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Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

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Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

Hello Boston TA! I am trying to help a father/son that plan on doing a college tour in the eastern region this spring break, approximate March 14-23. One of the colleges on the list is MIT. He has heard that Boston is a bit difficult to drive around, so they are hoping to just fly into Boston and use public transport. He has contacted a travel agent, but I doubt the Alaskan travel agent has the expertise that folks on Tripadvisor has and would love some of your advice. I did read your top questions, but would love your recommendations on the best/easiest way to get to the region around MIT - as well as hotel and restaurant recommendations. I am hoping springbreak shouldn't be too busy, but you never know - looking for hotels in the $100-150 price range if that is a possibility - don't need luxury, but clean is top priority.

Also, the next college on the list is in New York - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy - would it be best to fly to that area, or would it be possible to travel there via train? I have also done quite a bit of searching on the Amtrak website, but not sure which would be the best idea. They wouldn't mind renting a car - driving on winter roads are not an issue, but avoiding intense city driving would be preferred.

Thanks for any help or advise you can provide. :)

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1. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

Hi there Alaska! Nice to communicate with you! Yes, this is easy. You don't need a car in Boston. Getting to MIT couldn't be easier. It's on the subway, the Red Line'. You can stay anywhere within decent reach of the subway system, but you may even get a hotel fairly near that part of Cambridge-- East Cambridge. Don't assume that all hotels in Cambridge are close, however. A few are not close to the subway aka the MBTA aka 'the T'. The MIT area is also called Kendall Square. All of this is close to downtown Boston, so that area is OK for you to stay. Same for Back Bay Area of Boston, where there are a lot of hotels. And Beacon Hill. The city is quite compact.

As for Troy, isn't it a suburb of Albany? I don't know about the Amtrak routes going west, but check on Albany.

Given what you say about this son, might he want to see Worcester Polytechnic too, while here in Mass? Just a thought. Known as WPI. BTW, it would be a pretty drive from Boston to Albany/Troy, maybe about 5 hours?

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2. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

Fly into Logan airport, take free Silver Line (www.mbta.com) and transfer onto subway to get to their hotel. Check some of the hotel sites (travelzoo, priceline, hotels.com, etc) with the exact dates and look for areas such as downtown, Back Bay/Copley, Faneuil Hall, Boston Common. Before booking you can post back with places in their price range they'd consider and you'll get feedback on how good or bad those hotels are.

Getting to MIT, they can take the Red Line of the mbta to Kendall/MIT station. Getting to RPI, personally I would drive. Very easy to get on the Mass Turnpike from downtown Boston, won't be any hassle for them. Only drawback is if it's a one-way rental there's usually additional fees.

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3. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

There's a lot of good food around MIT these days! And all over Cambridge. One is The Friendly Toast.

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4. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

We did the college tour a couple of years ago flying into Philly for one interview and an overnight train to Boston thru NYC. We did fine with public transit and Amtrak trains. Get day passes good on buses and trains. Expect sticker shock on accommodations and college cost. Factor in the cost of coming home for the holidays and going to graduation when they really jack up the room rates. Be sure to include some closer to home options for comparison. Enjoy the tours.

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5. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

On arrival to Boston, I would either take a taxi or the "T" to your hotel. I will be a little tricky finding an inexpensive hotel. As noted above, the "T" is perfect for getting to MIT. Then rent a car and drive to Troy. It's no more than 3 hours. Your friend should not be overly concerned about driving here. It's not so tricky.

And in the "since you're in the area" category, your friends may want to also visit Union College which is near Albany. It's a beautiful school, smaller with a very good engineering program... oh, and they could keep going to Rochester too... then Syracuse (which is one of the few schools in the US with a very nice flight simulator!)

LMM

Edited: 6:40 am, February 24, 2014
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6. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

Rent a car at Logan and stay in the suburbs. Drive to RPI. What other schools besides MIT are they interested in?

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7. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

You will not find a hotel in Boston for $100 per night. It is an expensive city for hotels, like NYC, You might get close to $150 (say, $165-190) by using Priceline or Hotwire. But, be sure to check back here for the locations of your prospective hotels before you bid. Sometimes the locations as given online can be confusing.

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8. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

Booking.com shows a Hilton Boston Logan Airport for 214/night before tax.

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9. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

On booking.com also The Costitution Inn. It's 2 stars and comes out to be about 169 a night. Free cancellation and you don't pay til later. I usually go for something like this and keep looking for a better deal. I've been putting in 9 nights using your dates-forgot you'd be there less!

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10. Re: Helping a friend doing a college tour - advice please.

Someone above mentioned Rochester - the Optics Engineering program there is the oldest undergraduate, and arguably the best, optics program in the country if that is of interest. It is somewhat farther west than either RPI or Syracuse. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is also en route.

In any event - drive to RPI.

He, of course, must look up "Smoots" before he goes to MIT. Also, the famous, albeit apocryphal, story of the naming of the Harvard Bridge, which runs from Boston straight into MIT, is worth a note. The story is there was a contest between MIT and Harvard for naming rights. MIT won, and after looking at the poor engineering decided it had to be named the Harvard Bridge. :-)

Edited: 11:14 am, February 24, 2014
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