Visitng New York & Boston for the first time next week. Tips, advice, etc?

So it appears that I will be going to New York and Boston for the first time next week. I’ll be in NY (Manhattan) with a friend, couch-surfing, I believe. After that, my friend goes to DC, and I’m going to go to Boston alone.

Stuff I definitely want to do in NY:
Yankee Stadium tour, Phillies @ Shea (seems like that would be a rivalry, no?), visit a few of these places and these places, visit the WTC site, try to see Letterman. Conan & TDS optional, as they’re not going anywhere. Might as well stop by the Hello Deli. Also, see what I can get through TKTS Take pictures from the Empire State Building, or something else that offers photo-friendly views. Famous Ray’s pizza, and bagels. Lots of bagels. McSorley’s .Boat tour?

Any recommendations for bars & places to get the local brews would be welcome. I’m a fan of the dive/beer bars (Zeitgeist, Lucky 13 in San Francisco, Delilah’s, Sheffield’s in Chicago). I’ll be with a friend in NY so I’m not too worried about keeping busy, but I figure the more I have to do, the better.

Now Boston’s a little stickier- I’ll be alone, and I know very little about it. I suppose a hotel would be the first thing to figure out. I don’t want to spend more than $100/night if I can help it (I do have AAA). I know I’ll want to tour Fenway and check out the MIT campus, but that’s about all the specifics I have. I’ll want to check out the local brews and the Irish pubs.

So yes, Dopers, any help with either town would be appreciated. I’ll be out there August 3-10, though I’m not sure when exactly I’ll leave NY for Boston. Ooh, speaking of which, what’s a good way to get there? I’m willing to be in transit a little longer if it’s a particularly pretty ride, though I wouldn’t want to spend more than five or six hours in any seat.

Sorry this post is disjointed, I keep thinking of things as I type. Many thanks for your help, dear Dopers.

Okay, getting for NYC to Boston, I recommend a bus. My father and brother took the Acella a few weeks ago and thought it was a big rip off. I’ve made the trip by bus in a little more than four hours, if I remember correctly. Also, you should be able to go from city center to city center on a bus, although I’m not sure about that.

As for hotels, find one near the end of one of T lines. You’ll pay a lot less than in the city. There is one walking distance from Alewife, the western end of the red line. Looks nice enough, offers a AAA discount and has advertised rates of 80 or 90 dollars a night. I pass it all the time on my way into the city. Buy yourself a visitor’s subway pass and you can easily get in and out of the city. Quincy market is a must, as is Harvard Square and Boston Common. You can catch Taming of the Shrew for free on the Common when your there, 8pm Tuesday through Saturday, 7 on Sunday, I think. I can’t help you with bars as I turned 21 on Wednesday, but I’m sure there are some.

Go to AAA and get maps and tour books if you haven’t. Boston is a warren, really. Much more confusing the San Francisco, in my opinion.

Feel free to email me if you need any more details, as I grew up and currently live just outside of Boston.

The Chinatown bus goes from, you guessed it, Chinatown to Chinatown, and costs about $20. Greyhound now matches that, I think, and has nicer buses and reserved seating. It ends up in South Station, also just minutes from everything in Boston.

The hotel that gfloyd mentioned is the Cambridge Gateway Inn just a few minutes walk from the Alewife T stop (and my house). The Red line is a pretty good choice, since you’ll be able to hit Harvard Sq, MIT, and pretty easy access to Beacon HIll, the Common/Public Gardens and South Station. Fenway is off the Greenline, but the only home game in that time is the 3rd. The tours run the rest of the time, but it’s not like being there for a game. :frowning:

Other thoughts include some part of the Freedom trail to visit some of the many historic sites. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market is OK, but it’s pretty much touristy stuff in a nice setting. From the waterfront it’s a quick ferry ride to the Boston Harbor Islands National Park, well worth the trip. Old Ironsides out in Charlestown is a fine side trip. Dinner in the North End (Italian food) is a must, as well as good seafood in any one of a number of good places.

You might want to pass on the Empire State Building. I just took my family to the top in early July. It was the first time I have gone up since 9/11 and the wait to get up is very long and it is more expensive than it is worth. If you do decide to go, try to go during a day on a weekday.
I would look into if the Chrysler building or GE building still have observation deck tours. They use to when in the 80s.

If you are doing the Yankee stadium tour, you might want to follow it up with a visit to either the Bronx Zoo or the Cloisters.
The Bronx Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country if not the world. The Cloisters is an interest extension of the Museum of Modern Art.

There is a great bar near South Street Seaport nearly under the Brooklyn Bridge, Jeremys Ale House. I haven’t been there in 8 years but it was a fun place.
Are you planning to visit any of the Museums? NYC Museums are our country’s finest.
Consider a walk around Central Park. There is much to see and some good on-line tour maps you can pre-print.
It is a shame you will not be there August 2nd, I would offer to take you to the Yankee game against Toronto and experience the Right Field Bleachers.

Jim {We just spent the week of July 4th visiting “The City” almost every day}

Not particularly interested in museums, though I’m not ruling anything out. I’m most interested in technology, industry, and photography, as far as museums go.

And yeah, how bad does it suck that the Yankees and Red Sox are both out of town? Plus, I visited Chicago less than a month before baseball season. At least Yankee Stadium & Fenway offer ballpark tours, which Wrigley didn’t.

I’m getting the impression that Boston is quite tiny, just barely bigger than San Francisco. I might go ahead and try to walk from one end to the other. Any suggested routes, whether for cool sights or personal safety?

Any Bostonians interested in a Dopefest on the 7th, 8th or 9th (Mon-Wed)?

Jeremy’s is still a cool place but it’s moved a block or so south of where it was, Jim. Just thought you ought to know. It’s my corner bar, and Jeremy’s still a very nice man.

Boston is a relatively small city. The big population centers are spread out through a lot of suburban communities that go on for a great distance. Most parts of the city are very close by, and it’s pretty easy to walk or take the T (subway) where you need to go. If you don’t mind walking some, you can see most of the city that way.

I don’t know if they still run Big Dig tours, but that would be fun right about now. :slight_smile: A Duck Tour is a bit cheesy but frankly it’s a lot of fun. The Museum of Science is one of the best out there, lots of great stuff there. A walk along the Charles River along the Esplanade is a great way to spend an afternoon.

A person could start out at the MIT campus in Cambridge, walk over the Charles River on the Mass. Ave. bridge, then hang a left at Commonwealth Avenue (it is very wide with a lot of trees and some nice old buildings along the side). You can follow Comm Ave. (as the locals call it) down to the Public Garden, then to historic Boston Common. This would be your opportunity to see the Bull and Finch Pub, the basis for Cheers, which is just off the Public Garden. This is a very touristy thing to do. I have never seen the inside of the Bull and Finch myself.

You can walk down towards the harbor from the Common, passing through Faneiul Hall/Quincy Market (also very touristy) then continue on to the North End, the historically Italian neighborhood with a plethora of good and not so good restaurants. This would be a great spot for dinner.

A reasonably fit person could complete this walk in a leisurely couple of hours, depending on how much they dawdle. An alternate route would be to turn left a block or so after Comm. Ave. and follow Newbury street down to the Public Garden. Newbury is a trendy shopping area.

Personal safety is not an issue on either of these routes, certainly not in daylight and probably not anytime before midnight either. Your biggest danger is probably pickpockets in Faneiul Hall.

Museums: MIT has a museum : http://web.mit.edu/museum/
I am ashamed to say I have never been although it is about a block from where I work. Maybe some other posters know something about it (Robot Arm, perhaps?).

How local do you like your local beers? John Harvard Brewpub in Harvard Square and the Cambridge Brewing Company near MIT both make their own beer on the premises and are two of my favorites. The CBC is especially nice because you can sit outside this time of year.

Unfortunately I will be out of town when you are here. If I think of any more things I will post some more.

(By all accounts the Fenway tour is very good BTW).

Does it still have the Bras, Ties and Moose or am I thinking of the wrong bar?

I don’t recall a famous Tech or Science Museum in NYC but the Museum of Television & Radio in NY is pretty cool. I’ve been there twice, but not in over 10 years.

The Liberty Science Center will be closed until the fall and would be hard to get to as it is on the NJ side. Very nice science museum and it is being upgraded.

One great thing about NYC, is I usually stumble into eateries that are better than most places to eat in the country but are considered average in NYC. Especially the diners in NYC. Do yourself a favor and experience the unique New York taste known as an Egg Cream Soda. Even more New York than the Bagels or the Pizza.

Jim

I have to second this. I’ve enjoyed every trip I’ve ever taken out to the Harbor Islands.

Those are two of my favorite bars in the city. My friends have just bought a house in the Castro and I spend a lot of time on their couch.

If you like those bars, I suspect you’ll like these dive bars in NYC:

Manitoba’s
99 Ave. B, New York, NY 10009
between 6th and 7th Sts
This bar is owned by “Handsome Dick” Manitoba of the Dictators and is appropriately punk divey.

7b
108 Ave. B at 7th St.
Great dive bar with 26 taps. A bit of Crocodile Dundee was filmed here, don’t let that bother you. This bar is right near Manitoba’s so hit both while crawling.

Iggy’s Keltic Lounge
132 Ludlow St. between Rivington and Stanton Sts
$2 PBR’s and a great dive ambiance.

I love old bars and since you already mentioned McSorley’s, here’s a few of the more famous classic old NYC bars. Note that addresses in NYC make no sense at all, hence the cross streets.

Pete’s Tavern
129 E 18TH St. at Irving Plaza
Open since 1864.
O’Henry wrote Gift of the Magi here.

Chumley’s
86 Bedford St. at Barrow St.
Famous speakeasy with NO SIGN. Truely funky on the inside. This bar is where the term “86’d” got coined (note the address).

Old Town Bar
45 E 18th St Between Park Avenue and 5th Avenue
Beautiful old bar open since 1892. This bar is pretty close to Pete’s Tavern, by the way.

White Horse Tavern
567 Hudson St. at 11th St.
Dylan Thomas drank himself to death here.

Fraunces Tavern
54 Pearl St at. Broad St.
George Washington said farewell to his troops upon his retirement as General at this tavern. Surprisingly friendly Wall St. people and a really good happy hour.

Also, take the walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and then across the Brooklyn Bridge for fantastic views of Manhattan. The sun sets behind the skyline, so you might want to consider that for photography purposes. Also the New York Public Library is an unbelievable Beaux Arts spectacle. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen, and it’s certainly worth the time to take a stroll through it.

My friend bought a co-op down on the Lower East Side so I’ve been hanging out there a lot recently. I’ll probably go back in the fall when it’s tolerably cool.

Nice, these all sound excellent, but do they actually have Big Dig tours? I’d be quite interested in one, actually, I’ve followed its progress since the beginning.

**Laughing Lagomorph
**- That all also sounds great. I’m not anywhere near in shape, though I am able to walk for longer periods of time than about anyone I know. Strong feet, I guess. :smiley: As for local brews, I’m really into craft beers, and I’d say about 75% of the beer I drink regularly is made here in San Francisco, and that’s not counting the ubiquitous Anchor Steam. I just like to be able to sample the region’s strengths, and take advantage of access to stuff I might not be able to get at home.

All this advice is really helping me quell my nervousness about traipsing about unfamiliar cities by my lonesome, so keep it coming!

What I found most interesting, and very differnt from any other city I’ve been to, are the small commercial districts in NY. I was kind of lost, so I can’t even rell you exactly where this is, but you run into a block or two of furriers, then a couple blocks of gem merchants, and electronics stores, etc.

If there’s something you want to buy, in New York you can make it a much more interesting experience than anyplace else. And this from one of those typical guy shoppers who goes to a store, buys the first thing that fits the minimum requirements, and is back out the door in 5 minutes,

I think you would really enjoy the Cambridge Brewing Company then. I’ve been a customer of theirs for 17 years now. Their Tall Tale Pale Ale is probably my favorite all time beer. You certainly can’t get it in San Francisco. They also occasionally do some Belgian Ales, some of which have won national awards. And the John Harvard Brew House, although a chain, is pretty good. At least the Harvard Square one is the original location.

A place that always has local microbrew beers on tap is The Miracle of Science Bar and Grill, at 321 Mass. Ave. also near MIT. They have relatively cheap, good lunchtime food and the place has a fun vibe. I have rarely been there in the evening, it used to get quite crowded some nights. If you go for lunch either get there a little early or quite late.

I work right across the street from them, very good beer. :slight_smile:

MoS is nice, but not that special, unless you’re a true geek.

Other options if you wander a bit, Redbones in Davis Sq, Somerville. You can spin the wheel of beer. The Publick House on Beacon St in Brookline has a great beer selection from all over New England and beyond.

I carry a USB Swiss Army Knife, I have a copy of Nightwork in my bag at the moment, and I credit the SDMB as one of the primary influences of my formative years. How’s that? :wink:

Summer is always the easiest time to get tickets to Broadway shows. The TKTS booth should have a lot to choose from.

If you like books and feel like taking a walk, go down Broadway to 12th Street and the incredible Strand Bookstore.

And while you’re visiting Jeremy’s Ale House, the downtown Strand is very close by, as is the downtown TKTS booth. (As am I.)

Katz’s Deli for a great pastrami sandwich. It’s where they filmed the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in “When Harry Met Sally” but don’t hold that against it. Amazing food, worth the side trip.

Also, lodging recommendations for $100 or less would be appreciated.