Boston City Pass
We are going to be in Boston in early July and planning to take advantage of the Boston CityPass for a family of 4 with kids (4 & 8 years old). I have not been able to easily find a way to map out the locations of the CityPass attractions and would like to plan a hotel centrally located within the CityPass attractions - if at all possible. If it were a location to take in the fireworks in Boston, that would be ideal, but not necessary.
Susan's reply: Wow, that's an interesting challenge! The 4 "core" CityPass attractions - Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, Prudential Skywalk (I'm ignoring the Natural History Museum and the JFK Library for the moment) - are all some distance apart - for example, MFA and the Aquarium are about 3 or so miles from each other as a bird flies - MFA to Museum of Science is a bit longer. Fortunately the T (Boston's subway) has many stations throughout the area where all of these attractions are, so that will be a help.
Keeping in mind the locations of all of these attractions, the different T lines, and of course, the fireworks, I'd suggest hotels in 2 areas: Back Bay, especially near Prudential Center where the Skywalk is located, or around the Public Garden/Boston Common. Both of these areas also have great places for kids to play - Copley Square in Back Bay (or if there's rain, King's Bowling Alley is near Pru Center - but be aware it's strictly 21+ after 6pm) and the grassy slopes of Boston Common (pack a couple of frisbees). Plus the Public Garden has attractions such as the Make Way for Ducklings statues (my kids' favorite when they were the age of yours - actually, at 12 and 16, they still love them) and the Swan Boat rides.
First, Back Bay recommendations: The Sheraton Boston actually connects with Prudential Center, where you take an elevator up to the Skywalk. It also has excellent views of the fireworks if you're on higher floors on the right side of the hotel. You can also walk down to the river too. The Back Bay Hilton is right across the street - basically, same views. Both are very nice business hotels, with somewhat larger rooms than many of the older hotels in the area, and they also have nice pools.
Another reason why I recommend these hotels is that on the Huntington Ave side of Pru center, you can catch the E branch of the T's Green Line, which goes out to MFA - it's about a 10 minute ride from here. You can also take it inbound straight to the Museum of Science. To get to the Aquarium, you would take it to Government Center, and then either transfer to the Blue Line to the Aquarium stop, or get off and walk the last few blocks to the Aquarium.
Another alternative in Back Bay would be hotels right around Copley Square or nearby - about 2-3 blocks from Pru Center. The Fairmont Copley Plaza has rooms and suites of all sizes (and prices), and the Marriott and Westin also have slightly larger room sizes plus nice pools. You'd have the same convenience here with the T - Green Line's Copley Station.
Of the hotels bordering or very close to the Public Garden / Boston Common (Taj, Ritz, Four Seasons, Park Plaza, Nine Zero, XV Beacon), the Taj is the closest to the fireworks. They're all convenient to the T's Green Line, either at the Arlington Station or Park St Station. You could walk to perhaps all of the sites except for MFA, but might want to take the T instead.
To get to either the Natural History Museum or JFK Library (with CityPass, you choose 1 - the Natural History Museum, in my opinion, is much for interesting for 4 and 8 year olds), you will need to take the subway. Both are on the Red Line, which you can get at the Park Street Station in Boston Common (or transfer to from the Green Line). The Natural History Museum is across the Charles River in Cambridge's Harvard Square - about 15 minutes from Park Street, and the JFK Library is in Dorchester, about 15 minutes in the other direction.
Couple of things to note: 1) LOTS of people visit Boston around July 4th to see the fireworks and Pops concerts, so be sure to make your hotel reservations as early as possible and if you care where your room is relative to the view of the fireworks, confirm directly with the hotel - you'll find phone numbers here for hotels near the fireworks, and 2) Boston's Harborfest will be going on during the time that you'll be here, so you'll probably see festivities related to that also, especially around the Aquarium.
Hope this helps! I've added links to more information about most places that I mentioned, so click on them to get more information.
Have a wonderful time - July 4th is truly a special time to visit Boston!