I strongly discourage driving your car into downtown Boston. The traffic is horrible, especially during this Big Dig project.
Take a subway. It's cheap and very convenient. See my other travel tip on the "T" in T/subway.
Boston is a SMALL walkable city. Also, the train, aka, the "T" is great: safe and reliable.
My advice to tourists that are only coming to Boston and don't need to leave the city: don't rent a car because the big dig (our infamous gazillion year long construction project), makes driving very confusing, (even for us) also pedestrians are all over the place and walk whenever they want whenever they want, (I'm guilty of that myself!) so you can't really look around and sight see while driving because you have to watch out for people who might be walking in front of your car!!
Overall, unless you plan to leave Boston for a trip to Cape Cod, or somewhere else, if you are staying only in Boston, don't rent a car!
Driving in Boston can be a nightmare. Driving to here isn't that bad. New England roads radiate out of Boston like spokes on a wheel. Check out the highway routes below to plot your route to the city:
From Maine: Take I-95 south to I-93
From New Hampshire: Take I-95 south to I-93, take I-93 south, or take US 3 south
From Vermont: Take I-89 south to I-93 south
From Albany: Take I-90 (toll) east
From New York City: Take I-87 north to I-84 north to I-90 east (toll) or take I-95 north
Driving can be a rat race in Boston. Once you get to your hotel, I suggest you leave it there until exiting the metropolitan Boston area. You'll thank me later.
Driving and parking is simply impossible for people visiting Boston, so, don't attempt it unless you are a masochist.
The picture here is of the “Big Dig” which seems to be a huge public works project that has most of the streets in the downtown core totally ripped up, a true mess. So, if you are staying downtown (or even near downtown), forget about renting a cah (again, car) and use the subway.
In Boston, the subway is simply called the “T” and runs above and below ground through the city and surrounding area. Check out the MBTA website (www.mbta.com) for more information about schedules and route maps. There are also commuter rail trains that run further aboard. Unfortunately, the “T” shuts down at 12:30 am, rather early in my opinion. But never fear; taxicabs are readily available throughout the city as well.
Boston is based on a system of squares or plazas, such as Kenmore Square or Harvard Square (pronounced squay-ah). Streets connect square to square, public transportation stops at squares, directions are given in relation to the squares, you name it. The streets here follow no logical layout. There are many one-way streets. Many streets are not clearly marked. Even when they're marked, some of them change names at town borders, or at seemingly random places, just to keep you on your toes. For instance, one of the streets near where I live changes name 3 times in a mere 3 block stretch. The streets are narrow and not very good because they keep getting dug up. There are very few parking places; garage parking costs a small fortune and it's practically impossible to find meter parking in a busy area. Traffic snarls are usually horrendous around any area worth visiting. Did I mention Massachusetts is the rotary capital of the world? If you haven't found yourself in the middle of one, count your lucky stars. Now that was just the infrastructure. Don't get me started on the humans. Boston drivers have a pretty nasty reputation, which I would have to say is fully deserved. I can say this from the perspective of an impartial pedestrian, cyclist, and driver. So what does this mean in a nutshell? Avoid driving at all costs. The public transportation system will get you to most places you want to go. Chances are, many places that you want to see are within walking distances, as Boston is a relatively small city. Don't take any chance and leave your car at home. Thanks for doing your part to keep our lives sane.
Well I made the mistake of driving into Boston! Wow, what an experience! Smart tourists would take a plane, train, or bus to avoid ripping out their hair!
Cabs are alright, but they will suck up your money in no time. I would advise tourists to take the subway. Its cheaper and faster!
I drove to Boston...Coming from Montreal,(Canada), it is an easy drive on nice interstates but once you get there...
If you want to drive around in downtown Boston, well you are one motivated fellow!! Getting to our hotel was ok, but getting out of the city was terrible, we missed the first exit and, even with a map, we ended up going around the town to finally come back were we started to take the exit we fist missed!! I'm telling you, even if you think you are good using maps...be careful, reality can be quite different than what expected by looking at a map in Boston! I had never seen such an awfull street 'desing'. So all of this to tell you that ALL you heard about driving in Boston is true! So avoid it as much as you can, and if you still want to drive to Boston, well do as we did: park at the hotel and get around with the T, the bus or a cab!! :)
Make sure to drive over the Zakim/Bunker Hill bridge...it's pretty cool. It looks nice in the rain, even. At night it's lit up wonderfully, and during the day you can admire its lines.