Boston Major Survival Guide

It’s December 1st, which means the Main Event for the Boston Major at the Wang Theater is only a week away. If you don’t have tickets, a limited number are still available at Ticketmaster.com. Prepare yourself for your Boston trip by checking out this advice on getting around the city, finding places to eat, dealing with the weather, and enjoying your stay. While this guide doesn’t cover everything Boston has to offer, it’s a great starting point for people who have never visited the city before.

Transportation

Click the transportation type below to find out how to get to the venue and around the city.

If you’re arriving by plane, you’ll likely land in Logan International Airport (BOS), Boston’s main airport. While you can take a taxi or Uber from the airport to your destination, it’s also easy to use public transportation. Boston’s subway, known as the T, connects to Logan in two ways: the Blue Line and the Silver Line.

To access the Blue Line, take a free shuttle from the airport to Airport Station. At the station, buy a pass and board a train heading towards Bowdoin/Government Center. Get off at Government Center, then transfer to the Green Line. Take the B, C, D, or E trains headed south. Stay on the train for only two stops and get off at Boylston Street stop. This station is about two blocks from the Wang Theater and the many accommodations in the area.

Alternatively, if you need accessible stations (or simply don’t feel like hauling luggage up stairs), take the Blue Line to Government Center, then take the Orange Line towards Forest Hills. Get off at the Chinatown stop, which has elevators to street level and is only slightly farther away than the Boylston stop.

The Silver Line is another option from the airport. Take the free Silver Line shuttles from Logan to South Station. The SL1 line only goes between the airport and South Station, so you’ll have to transfer to the Silver Line bus SL4. Take this bus to Washington St @ Tufts Medical Center. Washington St runs parallel to Tremont St, so you’ll end up on the same block as the Wang Theater, just one street over. All buses are accessible.

Note that the Silver Line turns into a bus line, and it is often subject to service alerts due to traffic and construction. The SL4 line also falls under the bus fare price of $1.70 per ride compared to the subway cost of $2.75.

For more information about the T and its fares, see The T section.

Trains in Boston arrive either at Boston North Station or South Station. From North Station, you can easily take the Green Line to Boylston Street station. Again, look for any B, C, D, or E trains–not Lechmere trains. If you need accessible stations, take the Green Line to Park Street station, then transfer to the Orange Line. Take the train towards Forest Hills and get off at the Chinatown station.

South Station is about .06 miles | 0.96 km from the Wang Theater, which would be an easy walk if not hauling luggage in cold or snowy conditions. For public transportation, follow the same directions from the airport section: Take the SL4 Silver Line bus to the Washington St @ Tufts Medical Center stop to get you in the vicinity of both the theater and nearby hotels.

Driving yourself is not recommended in Boston if you are unfamiliar with the layout of the city. Boston is one of the older American cities, so streets tend to be shorter and narrower. This also means that Boston has tons of one-way streets and oddly positioned roads that sometimes turn into dead-ends.

Besides that, parking can be a nightmare since many street spots are reserved for residents and the unreserved ones fill up quickly. If you must bring a car, consider keeping it in your hotel’s parking garage or a public garage for the duration of your stay. Expect to pay $30 a day or more for parking.

Taxis and Uber are always an option if you need door-to-door service or are traveling after the T stops running. Taxis and Uber may also help if you need accessible travel since not all T stations have elevators.

The T is the most popular way to get around Boston. Rides cost $2.75 with a disposable ticket or cash-on-board. Alternatively, you can pick up a plastic CharlieCard at the Park Street station (and other select locations) from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Add money to this reusable card at the kiosks in any T station. With the CharlieCard, fares are discounted to $2.25 and some transfers are included. You can also load your CharlieCard with an unlimited weekly pass for $21.25.

The major drawback is that the T stops running between midnight and 1:00 a.m., depending on the line, and doesn’t start up again until around 5:00 a.m. Make sure you have alternate arrangements if you are staying out late or arriving earlier than normal T operating hours.

Not all T stations are accessible, so check the map if you need accommodations. The major accessible T stops to remember are Park Street, Government Center, South Station, and Chinatown. Chinatown is the closest accessible stop to the Wang. The other three stations are strategically placed stops that include multiple lines.

Also, note that the Boylston Street stop has separate entrances for inbound and outbound trains. Make sure to enter the right station because there’s no way to switch without exiting the station and paying another fare. If you are heading up to the North End or to Park Street station, enter the Inbound station at the corner of Boylston and Tremont. If you’re headed west, then you’ll have to walk past the Inbound station to the Outbound station located across the street from the Loews Theater.

Boston is a very walkable city—when it’s not covered in snow and ice. The city is generally flat with no real hills, though there is a slight incline while walking north from the Wang Theater toward City Hall.

The shorter blocks also may make Boston seem bigger on a map than it is in real life. For reference, the walk from the Park Street T stop to the Boylston stop takes about 6 minutes and is only 0.3 miles | 0.48 km. Other distances are similarly short, though you should add a few extra minutes to wait for street lights.

The area around the theater is well-populated and generally safe to walk around. However, every city has risks. Review your destinations and directions before leaving the venue or hotel, especially if you are traveling alone. Avoid stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to check your phone or go through your bag. Besides the safety risk, it’s also inconsiderate.

Food and Drink

If you’re limited in either time or budget, there are several cheap options for food close to the Wang Theater. All of the directions use the theater as the starting point.

Subway: One block north at the intersection of Tremont and Stuart.
Einstein Bagel Bros, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks: One and a half blocks north at the intersection of Boylston and Tremont.
McDonald’s: Walk north to Stuart, then turn right and walk one block.
City Place: Walk north to Stuart, then turn left and walk until you see the City Place entrance. This indoor plaza has several quick dining options, including Panera and Chipotle. Most of the restaurants are also accessible from the street.
South Street Diner: Walk north to Stuart, then turn right. Walk straight for .38 miles | .61 km until you see the old-style diner. While the food is typical diner fare, the diner is the only 24-hour restaurant within easy walking distance.

Empire Garden: 690 Washington St. Dim sum and Chinese food in an old theater.
Irashai: 8 Kneeland St. Sushi restaurant in Chinatown.
Gourmet Dumpling House. 52 Beach St. It’s in the name.
Pho Pasteur: 682 Washington St. Popular pho restaurant also in Chinatown.

Mike’s Pastry: 300 Hanover St. One of the most popular pastry shops in Boston’s Italian North End. In competition with Modern Pastry.
Modern Pastry: 257 Hanover St. Another popular pastry shop and tourist destination.
Giacomo’s: 355 Hanover St. Popular restaurant in the North End. Note that the restaurant is cash-only and they do not take reservations. You’ll recognize this place by the line of customers waiting on the sidewalk.
Antico Forno: 93 Salem St. Pizza, pasta, and Italian dishes at a great restaurant for a reasonable price. Make an OpenTable reservation to guarantee a spot.
La Summa: 30 Fleet St. Highly rated restaurant down a side street in the North End. Better quality than some Hanover St restaurants without the wait.

Here are some other dining options, loosely arranged from the least expensive to the most expensive.

Star Market: 53 Huntington Ave. A full-sized grocery store in downtown Boston that’s open 24 hours a day.
Fanueil Hall: 1 Faneuil Hall Market Place. Faneuil Hall is a major tourist destination with more than 40 restaurants and food vendors.
Thinking Cup: 165 Tremont St. An upscale coffee bar that also serves breakfast and sandwiches.
Tasty Burger: 145 Dartmouth St. Local burger chain that’s open til 2:00 a.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Fire & Ice: 205 Berkeley St. Choose your vegetables, sauce, and meat, then let the chef grill it up on the huge circular grill in the center.
Barking Crab: 88 Sleeper St. A well-rated seafood restaurant on the water.
The Salty Pig: 130 Dartmouth St. Pork, pizza, beer, and wine.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House: 45 School St. The Boston location of this upscale chain.
Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse: 200 Dartmouth St. Brazilian steakhouse with a salad bar and all-you-can-eat meat.

Weather

December temperatures in Boston average around 40°F | 4.4°C during the day and they dip below freezing at night. Boston is actually the windiest major city in the United States with an average wind speed of 12.3mph | 19.79kph, though the wind can get much stronger during storms. Pack a durable coat, hat, and gloves to keep yourself warm. Also, make sure you bring warm boots or non-slip, water-resistant shoes. Sneakers, heels, and flats are more likely to slip on icy sidewalks and won’t help against puddles or snow.

A daily chart showing the average temperature in Boston during the week of the Major.
Historical average temperatures for the week of the Boston Major. Information from Weather.com.

Sightseeing and Entertainment

If you have extra time to spend in Boston, check out some of these local points of interest.

Museum of Science: 1 Science Park. Museum on the Charles River. Currently running a special Da Vinci exhibit.
Institute of Contemporary Art: 25 Harbor Shore Drive. A striking modern building with free admission on Thursdays from 5:00p.m. to 9:00p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts: 465 Huntington Ave. The MFA is a huge museum with more than 450,000 pieces of art. You could easily spend a full day here.
New England Aquarium: 1 Central Wharf. The aquarium is right on the water and features a four-story coral reef.

Faneuil Hall: 1 Faneuil Hall Market Place. Besides the restaurants in Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall has dozens of shops in the marketplace.
Newbury Comics: 332 Newbury St. Newbury Comics sells not only comics, but CDs, DVDs, toys, and assorted geekery. This store has a second location at Faneuil Hall.
Newbury St: Newbury St. Starting at the Public Garden, Newbury St runs for 8 blocks and contains dozens of restaurants as well as chain retails and small boutique stores.
Copley Plaza: 100 Huntington Ave. Upscale shopping center with Barney’s, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and more.

Frog Pond: 38 Beacon St. The city freezes this public pond in winter for ice-skating.
Public Garden: 4 Charles St. Though the flowers aren’t blooming in the winter, Fallout fans might enjoy visiting the pre-War home of super mutant behemoth Swan.
Freedom Trail: . The Freedom Trail starts outside the Boston Common Visitors Center. It is a literal trail of red bricks that creates a 2.5 miles | 4km path that passes by 16 historical sites. You can take a guided tour or download the paid app tour (proceeds go to preserving the historical landmarks).
Rose Kennedy Greenway: Purchase St. Years ago, the Central Artery was a huge, elevated highway running through Boston. The 20-year construction project known as the Big Dig put the freeway underground and placed the Rose Kennedy Greenway in its place. The Greenway contains public art, murals, attractions, fountains, and parks designed around the neighborhood’s identity (such as the Chinatown Park and North End Park).

Emergency Services

Emergency Services: Call 9-1-1 from any phone and be prepared to provide a location. This number connects you with police, ambulance, and/or fire department services .
Boston Police Non-Emergency Number: (617) 343-4240. This number goes to the local police district that covers the Wang Theater and surrounding areas. Click here to view the non-emergency numbers for other districts in Boston.
Medical Assistance: Tufts Medical Center: 800 Washington St. A full hospital located next to the Wang Theater. The hospital offers online emergency room check-in for minor medical emergencies. For serious emergencies, call 9-1-1 for an ambulance to take you to the nearest hospital.
International Assistance: List of Consulates with Offices in the Greater Boston Area