Getting to College Visits in Boston
Water Taxi Stop - Rowes Wharf
We're visiting Boston area and Worcester colleges in February and don't want to deal with a car.
We're landing at Logan at 8pm Sunday and have a campus tour in Worcester at noon the next day and will spend the night there Monday. Should we take the train right from the airport to Worcester, or stay in Boston that night?
Next - we are touring Northeastern, Tufts and Olin over the next several days and need a Boston hotel that will be convenient to all the commuter lines. We'll also want to play tourist. Any tips on where to stay?
Susan's reply: Sounds like a great trip!
First, I would definitely NOT recommend taking the train to Worcester on Sunday night. The weekend schedule is in effect, which means that there's only 1 train after your flight gets in. It departs from South Station in downtown Boston at 11pm, and doesn't get into Worcester until 12:30am. Even though you will be on West Coast Time, that's still really late to be getting to your hotel. If, for any reason, the train is canceled (which does happen from time to time), you'd be left scrambling for a Boston hotel at a very late hour.
What I would suggest is staying over in Boston on Sunday night, and then taking the train to Worcester the next morning. (Check mbta.com for schedules if you haven't already - look for the Worcester Line of the Commuter Rail.)
Probably the easiest approach would be to stay right at the airport, and head into Boston early on Monday morning to catch the train. There are several good airport hotels, but the one that will be most convenient for your purposes is the Boston Logan Hilton Hotel. It connects directly to the airport, and is also very close to the water taxi dock, which is the quickest way to get to downtown Boston from the airport - normally, about 7-8 minutes.
To get to South Station, you would tell the water taxi dispatcher that you need to go to Rowes Wharf, which is next to the Boston Harbor Hotel and about 3 blocks from South Station - about a 3-minute walk down Atlantic Ave.
Alternately, if you prefer to stay in downtown Boston, you could take the water taxi on Sunday night and either stay at the Boston Harbor Hotel or another hotel near South Station - actually, the InterContinental would be the other best option, as it is between Rowes Wharf and South Station. Both the BHH and Intercontinental become very pricey during the summer due to their waterfront location, but you should be able to find reasonable rates in February.
Still a 3rd option is to take a cab from the airport and stay in a hotel near Back Bay Station, the next stop after South Station on the Worcester Line. There are at least 5 hotels within about a 2-block radius of Back Bay Station: Marriott Copley Place, Westin Copley Place, Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston, Hotel 140, and Back Bay Hotel. The cab will cost more and take longer than the water taxi, but you'll have a wider choice of hotels.
As for where to stay during the Boston portion of your visit, picking a hotel with convenient transportation access to these 3 schools is actually pretty easy because Boston is so compact. Olin College of Engineering is in Needham, so you'd take the Needham line of the Commuter Rail - logical departure points will be South Station (also on Red Line of the T, Boston's subway) or Back Bay (Orange Line of T). Tufts is near the Red Line (Red Line - about a 15 minute walk to Tufts, or take the #94 or #96 bus - confirm the numbers on the mbta.com map in case they change). Northeastern is on the Green Line, E branch.
One option would be to stay at any of the hotels previously mentioned near Back Bay Station. You'd have easy access to the station to get to Olin in Needham. Northeastern is an easy walk down Huntington Ave - maybe 10 minutes. To get to Tufts, you'd take the Orange line at Back Bay Station to Downtown Crossing, change to the Red Line, and go to Davis Square near Tufts. Back Bay is a terrific area - lots of Victorian architecture, great restaurants, and historic sites around Copley Square such as Trinity Church. The Public Garden and Boston Common are a short walk away. Beyond them, you'll find Beacon Hill, older parts of Boston, the Freedom Trail, etc.
Another choice would be to stay closer to the historic downtown Boston area near Boston Common and Faneuil Marketplace. I'd suggest a hotel near the Park Street T stop, because both the Red and Green Lines connect there. You can take the Green Line to Northeastern (be sure to get on the "E" train) and to the Copley station near Back Bay station to get to Olin, and of course the Red Line to Davis Square/Tufts. Closest hotels (within 2 block radius) are the Nine Zero, Omni Parker House , and XV Beacon .
Since you're visiting Olin and Northeastern, I'm guessing that you may be interested in engineering programs. If so, two others that you may want to consider touring while you're here are MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Cambridge (Red Line, Kendall Square) and Boston University, which has a well-regarded school of engineering (Green Line - B branch).
One more note...many Boston hotels offer campus visit discounts (see BDG's college visit hotel discount page), which may or may not be better than the hotel's regular rates or what you can find online through Travelocity, hotels.com, etc. You usually need to call the hotel directly to inquire about the campus visit rate, and then compare it with the other rates that you've found to see which is best.
Have a wonderful visit to Boston, and best of success in your campus tours!