Getting Around Boston
Boston is a small, fairly walkable city. Except for the hills and those cars that will run you down. We recommend that you don’t drive in Boston (there’s a reason why the term “Masshole” exists) and stick with either the professionals, or take the T. For extra fun, take a water taxi or ferry to experience the city from the water. We do not recommend biking in Boston. While many commuters do it, the streets are small and competition quite intense when you throw in the Big Bus and Duck Tours. It’s just not worth the hassle.
Getting to and from the Airport
The good news: Boston Logan airport is extremely close to the city. There are some public transportation options to get you into the city, most notably the free silver line which stops at every terminal and end at South Station, where you can pick up the Red Line. If you take the Blue Line, you will need to then transfer to a shuttle bus to get to the terminals. For a full list of info, check out the Mass Port page.
If you plan on taking a taxi, there will be people outside your terminal directing you to a queue. Note that you will be charged for using the trunk and for the toll to use the underground tunnel. If you take an uber, you will also be charged for the toll, however, you will need to find your Uber or Lyft at a separate pick up spot. Just follow the signs.
If you have the time, and you’re traveling light, consider taking a Water Taxi. find the 66 bus to get to the docks and call a Water Taxi at 617.227.4320 (see below for more info).
T and Bus
Boston’s subway consists of several colored coded lines: Green (which branches out), Red, Orange, Blue, and Silver Line which is actually a bus. There is no loop to connect the lines, so if you need to change lines, you’ll likely do so near Park Street Station or Government Station. And since Boston boasts the oldest subway system in the US (it shows!) it’s not exactly up to date with apps, and different modes of transportation – commuter rail, ferry – require different ticketing options. Currently there’s no app to allow you to buy tickets for the T and the bus, so you’ll need to either purchase paper Charlie Ticket at the station, or if you can, ask at the info window if they have reusable Charlie Cards that allow you to simply wand over the styles to enter the T or bus. Kids 11 and under ride free when accompanied with an adult. Download the Transit App to plan your trip and see when that next bus or train is coming, but otherwise get a card at the station.
Commuter Rail and Ferry
The ferry and commuter rails (trains that run from either North or South Station to surrounding suburbs) are on different ticketing systems than the T and buses, which means a Charlie Card or Charlie Ticket will not work on these lines. You can buy paper tickets on board both the ferry and the commuter rails, but you can also download and use the MBTA Commuter Rail app to buy tickets.
Note that when using the app for the ferry, kids are free, and but if you take the ferry, then we highly recommend that you skip the paper tickets and (enormous lines) and get the MBTA mTicket app. Here you can buy tickets in bulk for the ferries and simply show it as you board the boat. You can take two kids under 12 per adult for free, but you will still need to wait in line to get a paper ticket for them, as the app does not allow for kid’s tickets. This handy dandy guide from the MBTA will familiarize you with your ferry options.
BHC runs the water taxis, and in the summer, there really is no better way to go about the city. These are not private boats, and they typically go from stop to stop, so it’s not always a direct trip, but the kids love it and it’s an inexpensive way to see the harbor. In fact, you can pretend you’re Paul Revere as he rowed his way from the North End to Charlestown before embarking on his famous midnight ride. To get a water taxi, you can 617.227.4320 or wait at a stop (map). You can purchase tickets online at their site as well.
Driving in Boston
Just don’t. The streets are congested and unfriendly. In Boston turn signals are for suckers and yellow lights mean speed up. Bostonians do not take it well when people are lost on the fairly small and narrow streets. Not only that, but in some areas street names will change in mid-block or disappear entirely. This is because Boston believes that if you don’t know where you’re going, you shouldn’t be there.
You may also think that since you are so close, you may want to drive to the Cape. Driving to the Cape is one of the worst hobbies Bostonians have, and as a result, everyone spends hours—we mean hours—in stop and go traffic, because everyone leaves at the same time on Friday. If you want to drive to the cape, try to do it off hours or off days, as most people leave around lunch time on Fridays and come back first thing Sunday morning.