We caught the commuter rail a couple of times during our trip. Once to get to Bridgewater State Uni to visit our daughter and once to get to Salem for a day trip out of town. You can catch the T from where you're staying to one of the commuter rail stations. Tickets can be bought on the train itself from conductors but this is generally a little more expensive than buying them at the station.
The trains appear to be very old and curiously for me as Ii've never seen this before - but some are double deckers. The trains are very slow - slower than a car I felt - and occasionally very warm - wear layers.
If you're staying somewhere near Boston rather than in it, the MBTA runs commuter trains from a lot of the suburbs. There are a lot of trains on weekdays, and still not too few on weekends (at the very least every other hour or so at any station).
There is an extensive train and bus system here. It is 1.25 for the train and 90 cents for the bus. The trains are not attractive and there are not too many cars on it but it gets you where you want to go. The bus is much nicer and allows you to get more familiar with the city. There is no shortage of taxis either.
Traffic in Boston can be brutal, but the city has a remarkably convenient and handy mass transit system.
In addition to the "T", there is an extensive commuter rail system that connects outlying areas to Boston's North Station.
Buy your ticket on the train from the uniformly polite conductors and you can travel to such historic destinations as Concord, Salem and Lowell. As the system is one of America's oldest, the stations are often smack dab in town center, therefore eliminating the need for a car.
AND, now the trains come outfitted with free WiFi!
It's all too easy, my friend. Wicked Easy.
The rail is maybe the better way to ride into downtown if in the suburbs. I stayed out in Danvers; 15 miles away. After finding the parking place and rail line, the rest was okay to drop you off at north station in downtown. Fare costs, though, I believed were rather steep, and are to go up again soon. It cost $5.25 each way and is based on zones of distance to travel. It takes about 30 minutes to get downtown. To get on the rail, you have to wait until the posting on the digital board signifies which track the train will arrive. Then, during the rush hour there is a "rush" to get to a desired seat
Whether you are taking the subway, or rail, or Amtrack, the main stations in Boston downtown are South and North; that being called TD NOrth Bank Garden. I am not sure where the garden was; mostly concrete. GEt your tickets before getting on, or at the stations. Otherwise a additional costs is $1-2 on board each way. YOu can get 10 day types also
Commuting to get to the downtown may be difficult if you cannot find d spot for the vehicle first. I drove all around Salem a while before I finally found a place on an off street that was free. The cost in the normal lot is only $2 a day, and right next to the rail track in Salem off Hwy 107, but all places are taken I guess by 7-8AM, leaving little choice but to drive until you find a slot
South Station is the hub of most of the commuter rails and Amtrak trains. It's a beautiful, historic building and there are porters available to help you if you don't know where to make your connection.
Domestic travelers -- check out www.Amtrak.com for train schedule. Amtrak stops at the South Station as well. About 4 hours from New York. Approximately $60-$70 one way depending on your choice of seating.
In January 1842 Charles Dickens came to Boston and in the last few days, in February, before he moved on to Pennsyvania, he was invited by Lowell to visit Lowell's cotton mills. In Chapter 4 of his book "American Notes", which he published later that year, he described the rail journey from Boston to Lowell. The orginal line to Lowell was built by the Boston and Lowell Railroad on granite blocks - it shook the engines and carriages so much and was such an uncomfortable ride that shortly before Dickens arrived the track had been relaid on wooden sleepers. When I made the trip to Lowell I felt I was reliving an 1842 journey.
Logan Airport is the way most travelers come in. However, if you plan to drive into NH why don't you fly into Manchester, NH--its' less congested and you can drive into Boston.
Until the BIG DIG (Harbor Tunnel counstruction) is finished and even after, use the MBTA (public transportation). Boston has lots of one-way streets and can be very congested/confusing. I have gotten ANYWHERE I needed to go by bus, train or trolley car. There are also Commuter Rail Trains which travel for longer distances and take you to the suburbs.