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Do You Need a Car in Boston? 5 Things to Know

Do You Need a Car in Boston? 5 Things to Know

Traveling to Boston and worried about how to commute there? Asking questions like do you need a car in Boston? This article will answer all your questions!

From its illustrious history to successful sports teams, and a center of world-class education, Boston has it all. Officially known as the City of Boston, it is the capital city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the U.S.

Several significant events of the American Revolution, including the Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, and the Battle of Bunker Hill, took place right here in the city.

A rich history, breathtaking scenery, cultural attractions, and excellent quality of life encourage tourists to visit Boston.

Commonwealth Avenue Boston

There are several things you are probably considering about Boston and traveling around the greater Boston metropolitan area:

  • Do you need a car in Boston for a tour?
  • Is it possible to get around without a car?
  • What about Boston’s public transportation?

Do You Need a Car in Boston?

Do you need a car in Boston

Many wonder if living or visiting Boston without a car is possible. Well, that depends on your preferences, of course.

For instance, if you are traveling with small children or your family, exploring Boston in a car might be convenient. Also, if you wish to visit far-off places in the city, a car rental will be a more feasible option for convenience purposes.

However, if you want to wander around the city streets, visit the malls, shop, or dine in, you can do that easily on foot. Most people walk around rather than dealing with traffic and parking.

Further, if you want to avoid traveling in your car because you believe it’ll add to the travel expenses, you have several other options to go around the city at your disposal.

How Is Boston’s Public Transportation?

Is Boston public transportation good?

What about the Boston public transportation from Logan airport?

Fortunately, Boston’s public transport is very good, and you can easily rely on it to travel across the city. Below are a few local transport mode options in Boston.

Light Rail

The T subway is the Boston Light Rail service that runs beneath the city and is the fourth largest Metropolitan Transit System in the U.S. Its construction began in 1895, and till today it is being used. There are two main entry points from the commuter rail which are the North or South Station.

It serves 175 towns and cities in central and eastern Massachusetts. Whether you wish to visit beaches, museums, or go to an educational institution, the T subway has you covered with its color-coded lines.

  • Red Line: The red line will take you to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, and the JFK Library.
  • Blue Line: The blue line will take you to the Logan International Airport, Beaches, and the Old State House.
  • Orange Line: Takes you to Boston’s North End Neighborhood, Faneuil Hall, the TD Garden (Boston Garden), Samuel Adams Brewery, and Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood.
  • Green Line: You can use this one to reach the Museum of Science, Symphony Hall, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Faneuil Hall. It also runs across a series of parks in the city known as the Emerald Necklace.
Boston Green Line Metro

You can get your tickets from the T subway station. A one-way trip would cost you around $2.75. But if you have a “Charlie Card”, a round trip will cost you $4.50.

The Charlie Card is Boston’s subway line smart card scheme.

Lastly, the T Rail also offers Boston public transportation from the airport.

So whether you want to travel to or from the airport, you can hop on the subway and reach your desired location within minutes.

Before you arrive in the city, get oriented with the MBTA Map. The Boston area will seem incredibly small if you are oriented with the commuter rail.

Bus

Boston’s buses offer comfortable seating and accessible travel locally and regionally. So whenever you plan to visit, you can purchase the ticket, get on the bus, and reach your preferred location.

Boston Express Bus offers various ticket deals, including Commuter Pass, Same-Day Round Trip, Children’s Fare, and Monthly passes.

Further, you can check the official website for discounts on fares. Still, we’d recommend using the subway line over the bus system.

Water Taxis

Boston water taxis provide fun, fast, convenient, and affordable transport around and across the Harbor, without having to contend with road traffic!

Standard water taxi stops include CruisePort Terminal, Logan Airport, TD Garden, Boston Harbor Hotel, the World Trade Center, the New England Aquarium, and the list goes on all from downtown Boston!

Typically, it will take around 7-10 minutes to reach your desired location on a water taxi – which is about what you’d expect from a road-going cab. Plus, you get to enjoy the fantastic city skyline views!

Besides that, the boats are covered and have a heating system for the harsh winter weather, and the seats are comfortable, so you’ll feel at ease while riding.

Tour Trolley

You’ve already done most of your work as a tourist if you know your directions and have a list of places to visit. Now all you need is a reliable transport system to get moving.

Boston Tour Trolley

But what if you don’t know what to hit up?

A Tour Trolley is your best bet if you are sans a list of attractions. The service offers comfortable seating and knowledgeable travel guides to get the most out of your Boston tour.

You have the option to choose from Silver, Golden, and Platinum passes. The price and features vary per pass.

Check out what the tour includes to know the ins and outs of how you can use it to get around. This is an efficient way to explore the unique variety of the many Boston neighborhoods and tourist attractions.

Do You Need to Rent a Car in Boston?

While Boston’s local transport is pretty doable, if you want to avoid traveling with people for safety purposes, you can rent a car, through car services such as Kayak and Rentalcars.com.

In fact, you will find exploring Boston with a car better than other available options, as it offers more control over your travel for things like day trips.

Having your own wheels creates a private comfort zone, and you get to enjoy independent freedom of movement.

Car rentals can get expensive, but a lot of this depends on the company you hire the car from.

While some companies are costly, it is up to you to choose the right one.

Several rental car companies offer affordable deals.

Also, you can accessibly book the ride by entering information, including the date & time you need the car and the driver’s age.

Within no time, you’ll have the ride waiting at your doorstep!

If you wish to travel in a private space that offers comfort and ease to you and your family, renting a car is the way to go.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Chicago?

Are There Carless Options to Get Around Boston?

If you do not want to move around in your car or travel locally, you still have a few options to explore Boston neighborhoods.

Read below to find other ways to roam around Beantown and have a whale of a time!

Bike

Bike in Boston

Bikes are a fun and affordable way to ride around your favorite location. The city is extremely bike-friendly so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting around. The hiking trails, parks, and historic streets of Boston are worth exploring on a bike ride.

All you need to do is get a rental bike, clip on a helmet, and get peddling. If you do not have your bike, there are plenty of places to hire or rent bikes. Policies and prices vary per company.

When biking, you also get a chance to meet other bikers. So, if you’re a cycling social butterfly, this opportunity may interest you.

Scooter

Head out to an eco-friendly tour exploring the captivating sights of Boston on a natty little scooter!

You get a chance to discover beautiful hidden spots, meet locals, and avoid traffic jams.

So, what are you waiting for? Get on the scooter for a spin and travel in style! Just make sure you pay attention to those tricky alleys and roads around the city.

By Foot

Now that walking tours are once again in vogue, you have even more reasons to ditch your car. There are tons of walk-friendly attractions in Boston.

Statue Harvard Boston Historic Attraction

For instance, you can take a stroll in Harvard Yard (the oldest institution of higher education in America).

The exotic, bright, and glorious trees and flowers in the garden will certainly relax you.

Besides, you can go Back Bay shopping, Beacon Hill, Fenway Park, or North End to shop, dine-in, explore the history, and discover Victorian brick row houses lit by vintage lanterns.

And of course, there is the world-famous Boston Freedom Trail, which can only really be enjoyed on foot. Most of these tourist attractions are all within walking distance of each other.

Get access to all these tourist attractions by purchases a Boston Go Explorer Pass where you can get all-inclusive access to the landmarks and tourist destinations of your choice.

Exploring Boston Without a Car: Is It Possible?

Short answer, yes. Exploring Boston without a car is pretty much possible. The choice is yours: Do you want to take a tour in a car or not?

If you chose not to bring your own car, you can always rent a car or use public transportation to save money along the way. There’s always the choice to get around the city on foot, scooter or a bike.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to easily visit in Boston without a car.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

If you are fond of fine arts, this museum is the ideal destination for you to tour. Also, the art isn’t limited to one or two categories.

The museum holds several exhibitions featuring classic, fine, modern, and new arts. Ongoing collections include the Garden of Boston and Art of America.

Besides, you’ll also discover artwork related to Black History, Ancient Egyptians, Chinese, British, and Korean artistic history.

The museum also arranges several activities for kids. So, if you have young children, they’ll enjoy the visit just as much as you!

See Related: 2 Days in Boston Itinerary

The Rose Kennedy Greenway

Whether you love art, food, plants, or fun activities, The Rose Kennedy Greenway Park has it all!

Rose Kennedy Greenway Boston

The park has a rich diversity of trees, plants, beautiful blossoms, and shrubs. Nothing will unwind your spirits like taking a brisk walk through this perfectly manicured chain of green in the heart of the city.

Furthermore, the Kennedy Greenway series of linked parks hosts various events, art exhibits, and attractions.

Also, the fun-filled and exciting festivals and a fantastic selection of Boston’s food trucks draw thick crowds every day.

If you have less time on your hands and a desire to view everything at once, you can take a trip to the Kennedy Greenway to catch a glimpse of Boston’s best.

Boston Common

Established in 1634, the Boston Common is on the list of top National Historic Landmarks.

It was used as a site for public executions, campgrounds for British troops, and is also where notable leaders and politicians have given legendary speeches over the years.

The remarkable speeches of Gloria Steinem, Pope John Paul II, and Martin Luther King are some of the most famous ones that took place in Boston Common.

Today, this spot is the starting point of the Freedom Trail, which goes all the way to the Emerald Necklace.

Boston Common Parkman Bandstand

You can walk, jog, or ride a bike to enjoy the pristine scenery of the place. Besides, various events, concerts, and sports also take place in the Common.

So, if you prefer public gatherings, you can check the schedule and catch an event.

See Related: Best Things to do in Salem, Massachusetts

Newbury Street

Boston Back Bay reflection

Newbury Street has something for everyone. So whether you love fabulous dining, boutiques, or salons, you get everything, all in one place.

It is one of the earliest streets in Boston and was once called Washington Street and Back Bay. Hop on a walking tour to see the sights of these amazing areas.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in the US in Your 20s

Black Heritage Trail

Grab your bike and head straight to the Black Heritage Trail. It features many memorials, homes, and sites associated with the African American community of Boston during the 19th century.

On your way to the trail, you’ll come across the George Middleton House, once home of Revolutionary War hero and early civil rights activist, George Middleton.

Then there’s Philips School, one of Boston’s first integrated schools.

Perhaps most haunting of all is the 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial, dedicated to the first Union Army infantry unit comprised of Black volunteers.

See Related: RVshare Review

Conclusion

Boston is a highly accessible city by using any one of your favorite methods of transportation. The best options are likely walking, biking, and public transportation, especially if you are staying in one location.

However, if you’re looking for a car in Boston, do not fret. There are plenty of options to choose from for rental car companies.

Whether you want the convenience of parking on your doorstep or would rather save money by taking public transportation, there’s something for everyone. Even if you don’t live in Boston proper, renting an RV with Outdoorsy is another viable option when it comes to getting around without owning a vehicle.

All things considered, do some research before making any decisions so that you can find what will work best for your needs and budget.

FAQ

Do you need to have a car in Boston?

Boston is easy to get around. If you need a car, be mindful that parking spots can be pricey, difficult to find, and a hassle on snow emergencies and street cleaning days.

Can you get around Boston without a car?

Yes, you can get around Boston without a car! The MBTA is the same as driving a car because it’s an excellent, inexpensive way to explore Boston with multiple stops at many neighborhoods – not only places downtown.

While most people do need a vehicle of some sort in order to live or do business here, that doesn’t mean they have to own one – which is good if you’re renting or sharing an apartment and want the flexibility of living on your own schedule and without the responsibility for parking fees and insurance.

And for those who do need a rental car, you can save money by using Zipcar for all occasions and can be reserved online.

Is Boston a walkable city?

Yes, Boston is a walkable city! WalkBoston’s Walkability Map rates neighborhoods on a scale from A+ (walkable heaven) to F (a pedestrian nightmare). The Financial District, Downtown Waterfront, South End, and the North End are all rated A+, as is much of the rest of downtown Boston.

Is Boston easy to get around?

So do you need a car? That might depend on what you do here. In general, Bostonians drive less than residents of other cities do – just 32% of commuters leave the Boston suburbs by using their own vehicle for transportation. And this will not surprise many: more people move to Boston each year than those who leave it for greener pastures.

The metro area has a robust public transit system that would make New York City jealous. The commuter rail can take you all around metropolitan Boston without needing a car – even into neighboring metros like Providence and Worcester if need be.

If you’re looking to explore the surrounding areas, there are plenty of interesting places to check out – and they’re all accessible by public transportation such as the popular tourist spots, The North Shore or Cape Cod.

Do you need insurance to rent a car in Boston?

Yes, insurance is required in Massachusetts. Rental car companies will provide insurance or check with your credit card to see if you have an insurance policy with travel.

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