Best Ways for Seniors to Get Around Boston while Sightseeing
by Bob Blume
Costumed Guides Conduct Freedom Trail Tours
What is the best way for two active Seniors to travel around Boston city sights for 3 or 4 days? We're 75 years old.
Susan's reply: Thanks for asking this great question. Boston's compact size makes it a great walking city, but regardless of one's age, building in a few breaks along the way can be a great way to pace yourself and make sure you have enough energy for a full day of sightseeing. For anyone who's not use to walking a lot, this can be a good approach to get the most of your visit.
The best way to maximize your enjoyment while pacing yourself as you get around the city is to plan on a mix of walking, bus tours, public transportation on our subway (locally called the "T"), river and harbor cruises, and taking time out for coffee breaks, lunch, and dinner.
Here are my suggestions about how you can pack a lot into 3-4 days without getting tired or wasting time standing in lines.
First, I suggest getting a 3-day Go Boston discount pass before your trip. It provides free admission to about 59-70+ attractions (not all are open year round) which will typically save you as much as 50% and give you the convenience no waiting in lines at the attractions. It gets activate once you use it for the first time.
One of the attractions that the card includes is 2 days of rides on the Beantown Trolley, which is a very cool sightseeing trolley bus that will take you to about 20 of the top Boston sites. To activate the card for the first time, you need to go the Boston Transportation Building at 16 Charles Street, which is less than a block from Boston Common/the Public Garden. Assuming that you're staying in a hotel in or near Downtown Boston, this should be a very easy walk.
You can stay on the trolley for the full 110 minute tour or get off and on as many times as you please. The driver will do a sightseeing narration, so this is a great way to get familiar with the city and spot places that you want to come back to. Stay on for the entire 110 minutes, or get off wherever you want and then get back on. With the GoBoston card, you'll get free admission to most of the sites that you'll pass on the tour.
During the first 2 days (or whenever you activate your Beantown Trolley pass), work in as many attractions along the way as you want, keeping in mind that you can pace yourself by getting something to eat or drink near the attraction.
For example, if you get off the trolley to visit the Skywalk Observatory (which I highly recommend) at the top of Prudential Tower in Back Bay, go up 2 floors afterward to Top of the Hub and sit and enjoy a drink and light meal or snack in the lounge while you enjoy the city skyline views some more. If you decide to tour Paul Revere's House or Old North Church in the North End, stop by one of the fabulous bakery/cafes nearby for espresso and an Italian pastry or walk over to the Rose Kennedy Greenway where you'll find lots of benches, tables, and chairs. If you use your card to go on a Fenway Park tour, stop by Bleacher Bar or one of the other places near the ball park for a bite to eat. You're sure to get lots of other ideas as you go around on the trolley and see all the cafes and restaurants around.
Keep in mind that the trolley's hours vary by season. If you end up at an attraction and by the time you finish, the trolley has stopped running, no worries. If you don't want to walk back to your hotel, the subway ("T") is very convenient and will whisk you back where you need to be. Depending on how much you plan to use the T, you can get a 1-day or 7-day visitor's pass.
On the 3rd day (assuming you've used the 2 days of Beantown Trolley during the first 2 days), visit one of the museums covered by the Go Boston card, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, in the morning, or go on the Freedom Trail Tour included with the card. Even though the tour lasts 90 minutes and includes a number of historic sites, they're very close together so you're not actually walking very far.
To conserve energy, take the T to your destination rather than walk. Have lunch nearby.
If you want to maximize options at your location, pick another nearby attraction (for example, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is close to MFA) for a short visit.
Then in the afternoon, take one of the Boston Harbor cruises, the Charles River cruise, or even the Boston Duck Tour included with your discount card.
The Boston movie tours are also a lot of fun - opt for the one on the bus rather than the walking tour of Beacon Hill if you're feeling tired. You'll cover lots of territory - but will ride in comfort while you enjoy the sights.
Of course, you can do all of these things without the Go Boston card, and if you're planning to do just 1 or 2 things a day, this would make sense.
On your 4th day, since the Go Boston card will have expired, a really fun option is to explore a destination an hour or two away from Boston such as Concord, Newport, Salem, or Plimouth Plantation. You can check out details for Boston day trip tours here. I would opt for the luxury bus tours, which are really good deals because they include the bus trip itself plus admission to the attractions - much, much easier and usually cheaper than renting a car and driving. These are usually all-day tours, but they include time for lunch and other breaks, and even at the destinations, you can pace yourself.
Hope this helps! Enjoy your visit to Boston!
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