Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Travel Fun in Boston Without the Expense

Article by Eric H. Photo,of Swan Boats Ride, courtesy of MOTT

A visit to Boston sometimes requires a second mortgage, but, upon closer inspection, there are many ways to spend time in the "Hub of the Universe" without giving away too much of your hard-earned money.

WODS-FM (Oldies 103.3) is once again presenting the Oldies 103.3 2008 Free Summer Concert Series at the DCR Hatch Shell Memorial in Boston. This year's lineup includes David Cassidy with the Firth Dimension (June 21), the Guess Who with John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band on July 21 (the latter from Rhode Island), Felix Cavaliere's Rascals ("Good Lovin'", "What a Beautiful Morning") with the Cowsills ("Indian Lake") on July 26, and the legendary K.C. and the Sunshine Band on Aug. 16 (I'll be there!). We applaud Oldies 103.3 for bringing these fun affordable concerts to Boston, and also for its on-air commitment to keeping great music alive, as well as the presence of legendary DJs like Dale Dorman, J.J. Wright and Harry "Bud" Nelson.

Boston will be celebrating the Fourth of July from July 1 to July 6! The famous Boston Harborfest event features an opening ceremony on July1, Children's Day on July 2, concerts with the Flounders and Mad Sweet Pangs on July 3, concerts with the Royal Hospital School Band and Dan Lawson Band on July 4th, a concert with the Dramatix and a "party on the plaza" on July 5, and the famous Chowderfest on July 6. Our personal "best bet" recommendations are the Children's Day with free educational and entertaining activities and visits from the USS Constitution Museum, Historic New England and the New England Aquarium; and the Chowderfest with competition for the "Best Boston Chowder" features local restaurants like Christopher's in Maynard, MA, the Daily Catch in Boston, Farmer Browns in Middletown, MA, Parkers Restaurant at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, the Chicken Bone in Boston, the Daily Grill in Boston, MA, the Oceanaire in Boston, and the Quarterdeck in Falmouth, MA.

City-wide, there will be myriad events, including the Fourth of July on the Esplanade with Keith Lockhardt and the Boston Pops Orchestra and a traditionally spectacular fireworks show to follow. Visit for more information!

No trip to Boston would be complete without a ride on the Swan Boats. A 120-year-old tradition, a Swan Boats ride offers a fun and relaxing ride through the Boston Public Garden's natural, oasis-in-the-city setting -- as well as the novelty of the over sized fake swans attached to each boat. You will see real swans, however, in the waters, as well as beautiful flowers and amazing city views throughout the Boston Public Garden.

A trip to Boston would also not be complete without a walk through the 2.5 Freedom Trail walk, which includes educational, entertaining and informative stops by the Boston State House, Old Corner Book Store, Park St. Church, Old South Meeting House, site of the Boston Massacre, the Paul Revere House and Faneuil Hall. It's free and a great chance to learn about America's Revolution. You can take a guided tour or "go it" on your own.

Filene's Basement, temporarily located at 497 Boylston St. (the original Downtown Crossing location is undergoing renovations and should be open in the spring of 2009) is another local landmark. Established in 1908, Filene's is famous for being the first discount clothing store. There are legendary stories about customers fighting over clothing, given the amazing bargains (seems kind of silly, doesn't it?).

Castle Island in South Boston is free to visit and features water views, swimming, a network of walking trails for walking, hiking or jogging, biking, fishing, picnic opportunities and Sullivan's hamburger stand.

Historic Faneuil Halll offers more than 100 shops and restaurants at this renovated historical series of buildings, so the potential is there to spend lots of money. We're just as content going the cheap ordering a hot dog from the local vendor, a slice of pizza from Pizzeria Regina, a cup of clam chowder from Boston Chowda, or a chocolate chip cookie at the Boston Chipyard. It's just nice to soak in the atmosphere of this "heart of the city," walk around, or just sit on a bench in this special area.

The AMC Boston Chapter Local Walks Committee is a great resource to learn and participate in day hikes in eastern Massachusetts, ranging from three to 20 miles. Info on Bosto area hikes includes the Boston Harbor Islands, Mount Auburn Cemetery (nearby Watertown), Fresh Pond Reservoir (neighboring Cambridge) and Charles River Greenway (Watertown/Newton). Visit the AMC Boston Chapter Web Site for more information.

Looking for a cheap meal? Then we heartily recommend the landmark Santarpio's Pizza in East Boston, at 11 Chelsea St., Tel. (617)- 567-9871. Informal on the inside with lines often going out the door, we rank Santarpio's as having some of the best thin-crusted pizza we've sampled in New England. The pizza uses a fresh blend of cheese and tomato unlike any other we've tasted with elements of crunchiness, chewiness, a sometimes slightly burned breading, ample toppings and the potential for the whole slice to cave in. The perfect seasoning lends an additional flavor to these amazing pizzas. If, however, you're looking for a diverse menu at Santarpio's, please know that the only other items offered is are barbecued lamb and sausage -- with amazing, charcoal-fired flavor.

For an extensive list of "hidden Boston restaurants" for the budget-minded, check out It's a tremendous resource for "cheap eats" and beyond that price category.

Are there any cheap, but quality hotels in Boston? If you're not prioritizing marble-floored lobbies with gold-plated restrooms, then you will find a few viable lodging options that won't break the bank. You might want to research some of the following, less-expensive Boston hotels, perfect for the budget-minded:
Best Western Roadhouse Suites
Boston Days Inn
Holiday Inn Logan Airport
Midtown Hotel
John Hancock Hotel and Conference Center
Chandler Inn Hotel
Best Western Terrace Inn

If you know fo any affordable Boston events or attractions, please feel free to post here!

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