely so bad you can't walk around with the proper clothing and it could very well end up being nice too.
Like #1 suggested, a side trip to Vermont or NH might be a good idea too. You mentioned you'd probably stay in the Back Bay.....that's a good idea. Mostly expensive but it's the place to be for a visitor. You can walk pretty much everywhere you'll want to go.....or get to Cambridge easy if you decide you want to check out Harvard Square or something.
Apr 16, 2009 9:41 AM
3I'd personally opt for spending Christmas itself in some small town in New Hampshire, Vermont or Maine, for a real change of pace and bit of old fashioned Americana, and then spending a few days, including New Years Eve, in Boston. Though to get to those places up north you'd need to drive (and may not want to in snow) or take a bus or Amtrak train, which limits where you can get to easily. But if you're from a small town, that may not appeal as much to you. I'm sure Boston is lovely right after a snowfall, but, having lived in Washington for a few years (where there is far less snow), I found the snow's white charm dimmed a bit as cars and pollution went over it. If you spend Xmas in Boston, look very early for holiday concerts, and special events in the historic areas (they may have special tours for a colonial Christmas).
Apr 16, 2009 11:23 AM
4If you can handle bitterly cold weather and whipping icy winds, Boston is a great city to visit for Christmas as there are plenty of sights to see and you'll probably have a white christmas with snow for the children to enjoy. I agree with the others here that you might want to make this a road trip and spend some a little time in Vermont (or New Hampshire) and then travel to Boston for a few days. One great Christmas-themed thing to do in Boston is to go to the Christmas Revels in Cambridge. Here's the link:
Another is go to the Zoo Lights at Stone Zoo in nearby Stoneham. Here's some information on this:
If you do make it a road trip, check out this site with lots of road trip tips:
Hope this helps!
Apr 16, 2009 12:43 PM
Apr 16, 2009 4:32 PM
6Boston would be great during Christmas. Check the Tourist’s Boston and Environs post for ideas. Beyond what's in there, another fun thing to do would be to rent a car (with GPS), and take an evening drive through the South Shore suburban towns of Hingham, Cohasset, and Scituate. To get there, you'll want to find Route 3. Use exit 14 (Route 228), and drive all the way through Hingham and Cohasset. Truly lovely Christmas decorations on 200- and 300-year old houses along Route 228, and an impossibly quaint town green in Cohasset. It's New England at its best there.
A great place in that area for a holiday dinner would be Barker Tavern in Scituate. If you use GPS, your car will get you there. I used to live in the area, and the Barker was one of my favorites. On Christmas Day itself, the top-end hotels in Boston have wonderful dinners. The best would be at the Boston Harbor Hotel on the waterfront; buffet dinner to die for. It will be expensive and you will need a reservation, and it will be worth your money.
Be sure to stay through New Year's, because Boston's Dec. 31st "First Night" celebration is extensive, and really a lot of fun. It's going to be cold, so bring warm clothes, including hats and gloves. There'll be a million people out with you, so it's definitely something you can do. HAVE A GREAT TRIP.
Apr 17, 2009 1:30 AM
7Hey thanks for these replies. I've enjoyed checking out all the links. It's put my mind at rest that it's a trip worth making. It's a pretty big deal given our exchange rate is so bad!!
I like the sound of New Years in Boston and like you say, we could start off somewhere smaller. Great to have recommendations from people in the know - the more research I do, the more some of these place names start to blend into one! From what you say, the Back Bay area is probably worth the expense just to be close to alot of things. Wish I could drive over there but you guys drive on the wrong side of the road....ha ha.
I really appreciate all your help, thanks again.
Apr 17, 2009 10:00 AM
8You wouldn't want to drive in Boston, trust me.
But don't be afraid of the wrong side of the road if you can afford the time and money to make one of the suggested overnight trips out of town. Most people adjust very quickly. Roundabouts, rotaries they're called in Boston, are the one thing that aren't intuitive in my experience.
Apr 17, 2009 5:46 PM
9You don't want a car in town, meaning in the Back Bay/downtown/Cambridge tourist area. But if you're going to go much of anywhere beyond that, you'll want your own set of wheels. And, given the preponderance of vacations between Christmas and New Years, the traffic won't be quite as nasty as I made it out to be in the one posting that I linked. Just be sure to get a GPS-equipped car and keep your wits about you, and you'll be fine.
Apr 19, 2009 8:06 AM
10Also look at the Boston Pops Christmas concerts. A memorable experience..get tickets early, before you travel. Also check out the Harvard Natural History Museumfor the kids...an incredible collection.
You absolutely can drive here...we do in NZ....but you don't want to in the city. Snow is usual, but not guaranteed in Boston at Christmas, so better to plan on few days driving north to NH or Vermont.
Apr 19, 2009 8:59 PM
11OK you have all convinced me to widen the research net and I'm loving the look of some places in New Hampshire and Vermont. North Conway appeals, there seems to be alot to do, but I see it really would be necessary to drive up there, not only to reach it but to stop in other small places on the way I guess. Something to think about.
Roughly when would Boston Pops Christmas tickets go on sale, there's no info on their website currently?
Apr 20, 2009 6:49 AM
12Xmas Pops tickets usually go on sale in the fall - Sept. or Oct. There are plenty of matinee performances, which might be better with the young girls. Santa usually makes an appearance. The seats on the floor/orchestra are at little tables and you can buy refreshments. The balconies are just seats, and like all balconies, a little less expensive.
Apr 25, 2009 6:53 PM
13Concord, Mass. is a lovely New England town and not much of a drive, with a lot of American & literary history for its size.
San FranciscoBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$209.00 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$259.00 per night
San FranciscoBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$285.00 per night