First of all I would just like to say, Boston is amazing! I have absolutely loved our time here and quite honestly 2 days has not been enough. We’ll most definitely be back. As a single mum and as a worldschooler there are tonnes of things here that you can do for free and also lots of learning experiences worth visiting.
The people in Boston have been so friendly and helpful. Everyone will have a chat with you on the train or in a diner. We met some lovely people and are so glad this was our first stop. Let’s hope this trend continues throughout the US!
Getting around in Boston
Getting around in Boston is really easy. When we arrived at the airport it was about 9pm so we took a taxi from the station to our Air BnB. The driver was super friendly, chatting to me about the world cup and our England loss (boohoo). He had everything you could need in the back of the taxi including bottled water, tissues and even a phone charger!
There is also a really well-connected subway system in Boston and kids travel FREE! It’s also very reasonable prices for an adult journey. Especially when you compare it to London. A single journey is $2.25 with a Charlie Card which you can pick up free at any station. I guess its a basically like an Oyster card, you can top it up and then use it on buses and subway trains. It doesn’t work for any of the overground services though as I discovered when I tried to use it to get to Salem.
Busses in Boston are $1.70 with the Charlie Card and again, kids travel free. They are also pretty frequent and we used them to get around near where we were staying in Somerville.
Where to stay in Boston
We stayed in Somerville which is a suburb right near the city. It was actually a great location as our accommodation with AirBnB was very reasonable and it felt very safe even when we arrived late at night. We were about 15 minutes walk from the closest subway but there was also a bus we could take.
Another great area to stay would be Cambridge which is where Harvard University is. There is lots going on in this area and it’s also close to the city without being in the city.
AirBnB generally always works out cheaper than a hotel so I would recommend looking there for accommodation. If you are set on a hotel the I am sure there are tonnes of great hotels right in the centre.
Free things to do in Boston
There are literally so many things to do in Boston we could have spent a week and still not been done. Here are some of the free things we did manage to squeeze in.
Visit Harvard University
Harvard University is an iconic part of Boston and it is also stunning to walk around. When we visited there was music being played in the grounds, water fountains for the kids to run around in, giant games and a Ben & Jerrys ice cream van. It’s also of course one of the free activities to do while you are in the city and a great place to chill and relax.
Walk the Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is a red brick line that takes you around the cities most notable places. It’s a really great idea and helps you to navigate the most important monuments and buildings. It’s also free if you want it to be, but there are guided tours available. We only did part of it as it was towards the end of a long day and we were pretty tired. I would recommend heading there fresh in the morning and it is essentially just walking around. There are lots of plaques with information about different places and why they are important so lots of history to learn.
Enjoy Greenway Park
Greenway Park is another fantastic freebie! It’s the perfect place to take the kids and a picnic when you are on a budget and looking for something to do in the summer in Boston. Part of an old highway that runs right through the city, Greenway park is now a conservation ground with green spaces, fountains and eateries. There are also a number of free events hosted here throughout the year which you can find out about on their website.
This is a really cool little place worth a visit if you are staying in Somerville. We headed up in the evening and it gives an amazing view of the city lights. We were lucky enough to have my friend with us who also happens to be a history teacher and told us all about the history and importance of Prospect Hill. It’s also a nice place to take a picnic or sit and have drinks in the evening because the views of the city are fantastic.
Other things to do in Boston
So unfortuatly we weren’t able to do everything we wanted to do in Boston in 2 days and the two main things we wanted to visit were the Boston Tea Party ship and the Boston Science Museum. Both cost to visit so I would really have wanted to make the most of them and we simply couldn’t fit them in.
Visit the Boston Tea Party Ship
This is one thing I really wanted to do whilst in Boston although I have been told that they basically just drop a box tea into the sea. However, after visiting Salem and learning about the witches from a show I think this way of learning about history is particularly effective for children. They love a reenactment in the US aswell so hopefully there will be lots more opportunities to learn in this way.
Boston Science Museum
Another great place to visit if you are worldschooling is the Boston Science Museum. We were planning on visiting but when ended up meeting up with some worldschooling friends and taking things bit slower. We didn’t want to rush our day just to get there on time. It has come highly recommended by a friend of mine and apparently has lots of interactive things for kids to do.
What to eat in Boston
Like most big cities Boston has tonnes of great food. One thing we really should have tried but didnt want clam chowder, the local speciality.
We ate out for breakfast both mornings at a little roadside trailer diner called Buddy’s. They did great pancakes and these amazing fried potatoes. Ny loved the super sweet cereals that they sold there which I would never let her eat at home.
On the first night we ate at the local Pizza place and tried cheese fries which were yum and the pizza was pretty amazing too. We then went to Gracies ice cream bar where Ny got to try “Fluff” which is a wet marshmallow type paste that was invented in Somerville. We also found out about the What the Fluff? Festival which takes place every year at the end of September.
Basically, we are really really bad food all day.
On the second day I was determined to eat some form of fruit and vegetables so after our Buddy’s breakfast we headed to Haymarket station which brings you out at Boston Market. There they sell amazing food from loads of local producers. We ended up eating Ramen which wasn’t amazingly healthy but did have some veg in luckily!
Then we went outside and found and amazing fruit and veg market where be brought some fruit.
If you are in Boston I highly recommend getting lunch at Boston Market and trying Fluff if you have kids.
Day trips from Boston
Travelling out of Boston is also a really nice and comfortable experience. The trains are really well staffed, there is always someone to help and they are clean, comfortable and spacious. In fact on the Amtrak train to New Haven the seats in “coach” were like first class in the UK. With wide seats, tray tables and plug sockets for everyone. They aren’t cheap however, especially if you buy tickets on the day. I paid $85 for an adult and child for a 2.5 hour journey from Boston to New Haven. The train to Salem was on the “commuter line” which I guess is still classed as a local train, not a long distance train so that was $15 and the child travelled free.
Trip to Salem
The Salem Witch trials had always fascinated me and I thought it would be something fun for Ny to learn about as part of worldschooling. The trip from Boston to Salem was around 30 minutes from North Station and from the station it’s a short walk to all the tourist hot spots.
We visited the Salem Witch Dungeon which was really cool, horrifying and interesting all at the same time. It was $10 for an adult and $8 for a child and with that you got a short history lesson, a reenactment of the trials and a tour of the dungeons which are an exact replica of those which people were kept in during the trials.
This was the first museum we came across however, and I soon realised there were tonnes of other “Witch Museums” and tours we could have visited in the town. I would recommend doing a walk around the town first, check out the different museums and tours and seeing what’s on offer. You may find something even more interesting.
The rest of the day we spent wondering around the cool little boutique shops in the town and relaxing in the park it the sun. Salem also has a cool water fountain in the centre where the kids can cool off.
If you are trying to each cheap I would recommend taking a packed lunch with you. One of the strange things about the US is they don’t seem to have places where you can grab a quick lunch. Especially in the tourist areas. In Salem there was nowhere to buy like a cheap sandwich or a pasta salad etc. It was all sit down for lunch places. We ended up finding a pharmacy that sold crisps, sweets and drinks but that was about it. Another weird thing in the US pharmacys seem to be the place to buy food.
Trip to New Haven
New Haven is just over two hours away by train and probably longer by bus. We brought a train ticket on the day so it wasn’t cheap but you can get better deals if you book in advance. The trains were so comfortable and clean and we had a view of the ocean sitting on the left side as we went along the coast.
Yale University is in New Haven and we had a great time walking around there. There are also lots of lovely restaurants on and around the campus. There are a number of free museums and art galleries that you can visit while you are there so I would definitely recommend it.
Last word on Boston
If you are looking for a cool, clean, safe, modern city in the US that is packed with history and culture then Boston is the perfect place. You could spend a long weekend or a couple of weeks and I am sure there would always be more to see and do. The people are super friendly and you can get around really easily. It’s absolutely perfect for a worldschooling family or a single parent family. We will be back!