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Rental car for Cambridge visit?

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posts: 2
Rental car for Cambridge visit?

I will be staying in Cambridge for a week while my son attends a summer fencing camp at MIT. While we plan to walk or use public transportation for Boston sightseeing, I'm not sure if I should rent a car for getting around Cambridge (and to and from the airport). He carries his gear in a golf-sized bag, so although we are staying at the Residence Inn Near the university, I wonder if walking to the Z-Center every morning with it is do-able. Do you think renting a car is necessary / a good idea? Thanks for any advice.

11 replies to this topic
posts: 1,848
reviews: 114
1. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

You will not need a car for getting to the areas of Cambridge that most visitors are interested in seeing (the areas around the main commercial squares). Parking in Cambridge and Boston is a hassle. I would recommend saving your money. It's probably a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the Z-Center.

Dallas, Texas...
Destination Expert
for New York City
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2. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

If he is capable of carrying his gear for the walk, then don't rent a car.

Parking in Cambridge is not easy. The car won't be practical for anything except dropping him off and picking him up. You'll have to pay to park it when you're not using it, and it's possible that it could be complicated with the hotel's off-site parking. I don't know that you would be guaranteed space availability if you leave and return in the mornings. You'd need to check with them.

posts: 5,446
reviews: 65
3. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

You could certainly walk to the Z center (it's about 1/2 mile) but I think you'll be bored by yourself without a car. With a car, you can drop him off every morning and then race up and down Memorial Drive, drive around Boston, maybe even venture out into the suburbs.

posts: 141
4. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

If you want more freedom than public transport will give you and want it to be cheaper than flagging cabs I'd consider renting a bike. Just be aware that is is city cycling but if you are comfortable with that it's a really good way to explore.

Personally I would not rent a car if I didn't plan to leave Cambridge/Boston. In fact if one was offered for free I would refuse it because for Cambridge and Boston I'd see it as nothing but a bruden.

Edited: 12:33 pm, July 23, 2014
posts: 5,433
reviews: 29
5. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

It seems like overkill to rent a car for such a short distance and as noted parking will be a hassle, especially if the hotel garage does not allow in and out privileges. If his gear is heavy it would make more sense to invest in one of those wheeled shopping carts or something. If it's deathly hot or pouring out you could splurge on a cab. There is a subway stop right at your hotel. You can use it to go into town, also can take it to parts of Cambridge -- Central Square, Harvard Square, etc.

Destination Expert
for Boston
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6. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

Unless the place where you are staying has parking included, I think a car is going to be a giant hassle for you. Not to mention the fact that although I've lived in this area for over 25 years, I STILL hate driving in Cambridge and Somerville and try to avoid it if I can. I still will get lost because of poorly-marked streets, crazy traffic patterns, congested streets, etc.

Destination Expert
for Boston
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7. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

I'm presuming Thomas' comments were said tongue-in-cheek (sometimes it's hard to tell). If that's so, we're all in agreement not to rent a car.

Edited: 1:24 pm, July 23, 2014
posts: 2
8. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

Many many thanks to all for the advice and input. I had been struggling with the idea for a while and only wish I had asked sooner! I do so appreciate you help. Please keep me in mind if you ever travel to the Miami area, and I'd love to return the favor.

posts: 5,446
reviews: 65
9. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

My comments were completely serious! I think the OP will go crazy without a car for a week around MIT. I love exploring the area (including Boston) by car and never find it difficult to find parking in Cambridge. I don't even know how one would get to MicroCenter and Trader Joe's on Memorial Drive with public transportation. The way people talk about cars in this forum you would think Boston is like Venice or something.

Afterall "Roadrunner" is practically the Massachusetts State Anthem:


Edited: 2:07 pm, July 23, 2014
posts: 141
10. Re: Rental car for Cambridge visit?

Personally I'd walk but really who cares how one would get to Trader Joe's on Memorial Drive. Did I miss the memo that that's a big tourist attraction and/or the OP wants to go there or does getting to Trader Joes have nothing to do with the price of tea?

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